Thursday, June 22, 2017

Julie's Review: The Night the Lights Went Out


Author: Karen White
Series: None
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 416
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line:A wonderful story about friendships that are cemented by similar experiences not age
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Summary: Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail. Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past. Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world. In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....~amazon.com

Review: The Night the Lights Went Out is about rebuilding your life, learning to trust those around you and letting go of the past. When Sugar Prescott rents her cottage to a recently divorced Merilee Dunlap she doesn't expect to be drawn to her and her children. She doesn't plan to infiltrate their lives but it happens.

Merilee Dunlap is looking to start over after she gets a divorce husband and the cottage seems like the perfect place for her and her two kids to move. They also will start a new school due to their father's affair with a teacher. Merilee quickly finds herself ensconced with Heather Blackford and the other mom's that run the school. As Merilee struggles to learn how to balance it all without having a husband there to help, she is easy to identify with and cheer for.

Merilee and Sugar have more in common than they even know until some of Merilee's past begins to come to light. Sugar finds herself wanting to protect and defend Merilee even though she thought she had closed off her heart.

There is much mystery in The Night the Lights Went Out as well. Both Merilee and Sugar have secrets and pain in their past. What secrets they are holding onto are slowly revealed in bread crumbs laid out for the reader. I loved both Sugar and Merilee but I think I found Sugar's past more fascinating than Merilee's but probably because I put Merilee's story together fairly early on.

If you are a fan of mysteries and of Karen White's novels, then you definitely won't want to miss out on this one.


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Friday, June 16, 2017

Julie's Review: The Confusion of Languages


Author: Siobhan Fallon
Series: None
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via First to Read
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: How well do we know the people who we call friends?
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Summary: Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance. With achingly honest prose and riveting characters, The Confusion of Languages plunges readers into a shattering collision between two women and two worlds, affirming Siobhan Fallon as a powerful voice in American fiction and a storyteller not to be missed. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Confusion of Languages is the story of a friendship that is rooted in a mystery. Cassie and Margaret couldn't be more different. Cassie is a rule follow and Margaret ignores them but in Jordan not following the rules can cause issues. Truly the only thing that the women have in common is that they are there because their husbands are military. When their husbands are sent to Italy to help the Jordanian forces navigate NATO, the women have only each other to rely on. Cassie and Dan even throw Margaret and Crick a welcome party to make sure that they feel like they are part of a group.

Cassie and Margaret's friendship is tenuous at best. Cassie doesn't have a lot of patience for what she perceives to be flippancy on Margaret's part of the rules they need to abide by to honor the Jordanian culture. Margaret sees Cassie as being a bit of a stick in the mud. Yet somehow they enjoy each other's company. Although I'm pretty sure that had they met under different circumstances, neither of them would have befriended the other. I think they became friends because they were both lonely and they could relate to each other through that loneliness.

How well does Cassie really know Margaret? She seemed like such an open book but what was she hiding? Did she find herself in trouble in Jordan in such a short amount of time? Is there any way for Cassie to help her?

Both women are complex characters and each aren't what they seem. Cassie is bitter in a way that someone who is dealing with her circumstances can be. Margaret is dealing with a lot of pain from taking care of her mom and then her mom's death. This shaped Margaret's need for Crick and her son. Mather is an integral part of the story because if not for him Cassie wouldn't have stuck around when Margaret had to go deal with the accident report.

As the hours bleed into each other, we find out through Cassie snooping in Margaret's journal what she's been keeping from her friend and her husband but not all at once. It really is layered and you have to peel it back to get the heart of what happened. Who is at fault? Is there really any one to lay fault with?

Ms. Fallon has written an exquisite story about how well we know or don't know the people we call our friends. It is layered and multi-faceted that will keep you guessing the outcome until the end. It isn't a thriller but a story about how we keep some secrets close to us, not letting people know our inner most selves.

I highly recommend The Confusion of Languages.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Julie's Review: The Sunshine Sisters


Author: Jane Green
Series: None
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Berkeley
Pages: 384
Obtained: Publisher via First to Read
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: No one does family drama like Jane Green
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Summary: Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters. As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her. But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all. ~amazon.com  

Review: I haven't missed a Jane Green book since she started publishing them and The Sunshine Sisters  is what I expect from her; perfect blend of drama and humor. Ronni Sunshine isn't very likable and was a horrible mother. She was/is self-absorbed and rude. She, at least on her deathbed, recognizes what an ass she was to her girls. All of them have been effected in different ways but mostly they have moved on, until she summons them all home. The novel isn't so much about Ronni Sunshine as it is about the destruction she leaves in her wake.

Nell, the oldest, took the brunt of the moods while trying to shield Meredith and Lizzy from them. You can only shield them so much. Meredith was the sensitive one and didn't know how to back away from her mother when she was in her moods. Lizzy is the baby and pretty much got away with whatever she wanted. What Ronni did was not only alienate them from her but she alienated them from each other.
 
