Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Julie's Review: I See You


Author: Clare Mackintosh
Series: None
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Not as thrilling of a cat and mouse game as I had hoped
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Summary: Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com. Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose...A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move. ~amazon.com  

Review: I See You is a fast-paced novel that will have you wondering how much you might be watched on your commute. Kind of creepy right? That's what's going on with Zoe Walker when she finds her picture in an advertisement for a dating site. Zoe's a divorcee with a live-in boyfriend with 2 grown kids, so being on a dating site isn't really something she's done in the past or currently. It freaks her out but her family dismisses it as just being someone who looks like her. Well, Zoe does a little digging and finds the picture on her Facebook page from a wedding several years back.

Things begin to spin out of control quickly as Zoe starts to see women in the advertisements that are suddenly being attacked or murdered. She starts to fear for her own safety but also wondering if she's going a little crazy. She starts to distrust everyone, even those closest to her. She begins to become a bit unhinged.

As we meet the police officer who attaches herself to the case, Kelly, she starts to piece the puzzle together with her knowledge of the Underground and the insight that Zoe has given her. As she puts herself in the middle of the investigation, she works with the team that will eventually crack the case. Her insight and knowledge becomes invaluable but she also crosses a few lines that get her in trouble.

I enjoyed how as Zoe got more frantic the book's pace did the same. It seems to truly kick it up to another level. The idea that someone can stalk you and know your every move is truly frightening if you sit around and dwell on it because then you won't stop thinking about it. I wasn't surprised at the ending but the reasoning behind it seemed kind of far-fetched but the author definitely laid some crumbs for that to be the resolution.

While I See You doesn't pack the same punch as I Let You Go, it is still an adrenaline pumping read.



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Friday, February 17, 2017

Julie's Review: Setting Free the Kites


Author: Alex George
Series: None
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A heart-wrenching story about the friendships that we have and hold onto
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Summary: For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous—and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan’s budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It’s there that Nathan’s boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge. Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship. ~amazon.com  

Review: In the way that Setting Free the Kites begins, you know there is tragedy in the pages that follow but you also know that there is hope. Robert is a lonely 8th grade boy when he meets Nathan Tilly and his life becomes that much better. Once they meet they are inseparable and the best of friends.

Robert has lived an isolated life for a couple of reasons: everyone thinks his family is well off because they own the amusement park outside of time and he's got a brother who is sick and slowly dying. Robert doesn't know what it's like to be the focus of his parents because it's always been about Liam. Robert doesn't begrudge his brother but he also thinks of himself as invisible. This doesn't effect their relationship because Robert is often in Liam's room listening to the punk bands of the late 70s. It really isn't his choice in music but it makes Liam happy to share it and explain it. Once Nathan enters their lives they spend even more time listening to Liam's music and with Nathan he has a rapt audience.

Nathan is everything that Robert isn't: he's a dreamer and a daredevil. He loves to push the limits and doesn't think anything isn't out of reach. He forces Robert out of his comfort zone by challenging him to do things he would have never done before like exploring the old, deserted paper mill.

What Mr. George does so well is weaving hope in with the despair. He also highlights how important and influential our childhood friendships are to us throughout our lives. How they shape us for our adult lives. He shows that life doesn't always pave us an easy path but with perseverance and a healthy outlook on life, you can overcome it.

If you are looking for a novel that will make you want to call your closest childhood friend, then pick up Alex George's wonderful novel, Setting Free the Kites.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Julie's Review: On Second Thought


Author: Kristan Higgins
Series: None
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: HQN
Pages: 455
Obtained: publisher via Little Bird Publicity
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A novel about how to find your home and make peace with your path in life
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Summary: Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who's struggling with a sudden loss of her own. Kate's always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her. Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that's always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate's heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again. ~amazon.com

Review: On Second Thought  s about redefining yourself after unexpected events happen. For me though, it was more about the complex family relationships, especially between Kate and Ainsley. It's not that Kate was mean to Ainsley but more that she was indifferent. Their older brother Sean was more removed from Ainsley and never really wanted anything to do with her. For him, she was the little sister.

Kate and Ainsley couldn't be more different. Kate has been an independent woman for year before meeting and falling in love with Nathan. Ainsley has been in love with and catering to Eric's every whim for 11 years. They aren't even married and she already keeps house while maintaining a job, even if it isn't as demanding as Eric's. With Nathan's sudden death Kate can't help but wonder if she would have been better off never meeting him and falling in love with him. His death sends her reeling and questioning her choices in life.

