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Recent Reviews

Updated: 5 days ago

Here you will find books that I have read previously, along with their reviews. While some books will not rate as highly for me than other ones, each book is like a dear friend. Some books will click instantly with a person and teach them many lesson, show them different ways of viewing the world, or change how they feel about themselves on a personal level. All books, like people, are unique. Not every book will be dearly loved by every person who reads them, but that does not make a book any less valuable to those who cherish it.

All novels, series, books of every sort are a piece of artwork. Just like with painting, there are a plethora of different styles available... the only limit to that artwork is how far a person will let their imagination take them, and still be brave enough to share it with the world.

Happy reading!

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

-Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood


Sleeping Beauties

Goodreads Description:

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I started this book February 18th and finished today, March 4th. Books do not usually take me that long. Even books with 700+ pages do not usually take me so long. But this book was so. Messed. Up. A few times I had to put it down, stare into space, and really wonder how some minds work and come up with their route of logical thinking. Now, by messed up I do not mean that the book was bad in any way, shape, or form. There are very mixed reviews on this book that I read before starting it. However, it was on my TBR list for years. Also, honestly? I like to give books a shot despite negative reviews they may have. I liked this book. Would I read it again? Most likely not. However, that does not make it a bad book. I loved the strong female characters, but disliked how most men were portrayed. Not all men think evil thoughts. Not all men what to solve problems with guns out and explosives lit. Even the "good" guys in the story were not truly good. The good guys in this story were very complex, making them more realistic than the other men who were causing more mayhem then there really needed to be. The only way to describe how must of the male characters made me feel in this story would be to quote Janice Coates, "You're like a booger I can't get off my finger." The bad guys just stick around and refuse to do anything helpful to the situation. Move along gentleman, you're only making things worse! Do not even get me started on how the men talk about women when they are all in the bar, one man was raving about how women are today compared to about one hundred years ago. This was an enjoyable, albeit long, read. I loved how the female characters grew in strength and courage. The animals were also fantastic, but the moths? Moths always have had a way of giving me the heebie-jeebies. Every time a moth was mentioned, a chill ran up my spine. I still would rather share space with a moth over a spider any day. So my long-winded review comes down to this: this is a book worth trying. There is a lot in there to gain and I think it was an excellent father-son project with a good result. Happy reading!

When I Was You

Goodreads Description:

stolen identity leads a woman down a dark and desperate path in a gripping novel of psychological suspense by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent. After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence. But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger. What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This book was a quick and easy thriller to read and enjoy. I first saw this on Amazon First reads and decided, "Eh, it's a free monthly book and the other choices don't look too interesting. Why not?" I'm glad that I chose this book after all. It has suspense and bends (not exactly twists...a bit too obvious) in the story. Being an avid reader, I can spot plot twists coming a mile away and am able to predict them quite accurately. Brienne has recovered physically from a mugging, but she is far from recovered mentally. Her anxiety gets the better of her and causes migraines. She does not feel safe living alone so finds the perfect roommate: meet Nial. He's a doctor who is good looking and well-mannered. He's every girl's sweet and charming dream man. He's a bit too perfect for me, leaving me suspicious about who he really is. However, it could just be that I am jaded by other "perfect" people from many other books. Things start to get even darker for Brienne when she discovers another person with her same name that even looks like her. This other Brienne dresses like her, drinks her favorite drink, wears similar clothing, reads the same books, etc. The farther Brienne digs into this copy of herself, the harder it is to figure out what is real and what is fiction. Abandoned by her friends after her accident, she really has no one to turn to. Will anyone take her seriously? Is she losing her grip on reality? Or is there truly something going on that could cause her terrible grief in the near future?

Goodreads Description:

They say she’s a murderess. She claims she’s innocent. But Lucy has been known to tell lies… 1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth. In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves. In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage. Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

Lucy Blunt sits in a dark, dirty, wet prison cell waiting for her death by hanging. Her memories torment her along with the spirits of those who's lives she touched in one way or another. She has been accused of murdering two people and believes herself innocent of the crime. As the story progresses, there are almost jarring switches between the past and the current time in her dark story. While waiting for her eventual punishment for her crimes, she is often visited by a man interested in writing her story. He often brings her treats that his wife makes but she never eats them. At one point, she is dressed up for a photo to be taken of her for the story the man is writing. She is no longer beautiful, but the Matron is fond of her and does her best to make sure Lucy looks as lovely as possible for her final picture that will be her legacy. Her only hope now is the friend of the women she once worked for to sway the judge and others that Lucy is innocent. There is no love lost between the two of them, but Aurora will do her best. She also forms a bond with the Matron of the prison. Each prisoner has a task that makes money. The men build things and the women do laundry. Many people do not like to see women hanged for their crimes, but the future is bleak for Lucy and her hopes to escape the noose. As her time grows ever shorter and the father along we get in her memories of what lead up to her current situation, there start to be holes in her story...or parts that do not seem quite right. Is she telling the truth to herself in her memories? Is she truly innocent or is she a cold blooded murderess? Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

The Perfect Child

Goodreads Description:

A Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller.

A page-turning debut of suspense about a young couple desperate to have a child of their own—and the unsettling consequences of getting what they always wanted.

Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own.

But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature.

Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars (Rounded up)

Low reviews are ones that I honestly do not like to write. I always want to write something about what and how much I liked a book. Unfavorable reviews are something to be avoided at all costs. This book, however much I cringe, will not be getting a good rating from me. There was just so much wrong with this story. Yes, it will be a story that I will remember, but only because of how much it disturbed me (and not in a good way). So, on with my review!

