Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Julie's Review: You Were Always Mine

Author: Nicole Baart
Series: None
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Bottom Line: I figured out a big piece of the puzzle early on. This one fell a bit short for me.

Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary:  Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel. Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult. ~amazon.com


Review: You Were Always Mine is a story about what makes a family with a mystery woven into it. Jessica and her husband, Evan, have been separated for a few months when he doesn't pick up the boys on a Friday after school. No matter what is going on between them, he's always there for the boys. Then she gets the devastating call that Evan has been found dead in Minnesota. None of this makes sense to her but she's too distraught to make sense of it until things start seeming out of place.

Add that her eldest son Max has gotten himself into some trouble at school that he has to do community service for and he's also a very surly 13 year old. It was very evident to me that Jessica favored Gabe over Max. Now don't get me wrong, she loves Max but it's Gabe she showers with affection and pays special attention to as well.  I also kept in mind that Gabe was 6 which can make a difference as well. I also thought her burying her head in the sand when it came to Gabe's birth mom was selfish and ill advised. Just because you have contact doesn't make you less his mom.






I thought the premise of the novel was intriguing but it fell short for me for a couple reasons. First, I didn't really care for Jessica and she drove me a bit nuts with her pity me attitude. Second, I figured out an essential piece of the puzzle early on even if I didn't know how it fit in overall.

I loved Little Broken Things by Ms. Baart so while this one didn't resonate with me, I will continue to pick up her books.



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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Skim

 

In the vain of trying something new here on the blog, I thought I might start with some Sunday posts summarizing what I've read, what I plan to start and upcoming books I'm looking forward to.

Weeks of  10/29/2018 and 11/5/2018:

Finished:

This is a fantastic novel that involves time travel but more than that is is a story family, love, hope and trust. This story and characters have stayed with me now for over a week. If you haven't read Ms. Chamberlain before, this is a good one to start with. I highly recommend. (5/5)







What does lack of sleep do to your psyche? Top that with the loss of a love one and the fact that your identity might not be yours; you are headed for a ride. (3/5)

For me the best part of this novel wasn't the love story between Gelhorn and Hemingway but her war reporting. She was a pioneer and one I did a bit more digging on via Google as I read and then after. (4/5)


Currently Reading: 

 


Looking Forward to:


























I missed last Sunday's update because we had a Bears party for our baseball family so I was prepping for that and didn't have time to post it. I'm on a great reading roll and hoping it continues. I'm off the week of Thanksgiving so I'm hoping to make a dent in my TBR pile.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Julie's Review: When the Lights Go Out

Author: Mary Kubica
Series: None
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: This one fell short for me
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known. Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined. Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her? ~amazon.com

Review: When the Lights Go Out is a psychological thriller that will keep you feeling frantic and wondering if you are losing your mind right along with Jessie. Jessie is reeling after the death of her mother and trying to get her life back on track. The biggest issue is that she's not sleeping which is causing her life to be chaotic. Not only that but her application to school has her as dead through the social security system.

This really sends Jessie into a tailspin and causes her mind to race and her to behave erratically. While we are tripping with her, we also learn the story of her mother's past.  Eden's past is just as intriguing as the present hell her daughter is going through.

What Ms. Kubica does extremely well is make you feel for Eden and her path to getting pregnant. I could feel the emotions from both her and her husband. I can only imagine the struggle of going through all the poking and prodding just to see if you can get pregnant. Then add in the IVF treatments and the expense and it's no wonder Eden got lost.

I felt for Jessie and the questions about who she was and how she was going to figure it all out. My only qualm was that I don't think she did enough to try to get some sleep.

If you haven't read Ms. Kubica then I recommend picking something from her backlist first.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Julie's Review: The Dream Daughter


by Diane Chamberlain
Powells.com
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Series: None
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating:5/5
Bottom Line: Time Travel is hard to do well but Ms. Chamberlain excelled at it
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly's part. And all for the love of her unborn child. The Dream Daughter is a rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother's quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. ~amazon.com

Review: I haven't read all of Ms. Chamberlain's novels but the one's I have read I have enjoyed. The Dream Daughter catapults her into the can't miss author category because it shines! Time travel can be extremely hard to write and usually I would shy away from it but given all the fantastic buzz, I decided to give it a go.

Carly is an interesting character who definitely grows a lot during the course of the story. She's pregnant with a child that has a heart issue and just lost her husband in the Vietnam War. Her brother in law, Hunter has a way to save her unborn child; travel to the year 2001 when they have the technology to save her baby. She thinks he's lost his mind but decides to risk it to save the only thing left of Joe.  

Ms. Chamberlain definitely tugs at your heart strings and you keep going NO! These characters are complex and multi-layered and you feel for the struggles they go through. Even over a week later I keep thinking about these characters and I'm pretty sure they won't leave my thoughts any time soon. 

