Categories
Fiction Mysteries

All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

Thank you so much to Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.”

Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.

Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will? Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world

I spent most of the book thinking ‘oh my gosh, poor Aoife’ (ee-fah)! She was a very brave little girl and I felt so bad for her situation. The book opens with an incident involving Aoife’s mom, then we slowly find out the events and circumstances that led up to that day.  Her mother had some sort of psychological melt down, in public, and Aoife was thankfully attended by a stranger who called for help.

We meet Aoife’s uncle Donny as he steps in to take care of her while the mother in the hospital. It is also revealed that there is a brother, Theo, and the plot actually revolves around his disappearance.

I think the book’s language sounded a little advanced, but about right for a six year old narrator. I don’t normally like books narrated by kids but this one really worked. Aoife was a good little detective as she and her neighbor friend found out what happened to her brother. News flash to all the adults out there: kids can understand basic explanations of things! A big part of the plot was built around miscommunications and Aoife’s curiosity over her brother, when no one would talk about him

I also really liked the little paranormal element with Teddy. Was Aoife a normal kid with an imaginary friend, or was she also schizophrenic or schizoaffective? (Was that the family disorder? It fits?). Or was Teddy…something else? The end was so perfect I loved it.

My only question…was Neddy Siobhan’s third kid or was he unrelated? Who was the third kid if not? Why mention it if they’re not in the story? The profile for Siobhan’s father might fit but they probably wouldn’t have lived that close by…  Only having one loose end is not bad for a mystery though!

This is a short book. I read it in 3-4 hours  and think it’s a great debut novel. Would fully recommend if it sounds up your alley!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton

First off, a huge thank you to Bookouture for the eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“Emma held the photo for a long moment before her eyes focused on the girl’s face. She dropped it and let out a muted cry.The girl in the photograph was Tessa.
Twenty-five years after losing her friend Tessa in a tragic accident, Emma’s life is happy and settled. She rarely thinks about the day that Tessa fell to her death, or the secret that she made Emma swear to keep just hours before. But when her marriage implodes, Emma and her daughter find themselves unexpectedly moving into the headmaster’s former cottage on the grounds of her old school – Denham House. And it’s here she finds the photograph: an explicit image of Tessa, looking directly at the camera.
Between catching up with old friends Marlee and Clementine, who are home for a reunion, and the demands of single parenthood, Emma has plenty to distract her… but she can’t shake the image of the photograph. Or the thought that it’s proof of something she had long suspected: Dr Brownley, now headmaster, was involved with Tessa. Was it a mistake to keep quiet about what she knew?
Marlee and Clementine have their own complex feelings about returning to their hometown. And when Emma starts to question what really happened to Tessa, each woman must deal with the consequences of decisions they made all those years ago. Because the more Emma digs into the past, the more she discovers that everyone remembers it differently, and that the innocent schoolgirls she thought she knew are hiding some very big secrets.
A page-turning novel about family drama, lies, and the secrets we keep to protect those we love. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, The Silent Wife and Kerry Lonsdale.”

I feel terrible that it took me forever to get to this book, but once I did I read it in two huge sittings. On a road trip but still, it really kept me engaged from start to finish.

It all started back in school with a dead classmate, and a group of friends that are just full of secrets and lies. In the present day, a large group email is sent by accident which opens up the can of worms again in relation to the deceased student. Someone saw this, someone heard that, and all of a sudden the whole mystery is on everyone’s minds again.

There are multiple different viewpoints being told within the small circle of friends, each with their own issues, lives, marital problems, and point of view on the situation. It flipped around enough that I stayed pretty interested as I would want to get back to one woman or the other.

The part with Emma and the house keeper, omg😂. Also some parts with Marlee and Ben😂

It all ended a little conveniently once they figured out what happened, but it wasn’t a terrible ending. There was one character mentioned in the epilogue portion that hadn’t been mentioned before and I didn’t know what it meant!

All in all this is a funny mix of mystery, drama, women’s fiction, bit of a thriller at times, and a whole lot of lies to unravel. I would recommend for readers who enjoy multiple points of view and seeing storylines come together. It released in early October so give it a shot if it sounds up your alley!