Things that I liked: -I honestly enjoyed the time jumps between the Social Worker's interview with the police in the present and how it would swap back into the POV of Hannah and Christopher. -I appreciated how the social worker voiced her doubts at the beginning about the child's future dealing with physical abuse. -Christopher also shows a kind and huge heart hoping that his love could heal Janie and give her a bright future.

Things that did not work for me: -All of the MAJOR HIPPA violations. You do not talk about a patient outside of work, let alone with someone who has nothing to do with helping the patient! Patient information is a "as needed" subject, sharing only what is necessary to help that person. You NEVER share anything with people outside of their case unless absolutely necessary. Christopher and Hannah could get in major legal trouble for that violation. -It is counted as abuse if you hug/kiss a patient. Hugs are okay only if an adult gives another adult consent, otherwise it is abuse and could cause a ton of legal trouble. It is also very creepy to be hugging and kissing on a child you just met (no matter the circumstances). -Out of hospital field trips for a child without a guardian? That is highly unlikely and unrealistic for this situation. -Christopher falling asleep on Janie's bed with scrubs that could be covered in countless germs from all over the hospital. -Christopher is blinded to Janie's behavior when it is so obvious to other people and refuses to listen.

I could keep going, but there are some people out there that honestly enjoyed the story. It was definitely not for me. However, if it sounds like something you want to try and enjoy disturbing tales, this may be a good read.

The Family Upstairs

Goodreads Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I have been waiting several months for my chance to read this book from my local library. I have seen rave reviews about this book from my fellow Goodreads friends and have been anxious to read it for myself. This story was full of semi-dark, twisty plot lines that woven together seamlessly. There were quite a few moments where I cringed in the book due to what the characters went through. It also left me with a lot of questions that were not resolved. How does not one single person know what may be going on in that house of horrors? Do the neighbors never go in their backyards and see them over the fence? Why... well, I cannot say what my other questions are because that would give away spoilers. The only difficult part of the book was that every chapter switched back and forth between three characters with not much to help you to know who was narrating until a few sentences in. Was it Libby? Lucy? Henry? It was a little bit of a mess at first, but the story gradually started to weave itself together into something a bit more logical. Since there has already been so much said about this book, I will keep this short and sweet: this story was pretty good. It was not, ultimately, my favorite thriller. However, it was a good tale and the ending was not what I was expecting (in a fantastic way!).

Westering Women

Goodreads Description:

From the bestselling author of Prayers for Sale, an inspiring celebration of sisterhood on the perilous wagon-trail west

"If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband?"

It's February 1852, and all around Chicago Maggie sees the postings soliciting "eligible women" to travel to the gold mines of Goosetown. A young seamstress with a small daughter and several painful secrets, she has nothing to lose.

So she joins forty-three other women and two pious reverends on the dangerous 2,000-mile journey west. None of them are prepared for the hardships they face on the trek through the high plains, mountains, and deserts. Or for the triumphs of finding strengths they did not know they possessed. And not all will make it.

As Maggie gets to know the other women, she soon discovers that she’s not the only one looking to leave dark secrets behind. And when her past catches up with her, it becomes clear a band of sisters will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I was dropping books back off at my local library when I noticed this gorgeous cover. There had been a pep-talk from me, to me before I went in about not picking up any more books until I get at least one more ARC read and reviewed but, let's be real, books are hard to resist. After reading the synopsis I thought it sounded like a great read about women learning how to be strong and stand up for themselves. I was a little taken aback when I saw how few pages there were for a sweeping epic, but I decided to try it anyways. I adored Mary in this book. She is an important figure from the very beginning and plays a strong role in the lives of the other women around her on the trip out west. She and Maggie become close very quickly. Their friendship starts when they both enter the church to hear about and sign up for the trip out west to find husbands in the coal mining areas.

All the women have more than the desire to find a suitable husband, however, otherwise they would stay in Chicago and find a man there. Instead, they are all running from one thing or another. I loved the growth in the characters as each woman starts to discover her own strength and learn new skills that she would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn. There is true character growth in the women and even the preachers taking them on the long journey. What did not work for me, however, was how nearly all of the men were portrayed. The men were nearly all abusive physically, emotionally and verbally up until the end. Some of the loses along the way were also unnecessary. They were to add dramatic effect, I'm sure, but simply came off rather dry and unsatisfying. I had trouble bonding to most of the characters for various reasons that is too difficult to try to explain. Overall, it was a satisfying read about the hardships these women faced along the way from Chicago to California and how they all grew in character and became to love one another.

Darling Rose Gold

Goodreads Description:

Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships...

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

Thank you Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions stated below are my own.

A parent would do anything to protect and keep their child happy. There is an instinct deep within most adults to do anything and everything they can for the sake of their beloved offspring. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong in a person's mind. Having had an unhappy childhood herself, Patty is determined to have a child of her own, resulting in the birth of Rose Gold. All through Rose Gold's infancy, Patty is there hovering. She counts every breath, finds every fault, convinces herself of every diagnosis she can think of as a CNA. There is obviously something very wrong with Patty's mental health and poor Rose Gold is the victim of it. After being released from jail after serving her time for everything she put Rose Gold through for nearly two decades, she cannot wait to get back into her daughter's life and take care of her once more. The perspective switches between Patty in the present and Rose Gold in the past. Their intertwining stories weave their tangled web of lies and deceit up to the present day of the novel. Both women are incredibly intelligent and strong willed. Will Rose Gold get her revenge for what her mother did? Will Patty ever feel regret for harming her own child? This is a gritty, dark, amusing ride of a thriller where not everyone is as innocent as you believe. This was a real page turner and a must read for those who enjoy seriously messed up characters.