When Eric dumps Ainsley very publicly, she is a little lost and questioning how she could have been a bit blind about him all these years. Ainsley doesn't let it keep her down for long though; she is the poster child for resilience.

As Ainsley and Kate live together they begin to bond and appreciate each other in ways that weren't possible. Instead of Kate finding Ainsley's unwavering happiness annoying, she sees it as a good thing that her sister sees the best in every situation. Ainsley sees Kate for what she is; smart, independent, strong.

I really enjoyed the development of the sister's relationship for me that was the focus of the book. I mean you could see the romantic relationships that were going to define the novel a mile a way but they were still a fun ride.

Kristan Higgins books are the best kind of escape for me. They isn't too much fluff but enough to make it interesting. The center of this book is really about family relationships and I think that can resonate with all of us.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Julie's Review: My Not So Perfect Life


Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: None
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Dial Press
Pages: 448
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Light fun read about figuring out that life isn't always what it seems either in the flesh or on social media
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Summary:  Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet. Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud. Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life. Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth. ~amazon.com

Review: My Not So Perfect Life is clever, funny and touching; pretty much everything I expect from a novel from Sophie Kinsella.Katie Brenner or Cat as she's known in London, is low man on the totem pole for a company that specializes in branding. She works for a high-profile woman who is slightly scary and a bit scatterbrained, but she's brilliant at her job. Katie hopes that she'll mentor her but Demeter is in her own world. Since Katie was small she's dreamt of living her life in London and even if she has to enter survey answers into a data base all day she's going to make it happen.

Of course, life always has to throw you a curve ball and Katie loses her job. At the same time her dad and step-mum decide to create a glamping (glamorous camping) business on the family farm. When Katie hears that her dad is just going to throw up some tents and call it a day, she jumps into action. She even offers to come out and help by taking a "sabbatical" from her job. Katie forces them to really make the farm a destination and takes charge of all the branding for it. Even brilliantly designing the pamphlet and website. They are quickly booked and business booms for them. Of course, someone from Katie's past has to show up to throw her game off.

Katie is a wonderful character who grows up a bit as the book goes on but never loses her positive outlook on life or on her talent. She doubts herself at times but never gives up hope. Demeter is a complex character as well. She's complex and not at all what she seems as well. How Katie and Demeter interact on the farm is hilarious and poignant as well. Katie want to exact revenge on her for chucking her out the door at her job; while Demeter is gullible and has no clue what is coming at her.

What I loved about the book is that Ms. Kinsella makes some very valid points: not everything you see on social media is representative and people aren't always what they seem (in the best way). Sometimes when you take the time to be honest with yourself and get to know those around you good things will happen. Get to know people because you want to instead of listening to the opinions or gossip of others.

Ms. Kinsella never disappoints me and I love breezing through them in a couple of sittings. My Not So Perfect Life is a wonderful addition to my collection of her books. If you haven't read her, you must and if you have, you will definitely will want to read this.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Julie's Review: Stolen Beauty


Author: Laurie Lico Albanese
Series: None
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: /Atria Books
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Historical Fiction mixed with true facts makes for a stunning debut
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Summary: From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings. In the dazzling glitter of 1900 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons. Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive. Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for? ~amazon.com

Review: Stolen Beauty is the beautiful story of what it takes to keep your family history close to you and the struggle we go through to preserve it. Maria Altmann is the heroine in this story with her fight against the Austrian government to get the painting of her aunt back into her family's hands. Having said that though the story is told through Adele's eyes in the early 1900s and then through Maria's during World War II.

Both of these women are fierce and strong in the very different ways. Adele is strong in fighting for the ability to be able to study and have interests besides keeping house and being a mom. She wants knowledge and art in her life; for it to be the focus. Maria is strong in the face of adversity and to try to save her marriage, her family and her history from the Nazi's.

Adele sees marriage to Ferdinand as a way out of her stifling house with her father whom refuses to give her the education she desperately wants.  Even though she may not be "in love" with Ferdinand she is very fond of him and knows that he has the means to give her what she truly desires. Being married to Ferdinand gives her the access to the coffee houses, artists and free-thinkers that she desperately desires.

