Thursday, April 20, 2017

Julie's Review: Slightly South of Simple


Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #1
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 400
Obtained: Author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction,Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Sometimes it is important to go home and remember who you were and who you were meant to be
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Summary: Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley. Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open. Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart. ~amazon.com  

Review: For those of you looking for a book about family and relationships, then look no further than Slightly South of Simple. Caroline Murphy comes from a strong family of women but she might be the strongest of all of them based on her sheer will to keep it together during a very humiliating separating from her husband. You see, he decided to go on a reality tv show dating a model while he was still married to her. She can't stand the embarrassment so she packs up her daughter and goes back home. Except Caroline thinks Peachtree Bluff is the worst place on earth.

Ainsley finds comfort in Peachtree Bluff. It is the place where she came to when she lost her husband and had to finish raising her girls. It is the place where she has rebuilt her life. She has a successful decorating business and loves all the local characters. Ainsley has her own secrets that she has hidden from her girls. As her secrets are revealed, I didn't feel that she was holding back because of the secrets but because she doesn't want their memories of their father to be tainted. She's a wonderful matriarch to the family and knows how to deal with each of her girls in their own way.

While the novel is told from Ainsley and Caroline's points of views, we get to know the other 2 Murphy girls, Emerson and Sloane through their eyes. I'm hoping that in the next books we get to know Emerson and Sloane a bit more through their own stories.

While at times I found Caroline annoying and righteous at times, I did feel that her instructions to her sisters and mother came from a place of love. I did feel that her coming back helped ground her in the real world a bit more than her high society lifestyle in New York. Her sisters help bring her down to earth as well.

There are some strings that were left untied with Slightly South of Simple, so I am very much looking forward to the second book in the series.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Julie's Review: The Women in the Castle


Author: Jessica Shattuck
Series: None
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 368
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A perspective that isn't often told in WW II novels
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Summary: Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.  Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows. First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges. ~amazon.com


Review: Women in the Castle is the story of regret, guilt and most of all forgiveness. It's about learning from the past but also learning to move on from the past. The novel revolves around 3 women who have had very different experiences during the war. Marianne is the stoic one who believes that as a widow of a man in the resistance it is her duty and privileged to track down those women who also had husband's died for the cause. So she travels around trying to find them to bring them back to Burg Lingenfels to recover and figure out where to go next. Her first mission is to track down the wife of her dear childhood friend Connie and their son. Marianne also fashions herself a bit righteous because her husband was part of the resistance and because she never fell for Hitler's rhetoric. She's also clearly the mama bear of the group and no-nonsense.

Benita, sweet and naive, but so angry and lost. She was a young bride who married what she thought was a wealthy man only to have a war disrupt their marriage. He also never clued her in on the plans and so she felt like she was left in the wind. Her anger eats at her for years but the shining light in her life is her young son Martin.

Then you have Ania, she's the one who is the most reserved and the most quiet. She's the one who knows how to cook and she's practical. She keeps a watchful eye over her boys. She and Marianne have the closest bond of all the women. She also has the most interesting back story and perhaps the most surprising of the 3 women.

This is a perspective of World War II and the aftermath that isn't told much through historical fiction but it is important. For those of us who ask, how could the German people follow Hitler and his atrocities? I think it's important to recognize that in most cases they didn't have a choice or more importantly felt that there were no options. It's also important to realize that we are looking at their lives through 20/20 hindsight and while we can pass judgment we truly don't know what it was like to walk in their shoes.

At times, I felt that the story was slow and drawn out but I enjoyed how Ms. Shattuck wrapped up the story. These women aren't particularly likable but I kind of think that's the point in some way. People's experiences shape who they are and how they look at the world for good and bad.

Women in the Castle showcases that it really does take a village to raise kids and sometimes just to survive. It teaches us the importance of learning from the past but living for the present.