The Starless Sea

Goodreads Description:

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

This is counting as my first book of the year, even though I started late December. I finished it this month so it counts, right? I'm going to rate this book as 4 stars. I loved this book. I loved that there were many stories intertwined with the bigger picture even if it did not seem as if they belonged at first. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is at the period of time between midterm break and the new

January term of graduate college. Little does Zachary know that he's about to go on a wild adventure, find a world beneath a world, another world beneath that world, stories that feel real, stories that are real but logic says they should not, and the love of his life. He always has the choice to go forward or to stop and go back. Zachary follows his heart and his mind to accomplish the impossible. He travels down dark tunnels into mysterious crypts, discovers more than he may want to know at times. The weaving of this story is one that I will not be forgetting anytime soon. Why, then, does it only get 4 stars? I... cannot explain. While the tale was delicious, sweet, rich and thick as honey (hehe...see what I did there? Okay. Dork moment over) there was something...missing. I still cannot put my finger on it. Maybe it will become more clear to me during an eventual re-reading of the tale. A story like this one deserves to be read more than once. You never know what you will discover the second time around that you missed the first time! Happy reading!

The Vine Witch

Goodreads Description:

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

"Mud and silk, blood and milk, never the twain should meet. For if they do, bad luck to you. Tis the Devil you'll greet."

I was fortunate to get this through Amazon First Reads. That particular month, I was given a choice for two books instead of one. This was one of the choices I made and it was, in the end, an okay read. The synopsis sounded fascinating. There was to be revenge, a nature type of witch, and a bit of a mystery. Why, then, was this book just okay to me? I'm not sure I can put my finger on it. The writing style was decent, the pacing was decent, but something was just...missing. The story starts with our main character as a frog. Soon after our introduction with her, the frog then turns back into a human and returns home where life has moved on without her. Her mentor is there still, but the vineyard no longer belongs to her. The new owner is a handsome young man with a legal background that comes in handy later on. After a bit of a stroll through the book, it starts to pick up after the halfway point. The pacing speeds up with the introduction of new characters along with new layers to established ones. The ending is bittersweet and enjoyable. Would I want to re-read this book in the future? As it stands right now, that would be a "no" from me, but things change. That being said, take my review as a grain of salt and give it a try for yourself if it sounds like something you may enjoy!

The Second Sleep

Goodreads Description:

All civilisations think they are invulnerable. History warns us none is.

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – is tested to destruction.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This book is not at all what I thought it would be. I did not read what other people had to say about it in their reviews and went strictly by the description provided by the library online. Nowhere in the description does it say anything about our times and people, called "ancients", being in the past. The world has gone back centuries in time in how things work. People live in hovels, religion is extremely important once more, and the Catholic church is the main source of power. Trying to find out what happened to the "ancients" is a horrible crime. Knowledge is not power, but it is punishable and discouraged. My first "what in the world is going on here?" moment was not long into the book. The character was using words such as plastic and describing different items, including an iPhone, from our own current time. I had to flip to the back of the book to see if maybe I did not read the description correctly. I was definitely in for a surprise when I finally found out what kind of story I was reading. While I go through two books or more in a week, this one took over a week for me to finish. It is not a long book and is the average 300+ page novel. However, I could not stay with the story for very long before wanting to move on to another task and put the book down. The story was just okay for me and the ending was a let down. There was a lot of hype and build up (albeit slow build up) to the (not-quite) grand finale. I almost felt like I wasted my time reading this book. Despite not enjoying it, I could tell the author put their heart into writing this novel and so I bumped my rating up to three stars. That being said, just like other books that I did not really enjoy, I hope you don't take my word for it and give it a try for yourself. You never know if it may become your next favorite book!

The Invited

Goodreads Description:

A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don't simply move into a haunted house, they start building one from scratch, without knowing it, until it's too late . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home--wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks--she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This was a decent thriller. A woman and her husband inherit some money and decide to build their dream home in a boggy, swampy area. The locals are not thrilled about their new neighbors and blame everything that goes wrong on their appearance awakening an old spirit. Despite the locals not liking them, they purchase a plot of land that's known as the previous home of Hattie. The women in Hattie's bloodline appear to be cursed. Every woman from that family line meets a horrible end. Soon enough, Helen becomes obsessed with Hattie and the history of her land and starts incorporating parts of haunted buildings into her own home. Gradually her relationship starts to become frayed between hauntings, ghosts, and a mysterious white doe. Can Helen and Nate discover what truly happened to Hattie and save the next woman in the bloodline from meeting the same fate as those before her? Ghosts, murder, new friends and enemies, and a whole lot of sad and undeserved dark pasts. This is a perfect ghost story for those who need light but spooky reading.


Goodreads Description:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory begins a sweeping new series with the story of a poor, uneducated midwife named Alinor who is tempted by a forbidden love affair--but all too aware of the dangers awaiting a woman who dares to step out of the place society carved for her.

