Monday, January 23, 2017

Julie's Review: The Dollhouse

Author: Fiona Davis
Series: None
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A terrific read with history and mystery abounds
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Summary: When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.  

Review: The Dollhouse is a novel that will transport you to the late 1950s New York during a time when women were truly starting to find their place in the workforce. It also is about modern New York and the struggles that the modern woman has keeping it all up. It transported me to the smokey room of an underground club where bebop was played and drugs were ingested. It showcased how far women have come but how we still struggle to balance it all. I love the mystery that was intertwined with the history.

Both Darby and Rose are forces to be reckoned with but in distinctly different ways. Darby comes into her own the short time she is in New York at the Barbizon. She finds it within herself to stay strong in the face of life when it gets tough. Darby is anything but tough when she comes to the Barbizon. She's lived a sheltered life in her hometown and New York is anything but sheltered. So when the models chew her up and spit her out, she's despondent and Esme befriends her. Some how Esme gets her to break curfew and go to a seedy underground club. Reflecting back on the book, I wonder if Esme befriended Darby because she wanted to mold her into something or that she knew she'd need her at some point. Was she preying on Darby's naivete?

Rose is tenacious. Once she smells the story in the women who live on the fourth floor, she won't give up until she has all of their stories. Darby is the key to her story but she's only had one run in with her and Darby didn't seem all that friendly. She's also looking for something to distract her from the fact that her boyfriend left her to return to his ex-wife. The story and Darby's mystery begins to consume her and she made some questionable choices.

I loved how both of the story lines ended up coming together in the end. I did feel that the ending of the story was a tad rushed and that there was a red herring that really wasn't necessary because Darby's story was fascinating enough without it. I loved learning about the history of another building in New York. It got me thinking about single women today and if something like the Barbizon would work especially when you are just beginning your career? Maybe you don't have the chaperone but it would provide an interesting social study.

For fans of mysteries and historical fiction, you won't want to miss The Dollhouse. Plus, don't you just love the cover?!!


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Julie's Review: The Sleepwalker

Author: Chris Bohjalian
Series: None
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: DoubleDay Books
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: A gripping novel about how there are ripple effects to tragedy that aren't known at the time
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Summary: When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee's disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee's husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs' Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee's disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body? Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers.

Review: The Sleepwalker is frankly another masterful novel by Chris Bohjalian. If you haven't read him, then you need to start. If you have read him, then you will want to add this one to the list of books you've read by him. We are introduced to the Ahlberg's when their mother has gone missing and the hopes of finding her alive dwindle with each passing day. It doesn't help that a piece of fabric from her nightshirt has been found near the river.

The story is told from the eldest daughter, Lianna's point of view and her account of the aftermath of her mom's disappearance. She decides to stay at home during the fall term of her last year of college to help care for her father and sister. I believe it is also because she can't handle going back to academia, which is also understandable. At times she does use her father and sister as a crutch though for not being able to return to real life.

What I loved about Lianna was that she kept digging for answers even when she should have probably left well enough alone. She wanted to have the puzzle of her mother's death completed before she could really move on with her life. I think it's one of the reasons Detective Gavin Rickert interested her at first. I think she wanted to get close to him to 1) understand her mother and 2) to bounce ideas/theories about her mom off of him for his professional experience.

What I love about Mr. Bohjalian's novels is that I always learn something new and often dig in a little bit more via google to get to understand the subject matter a bit better. I had no clue about all the different types of sleepwalking and how it affects people. I can't imagine dealing with these issues as an adult and knowing there is no cure for the affliction.

He's also splendid at the red herrings throughout the novel. There were a few times that I thought we were going to go down a particular path but then that turned out to be a dead end and he'd take us on another path. I am always amazed at how he pulls it all together in the end without you thinking that the ending was from left field.

