Friday, July 20, 2018

The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby

 2 Star

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments—not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings. 

Kathryn - 2 Star

I enjoy this author's connection with her characters and fully feel that she's invested in their lives.  The Summer of New Beginnings includes two daughters and their mother as the sources for the story and daughter Meghan is the main voice.  I liked though, that despite being secondary characters, the mother and Tracy both were clear in their positions and challenges.  

I was inspired by Tracy when she made the decision to take her life into her own hands.  She needed to be in control to be able to help her young son.  I also enjoyed their mother, she is a strong personality but not overbearing (not completely at any rate!). 

What wasn't so great for me was Meghan.  I didn't really get to know her and felt her attachment to her father a little overwhelming for her plot lines.  She seemed so intently devoted to carrying on his business and I never really understood why there was the need to continue it, unless it was financial?  It wasn't clear why she needed to persevere.  I grasped that she wanted to pursue his legacy but not why she felt such a responsibility.  I suppose this is the heart of why I didn't connect with Meghan, I liked her I just didn't fully understand her.

It was a fun read but I didn't connect as much as I have done in the past with this author.

Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

If we had known by Elise Juska

5 Star

One August afternoon, as single mother Maggie Daley prepares to send her only child off to college, their world is shattered by news of a mass shooting at the local mall in rural Maine. As reports and updates about the tragedy begin to roll in, Maggie, an English professor, is further stunned to learn that the gunman had been a student of hers. Nathan Dugan was an awkward, complicated young man whose quiet presence in her classroom had faded from her memory-but not, it seems, the memories of his classmates.

When a viral blog post hints at the existence of a dark, violence-tinged essay Nathan had written during Maggie's freshman comp seminar, Maggie soon finds herself at the center of a heated national controversy. Could the overlooked essay have offered critical red flags that might have warned of, or even prevented, the murders to come? As the media storm grows around her, Maggie makes a series of desperate choices that threaten to destroy not just the personal and professional lives she's worked so hard to build, but-more important-the happiness and safety of her sensitive daughter, Anna.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

This was one of my favorite books of this year and maybe one of my favorite books ever.

I loved it.

A book set in modern times, I can picture every single thing that happened in this book actually happening in real life. (Which is partly what I love about books but....also something that kind of scared me given the context of this story.) The book actually drew me in so deeply that I spent quite a few days re-living it and thinking about it after finishing it. And it didn't take me long to race through the pages; one of the most compelling stories that I could just not put down.

Maggie reminded me so much of myself in many ways. I am sure that I may have second thoughts and doubt myself should I be tangled up in a story like this, just as she was. I felt equally bad for her and frustrated at times,  however, I know that life is hectic and can imagine myself missing something possibly important.

Elise Juska is such a master story teller and this recounting of a terribly tragic and unbearably modern event helped bring home to me just how terrible it really is by humanizing the experience in the most prolific way I can imagine. 

If you pick up one book this year that you expect to make you reflect and may even change your thoughts, this may very bell be the one.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Undercover Mother by Emma Robinson

3 Star

Jenny has too much on her plate: literally – she’s only pregnant with one child but she’s already eating for three. Not to mention trying to juggle her future life with a baby, a nightmare boss, a know-it-all sister, and a bizarrely laid back husband. 
She used to be famous for her ‘Single Girl About Town’ journalism. But not only is she bored of parties, she also hasn’t been single for years, and is now 8½ months pregnant. 
So when her boss hands her column to a younger colleague, Jenny panics and proposes instead writing about being a clueless new mum. Surely people will find her new friendship group fascinating? Even if the only thing they have in common is that they all had sex around the same time 9 months ago... 
Like – what’s the deal with scary Gail’s mystery husband? How is posh mum Antonia already out drinking when Jenny can barely make a cup of tea? Why isn’t sweet-natured Ruth answering any phone calls? 

And if her readers aren’t quite hooked yet, maybe Jenny will just have to be more liberal with the truth. After all, none of the other mums will read it… will they? 