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

This review is a bit late in coming, but we all know how life can distract us and lead us off into directions other than the one we originally intended. I was ecstatic when a copy of this book was put into my hands as a gift. I have enjoyed all of the Philippa Gregory books that I have read in the past about the Tudors. In this story, the main character is a mother of two who has been essentially abandoned by her husband. She is lingering in the church graveyard one evening and waiting to see if her husband's ghost appears. If she sees her husband's ghost on this particular evening of the year, it means that he has died and she is a widow and a free woman once more. Her children, a son and a daughter, both work in order to help make ends meet. While waiting in the church cemetery, a stranger comes out of the dark who will change her future forever. This is a slow burner type of book which is not well suited for some people, but I rather enjoyed it. As a reader, I was able to truly get a feel and visual for the landscape and the beauty (and fierceness) of living on a constantly changing land and the danger of the waters. Gregory peels back the layers on seemingly perfect characters until you see their dark, selfish, twisted souls hidden beneath all of their "goodness." The story ended on a cliffhanger. I will be anxiously awaiting the next book in this new series!

No Judgments

Goodreads Description:

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I first became a fan of Meg Cabot when I was little. I remember going to a small business type bookshop in a darling part of town when I was little. My mother was with me and let me run my fingers along the spines of the books until a bright pink cover on a paperback book caught my eye. Being the little girl that I was, I stopped to look and was excited when my mom gently took it from me and placed it on the counter to purchase. This was one of my favorite things to do when I was small, and my mother and I still go book shopping together to this day. The book I picked out that day was The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. That Princess Diaries series started me on my journey to being a fan of this author. As an adult, I have drifted away and returned to authors that I enjoyed in the past. Having been away from Meg Cabot for a while, I saw this book was coming out and so requested it from my local library.

This was a light, fluffy, beach read type of book. While heavy subjects (sexual assault and animal abuse) are touched on lightly, there is not really anything heavy about this book. It was your typical good girl falling for the wealthy and snarky handsome man. Having heard all about his reputation, the main character is determined to stay away from him...well, kind of. You know how these stories go. Her traumatic past is touched on along with her strained relationship with her mother and the secrets she kept from her all of these years. When not reflecting on her past or the present handsome guy with the reputation for his trucking sitting outside of a different house every night, there's the ever present risk of the hurricane heading their way.

The hurricane focus of the story was not as fleshed out as I believe it could have been. There's this every present threat of a absolutely horrible, life threatening, category 5 hurricane coming to the tiny island and... our main character refuses all offers of help to leave? Will not evacuate despite numerous people offering to let her come along? However, there would not be a story if she evacuated when this book is supposed to be a frilly, girl meets boy, read. For crying out loud! There's a life threatening hurricane coming! And when the storm finally hits? Well, it's written a bit...blasé. "Oh look! A hurricane is raging outside. Let's eat food and chill out as if nothing could happen. Like, oh, I don't know... potentially death inducing going on? The actual hurricane itself takes place for only a couple pages and then the almost mild seeming (though horrendous) damage is mentioned at the end of the storm. May it's just me? It was an easy, fast read, but not something to write home about. Still a great author!

A Dog's Promise

Amazon Description:

A Dog's Promise continues the story of Bailey, the good dog whose journey started in A Dog's Purpose and continued in A Dog's Journey (both major motion pictures). This time, Bailey is joined by Lacey, another very special dog, who helps Bailey fulfill his promise over the course of several lives.

This charming, wise canine soul brings joy, laughter, and comfort as he unites a family fractured by life's inevitable obstacles. The love and loyalty of these two memorable dogs shows us the incredible power of hope, truth, and unending devotion in this moving novel by award-winning author W. Bruce Cameron.

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

I first discovered this author years ago when, I believe, someone mentioned his first book of this series “A Dog’s Purpose” and I was hooked. I was so sad when the second book was finished and there was no promise of another book for this series. The author’s writing and stories are wholesome and will make you laugh, happy cry, ugly cry and smile with joy. In this final journey of Bailey’s he is returned to the farm where the main part of his beginning took place. Now a generation or two has passed since Bailey lived his last life and is in Heaven with his previous owners who missed and love him dearly. The story begins with Bailey being approached by two of his previous humans, one of which is Ethan, and they tell him that he is needed to go back down to Earth and take care of a descendent and his older brother. They reassure him that he is the very best boy and send him on his way. I do not want to give too much away, so I will keep this as brief as possible.

Bailey always starts out as a puppy and has something to learn in each life so that he can help whoever needs him in his next life to the best of his abilities. The author really does make you feel how much Bailey’s humans love him and I often found myself grabbing one of my dogs and hugging them close (despite two of them being 80+ pounds) to me or on my lap while reading this story. I’m never left disappointed by this author and loved seeing how the main character, who has a disability, learn how to overcome his way of thinking. Not only that, but his older brother learns about himself and what he wants out of life. Both brothers have a long journey ahead of them to figure out who they want to be and what truly matters to them.

The shorter review: It was amazing and you really need to pick up a copy for his heartwarming tale.