The Sleepwalker is my 2nd favorite novel of his next to The Double Bind. This one clearly knocked my socks off but as I stated before, you can't go wrong with any of his books.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Julie's Review: The Wicked City

Author: Beatriz Williams
Series: Yes
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 364
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful adventure during the 1920s that ties to modern times
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Summary: When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes their sleek SoHo loft for a studio in a quaint building in Greenwich Village. But her new refuge isn't quite what it seems. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though it's stood empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the building hosted one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies. In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers. Sired by a wealthy New York scion who abandoned her showgirl mother, Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, even though her on-again, off-again Princeton beau, Billy Marshall, wants to make an honest woman of her and heal the legacy of her hardscrabble childhood. Gin's alliance with Anson rattles Manhattan society, exposing sins that shock even this free-spirited redhead—sins that echo from the canyons of Wall Street to the mountain hollers of her hometown. As Ella unravels the strange history of the building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her incandescent predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her life in the wicked city.

Review: The Wicked City is another wonderful adventure that spans two different eras in New York City. We meet Gin who is a flapper by night, typing girl by day until she gets caught in the middle of a prohibition case that involves her step-daddy, Duke Kelly. Gin doesn't like being played by either Agent Anson or her step-dad. Her step-dad is the lowest scum of them all but his illegal business is doing a lot of good for the small town of River Junction but does that excuse how he goes about doing his business? How can she justify drinking it, when she knows that it's illegal?

Gin is a fabulous story. She loves working at a wall street firm in the typing pool and visiting Christopher's at night with her boy-toy, Billy. She's head-strong, smart and independent. So when she's called back to River Junction because her mother is dying, she decides that she will help Agent Anson. Of course it doesn't take long for things to come to a head with her helping out Agent Anson. Although there is a great twist that occurs, that I can say was out of left field but made perfect sense as well.

Meanwhile, fast-forward to the last 1990s, when Ella Hawthorne moves into the famed village building, something draws her to the history of the building. It doesn't hurt that the first person she meets is the handsome Hector who is most helpful in telling her about the speakeasy that used to occupy the building and to ignore the music that she'll hear coming from the basement.

Ms Williams seamlessly weaves the 2 stories together while also bringing some characters in from some of her past books, which you don't need their backstory, but it makes it more fun if you do. I loved how the dots got connected in the end. I loved how Gin figured out what was important to her and how Ella figured out how to be strong and stand on her own. She really knows how to write smart, sassy, independent women.

If you haven't read Ms. Williams' novels yet, then The Wicked City is a great place to start but I highly recommend going back and reading her backlist. You won't regret it and it won't take you long.

Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

Tour schedule:
Tuesday, January 17th: Girls Just Reading
Wednesday, January 18th: bookchickdi
Thursday, January 19th: West Metro Mommy
Friday, January 20th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, January 23rd: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, January 24th: Kritters Ramblings
Thursday, January 26th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, January 27th: BookNAround
Monday, January 30th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, January 31st: Thoughts On This 'n That
Wednesday, February 1st: Literary Lindsey
Thursday, February 2nd: The Book Date
Thursday, February 2nd: Reading Reality
Friday, February 3rd: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, February 6th: StephTheBookworm
Tuesday, February 7th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 8th: Reading to Distraction
Thursday, February 9th: A Bookish Affair
Friday, February 10th: Life By Kristen
Friday, February 10th: Library of Clean Reads


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Julie's Review: Pretty Little World

Author: Melissa DePino, Elizabeth LaBan
Series: None
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 320
Obtained: Little Bird Publicity
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Can friends really be your family when you all live under one roof?
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Summary: On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins. Celia and Mark now have the space they need. But is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need? Behind closed doors, they strive to preserve the closeness they treasure. But when boundaries are blurred, they are forced to question their choices…and reimagine the true meaning of family.  

Review: Pretty Little World had much more depth to it than I thought it would, if I'm being honest. I thought it was going to be a little superficial and hippie-ish for me but I found myself very intrigued to see how it would turn out. The 6 couples all live on a dead end street in a desirable area of Philadelphia and pretty much spend all their time together. Their kids are the best of friends.  So when a leak springs between 2 of the houses, they seize the opportunity to combine their 3 house into one huge living space.

Celia wants to have set rules because that's who she is, where as Stephanie wants to see where the natural boundaries get set. Hope is more about ensuring that everyone is getting what they need and taking care of the kids. The men are happy to have their needs taken care of by a bevy of women. The novel is interesting and intriguing and definitely not something I would ever venture to do. You expose your private life like never before. You have too many relationships to satisfy and really not enough time.