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Julie's Review: Gone Without a Trace


Author: Mary Torjussen
Series: None
Publication Date: April 17, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Mind=BLOWN
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Summary: A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why? Hannah Monroe's boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It's as though their last four years together never happened. As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she'll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth... ~amazon.com  

Review: Gone Without a Trace has left my mind blown. I finished it a couple hours ago and it's still rattling around in my head. I just didn't really see that coming at all. Hannah is happy; she's got a great job, about to get promoted, a boyfriend (Matt) she loves and house she adores. Overall, she's got what she wants. That is until she comes back from out of town to find every trace of Matt and their life together wiped away from their house. She can't figure out what the heck has happened. What went wrong? Why is he gone? Why did he do this to her? How can someone just erase themselves from your life?

Hannah can't seem to move on from this though. She has to know why and is on war path to find Matt. She can't seem to focus on anything else. She slowly starts to come undone. She starts to map out on post it notes places that she has looked for Matt. Her kitchen slowly becomes a map of her mind and her slow descent in to crazy. Her friends try to encourage her to move on but Hannah has to know why he left her.

As excited as she was for her promotion, her all consuming quest to find Matt, has left not only her promotion in jeopardy but her job. She can't concentrate, she makes mistakes and shows up late consistently which doesn't go unnoticed by the partners.

While she descends into madness, you feel as if you are right there with her. The book gets creepy as you feel like she's being stalked but then you question if she's delusional and taking you along for the ride. At one point, I felt like I was going a little crazy myself.

Ms. Torjussen keeps you reading and turning those pages as fast as you can. It reeled me in from the very beginning and never let its hooks out of me. In Hannah she has a protagonist that you want to both smack and hug, sometimes simultaneously. Much like her best friend, Katie, you want her to let go of what obviously is over and yet you want to hug her because she's in such pain. She just wants answers and frankly we've all been there a time or two.

I can't recommend this book enough because I can guarantee your mind will be blow. I suggest that you go and get Gone Without a Trace.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Julie's Review: Every Wild Heart


Author: Meg Donohue
Series: None
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 304
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A mother and daughter story with some mystery thrown in
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Summary: Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic? Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next… ~amazon.com  

Review: Every Wild Heart is a wonderful story about a mother and daughter who get along and enjoy being with each other despite the daughter being a teen. Gail (aka G.G.) is a famous talk show radio host who has always had life by the horns. She's a take no prisoners kind of gal. Her daughter, Nic, on the other hand, is definitely an introvert. If she could fade into the background she would, especially at school.

GG is struggling to decide what she wants to do next with her career. She's loved hosting talk radio but she misses her connection to listeners through music. She's also been approached to have her own tv show but she'd have to move to L.A. and given her daughter's personality, she's not so sure that's in her family's best interest. Plus her daughter still spends every other weekend with her father and his family. She's got a lot to think about career wise. She also has someone who is stalking her a little more than what she's normally used to from rabid fans.

Nic, on the other hand is more comfortable with her horse, Tru, then with kids her own age, which means she's a little awkward when she's put with a handsome senior during one of her classes.  Then an accident happens causing Nic's personality to take a 180 degrees. She starts taking risks and doing things that are out of her normal personality. Things that concern her mother and others closest to her. Not only that but she seems more confident and self-aware.

The story itself moves along at a good pace and it's wonderful to see Nic come out of her shell and find her own voice. It seems like this is the person she was always supposed to be. GG also comes out of her shell and tries her hand at love again.

Each of the characters are relate-able and easy to see yourself in or someone close to you. Even the supporting characters make GG and Nic seem more human.

I really enjoyed a positive spin on the mother/daughter relationship for a change. There is hope!


If you'd like to read more opinions about Every Wild Heart:

Tuesday, March 14th: Tina Says…

Thursday, March 16th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 20th: Art Books Coffee

Tuesday, March 21st: A Bookworm's World

Wednesday, March 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, March 23rd: StephTheBookworm
Friday, March 24th: BookNAround
Tuesday, March 28th: Comfy Reading
Thursday, March 30th: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, March 31st: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps
Monday, April 3rd: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, April 4th: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, April 5th: Back Porchervations
Wednesday, April 5th: Girls Just Reading
Thursday, April 6th: bookchickdi
Friday, April 7th: G. Jacks Writes
Monday, April 10th: Mama Vicky Says


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Julie's Review: Bridges - A Daphne White Novel

 photo Bridges_zpsxjzcgrld.jpg

Author: Maria Murnane
Series: Daphne White #2
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Wink's Ink
Pages: 264
Obtained: Author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A delightful look at strong female friendships
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Summary: It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path? What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears. And laughter. And love. The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here's to the power of friendship! ~amazon.com


Review: Let me just say that I'm happy that Maria hasn't given up on her writing career just yet because then I would have missed out on Bridges. I've been a big fan of Maria's books since she contacted me about Perfect on Paper.