Goodreads Description:

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren't finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell ... and Earth.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This book was full of adventure, people learning more about themselves (even after death...even if they are not actual people) and what goes on in the day to day life of Claire, Hell’s librarian. Claire’s existence is a tedious one at times as she looks after all of the unwritten books and trains her assistant who just happens to be a muse. However, one day, one of the characters from a book gets loose. This is not too uncommon of an occurrence, but this character is tricky and nearly impossible to control. With no other choice, this character joins Claire, the muse and a devil on a journey none of them see coming. We, the readers, are taken into other “heavens” such as Valhalla and other forgotten places of religious beliefs. While this was not an absolute win of a read for me, it was worth the time to experience this author’s new (under and upper) world. Give this book a try if you like:


*Traveling to other dimensions

*People who are not as they appear

*Demons and their semi-complex hierarchy

*A sassy librarian who can hold her own

The Widow of Rose House

Goodreads Description:

A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age debut novel

It's 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren't as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn't need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva's new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva's history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

My Thoughts: 3.5 Stars

Alva Webster is a well-known woman. She is a woman who has a past with being in the gossip section of the newspaper. She is a woman to be whispered about behind the back of a lady’s hand to the woman standing primly next to her. Alva Webster is not new to the disdain other women show towards her. After all, juicy gossip is much more fun than the truth. Believed to have partaken in orgies and being a loose woman, she must keep her spine straight and strong to make it through each and every day. Longing for a new beginning, she returns to New York after the death of her estranged husband and purchases an old run-down house in order to remodel and style it and write a book about the process. She hopes to target the growing middle-class women due to the larger size of potential buyers for the book, whereas the rich upper-class has fewer potential buyers for such a book. She hopes to convince a publisher to agree to print her book once finished. The publisher hopes her name will help sell the books and make them both very wealthy.

Little does Alva know, the day she meets her possible publisher in a busy restaurant is the day that will permanently impact her future. Sam is an eccentric genius. Even the smallest detail will set him off pondering ways to make it better and more useful. Hearing that she is the newest owner of Liefdehuis, Sam makes a point to greet her. His new obsession is contacting, or even proving the existence of, ghosts. Their painfully awkward, amusing, talking about two completely different things (seriously, this part is funny) meeting leads them down the road to a strange, yet charmingly twining path. Unfortunately, as if the knowledge of a ghost legend being part of the house she purchased wasn’t enough, there is someone from her past coming to make her already difficult life much more hazardous.

Out of all of the characters, I adored Sam and his sister. His whole family were amazing supporting characters and I loved the parts where I could spend time reading from Sam’s perspective. The story is charming and is mostly a slow burn romance until the 60% mark where the paranormal theme starts to make its way towards the center stage. Up until that point, the paranormal activity appears mostly in the background. Near the end, the ghost of Liefdehuis is all together a very real threat. The spirit has a dangerous ability that can seriously harm those it chooses. Can Sam and Alva solve this mystery of a ghost no one seems to have the same origin story of? What of that unwanted person from her past? Alva must tread carefully if she ever wants to find happiness in her future.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Supernova Era

Goodreads Description:

From Cixin Liu, the New York Times bestselling and Hugo award-winning author of The Three Body Problem, comes a new science fiction masterpiece.

In those days, Earth was a planet in space. In those days, Beijing was a city on Earth. On this night, history as known to humanity came to an end.

Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.

And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge they'll need to keep the world running.

But the last generation may not want to carry the legacy of their parents' world. And though they imagine a better, brighter world, they may bring about a future so dark humanity won't survive.

My Thoughts: 2 Stars

First off, I would like to thank the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Now, to the difficult part. I typically enjoy science fiction/fantasy. I also have an enjoyment for astronomy. Sounds like a good combination when this book is factored in. However, it failed. Miserably. I do not take any enjoyment out of writing two, or even one, star reviews. Authors put so much time, energy and life into writing these books that it greatly saddens me when I do not find the end result enjoyable. With that being said, I would like to start out with what I did like. What worked for me: In the beginning, when we get past the science explanations (which will lose quite a few readers from the get-go if they are not fans of that type of science jargon) we get to see the supernova and how it impacts the government and daily life of every single person. There's fascination, then a weariness as things start to change and animals start to die off, then the adults start feeling their mortality and what it means for their children who, fortunately, will survive. As an Auntie, I absolutely love my nephews. I often joke with my sister-in-law that I make mama bear look positively harmless. I could feel the fear of the adults and how they wanted to ensure the survival of the children. I found myself cringing in sympathy when the adults finally handed over the world to the children, who they taught all that they could in their remain time, and knew that their time was up. That had to be one of the most difficult parts of the book. I enjoyed how the children seemed to work together at first. What didn't work for me? It is hard to go into details without having spoilers, but from the 200ish page mark, it got ugly real fast. I did not enjoy how the American kids were portrayed. It was not truly realistic and neither were how children of other countries were described in how they handled their knew world power. Maybe I'll be in the minority for my dislike the book. I honestly hope that I am one of the very few. I want this author to grow and continue on writing books that people will enjoy. This book simply was no for me. One thing I always like to mention at the end of every not-so-stellar book review: Don't take my word for it! Give it a try for yourself. You never know until you try and judge it for yourself. Happy reading!

The Chocolate Maker's Wife

Goodreads Description:

Damnation has never been so sweet...

Rosamund Tomkins, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, spends most of her young life in drudgery at a country inn. To her, the Restoration under Charles II, is but a distant threat as she works under the watchful eye of her brutal, abusive stepfather . . . until the day she is nearly run over by the coach of Sir Everard Blithman.

Sir Everard, a canny merchant, offers Rosamund an “opportunity like no other,” allowing her to escape into a very different life, becoming the linchpin that will drive the success of his fledgling business: a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men come to see and be seen, to gossip and plot, while indulging in the sweet and heady drink.