I would highly recommend this novel to those of you who love stories about family, love and hope. 


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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Julie's Reviews: The Clockmaker's Daughter

Author: Kate Morton
Series: None
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 496
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Kate Morton's books never disappoint this reader
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows. In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets? Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter. ~amazon.com

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter was so worth waiting for. For this avid Kate Morton fan, it is up there with my favorite of hers, The Distant Hours. I will also say this is probably the first book of hers that made me cry.

I know that some people struggle with multiple POV with traveling to various time periods, but it is what makes Kate Morton books so damn good. There is never a character that isn't central to the main plot but she writes their stories so well they could stand on their own. The story is clearly about what happened to the clockmaker's daughter but to understand her story we have to understand the story of those who came after her and then with her. 

What happened on that night over a hundred years ago that went so wrong and how does it relate to the sketchbook that Elodie finds tucked away in a leather satchel. The sketches in the book feel very familiar to her and yet she knows she hasn't been there previously. The pull is so strong that she decides that she needs to investigate. Elodie's story is just the catalyst to launch us into the stories of Edward Radcliffe and his mysterious model, Leonard and then of the family who came to escape the war.

I absolutely loved the nuances in this book and how when the pieces came together it all made so much sense. I had a couple of "a ha" moments that made me stop and think about how we got there. My heart broke for each of these characters that we either get to know extremely well or are only with us for a bit of the book.

As with most of Ms. Morton's books, the house is it's own character and very central to the over arching story.

I can't say enough about this book but I don't want to say too much because I want you to enjoy it as much as I did.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Skim



In the vain of trying something new here on the blog, I thought I might start with some Sunday posts summarizing what I've read, what I plan to start and upcoming books I'm looking forward to.

Week of 10/22/2018:  

Finished:


 



The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton: I patiently wait for Ms. Morton's
new books and this one doesn't disappoint. I dare say I even cried. (Rating: 5/5)




Tangerine by Christine Magnan: I had heard a lot of buzz surrounding this book and it didn't disappoint. This is definitely a psychological thriller that reminded me of Single White Female but set in the 1950s in an exotic country. The audio version is great and the suspense is palatable. (Rating: 4/5)










Up Next:




Looking Forward to:




Now that I'm officially done with my MBA (YAHOO!!) and work is still busy not crazy, I should start to make it through my back log. I'm looking forward to a week off at Thanksgiving where the kids and I can chill out.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

LIFE




Well as some of you have probably noticed the content here on Girls Just Reading has been a bit light and on/off since the summer. A few things happened to make this an occurrence:

1) Work
2) Kids
3) Work
4) Back to School

We've had a huge enterprise-wide project going on for 18 months and this summer was one of the biggest portions of it. So it meant no lunch time reading and limited reading at night. Plus juggling the kids' schedules with the crazy work priorities was tough.

I also decided to go back and finish my last class for my MBA in September so again that crept into my reading time. Plus our project is at the end (HALLELUJAH!!), so that means more time for reading.

I have a huge stack of great books to get to so I hope you'll stick around to see the blog come back to life.



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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Julie's Review: Sold on a Monday

Sold on a Monday
by Kristina McMorris
Powells.com
Author: Kristina McMorris
Series: None
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 352
Obtained: Great Thoughts,Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Heartbreaking story but with hope
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: 2 CHILDREN FOR SALE The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices. For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined. At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home. ~amazon.com  

Review: This story begins with a cub reporter, Ellis, taking a picture of 2 children in front of a sign that says CHILDREN FOR SALE. This picture will catapult his career but it also changes the trajectory of 3 lives: a mother, a son and a daughter. Lily is the Editor's secretary but she also has career aspirations of her own but she's also hiding a secret that no one at the newspaper knows about. She's afraid it would change how people view her. She's also the person who put Ellis' photo in front of the editor; so in some ways she's responsible for the change in paths of people's lives as well.

The picture being published and the story that Ellis wrote around it gets him a job in NY but not before he starts to wonder what happened to the kids in the picture. So being the investigative reporter he starts to ask a few questions. Lily also inserts herself into helping Ellis. Ellis and Lily make a formidable team with their inquisitive minds and the fact they won’t give up until they have their answers and feel that a wrong is righted. I loved how the mystery unfolded and how even the subplots were connected where they didn’t seem like they would be.

The story takes a few turns that I didn't expect with some of the players who were involved and how they ended up being a part of the story. Ellis and Lily were both interesting characters who's past shaped who they were and how they viewed the world. Lily helped guide Ellis to use his integrity to help resolve returning the children to their mother.

Ms. McMorris’s writing continues to be insightful, emotional and at times gritty. Sold on a Sunday is a story you won’t want to miss!

 
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