Kathryn - 3 Star

This book was definitely funny, laugh out loud kind of funny at times and laughing/crying in commiseration at times too.  I have conveniently forgotten how utterly confusing that first year is and this book does indeed cover it.  However it's not really about motherhood as much as it's about the bond of motherhood-between women. How the very fact that you have birth around the same time as someone else automatically links you in this same period of confusion.

I liked the novel because of the women and how they were all different types of mothers.  What I didn't quite get on board with was the rest of the plot. I found Jenny's job quest a bit frustrating and her obsession to remain on the magazine in the same capacity a bit far fetched.  While I could appreciate that she wasn't quite ready to give up her old self she didn't seem to have any comprehension of how much things were really going to change having had a child.  I also wish that the blog she had been writing had been more humorous and heartfelt rather than looking for the sensationalistic approach.  I think that Jenny herself eventually realized that her approach wasn't quite right but that may be me projecting my age on her new mum self. 

The author though did keep me engaged and I enjoyed the writing and all the characters.  I was just hoping for a tiny bit more.  But don't let me put you off the funny parts are really funny and the author's real-life blog is fantastic!

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Broken Girls by Simone St.James

4 Star

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I love books that are written with a story told alternating between past and present as I find it helps give a complete picture of a story- The Broken Girls was written in that style. I also have a special love of Vermont having been there many times and luckily counting many people there as friends.

I can definitely picture the rural fields and school as part of the picture that was painted in this story and very much liked the creepy tale woven by Simone St. James. It still shocks me though to realize that people really did ostracize others for so many reasons back in the not so distant past and the girls who loved at Idlewild Hall were no exception. I felt so sad for them and the lives they had to live because of society and felt a particular sadness for Fiona as her demons from the past were certainly continuing to haunt her.

A story that any fan of suspense will love, I look forward to discovering more of this author`s writing  especially as I understand she is a fellow Canadian.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Somebody's Daughter by Rochelle B. Weinstein

2.5 Star

Emma and Bobby Ross enjoy a charmed life on the shores of Miami Beach. They are a model family with a successful business, an uncomplicated marriage, and two blessedly typical twin daughters, Zoe and Lily. They are established members of a tight-knit community.

Then, on the night of the girls’ fifteenth birthday party, they learn of Zoe’s heartbreaking mistake—a private and humiliating indiscretion that goes viral and thrusts her and her family into the center of a shocking public scandal.

As the family’s core is shattered by disgrace, judgment, and retribution, the fallout takes its toll. But for Emma, the shame runs deeper. Her daughter’s reckless behavior has stirred memories of her own secrets that could break a marriage, a family, and friendships forever. 

Kathryn- 2.5 Star

I have very mixed feelings about this read.  So much of the subject matter was difficult to tackle though so I do appreciate the author's attempt at bringing light to our changing times.

I found the entire issue of Zoe's act with her friend/boyfriend a non issue but it was made into a big shameful thing by not only the online exposure but her parents reactions.  At least this was the way I felt.  She is 14 years old and like it or not this is the age of experimentation and what happened should not be shameful.  It seems like her mother was theoretically understanding of this but also had a deep rooted issue about teen sexuality of her own and so was battling her own history.  Her father is in denial.  It bothered me a lot that there seemed to be a lack of maturity from the adults about how to handle their daughter's emerging sexuality.

The main issue of the novel is probably the fact that someone exposed this private moment for not only the rest of their school peers to see but  then the entire world via YouTube.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  It's difficult to put yourself at that age in this era of technology and really know how one would feel at 14.   The video taker should not have shared with anyone or filmed in the first place and I believe there should be consequences for this.  I was really happy with the legal passages in this book that tried to sort out each person's rights.  I felt this was tackled well.

Unfortunately at no point did I like the father, either in the present or in the past which really distracted me from the topic at hand.  I felt the mother gave him a free pass to keep emotionally abusing their daughter and that she should have taken the kids and left when he obviously couldn't handle himself.  Because of my feelings toward the father I had a hard time appreciating their surroundings and the subject matter. This was unfortunate because I found the concept of the hotel life fascinating and the emotional charged situation topical and important.