Thank you again to Bookouture for the advanced copy!

a

Categories
Fiction Historical Fiction

Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes

Thank you so much to Sourcebooks Landmark via NetGalley for the e-ARC of Today We Go Home in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

The description from GoodReads:

Seattle, Washington: Larkin Bennett has always known her place, whether it’s surrounded by her loving family in the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest, or riding on a dusty convoy in Afghanistan. But all that changed the day tragedy struck her unit and took away everything she held dear. Soon after, Larkin discovers an unexpected treasure: the diary of Emily Wilson, a young woman who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Union in the Civil War. As Larkin struggles to heal, she finds herself drawn deep into Emily’s life and the secrets she kept. Indiana, 1861. The only thing more dangerous to Emily Wilson than a rebel soldier is her own comrades in the Union. But in the minds of her fellow soldiers, if it dresses like a man, swears like a man, and shoots like a man, it must be a man. As the war marches on and takes its terrible toll, Emily begins to question everything she has been told about the freedom she is supposed to be fighting for.

So everyone that knows me knows that I am a huge Civil War reader, and this book was an obvious choice for me. I have read a few nonfiction books about women in the war, but nothing from a fictional perspective.

I honestly didn’t care much for Larkin, although she made a lot of excellent points about women in the military and society’s perceptions of them. I also felt like there was a statement about mental healthcare for veterans in the book, somewhere, as it seemed like a suicidal veteran shouldn’t have been discharged from treatment as early as she was, and/or the program she was in was lacking effectiveness. The themes of suicidal ideations, suicide in general, grief, loss, and coming to terms with traumas were handled fairly lightly as Larkin found an interest, purpose, and then connection to Emily Wilson – the Union army soldier. I thought Emily’s traumas were handled even lighter, I would have loved to know (as did Larkin) how Emily coped.

I loved Emily though, she was a spitfire. When she squared up and said she WAS a soldier, I just about put my phone down and clapped for her. I feel like the author got a lot of camp details right, but there wasn’t a lot of historical information in the book itself. That said, there is a fantastic annex of resources in the book for additional reading that I highly recommend checking out.

One thing that threw me off was how the historical time period was presented in the ARC: some times Larkin would be reading the diary, then sometimes the chapter would be written as if the Civil War period was present day. Otherwise I did find it to be a really quick and interesting read

I rated it 3 stars because I really loved Emily’s chapters, while feeling indifferent towards Larkin’s. I would totally recommend for anyone interested in women in the military, historical feminism, historical fiction, and good fiction in general!

Thank you again so much to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the early read! The book released September 3rd so by all means check it out if it seems up your alley!

a

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
Fiction General Fiction Suspense

What We Did by Christobel Kent

Title: What We Did

Author: Christobel Kent

Release date: Feb 5th, 2019

(Note: a prior edition is currently available on Amazon)

Rating: 3 stars

First off, a big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The summary appears as follows:

Bridget has a secret—one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, naïve and vulnerable.

Bridget wants him away—away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats—more than she could have ever imagined—and from which no one is safe, not even her family.

The bestselling British author Christobel Kent has written yet another thrilling page-turner with a twisted, riveting conclusion. What We Did is a nightmarish, impossible-to-put-down tale of the secrets we keep from our families, of chilling childhood abuse, and of long-awaited retribution.

Let’s start with the plot! A team of pedophiles is back in Bridget’s life from her childhood, threatening her family and at least one other young girl in the community. Her husband works at the local college with one of the men and becomes unwittingly involved as a journalist nudges him into her search for proof. The book started off predictably with the main pedophile accidentally murdered, but turned into a tangle as the plot wound and unwound with repercussions and events throughout the novel. It kept me interested but also disappointed at times as I felt like more could have happened.