For years they lived separate lives, only calling when necessary. They were never there for each other and drifted apart. Meredith is getting married and none of her family is invited. Nell lives 20 minutes away from her mom running a farm and never sees her. Meredith took off for London and hasn't looked back. Lizzy has crafted a successful business of her own in NYC. 

I enjoyed learning about all the sisters and their lives as adults. I found Meredith's story to be the one that I thought was probably the most real. She's the one that struggles from all the emotional abuse that her mother dosed out. She's the one that questions her decisions and then settles for a career and man who aren't worthy of her. Nell is the one who built a wall up around herself but I'm not so sure it has so much to do with Ronni as it does with having a child young and having the father walk out on you. Lizzy, well she's the entertaining one in the family. She's always needed to be the center of attention and now she has all the attention she wants from her career. She's not happy though and her priorities are messed up. Maybe being around her sisters can bring her back to reality. 

Jane always crafts a great story that is accessible and grounded in great characters. The Sunshine Sisters joins that history. The Sunshine Sisters  is about finding your way home and accepting who you are all the good bad and ugly of it.


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Monday, June 5, 2017

Julie's Review: The Arrangement


Author: Sarah Dunn
Series: None
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 368
Obtained: Local Library
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: Fell flat
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Summary: Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They've got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It's the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school's "hot lunch," dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, "chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife's version of chopping wood." When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they've made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There's a part of her, though-the part that worries she's become too comfortable being invisible-that's intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she's known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-"real life," or the "experiment?" ~amazon.com  

Review: I had huge hopes for The Arrangement based on the buzz and recommendation of some people I respect but it fell short for me. I was expecting the same kind of humor that I find in Ms. Dunn's show American Housewife but it wasn't there for me.

Lucy and Owen are yuppies to the nth degree. They moved to Beekman to have quality of life and to raise their son Wyatt. Wyatt is on the autism spectrum and is most definitely a handful. Lucy has lost herself to raising him and getting him the therapy he needs.  So she could careless that her hair is greasy, always in sweats and barely getting dinner on the table. Owen is helpful with Wyatt, as he should be, but he does get to leave and go socialize. One night while drinking a lot, they have a discussion with friends about an "open marriage".  What starts off as a joke quickly becomes something that they both agree to do but only for 6 months. 6 months is a long enough time for things to go very wrong.

There is no doubt in my mind that both Lucy and Owen are fantastic parents and I really do believe they loved each other but this 6 month experiment was the very wrong way to go about it. There are other ways to light the spark in your marriage to find yourself again. What pissed me off the most was how Owen assumed that Lucy would never partake in it, even if it was her idea. I mean, why not? Why do you have to be the only one to have all the fun? I think it's what insulted Lucy the most as well.

Trust me I have a sense of humor and I could even laugh at the concept of an open marriage if it was written a bit differently. I was actually expecting a more humorous look at it but didn't get it. There were parts of the novel that had me chuckling (Hello, Sunny Bang) but most of the time I just felt that Lucy and Owen were completely selfish. Not once did one of them say no, let's not do this.

How do you go from having a monogamous relationship to an open one? To me, that's something you go into a relationship knowing/doing and not change during the course. So this experiment was doomed from the start. Real life and marriage isn't dating. It's learning to live with some one faults and all through the peaks and valleys. Sometimes the valleys last longer than you hope but you climb your way out.

If your curious what all the hype is about with The Arrangement, read it, it won't take you long. If you decide to skip it though, you won't miss too much either.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Julie's Review: Same Beach, Next Year



Author: Dorthea Benton Frank
Series: None
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A intriguing look at marriage and how friendship can change that relationship
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Summary:One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives. A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own. Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach. Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love. ~amazon.com    

Review: Seeing how I have never read Ms. Frank before I wasn't really sure what to expect from Same Beach, Next Year. I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised, it had more depth than I thought it would. We live two decades in the lives of two couples; Eliza and Adam, Carl and Eve but the story is mainly told through the eyes of Eliza with Adam chiming in here and there. I liked Eliza but I thought she was too good for Adam. Adam is a bit self-involved and cocky. It's even more evident when they befriend Eve and Carl. Eve is a bit caught up in the superficial and Carl is consumed by his work as a pediatrician.

It is clear from the beginning that Eliza and Adam are in love and happy in their life that they share together. They have twin boys that keep them busy and have a construction company both of them are a part of. So when they happen upon Eve and Carl at the beach, they strike up a friendship. Little known to Eliza, although she can sense there's more to the story, Adam and Eve (yes, it's funny) have a history together. And this of course is where Adam completely messes up. He should have told his wife the truth in the beginning instead of burying it deep so that only he and Eve know the truth. So it festers over 20 years with it coming to a head one night.