Overall I finished the book with some satisfaction of the outcome but a bit disappointed because with more fatherly support I felt more time could have been spent writing about the social impact on the girls and less about the parents.  I wanted to give this book a higher rating because it's an important topic.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Wallis in Love by Andrew Morton

3 Star

"You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance." -Wallis Simpson

Before she became known as the woman who enticed a king from his throne and birthright, Bessie Wallis Warfield was a prudish and particular girl from Baltimore. At turns imaginative, ambitious, and spoiled, Wallis's first words as recalled by her family were "me, me." From that young age, she was in want of nothing but stability, status, and social acceptance as she fought to climb the social ladder and take her place in London society. As irony would have it, she would gain the love and devotion of a king, but only at the cost of his throne and her reputation.
In WALLIS IN LOVE, acclaimed biographer Andrew Morton offers a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she transformed from a hard-nosed gold-digger to charming chatelaine. Using diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records, Morton takes us through Wallis's romantic adventures in Washington, China, and her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII.

Kathryn - 3 Star

Full disclosure... the knowledge I had about Wallis Simpson before reading this book could have fit on a post-it and came mostly from my grandmother's mutterings about her leading the king astray.  Now my grandmother was generally a very open minded and supportive woman but her opinion about Wallis was pretty clear to me as a child so I was determined to make up my own mind reading this "untold" story by Andrew Morton.

I learnt a lot about Wallis Simpson from her childhood to her younger self and older self, when she was Duchess of Windsor, but I don't really feel like I know her (the human being) any better than before and I certainly don't feel as if I like her.  Edward was clearly a man of with many troubles and he appears to have attached himself on to Wallis and used her as a life raft.  She didn't object until it became more like an anchor.

I was also completely confused a lot of the read and had to force myself not to give up at times. There were many, many (many) people to try and keep track of and most of them had multiple names. There didn't appear to be much flow to the "story" but was more a series of facts, places and names in some sort of chronological order.  If you are a Simpson historian then this will likely not provide any "news" to you and if you are a newbie like me then the slog may not be worth it- but in the end I feel able to at least have my own opinion on how things came to be.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

5 Star

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I'm a big fan of Sally Hepworth. Her novels are usually intricately woven stories with several main characters and The Family Next Door was exactly what I was hoping for.  It wasn't fast paced and it took a long time to come to a peak but I was hooked from the first few pages. 

Likely being a mother and a spouse allowed me to place myself in each woman's shoes a little bit more easily.   I could relate to each family in one way or another and was intrigued by the concept that you don't really know what's going on behind a neighbour's curtain.  Hepworth writes in a way that gives the women the central voice but she also manages to convey the male position as well. Though not the focus she doesn't leave us guessing.

Most interesting though was that I didn't see the end coming at all. I was entirely surprised by the twists at the end...shocked even that I hadn't seen it coming.  Hepworth writes books that people can relate too and then throws in a curve-ball which will make you think, really think.

Thank you to St.Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

5 Star

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…
Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.
Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.
Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.
Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.
And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Even though I am a not a fan of reality television show, which this story focuses on, I am definitely a fan of Jessica Knoll`s and have been since her first book, Luckiest Girl Alive, came out. Her reading style is just so compulsively readable that I possibly stayed up far later than I should have because I just could not force myself to put down the book.

Based on the lives of 5 characters, of which two are sisters, this story rocked its way through another story I could imagine happening. Reality TV shows don't seem so innocent to me, from the little I have watched and I can absolutely imagine something nefarious happening. Full of the usual alliance and betrayals and drama, the show itself was sure to be a hit with these overly ambitious women all competing.

Lots of twists and turns and shocking events brought us to a conclusion that I had never imagined which is great because I hate figuring out a story and there was little if any chance of that here! If you love a great and wild ride, pick this book up, especially if you have some upcoming vacation time!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

3 Star

Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha "Sam" Mullins felt trapped on her family's orchard and in their pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star's New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.