Bridges is the story of 3 college friends who embark on a girls weekend to celebrate the engagement of Skylar. Daphne is coming in from Ohio and KC is on her way from California to have a fun filled weekend in the Big Apple.

Daphne is struggling to find a career for herself after staying at home to raise her daughter full time but now that Emma is going to be going off to college in a year, she wants something for herself. She has a manuscript that she's submitted to a few dozen literary agents and is waiting for word on representation as she travels to see her friends.

KC is the free spirit of the 3 of them and is coming in from California with her own news. She's the one who keeps them all centered because that's how she lives her life. She's happily married with 2 step-sons and even a granddaughter that keeps her on her toes.

Skylar is the career driven one who has had big success but who has always eschewed marriage. So perhaps she is the most surprised when she meets James and falls head over heels in love with him. Things aren't so perfect though, she's got a step-daughter who one could call an ice princess and she's in college. It's the one part of this relationship that has her unsure.

I love how each of them can voice their fears with each other, even at times, crossing the line with each other in that frustration. To me, the forgiveness is the key to these friendships and how they have lasted so long. They understand each other enough to let things go.

If you are looking for a wonderful book about friendship, then don't look any further than Bridges. Plus the cover of this book is gorgeous and it embodies the friendship of these 3 women. It is bright, hopeful and full of love.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Julie's Review: The Cutaway


Author: Christina Kovac
Series: None
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: 37 Ink/Atria
Pages: 320
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Thriller
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: A puzzle that is worth putting together
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Summary: When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own. Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital. ~amazon.com  

Review: Cutaway is a read that lets the reader into what it takes to put together the evening news. As a person who wanted to get in the news business years ago, I found this story to be extremely fascinating and a new lens on the thriller genre.Virginia is putting together the evening news when she gets a notice that a young woman has gone missing from Georgetown. The thing is that people don't go missing from Georgetown. As Virginia starts to get her nose into the story she starts to dig up information that leads her down a path of politics and greed.

There are many twists and turns during the novel. I felt like every time I had a good grasp on the culprit, I was steered in another direction, which to me is what a good thriller writer does. There are a couple subplots going on in the book but I felt that the enhanced the main plot. Virginia is an easy character to root for and hope that she cracks her investigation. She's tenacious and yet honest; she isn't ruthless which makes it easy for people to trust her. Virginia herself doesn't trust many people and she has her own reasons for her walls.

All the characters are well written and D.C. makes for an interesting background. Never mind the pulse of the city with politics both overtly and covertly. It seems that Ms. Kovac's uses her knowledge of both the news business and politics in her first novel.

I was fascinated by how much goes into pulling an investigative story together just to get the bylines and the leads. How they write the scripts for the evening news and pull the full story together. I would love for her to write another book.

If you are looking for a great thriller with a different angel, then you will definitely want to pick up
Cutaway.




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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Julie's Review: A Bridge Across the Ocean


Author: Susan Meissner
Series: None
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A light-hearted read that I read at the perfect time
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Summary: February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. ~amazon.com  

Review: A Bridge Across the Ocean is a wonderful historical fiction novel with a bit of supernatural thrown into it to make it a bit more mysterious. I wasn't expecting that and enjoyed the spin that it put on the novel. Usually there's a story line that I enjoy more between the present day and the historical but in this case they were pretty equal. It helps that we were also dealing with intersecting stories with Annaliese and Simone in 1946; whereas Brette's was all her own. I do think that they couldn't all have converged if it wasn't for the supernatural element. As Brette struggles with her family's legacy and gift, she is contacted by a high school acquaintance to help his daughter process the death of her mother. It is because of this that she starts to investigate the past of Anneliese Lange.