A good example is outside of Carmichael’s house when a man was behind Bridget all of a sudden. It ended up being a benign event but the author makes us wait through another point of view chapter before revealing what had happened, and here I was thinking that she was going to get either abducted or rescued from another pedophile! This happened more than once. The transitions between past and present were confusing at times too, I understand that was how Bridget’s mind flashed back and forth but sometimes I didn’t know what was happening and had to read the page again. Overall though it kept me engaged through the novel.

That covers the writing style as well. As far as the characters: I ended up liking Gill a lot more than I thought I would, although I found myself skimming her point of view chapters. Her life didn’t interest me at all and she just seemed to add length to the book. Finn and Laura are the innocent characters that drive home the point that abuse can appear in all forms, to anyone. The characters were pretty neutral to me but I ended up feeling bad for most of them. Matt was my favorite, just a guy trying to do the right thing.

Overall I am sticking with 3 stars. I ended up loving how she tied everything together at the end, even if it took a while to get there. It looked like the characters were going to be able to move on and rebuild their lives in a healthier manner. The book was a decent suspense/thriller, and I would recommend to anyone who likes that kind of suspenseful fiction.

Categories
Fiction General Fiction

Turning Point by Danielle Steel

Title: Turning Point

Author: Danielle Steel

Length: 288 pages

Release date: 1/8/19

Rating: 4/5 stars

First off, a huge thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, for the eARC of Turning Point in exchange for an honest review! I normally love Danielle Steel and was not let down by her current effort!

The Amazon description reads:

In Danielle Steel’s powerful new novel, four trauma doctors—the best and brightest in their field—confront exciting new challenges, both personally and professionally, when given an unusual opportunity.

Bill Browning heads the trauma unit at San Francisco’s busiest emergency room, SF General. With his ex-wife and daughters in London, he immerses himself in his work and lives for rare visits with his children. A rising star at her teaching hospital, UCSF at Mission Bay, Stephanie Lawrence has two young sons, a frustrated stay-at-home husband, and not enough time for any of them. Harvard-educated Wendy Jones is a dedicated trauma doctor at Stanford, trapped in a dead-end relationship with a married cardiac surgeon. And Tom Wylie’s popularity with women rivals the superb medical skills he employs at his Oakland medical center, but he refuses to let anyone get too close, determined to remain unattached forever.

These exceptional doctors are chosen for an honor and a unique project: to work with their counterparts in Paris in a mass-casualty training program. As professionals, they will gain invaluable knowledge from the program. As ordinary men and women, they will find that the City of Light opens up incredible new possibilities, exhilarating, enticing, and frightening.

When an unspeakable act of mass violence galvanizes them into action, their temporary life in Paris becomes a stark turning point: a time to face harder choices than they have ever made before—with consequences that will last a lifetime.

At first I thought that keeping track of eight characters would be confusing, but it really was not. Each character got equal time in the novel and although it hopped around a lot, the style kept the pace moving right along. The doctors are eight very different people that end up bonding and becoming friends over common interests and the terrible tragedy in Paris. Those relationships and blooming romances are the primary focus of the novel, although thankfully for my tastes the romance is a small portion and not overdone.

Dealing with work-life balance is difficult, I am a nurse and know how hard it can be. The characters face realistic and relate-able issues while juggling family, kids and career goals. The plot just kept moving along, using these struggles, relationships and tragic events as hooks that kept me engaged for the entire read. I found it to be a fairly quick book but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall I give this a solid 4/5 stars and would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who likes Danielle Steel, women’s fiction, anyone who can relate to the work vs. life struggle, and anyone looking for a good book in general.

Categories
Fantasy General Fiction

Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss

Thank you to NetGalley and Mythic Delirium Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

This fairy tale filled collection of eight stories and 23 poems doesn’t release until Feb 5th 2019, but it is available for pre-order.

Theodora Goss definitely takes a unique approach to fairy tale tellings! This collection of poems and short stories takes on many well known tales like Snow White, Thumbellina, Sleeping Beauty, and others that I can’t place. Goss completely recreates or adds to the tales, imagines new endings, and makes them her own.