Also, if you are going to allow someone to essentially raise your kids with theirs, you have to be ok with how they are doing that. You have to be ok when your kids want her over you. You have to be fine with the fact that your closest friends will know what's going on in your marriage or what's not going on.

There were definitely characters who were in the background compared to those who had a full story line and the authors had to do it that way otherwise there would have been too much going on. As it was, things were a bit confusing at first while I got the characters straight in my head.

Ms. DePino and Ms. LaBan do a great job of making you curious about what goes on behind closed doors and how these families are going to make it work while keeping their marriages and friendships intact. Will it be the blissful commune they think or will it be a complete disaster? The truth is that it is somewhere in between.

Pretty Little World is an intriguing read that will make you think about what you do once your door closes to your house.


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Julie's Review: The Marriage Lie

Author: Kimberly Belle
Series: None
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Wow!
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Summary: Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris's happy world comes to an abrupt halt: another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers. Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.

Review: The Marriage Lie is one hell of a ride; seriously. It starts with the opening of the novel and continues until the end of the novel. You want to believe that Will and Iris have the perfect marriage but just from the summary you know that things aren't always what they seem. When Iris is at work she's alerted that a plane went down on it's way to Seattle but Iris' is relieved because Will wasn't going to Seattle, he was on his way to Orlando. That is until she can't get a hold of him and finds out that he was on the plane's manifest. Naturally, she starts to unravel but it's not only finding out that her husband died but that he wasn't going where he told her. It's then that Iris wants to figure out why Will lied and what it is exactly he was hiding.

This book moves fast as Iris peels pack the layers of Will's lies and his life. Just when she thinks that she's figured it all out, something or someone else comes up giving her new information she needs to process. She's also trying to deal with 2 different griefs: the grief that her husband is dead and that her husband wasn't who she thought he was. She begins to doubt herself even more than doubting him.

I have to admit that there were times when I wanted to smack Iris during the book. I mean her husband lied to her and had some serious problems but she still pledged her undying love for him. Going as far as wanting to keep the ring he bought her before he left. It was then that I would have wanted to give her some serious counsel. I really enjoyed her brother Dave and Evan. I thought that pairing Evan and Iris together to deal with their grief and for him to help her maneuver her way through the legal issues that have surfaced.

If you are looking for a quick and thrilling read, then you definitely don't need to look any further than Kimberly Belle's  The Marriage Lie.


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Friday, December 30, 2016

Julie's 2016 Year in Review

 photo 2016 Books_zpsevql4ssd.jpgIt's everyone's favorite time of the year! You know, where everyone comes out with their favorite books of 2016 and why break the tradition, so here is my list:

My Goodreads Challenge Goal: 80 Books

Books Read: 84!! (Through 12/29/2016)

2016 was yet another year where I had more than a handful of 5/5 books! So, here is the break down by category for my favorites (not in a specific order).

Contemporary Fiction:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Ramblers by Aiden Donnelly Rowley
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Losing the Light by Andrea Dunlop
We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman
Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer
Assistants by Camille Perri

Historical Fiction:

Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly Hall
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell
Forgotten Room by Karen White, Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams
After Party by Anton Discalfani

Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction:

In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson
Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon
Vivian in Red by Kristina Riggle


Home  by Harlan Coben
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Sister Dear by Laura ONeill
I Let You Go by Clare MacIntosh
Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Saving Jason by Michael Sears
Lost Girls by Heather Young
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

Women's Fiction:

Lies And Other Acts of Love by Kristy Harvey Woodson
Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner
The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Young Adult:

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Other Categories:

Hungry Heart Adventures in Life Love and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

 I am hoping that 2017 is as wonderful of a reading year as 2016! Happy Reading!


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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Julie's Review: Remember the Ladies

Author: Gina L. Mulligan
Series: None
Publication Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Pages: 325
Obtained: Get Red PR
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A strong and determined heroine that you will cheer for until the end of the novel
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Summary: Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist in 1887, a time before women could vote. So when she's hired by the National Women's Suffrage Association to lobby for a suffrage amendment, Amelia feels empowered to give women a voice. What she doesn't foresee is Senator Edward Stillman. Stillman is charismatic, driven, and desperate to crush the amendment and Amelia. But in a political game where bribery, threats, extortion, and seduction prevail, who will win and at what cost? Set in the extravagant Gilded Age, Remember the Ladies explores the conflict between the sexes with delightful writing and elegant descriptions, which brings the reader back to a time when the struggle for women's equality had just begun.  