Rosamund adapts and thrives in her new surroundings, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure.

But Sir Everard’s plans for Rosamund and the chocolate house involve family secrets that span the Atlantic Ocean, and which have already brought death and dishonor to the Blithman name. Rosamund knows nothing of the mortal peril that comes with her new title, nor of the forces spinning a web of conspiracy buried in the past, until she meets a man whose return tightens their grip upon her, threatening to destroy everything she loves and damn her to a dire fate.

As she fights for her life and those she loves through the ravages of the Plague and London’s Great Fire, Rosamund’s breathtaking tale is one marked by cruelty and revenge; passion and redemption—and the sinfully sweet temptation of chocolate.

My Thoughts: 3.5 Stars

Since there are so many wonderfully written on this book already, I will keep my review short, sweet, and to the point. Rosamund is a young lady when we meet her. So far her life has not been exactly happy. She is the bastard child of a local nobleman who is deceased. Left on the porch of her lady grandmother’s home, she lived a charmed, if strict, childhood up until she was about seven(?) years old. After the death of her grandmother, Rosamund’s mother returned for her and took her to the hotel she and her husband own. For years now Rosamund has kept her joy despite her harsh reality. Having a keen eye and thoughts for business, she helps keep the hotel afloat, even if it does not flourish. She has two horrible stepbrothers, Fear God and Glory, along with a stepfather that does things that one should never do to a child, let alone a child you are supposed to protect.

By only chance one day, as she was running away from her vile stepbrothers, Rosamund falls in front of a carriage of the man who would change her life in a matter of hours. Being a presumed gentleman at the time, Sir Everard Blithman quickly comes to an agreement with her mother. Time continues on in an ever twisting, spinning path and Rosamund discovers that everyone and everything is not nearly as black and white as it first appears. There’s always the main focus of chocolate, but I truly enjoyed our main character’s growth and those of the characters around her and the amount of depth they show as the story progresses. There is betrayal, revenge, good times and bad, and enemies that pop out of the abyss. The only parts of the story I did not enjoy were the many, many, times a person’s eyes would “flash” every time they had an emotion. Fortunately, it cut down as the story progressed towards the middle. Another thing I could not stand was how people always seemd to instantly fall in love with Rosamund due to her beauty and how she looks like Sir Everard’s deceased daughter.

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Little Darlings

Goodreads Description:

“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

Having had high expectations for this book, since I have had the pleasure of multiple excellent books in a row, I was a bit...blah about this book. The story was well written, but the whole thing was just missing something; something I cannot put my finger on. As an Auntie I know what it is like to feel protective of small children under your care. You will do anything, absolutely anything, to keep them safe. As an Auntie, I often joke that I make Mama Bears look charming and sweet. However, unfortunately for me I could not connect with the main character, Lauren, in this story or any of the other characters. Lauren is an exhausted mother of newborn twins and the wife of a not so supportive husband. Taking care of others does not come naturally for him and is more of a chore than a labor of love. On the evening after Lauren has given birth to her beautiful baby boys, she hears something strange in the hospital room with her. That noise would start Lauren down a dark, twisted road where the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur. Convinced that a fairy has tried to switch her twins for changelings, she calls for help. She quickly finds out that no one believes what she saw was real despite her pleas to be taken seriously. Someone tried to take her babies and she was now the only one who could protect them. She hides away from the world and keeps her babies with her every second of the day and barely sleeps, always listening for the fairy to return and try to switch their babies again for her monsters. Eventually she is convinced to go out and get fresh air. She takes her babies to the park to meet up with friends and then takes a walk down to the water where she falls asleep. Waking up, Lauren realizes her babies are gone. She panics and knows, just knows, that her babies will not be returning as themselves but as changelings. Willing to do anything to get them back, she does not care of people think she is mentally ill. She will get her babies back no matter the cost.

The Grace Year

Goodreads Description:

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

My Thoughts: 5 Stars

When I first saw this book, I was intrigued. This book sounded like maybe, just maybe, it could finally be a breath of fresh air in the YA book world. Imagine my excitement when I received an ARC and could finally dig into the story. From the first few pages, I was enchanted by the story and the author’s writing. However, I made the mistake of reading it on my lunch break at work and was itchy and annoyed until I could go home and crack open the book again. Fortunately for me, it was a Friday that I started this book. Unfortunately, it was an extremely rare occurrence that I had to work the next morning. I did not want to put this book down. Ok, let’s be honest. I couldn’t put this book down. It was that good. Finally, I told myself that as much as I needed to finish this book for my own sanity, I had to get up in the morning. That was one of the longest shifts I think I have ever had at work. Eventually it was time to go home. I finished that book like a crazed bookworm. 

Tierney James’s Grace Year has arrived. Her two older sisters have both survived, but it’s different when it’s your turn, knowing that you could walk away to your unknown destination and never return... well, never return alive or in one piece. Tierney struggles with her want for change; for things to be better for the women of her county. They are seen as nothing more than property for their husbands, and if they do not receive a veil, a promise of marriage, before they leave for their grace year, they will return to be used as laborers. The most unfortunate ones, the girl’s whose sisters do not come back alive or dead, are casted out to the borders to a life of prostitution. Sounds horrible, right? But there is hope. Where there is life, there will always be hope. 

