Categories
Fiction General Fiction

The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick

Title: The Peacock Feast

Author: Lisa Gornick

Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sarah Crichton Books)

Rating: 3/5 ***

Release Date: February 5th, 2019

A big thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for the eARC in exchange for an honest review

The Goodreads summary reads as follows:

The Peacock Feast opens on a June day in 1916 when Louis C. Tiffany, the eccentric glass genius, dynamites the breakwater at Laurelton Hall—his fantastical Oyster Bay mansion, with columns capped by brilliant ceramic blossoms and a smokestack hidden in a blue-banded minaret—so as to foil the town from reclaiming the beach for public use. The explosion shakes both the apple crate where Prudence, the daughter of Tiffany’s prized gardener, is sleeping and the rocks where Randall, her seven-year-old brother, is playing.

Nearly a century later, Prudence receives an unexpected visit at her New York apartment from Grace, a hospice nurse and the granddaughter of Randall, who Prudence never saw again after hcre left at age fourteen for California. The mementos Grace carries from her grandfather’s house stir Prudence’s long-repressed memories and bring her to a new understanding of the choices she made in work and love, and what she faces now in her final days.

The plot/characters:

Prudence is able to perform a life review and find validation through Grace. We hear the stories about Tiffany and the satellite characters in his life; quite an unflattering portrayal but he was such a bizarre character! We learn about Randall’s side of the family from Grace: the adventures of his dysfunctional son, the also slightly dysfunctional grandchildren, and all of those family members. Honestly there were too many characters, I had to draw a family tree and make a separate list of who was who. It was hard to keep track of Tiffany’s friends, cohorts, and employees the most. I also don’t feel like bringing the Freud’s in did much for the story. There is no grand overarching plot that I can discern but the themes carry the book across generations.

The Themes:

The grand theme throughout the book could be adapting to and accepting grief, death, and reconciliation with your life choices. These themes appeared across and united all of the story lines. Grace, the great-niece and hospice nurse, was the shining star of this book for me due to her breathtakingly accurate descriptions of her career. Even as an ICU nurse I can appreciate her ongoing assessment of everyone’s health. I would almost think Gornick is or was a nurse! Outside of Grace, the book had solid but generally unimpressive writing and descriptions.

Other Random Bits and Wrap up:

It was very cool that Anais Nin got a mention. My dad reviewed a few of her books and had ongoing correspondence with her. She was a lovely and under-hyped writer. I thought Anna Freud was going to uncover Prudence’s memory but she really had no main role. Overall the book did have some interesting parts, but other times it was hard to stick with, depending on what story lines one enjoyed most.

I gave it 3/5 stars and would recommend to fans of general fiction, any design gurus, quite a few nurses would enjoy it as well! Thank you again to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release date: Jan 15th 2019

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Would I let my kid read this? 100%

I was lucky enough to receive a digital ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review, thank you!!!

The summary from Goodreads

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

The Plot

In short – this is a heist story. It is also a story of magic, friendship, puzzles, and history. There are a lot of themes packed into this book and it moved along at a steady pace. By the end I wished that it was the second book about to be released, not the first! I was so wrapped up when it ended that I just wanted the book to keep going, probably in part due to the baby cliff hanger. where no one was dying or in imminent danger, nothing crazy happening, but a firm hook is set and you know you are going to be eagerly awaiting the next installment!

The Characters

The Gilded Wolves had me wanting to crush on half of the characters before I realized they were all teenagers. I am not going to go into individual characters here but they are a band of misfits. They are a pretty typical group on the surface – awkward girl, fake girl, braniac, the immature one, the moody leader…but under the surface and throughout the book their secrets are told and they become dear to the reader, or at least to me they did. The point of view switches between four of them – I think – throughout the book, with one exception that made sense at the end. I had noticed his missing voice before the end and was going to bring it up, but now….well, what would it say?

The Writing

Chokshi has an unbelievably poetic writing style. My favorite passage was this:

Kisses were to be witnessed by stars, not held in the presence of stale death. But as the bones rose up around them, Laila saw fractals of white. Pale constellations of bone. And she thought that, perhaps, for a kiss like this , even hell would put forth its stars

The descriptions throughout the book were flowery almost to the point of excess, but not quite. Her world is full of magic and she did an amazing job bringing it to life. This book is meant to be savored, not skimmed. I only skimmed when the one character started rambling about math and puzzles, those descriptions were not my brain’s favorite. I also didn’t mind the multiple points of views as it was not repetitive and kept the story moving.