For me it was amazing that Eliza let the sexual tension between Adam and Eve go on for so long. I know we get absorbed in our lives but seriously? I would have put that to bed early and called him out on his shit.

What I did like is that Eliza came into her own. Instead of living her life for her boys and Adam, she finally takes it into her own hands. I loved reading about her escapades in Greece and her love of cooking. I also appreciated that Ms. Frank didn't take the plot cliche way out in a couple instances during the novel. She shows how hard marriage is and what it takes to get through some tough times. I pretty much also want to live at the beach in the Lowcountry but sadly that's probably not going to happen, so I'll think about a vacation there some day!

If you are looking for a read while you are at the beach or pool this summer, then  Same Beach, Next Year would keep you entertained.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Julie's Review: The Good Widow


Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Series: None
Publication Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 368
Obtained: via Great Thoughts
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Suspense
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: A great domestic suspense with a twists and turns
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Summary: Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone. For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise. Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death… ~amazon.com  

Review: Lightning strikes twice for Jacks when she learns that her husband was killed in a car accident in Hawaii and that he had another woman with him. This is how the beginning of The Good Widow kicks off and never really lets off the accelerator. Jacks is thrown into a deep, dark hole when she learns the fate of her husband, James. She has to wrestle with the fact that their last words before he left weren't of love but were of something else, because we aren't told for a while what transpired. She's determined to find out what happened and what went wrong but she's unsure how to make that happen. This is where, James' lover's fiance steps in, Nick.

Nick and Jacks journey to Hawaii to retrace the last steps of James and Dylan. They do everything they did and inquire about the deceased pair whenever they can. Like any journey, Jacks uncovers things she didn't know and maybe would have been better not knowing but it leads to other revelations.

Jacks wasn't a perfect wife but honestly, who is? No marriage is perfect and neither are the two parties in it. Did Jacks keep something important from her husband that might have changed the course of their relationship? Absolutely. I would like to think that if he had lived that they could have worked through both betrayals but not without a ton of therapy. Most importantly Jacks finds out that she is strong and can move on with her life.

I will admit that I saw a couple of the twists coming but I still wanted to see how Jacks would respond to these events. There was one that I didn't see coming but made total sense after the reveal. Liz and Lisa have done a fantastic job in their first suspense novel and I can't wait to see where their writing takes them next.

If you are looking for a book to kick off June with, look no further than The Good Widow.






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Friday, May 26, 2017

Julie's Review: One Perfect Lie


Author: Lisa Scottoline
Series: None
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: A quick read that will having you saying "What?" a few dozen times
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Summary: On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable. But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie. Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil. Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans. Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them. At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it? Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget. ~amazon.com


Review: One Perfect Lie is perhaps Lisa Scottoline's best novel today. Is there such a thing a perfect lie? If so, can you live it, breathe it and be it? Is a secret a lie? If so, everyone in this book is living a lie and I'm guessing most of us have a secret(s) we keep.

Chris Brennan isn't who he says he is but we aren't really sure who he is we just know he's telling some big lies that have a major end game in play. He weasels his way into a high school and as an assistant coach for the baseball team all so he can find a young impressionable boy to do his biding for him. He assesses the students and see which one that he can bring to his side.  He's got a limited amount of time to do this in because his deadline is less than a week. What is his deadline? What are his plans? As you are reading this, you just know that he is up to a nefarious act.

We also get to know a bit about each of the boys that Chris is targeting and their family. Raz has recently lost his dad to cancel and the family finds itself reeling in more ways than one in dealing with his death. His mother is at a loss on what to do because Neil was the glue that kept their family together.

Jordan has worked hard for his place on the varsity baseball team and his mom, Heather, couldn't be more proud. Will his hard work cost him his friendship with Raz? Heather is also dealing with her own issues since she walked out of her job. What will she do to support them?

Evan Kostis is the golden child. He's the one that has the charisma, the looks and the money. His mom though is hiding the fact that she drinks to hide the fact that her marriage isn't happy. The fact that her husband is never at home. She's not sure what is going on but she's determined to find out.

Ms. Scottoline covers a lot of ground with One Perfect Lie but she doesn't overreach, in my opinion. What I came away with though is that family always comes first, especially for us momma bears. If something is going wrong with our kids, we will be there to help them. There are twists and turns that I didn't see coming and caused me to go "whoa".

If you want a great suspense/thriller novel, then you will definitely want to pick up One Perfect Lie.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Julie's Review: The Dry


Author: Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: An almost perfect mystery that really is a whodunit
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Summary: After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead. Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets. ~amazon.com  

Review: The Dry is one of those novels that ropes you in and then slowly and tightly unravels the story. It is the key to a superb mystery novel and Ms. Harper nails it.