Before the girls arrive at the destination for their grace year, a leader is already forming. This leader believes only in herself and will lead the girls down a dark, dangerous path that nothing can prepare them for. There is blood, death, a loss of hope for some, and let us not forget about the poachers. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught, well, let’s hope you have a good pain tolerance because they do not give you the mercy you cry out for. This is a dark book, but oh so beautifully written. This is the kind of book all girls need to read. I wish this book was around when I was sixteen. 

The women hold all the power. After all, isn’t their magic the reason that they are cast out for a year at sixteen years of age? They hold the power and yet the men suppress them. Fortunately for Tierney, there is love of many forms that she will find and learn to cherish. Tierney was the perfect main character for this story. I bonded with the goodbye with her at the end of the book was bittersweet. 

This is a book I feel honored for receiving. The publishers entrust us reviewers to read their books and spread the word about them, to give them feedback on our read experience. This book though...this book I need, not want, need a physical copy of. I need to hold it in my hands, put it on my bookshelf and read over and over again. 

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 

The Trouble with Christmas

Goodreads Description:

All Suzanne St. Michelle wants is an over-the-top, eggnog-induced holiday with her best friend in Credence, Colorado. But when her hoity-toity parents insist she come home for Christmas in New York, she blurts out that her sexy landlord is actually her boyfriend and she can’t leave him—Joshy loves Christmas. The more twinkle lights the better.

Rancher Joshua Grady does not love Christmas. Or company, or chatty women. Unfortunately for him, the chattiest woman ever has rented the cottage on his ranch, invited her rich, art-scene parents, and now insists he play “fake rancher boyfriend” in a production of the Hokiest Christmas Ever. And somehow…she gets him to agree.

Apparently, he’ll do anything to get his quiet life back. At least there’s mistletoe every two feet—and kissing Suzy is surprisingly easy. But in the midst of acres of tinsel, far too many tacky Christmas sweaters, and a tree that can be seen from space, he’s starting to want what he lost when he was a kid—a family. Too bad it’s with a woman heading back to New York before the ball drops…

Each book in the Credence, Colorado series is STANDALONE: * Nothing But Trouble * The Trouble with Christmas

Thank you Netgalley via BookishFirst for an early paperback copy in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

This story is your typical Hallmark Christmas story for the most part. It is a good, fluffy Christmas read without much depth to it or the characters and is rather predictable. Suzanne is an artist, but mostly paints what others have already done for insurance purposes. Who wants to risk the real painting being stolen when you can have an identical fake one on display and the real one hidden away and safe? Looking to find her muse and start painting original artwork of her own, she goes to Credence Colorado and stays in a cottage on a ranch. Your typical broody, silent man is the head rancher and he enjoys his peace and quiet...that is, until Suzanne shows up in her Mystery Machine (without the Scooby Doo gang) and suddenly his world falls upside down. She has gotten herself into quite the mess not long after her arrival. She has her parents convinced that she cannot possibly come home for Christmas as she is spending it with her rancher boyfriend who LOVES Christmas. Her parents have never truly celebrated Christmas and cannot stand all of the garish decorations, but in a desperate attempt to save their marriage, they have decided to come to Credence and spend Christmas with Suzanne and her fake boyfriend. Now she has to convince Grady to follow along with her plan...and her muse simply adores him. Here comes "operation hokiest Christmas ever." What could possibly go wrong?

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Goodreads Description:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heart.

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

I came across this book while scrolling through my Goodreads feed one day. It kept popping up with people reviewing it and love the novel. I am, by nature, a curious creature. This year, I had made a goal that I would read more books outside of my normal comfort area, and this looked like another good opportunity to do so. A couple days later, I requested it from the library and was happy to see that so many other people wanted to read it as well, based on the wait time for it. At first, I opened the book and was wondering just what was going on with Eleanor and why she was “completely fine.” Eleanor is a creature of habit. She does the same thing every day with specific things that she does each individual day. She does not socialize at or after work, and comes home every day and ether reads, listens to the radio, or some other single person activity. She speaks to Mummy every Wednesday. On Fridays, she grabs a pizza and some alcohol and goes home. Her weekends are spent not drunk, but neither is she sober and gets through the lonesome weekend like that until Monday.

When sitting back and thinking on what I read in this book, her life really boils down to two significant people in her life; Mummy and Raymond. Mummy and Eleanor speak, as I mentioned previously, every Wednesday evening at around the same time. Mummy never has anything kind to say to Eleanor, but takes a slight interest when Eleanor starts crushing on a musician. Eleanor always thinks her choices through thoroughly before taking action on her decision. Suddenly it appears that maybe Mummy will love her if she gets a husband...a person who could then love her even if her Mummy does not approve. She becomes slightly obsessed with this musician that she has never met and starts to try to change herself to fit the image she thinks she should be in order to look good standing next to her crush.

While at work one day, Eleanor meets the new IT guy. The way he speaks in their electronic communication (company chat box between employees) when she requires his assistance with her computer the first time disgusts her. Mummy always taught her to speak properly, and Raymond’s way of communication was simply atrocious to her! However, as fate would have it, she and Raymond start a unique kind of relationship when they happen to be at the right place at the right time when an elderly gentleman, Sammy, takes a fall and hurts himself. They assist him and a new friendship buds between them and Sammy. Eleanor is at times cringe worthy, chuckle worthy, and oh so sad and real. Eleanor shows us her (well hidden) funny side at one point when she goes to visit Sammy at the hospital.