Her husband is also pressing her to start a family and given how her family's gift is passed down she's a little hesitant. It's not that she doesn't want a family, she's just unsure how she feels about her legacy and that of her ancestors. Both Annaliese and Simone suffer greatly at the hands of the Nazi's but in vastly different ways. Simone loses both her father and brother brutally and then loses her innocence. She then finds refuge in the cellar of a winery where she tends to an injured American soldier. Annaliese is a gifted ballerina who catches the eye of Nazi Officer, Rolf Kurtz. While she doesn't love him, she has no choice but to marry him for fear of retribution on her family. She suffers greatly at the hands of her husband until she decides to take her fate into her own hands and escape. It's not easy for her until she finds refuge with an old friend.

For the me the best part of the novel was when it all comes together in both flashbacks and coinciding present day and how Ms. Meissner used alternating chapters to unfold the story. I appreciated Brette's journey but it is the stories of Annaliese and Simone that will be embedded in my head long after I closed this book.

If you are a fan of historical fiction but might enjoy a different twist then A Bridge Across the Ocean.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Julie's Review: Never Let You Go


Author: Chevy Stevens
Series: None
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.25/5
Bottom Line: Another stellar thriller by one of my favorite authors
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Summary: Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought? With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession

Review: What Lindsey is put through is enough to break the spirit of any human but Lindsey is resilient. She's built a solid life for herself and her daughter after escaping her abusive husband. She's pulled together her own cleaning business and Sophie is a well adjusted teenager but then her ex is released from prison and things slowly, then quickly spiral out of control.  Andrew is back weaseling himself back into Lindsey's life by trying to develop a relationship with their daughter Sophie.

Sophie feels the pull of developing a relationship with her father, after all he never did anything to her but she also feels guilty for going behind her mom's back to meet with him. She tries to convince herself it's because her mom wouldn't understand and would be irrational but she knows it's wrong. As more and more things start to happen to her mom, Sophie pulls back. Not to mention her blossoming relationship with Jared and how he's a bit possessive of her. Lindsey is a bit apprehensive about Jared because he reminds her a bit too much of Andrew.

As Lindsey feels pushed to the edge, she tries to make changes to her life to feel like it's back in control.  She decides to move them from their house and to stay with friends until Andrew is brought in for questioning and she feels that both her and Sophie are safe.

The tension of the novel ratchets up with each page that you turn. You feel the pain and how scared Lindsey is for her safety. Never Let You Go is a heart pumping, spine tingling book that you won't want to put down until you read the last page.



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Monday, March 13, 2017

Julie's Review: Close Enough to Touch


Author: Colleen Oakly
Series: None
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Just a wonderful read
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Summary: Love has no boundaries...Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from. Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can't understand why she keeps him at arm's length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year. ~amazon.com  

Review: Close Enough to Touch is a book that will have you cheering for Jubilee from page one. What would you do if you couldn't have human touch? How would you survive? This is what Jubilee faces everyday and yet somehow she has to find a way to live after 9 years of being a recluse. You can say that she might not have literally died when a boy kissed her when she was 17 but something in her did die because after that she didn't leave her house for 9 years. When she's forced to because her cash flow has dried up, it takes her a while to get the hang of being around people or even just leaving her house.

She gets a job at the library and things are going well until Eric walks into her life. This is when her life starts to go Topsy-turvy. She's dealing with feelings that she hasn't experienced in 9 years and she has no clue how to deal with them.  You want her to live her life even with her condition and to be brace and decide what is best for her.

Eric is a divorced dad of two whose teenage daughter refuses to speak to him but when he finds her journal he reads it in order to connect with her. It turns out to be a literary journal and he decides to read all the books she's noted in it. He sends her texts as he reads hoping for some response, some way to connect. He's also trying to find a way to help his adopted son, Aja, deal with the death of his parents and his obsession with telekinesis.

As much as Close Enough to Touch can be seen as a love story it is so much more than just that. It is about being brave enough to fight for the life that you want. It is about taking risks when to get to the next phase in your life, risks needs to be taken. It's about trusting yourself and trusting those closest to you but to also let go of the past. I think we all can learn from those themes. 