When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family's orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life--including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family's history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.

As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.

Kathryn - 3 Star

This novel has lots of feels and sweet stuff.  You'll definitely be itching to bake something reading this story and will also be hungry for the warmth of family or friends that support you unconditionally.

Sam essentially goes home to her family's orchard because she can't see what her next step in New York should be.  She's a trained pastry chef but has been working for a TV "personality" rather than someone who can recognise her talents.  She's lost and unsure of herself.  She returns to the family for a visit at the family's urging but she has no intention of staying.  The warmth and love that enfolds her though seems to be too strong to resist, and why is she resisting anyway?

The novel covers multiple generations of strong and driven women and at the heart this book is about women and their strength within families.  You can truly feel the warm and encompassing hug the words generate and I enjoyed this read!

Thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trouble The Water by Jacqueline Friedland

3 Star

Abigail Milton was born into the British middle class, but her family has landed in unthinkable debt. To ease their burdens, Abby’s parents send her to America to live off the charity of their old friend, Douglas Elling. When she arrives in Charleston at the age of seventeen, Abigail discovers that the man her parents raved about is a disagreeable widower who wants little to do with her. To her relief, he relegates her care to a governess, leaving her to settle into his enormous estate with little interference. But just as she begins to grow comfortable in her new life, she overhears her benefactor planning the escape of a local slave—and suddenly, everything she thought she knew about Douglas Elling is turned on its head. 

Kathryn- 3 Star

I wish I could have loved this novel more.  Unfortunately despite the fact that I loved the main characters, the surroundings and the premise I didn't love the novel as a whole. 

I found myself frustrated by repetition.   Abigail's hesitancy about Douglas and his fear of letting her in plagued most of the story until all of a sudden they realised their romantic interest in each other.  It was sudden and yet complete foreseeable.  Then the whole joy of the plot is unravelled by the anti-heroine and we are thrust into a multi-continent search and rescue mission.

I felt the background scenery (homes, plantations, clothing and social aspects) were very well done and I had a fantastic vision of their world.  I really did also enjoy the detail regarding the underground railway stops Douglas was involved in.

Likely my biggest hurdle with the novel overall was the slowness of the first three quarters and the speed of the last quarter wrap up.  I'm disappointed I didn't come away feeling satisfied as there were so many great aspects to the writing.

Thank you to SparkPress for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

4 Star

They were six university students from Oxford--friends and sometimes more than friends--spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway--until they met Severine, the girl next door. 

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group's loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive, and there are some people you can't forget, like Severine, who was never seen again. 

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.

Kathryn - 4 Star

A slowly paced mind-messing thriller this novel kept me engrossed for the subtle details placed sporadically throughout the novel.  There was no big reveal and no moment of climax but I still found myself determined to seek the truth.

The idyllic scene that these friends found themselves in in France a decade prior was obviously filled with secrets and sexual activity. Swapping of partners, slow burning interest and sometimes even love threw chaos into this group and a decade later the truth starts to emerge when an accidental death of a local girl becomes murder and not an accidental death.

The friends are forced into a scenario they had all hoped to avoid and are now looking at each other with suspicion. The characters were all very interesting and melded well into a group though I was also impressed with the author's ability to give them each a solid foundation as well. 

As I mentioned before though this novel moves slowly, very slowly, and there were times when I may even have been a bit bored.  In actual fact though, this may have made the novel more fascinating as it gave time to give each person a daily existence and developed character for each. Kate was the main character so she obviously got more air time but I didn't find the others lacking. Each additional scene and dropped snippet of information was valuable.

A great first novel and an author I have ear marked- waiting for her next book!

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lexie Elliott:
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

5 Star

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.

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Kathryn - 5 Star

I learnt a lot from this book.  As Bright As Heaven covers the Spanish flu epidemic in the US at the end of the first world war. I knew absolutely nothing about the situation except for the vague notion that it had happened so the whole subject matter had me hooked.