Maria knew she wanted to be with Fritz Altmann the minute she set eyes on him. Despite the rumors that he is involved with a married woman, she pursues him. It is only months after they are married that the Nazi's are in control of Austria and move to take over Vienna; including Fritz and his brother's factory.

Stolen Beauty is the story of self-sacrifice for the ones we love and hold the closest. It is the story of holding your family's history close and fighting for what is right. While Adele fought for the right to learn, Maria fought for her life and the lives of her families. She got her strength from her aunt but she taught herself how to be strong and survive.



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Monday, January 30, 2017

Julie's Review: Behind Her Eyes


Author: Sarah Pinborough
Series: None
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: HOLY $%#$!!!!!
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Summary: Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone. When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise. And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him? As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets. In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling. ~amazon.com  

Review: Behind Her Eyes is the epitome of the psychological thriller. Regardless if loved or hated the ending of the novel, it definitely flips it all on a dime. It's simply a WTF moment. Of all the twists and turns I thought it might be didn't come to fruition; instead it was better.

Louise is someone who is a bit lonely. She works part-time as a secretary at a psychologists office and is a full-time mom to Adam, who is sick. So when Adam goes away for a month on vacation with his father,  Louise finds herself with some time to spare.  Enter meeting Adele and striking up a friendship with her. Louise finally feels like a priority in some one else's life and becomes a bit enamored with Adele even though she knows exactly who she is. She also can't quite let go of David as well and it seems that he can't let go of her.

What happens a month where Louise becomes so wrapped up in their lives that she loses focus of her own. Adele helps her with her night terrors and well David invigorates her in other ways. She is completely in over her head but she doesn't quite know it. Louis is completely likable and relate-able. You can feel for her struggles over finding herself single and a mom with primary care for her son. It can't be easy feeling that you don't have many options and in some ways are stuck.

Behind Her Eyes is one of those books where the less that is said in my review the better off you will be simply because I don't want to ruin it. Trust me when I say you will want to read this quickly before someone does ruin it for you.



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Julie's Review: I Liked My Life


Author: Abby Fabiaschi
Series: None
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 272
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Not at all what I expected but in the best way possible
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Summary: A story from debut author Abby Fabiaschi that is "as absorbing as it is illuminating, and as witty as it is heartbreaking." Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch...until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths. Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge...but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal? ~amazon.com

 Review: I Liked My Life is not all that it seems. The story is told from 3 different perspectives: Maddy, Eve and Brady; whom each bring their own voice to the story. Obviously the question at the heart of the novel is, why would Maddy, who seemingly had the "perfect" life, kill herself? What did her whole family miss? Was she unhappy and really good at hiding it? These are the things that Brady and Eve are left to figure out.

Brady is a class A asshole (pardon the French). He took his wife for granted, never thought what she did was worth asking about and pretty much worked all the time. Maddy even had to convince him to take time off every year for a vacation. It was always their biggest annual fight. So as Brady reads through Maddy's journals, he realizes that maybe things weren't as good as he thought they were. Maybe he was a bit neglectful.

Eve is left reeling and closing herself off to her friends. It's not that she's depressed it's that she can no longer relate to those people she thought knew her so well. How can any one talk about Prom and all those other things when there are much more important things in life? She can't relate to the mundane any more and no one knows who to treat her. What do you say to a teenager who's mom killed herself? Maddy leaving her causes Eve to grow up in a way that wouldn't have been possible before. She looks for ways out of the town that she feels suffocated in.

Maddy is looking down on her family from beyond life and interceding where she feels necessary. She enters their thoughts and repeats mantras to move them on the right paths. She wants to make sure that they are taken care of as she ascends up. For every good dead she does, her spirit elevates a bit higher. As a reader you are hoping to find out what it is that drove Maddy to take her life when, even through her journals, it didn't seem like she was depressed.

I enjoyed  Liked My Life immensely. It is witty and poignant. It is hopeful in spite of the sadness. There are so many great sayings/nuggets within this book that if you read a tree book, you will want your highlighter handy. There are lessons about life that we all should take away from the novel. I can't believe that this is Ms. Fabiaschi's first novel because there aren't any major hiccups. I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for her next book, even though this was just released.



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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. ~amazon.com  

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. ~amazon.com

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
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
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. ~amazon.com

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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