I laughed a lot throughout this book. There are very poignant moments as well but mainly I found myself smiling. I haven't read Ms. Oakley's first book Before I Go but it has moved up a few notches in my TBR pile.

 
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Julie's Review: The Orphan's Tale


Author: Pam Jenoff
Series: None
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful story of female friendship
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Summary: Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything. ~amazon.com

Review: The Orphan's Tale is the story of a female friendship that develops during the worst of times. It is the story of how 2 women became friends when they could have become adversaries. It is also the story of 2 women who are orphaned for very different reason and the novel intersects their stories.

Noa was kicked out by her parents because she was pregnant.After the birth of her child, she finds herself working at a rail station. One night she decides to venture out to take a look at the train cars only to find a box car full of children. It is then when Noa decides to be brave by rescuing one of them. She quickly escapes by foot only to realize she has no place to go. Luckily for her someone from the circus finds her and brings her to Herr Althoff. He decides that she will be an aerialist and instructs Astrid to train her.

While Astrid's story isn't the same as Noa, there are similarities. She found herself in love and married to a Reich officer. She was in the glow of being a newlywed when he came home and told them that their marriage was being absolved and she needed to leave immediately. She finds herself back at her family's house only to find that no one is there and the Nazi's are occupying it. Herr Althoff takes her in as well and she finds refuge once again in performing.

I love stories that involve the circus and I also love learning new facts about World War II; like how the circus hid people from the Nazis as much as they could. That normal, everyday people did something that made a difference. Maybe they weren't huge acts but they were acts that saved lives and perhaps even endangering their lives in the process.

I enjoyed the story very much but felt the pace at times was a bit slow for my liking but it did speed up in the end. I appreciate the research Ms. Jenoff put into her novels which made it feel that much more authentic.

If you are a history buff and this information is new to you or maybe it's not but you want a deeper look at it, then you won't want to miss The Orphan's Tale.


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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Julie's Review: The Versions of Us


Author: Laura Barnett
Series: None
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 416
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: A must read!
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Summary: In one moment, two lives will be changed forever . . . and forever . . . and forever. The one thing that’s certain is they met on a Cambridge street by chance and felt a connection that would last a lifetime. But as for what happened next . . . They fell wildly in love, or went their separate ways. They kissed, or they thought better of it. They married soon after, or were together for a few weeks before splitting up. They grew distracted and disappointed with their daily lives together, or found solace together only after hard years spent apart. With The Versions of Us, Laura Barnett has created a world as magical and affecting as those that captivated readers in One Day and Life After Life. It is a tale of possibilities and consequences that rings across the shifting decades, from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and on to the present, showing how even the smallest choices can define the course of our lives. ~amazon.com  

Review: Versions of Us is for those of us who believe is fate and romance. Who believe that no matter the path you take, you end up where you are supposed to be. This novel is the story of Eva and Jim of how their lives are connected  no matter what version you read. In one it takes them longer to find each other and in the others, it takes them longer to find their way back to each other.

Version I finds us with Eva and Jim married very quickly after they met while Eva got a flat tire on her bicycle ride. While they are meant to be together their marriage does have it's struggles.

Version II finds us with Eva and David, having never bumped into Jim on her bicycle ride. It takes us through their life together and how David becomes a successful actor and pretty much leaves Eva to raise their children.

Version III finds us with Jim and Eva having spent a few weeks together but then she decides to go back to David due to certain circumstances.

Each of these versions is tied together by small little details that do not go unnoticed by the reader. How Ms. Barnett did this so eloquently is something that I would love to be able to ask her? These details were planned and outlined it would seem. I'm amazed that this is a debut novel because of the complexities that it took to tell these stories.

I read the book as it was written with each chapter being a different version but you could definitely reading each version one by one if you chose and that is one of the many beauties of this novel. In fact, it might be even more interesting to go back and read each version as a whole to see if changes the readers viewpoint.

I seriously can not recommend Versions of Us more. It will definitely be one of my top reads for 2017.



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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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