Overall Impression:

As I write this I feel like I should have given it five stars, but it was a little drawn out at times and I was jarred by the last few chapters. You all know how I LOVE endings that just wreck your life…you might have to read the last few chapters a couple times and contain your meltdown, but that’s OK❤ The book mainly has positive relationships, clean language, and is lgbq+, but it doesn’t really read like a young adult book and I know adults can get into it too. In that spirit I would say yes, let your young adults read this (then read it after). Anyway, I give it a solid 4/5 stars and would recommend to anyone who likes heists, fantasy, magic, young adult, fiction, or a good book in general!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Title: Her One Mistake

Author: Heidi Perks

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: 1-8-2019

Rating: 5 stars all day long

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Gallery books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! If I am being honest – I LOVED and was slightly obsessed with this book. Read on to find out why!

Here is the blurb per NetGalley and Amazon:

What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

The plot:: I normally put in the whole synopsis but I feel like it is a little bit misleading – it is probably supposed to be! The book started out normally enough but quickly had me entirely hooked, and ended up restoring my faith in thrillers. Long story short: Charlotte and Harriet are best friends, and Harriet trusts Charlotte to take her daughter Alice to the school fair. With three kids of her own to watch, plus Alice, the young girl just vanishes.
Enter a large-scale search, ruined relationships, and one total psycho. As soon as I got my first hunch of who did it, I read the rest in one sitting. Absolutely could not put it down, it just kept getting darker and more exciting as it went.

The style: the point of view switches back and forth between the two main women, moving the story along. It went from the present to the past and back again, painting a larger picture of Harriet and Alice’s lives. I loved the dual POV this time because two totally different stories were being told, and it kept me just itching to find out what happened next.

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The characters: I did like both women and their kids. They are likeable enough and although they stay fairly one dimensional, the unfolding relationships are important and there is good dialogue. I honestly don’t have much to say about the characters, the relationships are well described though and the strain is real. There were a lot of random female names thrown out at first that was a little confusing but did not distract.

General impression: This is such an easy 5 stars. I felt the end coming about three separate times, and wasn’t right any of those times. If I wanted to put it down after about 50%, I couldn’t have. It was truly an exciting and compulsive read, and anyone who likes thrillers and suspense NEEDS to read it. This is a debut novel too and I am so impressed!!

Categories
Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction

We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It by Tom Phelan

Tit;e: We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It

Author: Tom Phelan

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: March 5th, 2019

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review

Here is the summary per Amazon:

Tom Phelan, who was born and raised in County Laois in the Irish midlands, spent his formative years working with his wise and demanding father as he sought to wrest a livelihood from a farm that was often wet, muddy, and back-breaking.

It was a time before rural electrification, the telephone, and indoor plumbing; a time when the main modes of travel were bicycle and animal cart; a time when small farmers struggled to survive and turkey eggs were hatched in the kitchen cupboard; a time when the Church exerted enormous control over Ireland.

We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It recounts Tom’s upbringing in an isolated, rural community from the day he was delivered by the local midwife. With tears and laughter, it speaks to the strength of the human spirit in the face of life’s adversities.

The memoir covers Tom’s life from birth to when he takes off for boarding school. Similar events are organized into chapters and follow a fairly logical sequence. Minus the lack of transition between chapters, this is a smooth and enjoyable read!

The first person point of view let me feel like I was actually sitting in the kitchen with the neighbors. Phelan’s style paints such avid descriptions of people and places that I truly enjoyed it as a picture of his farm and community. A particularly descriptive part that stands out is about the crawlies in the soil and how connected they (Tom and dad) felt to the land and each other.

There are a multitude of neighbors, townfolk, schoolmates and family members who had a part in Tom’s childhood. His father and Missus Fritz were my two favorites, for their kindness and things they said when children weren’t listening!

I don’t know if I believe that they were as happy as he writes, but I feel like he didn’t know anything else. If he had known that the kids were targeting him out of desperation and jealousy instead of animosity, he would have had a better perspectie – but a portion of the moral is about hindsight and how you see things as an adult, things you regret or wish you knew.

Overall I give this a strong 4/5. Happy to recommend to anyone interested in history, Ireland, memoirs; anyone who likes to laugh at anecdotes and clever fixes; anyone into farming even would love this!