In Aaron Falk, we have a flawed and human protagonist. He has locked his past away for the last 20 years until it comes barely back at him with the murder of his childhood best friend. As he comes in at the request of Luke's father, he's take back to when he lost another friend during high school. Aaron isn't exactly welcomed back with open arms especially since they were run out of town costing him and his dad everything. Aaron feels that he owes it to Luke to figure out what really happened that day. As Aaron develops an alliance with the detective, they delve into what could have happened on that fateful day. Is it tied to what happened to Ellie Deacon in the past? Or was Luke deep in financial debt due to the drought? Could he have really been that far gone to do such a horrible thing?

There are many suspects in The Dry and Ms. Harper does a great job of making each a viable option. Each character is richly drawn and you feel that you really know what makes them tick. What drives them to be the way they are? How much has the drought affected the small farming town? Is it what is making people edgy and more suspicious? Is it because Aaron used to be one of them but left under suspicious circumstances?

Ms. Harper basically lets you know the true suspect when she wants to and when she does, it makes a lot of sense. I like it when I can go back and follow the bread crumbs dropped by an author. I also appreciate when both plots come together in a way that makes sense. Aaron needed closure on Ellie's death and he got that by returning home to help the Hadley's.

If you are looking for a mystery that is taut but has an underlying keg of powder that might blow at any point, then pick up The Dry.  I can't wait to see what Ms. Harper writes next.


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Julie's Review: Girl in Disguise


Author: Greer Macallister
Series: None
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful historical fiction novel with a kick-butt female protagonist
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Summary: Inspired by the real story of investigator Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective's rise during one of the nation's times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country. With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin―unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective. Battling criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency's toughest investigations. But is the woman she's becoming―capable of any and all lies, swapping identities like dresses―the true Kate? Or has the real disguise been the good girl she always thought she was? ~amazon.com

Review: I seem to be on a Chicago history kick lately because that's the main setting for Greer Macallister's wonderful Girl in Disguise. Kate Warne is a force to be reckoned with and to behold. She doesn't shy away from challenges and one of her first hurdles is to just get hired on by Pinkerton. Of course, being the first female detective isn't going to be easy and she has her battles including the one where all her male co-workers think she's sleeping with the boss. Kate is damn good at her job and can slip into different persona's easily.

I loved the cases that Kate was put on because they showcased her skills and her keen ability to read people. This has to do with how she was brought up by her parents. She also hones her skills by watching how her partners do their job as well.  Was Kate lonely? Absolutely and she wrestled with this all the time. She was married to her job and a man wouldn't understand that kind of dedication by a woman.

It's never easy to be a pioneer in anything but Ms. Macallister shows just what battle that was for Kate. She never stopped trying to be the best even when a lot was riding on her case, including the welfare of the country. She knew what needed to be done and got it done, even with great personal sacrifice.

I love knowing something that my husband doesn't know especially since he likes all the typical spy, subterfuge movies and he had no clue about the Pinkerton Detective Agency let alone the first female P.I. I have to say I was a bit smug about it. Plus then I had to use Google to find out if they are still around and they are but the focus is Risk Management.

Girl in Disguise is a wonderful historical fiction novel with a strong, kick-butt female as the protagonist. I can't recommend this book enough!


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Julie's Review: Before the Rains Fall


Author: Camille Di Maio
Series: None
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 334
Obtained: Get Red PR
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A story of sacrifice, family, and forgiveness
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Summary: After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late. She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever. Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life. ~amazon.com  

Review: My first question before jumping into Before the Rain Falls was how does anyone actually serve 70 years in prison?! Seriously?! How can you even function? What is left for you on the outside? Will you even know how to function?These are all the issues Della Lee is facing as she returns to her home town to live out her days and to tell her truth about what really happened that fateful afternoon with her sister, Eula.

Mick is in Puerto Pesar to chase a story about the crying portrait of Eula Lee because he's basically in a scandal back home and his editor needs him to be scarce. Paloma is back in Puerto Pesar because her grandmother had a heart attack and needs to be cared for. She's torn about being home and also about starting her job in New York. She dreads being back but she's also pulled there as well. There is something about going home that leaves one with mixed feelings.

I loved how Ms. Di Maio told Della's story in flashbacks and also in telling her story to Mick. Mick realizes that the story isn't about if the portrait of Eula Lee but it is what Della has to say that needs to be told. As Della's story is revealed it isn't too hard to see what happened but why Della did it is ingrained in culture and religion.

Ms. Di Maio does a fantastic job of describing Puerto Pesar and the culture of a small town. In some of the scenes you feel that you are right there having mango margaritas and sopapilas with Mick and Paloma. I loved Paloma's relationship with her Grandmother; they really loved and cared for each other.

While this was my first time reading Ms. Di Maio, I will be going back to read The Memory of Us and I look forward to what she writes in the future. 



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