“There was a hand-gel dispenser outside the war, and a big yellow sign above it read Do Not Drink. Did people actually drink sanitizing hand gel? I supposed they must-hence the sign. Part of me, a very small sliver, briefly considered dipping my head to taste a drop, purely because I’d been ordered not to. No, Eleanor, I told myself. Curb your rebellious tendencies. Stick to tea, coffee, and vodka.”

Eleanor! Who follows all rules and has not shown a single rebellious tendency ever in the entire book so far! Sure, she does not always pick up on social cues, nor does she care what she wears or how she looks, but she is not the definition of rebellious. As time goes on, we get to see Eleanor at her weakest. We get a sneak peek into her own thoughts that she buries down as far as she can, but is sometimes unable to hide.

“These days, loneliness is the new cancer- a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.”

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”

I could go on and on about Eleanor and her relationship with Mummy, but I honestly loved Raymond’s role in this story. Raymond is an all-around wholesome character. I absolutely adored him and I loved this story and Eleanor’s journey. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. It is now one of my favorites.


Goodreads Description:



They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert's guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie's mind.

What if there's more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn't on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

My Thoughts: 4 Stars

“I think I’ll stick around as a defense attorney for a while yet,” I said

“Why? Look what all this has cost you, Eddie. Why do it?”

“Because I can. Because I have to. Because there will always be the Art Pryors and Rudy Carps of this business. Somebody’s gotta do the right thing.”

“It doesn’t have to be you,” said Harry.

“What if everyone said that? What if nobody stood up for anyone because they expected the other guy to do it? Somebody has to be standing on the other side of the line. And if I fall, somebody will have to come along and take my place. All I have to do it keep standing for as long as I can.”

This book. Where do I even start with this review? I guess I’ll start here...Steve Cavanagh, how dare you with that ending (it was perfect though, it just was absolutely amazing)! Very few authors can have me convinced of one thing and it turn out to be a total LIE. Well done, Cavanagh, well done. I first saw this book being read by my friends on Goodreads and I was originally planning on passing it up. I had already read a few thrillers this year and was not sure I was ready for a courtroom drama/mystery/thriller novel. I had no previous experience with this author and saw that you did not have to read the previous books to understand this one. Well, I kept seeing it...and seeing it...and seeing it. Finally I requested it from my local library. I picked it up a week later (after a TON of people who requested it before me had returned their copies) and, to my surprised, finished it about 2.5 days later. If I did not work full time and also a part time job, this book would have been gone much sooner. 

I honestly cannot even get into too much of the story because, trust me, you just have to read it. I’ll do my best without giving too much away. Imagine you’re a serial killer. You are absolutely brilliant but you are not all that right in the head. You have a rare (natural, no sci-fi) ability that happens to help your serial killer self out in many situations. You kill someone and then find a way to sit on the jury for the murder trial. You get to watch someone else take the blame for all of your hard work. You get to revel in it, relive it all over again. You think you are invincible. However, there’s just one little problem; this rare lawyer is great at what he does and thinks outside of the box. He’s suddenly your worst enemy, but you have to keep your act up so no one knows who you truly are. 

Seriously. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. It is full of twists and turns and I love the logic used in this book. This author has found himself on my radar and I may be going back to the previous books to see what else he has up his sleeve. 

The Escape Room

Goodreads Description:

Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they'll do anything to reach the top.

When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.

The biggest mystery to solve in this lethal game: What happened to Sara Hall? Once a young shining star—”now gone but not forgotten”.

This is no longer a game. They’re fighting for their lives.

My Thoughts: 3 Stars

I thought this book was a quick and enjoyable read, though rather unrealistic. This book switches between Sarah Hall and then the views of Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, Sam and Lucy. Sarah is a new graduate looking for her big break in the cooperate world. She does not get hired as soon as she would have wanted and is becoming desperate. If she does not get hired soon, her future is bleak with her mounting student loans and other financial responsibilities. There is not much more time before the next wave of graduates are out seeking jobs and no one wants someone who has been rejected like she has from potential employers. After an interview with Eric, she is feeling a bit flustered. Eric pulled cheap tricks on her for her embarrassment, barely listened to her speak, ate peanuts while she was trying to make an impression, etc. She left knowing that he was just interviewing her so it looked good. On the way back out, she happens to run into Vincent on the elevator. Her crazy, messed up future is now about to begin. It’s dog-eat-dog in this business and she’s about to get her fair share. 

All of her co-workers are full of themselves and are not welcoming. Lucy is the outcast of the group who does not fit the company’s image of their ideal worker, but she’s extremely smart. Lucy is color blind and relies on her mother to organize her closet in complimentary outfits. She barely speaks to anyone when working and is ignored for the first part. However, her impressive thinking skills allow her to problem solve herself right into a terrible mess. It’s one thing to be smart with numbers, it’s another to be smart about the people around you.

Vincent, Jules, Sam and Sylvie eventually find themselves locked in an elevator years later. They received an email saying their presence was mandatory. The company is starting to look at getting rid of some people, so they want to make a good impression. The escape room team building activity is in an out of the way place that is still under construction. All of them show up, but what they do not realize is that the past is about to rear its ugly head and bite them hard. What could they have possibly done to deserve what they are going through? They have to follow the clues in order to get out of this escape room (elevator) but it’s boiling hot and hard to think. They have to work together if they want to escape...but suddenly things are taking a nasty turn. 

This read was full of suspense but was a bit predictable, a bit unrealistic, but an entertaining read. Was it the best thriller I have read this year? No, but it was still a good read! Give it a shot and you may be surprised.