Review: Remember the Ladies is one of those novels that will cause you to take pause and realize that we really have come a long way in how women are viewed. A 100 years ago there were limited options for women and in 2016 we had our first female presidential candidate, that says a lot.

Amelia Cooke saw her parents die in a tragic carriage accident and then was raised in an orphanage where she never felt she truly belonged. So when she turned 18 she headed to D.C. where she thought she could make a difference. A chance meeting on a train with a powerful lobbyist that changes the course of her life. She has a lot to learn before she can even try to advocate for women using her voice. While she was attending a conference, she meets the charismatic Senator from Ohio, Edward Stillman. Their affair ends abruptly and they go their own way for a period of time. As a reader you know that Senator Stillman will be key in Amelia's vote for the suffrage amendment.

While the novel does move slow at times, it is probably pretty accurate to show how slow the inner workings of government move as well. I enjoyed the cat and mouse game between Edward and Amelia to gain the votes that they need to either get the amendment passed or squashed. Both of them are at the top of their game and aren't afraid to use knowledge of those voting to their advantage. 

I admired Amelia's grit and determination to get this amendment passed. I also admired her because it wasn't win at all costs for her either. She discovers more about herself and what she's willing to sacrifice throughout this process and decides that something aren't worth compromising.

I truly enjoyed reading about the struggle to get women the right to vote that wouldn't come to an end until 1920 when the amendment finally has the support it needed. If you are looking for a great historical fiction read, then you should pick up Remember the Ladies.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Girls in the Garden

Author: Lisa Jewell
Series: None
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Starts a little slow but give it time and you need to find out what happens in the garden
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Summary: Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Review: Girls in the Garden is a story about the secrets we adults keep about our own teenage lives and the secrets that our teenagers keep from us. I actually shudder at that second part since my 11 year old will be there quicker than I care to admit. Virginia Park is one of those private gardens tucked away in London that only the people that live surrounding it can access. It seems idyllic, right? Well not with all the nooks and crannies within the garden/park itself. It's ripe with areas for hidden things to take hold.

We are introduced to Clare, Grace and Pip as being new to the park area after a tragedy has befallen them. They quickly befriend Adele, Leo and their 3 girls; Catkin, Fern and Willow who are home-schooled and yes a bit weird but mainly it seems because they haven't been exposed to anything outside of their commune. To round out the kids, we meet Tyler and Dylan who have been best friends for years. Grace and Pip struggle to fit in for a bit until they find their bearings with all the kids.

There's a history to the garden that Ms. Jewell starts to slowly weave you in on. It seems there was a death years ago when Leo and his brothers grew up hanging in the garden. It seems there are some rumors about what really happened and if any one was involved. Is the garden really as innocent as it seems or is there a darkness there? Is there a little bit of darkness in all of us, even when we are young and on the cusp of being a teen?

Ms. Jewell does a great job of laying down the crumbs of the mystery of what happened to Grace and what happened to Phoebe? Is it history repeating itself or is it coincidence? How would you feel if everyone that lived in your neighborhood knew all your business? It seems like you need to be one of those people that doesn't mind having everything out there because living like this is like living in a fishbowl. It definitely isn't for everyone.

There were times when I thought that both Adele and Clare needed a bit of a backbone and to rely on themselves instead of their husbands but in the end I came to appreciate why they were both like that, even if I didn't fully agree with it. As far as the teen girls, you realize just how spiteful they can be and want to shelter your kids from them but yet they need to learn how to deal with people like that because not everyone is kind. It's just unfortunate that kids experience that early in life. It also makes you aware at how quickly kids grow up and how badly they want to be adults without truly knowing the consequences instead of just enjoying childhood. That seems to be more prevalent today than ever before with social media.