I personally liked Blanchefleur because even though I didn’t know the original tale, it was a good story! Rose Child was a wonderfully written shorter poem. I giggled when Sleeping Beauty’s “prince” fell into a fairy hole instead, and the author gave that old hound a happy ending!

Not what I was expecting but pretty unique and I liked these tales a lot. 4/5 stars!

Categories
Fantasy Fiction Literary Fiction

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Title: In the Night Wood

Author: Dale Bailey

Length: 224 pages

Release Date: 10/8/18 (get a copy)!!!

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

My little summary: “Once upon a time…” a man living near an enchanted wood starts having delusions and writes a book. Many years later, an English scholar bumps into that book and his fate appears to be linked to the Story from that point on. It is a Story (capital Story) within a story… Something I wish the author had pursued more!

The book is more about grief than folklore, but there is a healthy mix of both. Charles and Erin are still reeling from the death of their child and his infidelity. Their marriage is disintegrating and they move to Hollow House trying to start over. When the visions and nightmares and story parallels start…!

In the middle of the book the grief exposition got a bit repetative, but I had no urge to skim pages. My biggest issue was that neither main character showed a tad of growth. Can their relationship change despite ?

I enjoyed learning a lot of new words but some parts seemed unnecessarily complex. It fit with the atmosphere but the writing took a bit of work and a dictionary at times.

Long story short: awesome story! Would recommend to anyone that likes a good fairy tale, atmospheric fiction, folk lore, or a good story in general!

Thanks for reading, subscribing is easy if you want to see more reviews from me, just an email and password 🙂

Categories
Fantasy Fiction Historical Fiction

Athena’s Champion by David Hair and Cath Mayo

Title: Athena’s Champion

Authors: David Hair and Cath Mayo

Release date: 11/08/18

Rating: 4/5 ****

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

I absolutely loved reading this book! I may be biased because my name is Athena and I love anything related to mythology and Greece, but this was also a great story.

The description briefly states that the book is “The first in a thrilling new historical fantasy series; Odysseus must embrace his secret heritage and outwit the vengeful Gods who would control or destroy him… “

Enter a snarky version of Odysseus, Theseus, the Gods and Goddesses in the authors’ unique interpretations, and a host of other characters and you have quite an interesting story. I especially loved how they portrayed Athena and Hades.

I had to suspend known mythology/history and take the story for what it was at times, but it was still terribly entertaining for me. I liked the splashes of Greek words and insults thrown into the dialogue, but wish they had kept to traditional insults vs bringing in so much modern day slang.

This book earns a solid 4/5 stars, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes a good history, mythology, or fantasy based read!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Love You Gone by Rona Halsall

Title: Love You Gone

Author: Rona Halsall

Publisher: Bookouture

Rating: 4/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Here is the description per Amazon:

‘Hello? Police? My husband and our children… they’re gone.’

When Mel arrives at the holiday cottage in the Lake District, she expects to find the heating on and her husband Luke and the two children waiting for her. Maybe a bottle of wine open…

Instead, there is just a note on the side, saying they’ve gone out for a walk.

But they aren’t back several hours later, and Mel knows something is wrong. Really wrong. When a search doesn’t find them, she has to confess to the police that her marriage isn’t all that it seems.
Even if that risks her own secrets being revealed

The plot: See above, then enter the story as told from Mel, then Luke’s point of view. I read the book in two days mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t put it down. There are plenty of plot twists and turns to keep it addictive. First you are pointed in an obvious direction then the secrets start coming out!

The characters: I don’t think Halsall wants you to like any of the characters, although I promise that your initial opinion of them all will change! None particularly stood out to me except for Luke’s parents, who were amazingly receptive to the entire shenanigan and I liked them.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone who likes a good suspense story.  It’s hard to talk about the book too much without giving away hints at spoilers but the entire plot does a 180 from what I originally suspected had happened, and the result was that I couldn’t put it down.  Once the cops get involved and you start hearing Luke’s story, the whole façade starts cracking and I had to fight not to skim to the end just to get the answer sooner!

Thank you again for the eARC and I hope everyone will check the book out for a quick page turner!