The characters were intense and attached themselves to me immediately with their narrative. Each one had a different perspective based on their ages and their stages of life.   Pauline is a strong and capable women and it's interesting that the novel begins with her thought process after the recent loss of her infant.  The novel begins with death and death is a theme throughout because Pauline and her husband move to Philadelphia to help his uncle run his funeral home.  Each of their three children also has their own voice in the book which is interesting as they begin at ages 6, 12 and 15 and grow up over the story. The author does a fantastic job of keeping true to their voices and characteristics as they grew up.  

The novel is full of heartache so be forewarned but it is also though a wonderful example of family workings and relationships- quite apart from the history lesson.

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor

3 Star

London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

Kathryn - 3 Star

I started reading this book with great anticipation as I have always been interested in the lives and families of the children evacuated during war.

Nell and Olivia are sent away during the blitz in London to remove them from imminent danger and we are very much aware that it is tearing this family apart.  Their older brother decides at the last minute to stay behind which leaves Nell to support her little sister in whatever may come next.  Luckily for the girls they are initially placed with a very loving couple who take them in as their own.   Despite missing their parents and siblings the girls are content in the country.  They are distraught when the couple must move and cannot take the two with them.  

Unfortunately their next billet isn't so nice and Nell is forced to try and escape with her little sister to safety.  They are then on their own with no money and no communication with anyone who can help them.  This portion of the novel was obviously distressing but I found it a tiny bit unrealistic.   I found it astonishing that children weren't checked on in these placements. They eventually find themselves in luck again though with someone who becomes very special to them and this bond was so special for both parties that it held throughout the remainder of the novel.

The girls learn to entirely rely on each other which was,for me, the heart of the novel.  The circumstances in which they found themselves were perhaps exaggerated at times but I still found the story gripping and worth reading and I did learn a few new tidbits of information about the process of evacuation from the novel.

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

4 Star

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

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Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I always love a great, twisty mystery novel and I have always liked Clare Mackintosh therefore I was quite pleased to receive this book for review. The story started off kind of depressing, with Anna coming to terms with the recent deaths of both of her parents. I can imagine that being somewhat of an insurmountable place to be, so I definitely felt for her.

She never can let the double suicides go though and feels that something just isn't right, and of course, that is what this whole book is about. We learn about what she finds out and how, and how very terrible it is to discover the truth sometimes. Couple the investigation into her parents' suicides with the uncertainty of her new life with her partner and child, Anna was a person with a lot on her mind.

There were a lot of things that happened in the story that I was not expecting and the element of surprise did appeal to me.The story annoyed me at times though and at times I liked it but although I enjoyed this novel, and the twists within, I did not think it was really plausible so I didn't completely love it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

4 Star

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancĂ© only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Kathryn - 4 Star

Many, many, aspects of this book captivated my attention and tore at my heart.  Kelly Rimmer writes with exactness so there is no chance of getting lost in descriptive details, which I appreciate.

I found the opening pages powerful and they had me initially connect with both Annie and Lexie.  Like some other reviewers though, I found Lexie frustratingly standoffish with her husband Sam and was constantly on edge with my desire to yell at her to listen to him and let him fully into her world. He truly had the patience of a saint.  In fairness, as Annie explores her past and their mutual history as children, I can see why Lexie pushes people away.  She must innately feel as if she's hard to love and accept and she's protecting herself by not letting Sam in completely.

Annie's story is intense and heart breaking and the baby involved just breaks your heart further. Most disturbing for me though was their mother who dragged them into a cult from which she had previously escaped herself?  I just couldn't grasp this at all, and then to know your daughters are being abused by your new husband and do nothing?  Unfathomable to me, even considering her grief...  I could not get on board with her at all.  But I suppose it made Lexie and Annie’s troubles more expected?  Her reappearance didn’t add to the novel or either daughter’s progress- I wish she’d been left in the past.

Overall the book is very powerful for its exploration of drug addiction but be prepared to be a little edgy with the subject matter and frustration level.

Thank you to Graydon House Books for our review copy.   All opinions are our own.

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