If you are looking for a good mystery with a little bit of class-ism, then you should pick up Girls in the Garden.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Julie's Review: All the Breaking Waves

Author: Kerry Lonsdale
Series: None
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A story about finding yourself in the mistakes of the past and the hope in your future
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Summary: After a harrowing accident tore her family apart, Molly Brennan fled from the man she loved and the tragic mistake she made. Twelve years later, Molly has created a new life for herself and her eight-year-old daughter, Cassie. The art history professor crafts jewelry as unique and weathered as the surf-tumbled sea glass she collects, while raising her daughter in a safe and loving environment—something Molly never had. But when Cassie is plagued by horrific visions and debilitating nightmares, Molly is forced to return to the one place she swore she’d never move back to—home to Pacific Grove. A riveting exploration of love, secrets, and motherhood, All the Breaking Waves is the poignant story of a woman who discovers she must confront her past, let go of her guilt, and summon everything in her power to save her daughter.  

Review: All the Breaking Waves is  interesting look at what it means to wrestle with your past and to realize that the secret you've been keeping has brought you more pain that joy. That you have suffered without needing to have carried it all on your own.. It is about finding hope in the future and learning to let go.

Molly is a single mom to young Cassidy who is starting to have visions about accidents that keep her up at night and make her an outcast at school. So much so that because of some of Cassidy's actions, she gets suspended from school. This causes Molly to pack up and run home to the house she grew up in, to her Nana. As she does this though, her past comes back to her in very real ways, because her childhood paramour is back and living next to her Nana. She left Owen abruptly and isn't ready to confront that with him. Right now, she's trying to stay alive based on a premonition that Cassidy that had of her.

Molly is struggling to do things right but in doing this, she misses a lot that is right in front of her. She doesn't realize that she's dangerously close to repeating her own family history. She is so wrapped up in her own head and singular vision that she's missing other clues that are going on around her.

There is a bit that is predictable in the novel but there are a couple twists and turns but I enjoyed the uncovering the history between Nana and Molly and how both of them carried their guilt differently.
Ms. Lonsdale wrote an interesting book that used a bit of mystical ability with a lot of heart and resilience. It's about how to believe in yourself and find your way back to the person you were.


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Julie's Review: Love, Alice

Author: Barbara Davis
Series: None
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 432
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A sad and yet hopeful story about the cruelty displayed to single mom's in laundries throughout Europe
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Summary: A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come. Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story. As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future.  

Review: Love, Alice  is the story about finding the will to survive and carry on even when you have given up hope. This is the case of Alice, who is put in a convent when her mother discovers that she is pregnant without being married. Alice, who never gives up hope, moves to the states to try to find her son or daughter that was given up for adoption in the late 1960s. Modern day brings us Dovie Larkin visiting the grave of her deceased fiance who committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. She wonders what could have possibly gone wrong and spends her lunch hours eating next his grave. To put it lightly, Dovie is living among the dead instead of moving on with her life. It's like she's scared to move on and begin again. She knows she needs to but she's also tired of hearing it from others.

One day while at William's grave, she spots an older woman at the grave of Alice. When the woman leaves, Dovie notices that she leaves a letter behind, so curiosity gets the best of her and she reads the letter. Now Dovie wants to know the full story so she befriends the woman. It's then that Alice's story starts to consume Dovie. She's preoccupied with what happened to Alice and wants to help figure out her story. I enjoyed Love, Alice very much and found most of it sad but with glimmers of hope. Alice was a gutsy young woman to pick up and leave everything she knew for pretty much a wild goose chase. She came to America with one thing in mind, finding her child. What she found was a family that took her in, befriended her and loved her. She ended up being where she was needed and when it was important for her to feel that.

 I will say there were a couple of things that I found a bit predictable but I found the history behind Alice's story a bit fascinating so I was willing to forgive. I also gave Dovie a bit of a longer rope since her grief was so apparent. I did want her to move on and I didn't mind one bit that it looked like it was going to be the delicious Austin Tate. Austin had his own demons to wrestle with and confront but they were something that he could overcome.

Ms. Davis does a great job of melding the past and the present together. I thought the letters were a great way to tell Alice's story and to get an idea of the pain she was going through. If you are looking for a solid novel to read on a winter's weekend, then you should pick up Love, Alice.


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