Friday, September 30, 2016

Julie's Review: Home

Author: Harlan Coben
Series: None
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Thriller
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: So happy that Win and Myron are back!
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend? Drawing on his singular talent, Harlan Coben delivers an explosive and deeply moving thriller about friendship, family, and the meaning of home.

Review: Home is one of those books where you think you have it figured out but you really don't until the last page is turned and the last word is read. I forgot how much I love the duo of Myron and Win. They are yin and yang, bread and butter for each other. Win has been gone for a year and in that time a lot has changed but a lot remains the same. When Win calls Myron goes to help. This time Win calls because he thinks he's found one of the boys that has been missing for 10 years and needs his help.

Win of course goes a little too far and gets caught up in a local crime lord's web of evil but it doesn't last for long when he figures out who Win is and just what he is capable of doing. Myron is there to keep Win in check a bit but also to help put the pieces of this seemingly complex puzzle back together.

I loved the puzzle of what happened to the two boys Patrick and Rhys. How it has affected the families and the people around them, even the community to a certain extent. It changes their view on life and they are constantly wondering when their boys will come back or if they will ever come back.

Home is a book that will have you wondering where Win and Myron have been all your life or maybe just that you've missed them since their last adventure. It will also make you appreciate Mr. Coben's sense of humor and how he works it in at just the right time.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Julie's Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

Author: Jenny Colgan
Series: None
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A light-hearted read that I read at the perfect time
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.  

Review: Bookshop on the Corner is a cute book about following your dream and finding your true home. As a reader you can't help but like Nina. She loves books more than people and loves to pair people with books. So when her job at a library comes to an end, Nina can't help but think owning her own shop might be the perfect thing for her but have it on wheels instead of brick and mortar. The only thing is the van she wants and can afford is up in Scotland.

You just know that Nina is going to end up in this sleepy town because she is drawn to it and other obstacles are in her way down in England. She begins to fall in love with the people of this town as they begin to accept her and support  her mobile bookstore. Before long she is helping out a young girl and her brother get their life sorted out.

As far as her love life goes, you can see the writing on the wall but it's still fun to follow Nina as she tries to figure it out and come to grips with it herself. There are a great many fun characters in this book with one being her former roomate and friend, Surinder. Surinder knows how to live life instead of reading about it in books. I think it is this part that Nina begins to understand and appreciate as well.

You can tell that Ms. Colgan has a real love for books and people who read them. If you are looking for a cute read that is fun, then look no further than Bookshop on the Corner.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Julie's Review: The Vanishing Year

Author: Kate Moretti
Series: None
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher via Edleweiss
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Thrilling
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips. What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.  

Review: The Vanishing Year is a book that will keep you guessing until the very end. Zoe seems to have it all until she feels that her past is catching up to her. Slowly, the story of her past unravels. As a reader you want to like Zoe and feel for her but you aren't quite sure if you can trust her. She seems to keep everyone, even her husband at arms length. She's a bit obsessed with finding her birth mother and that seems to be driving a wedge between her and Henry. Henry wants to be the only person to reside in Zoe's heart and mind.

Almost immediately you know something is a little off with Henry. He seems a little too perfect and a little too controlling. (Reminded me of the husband in Sleeping with the Enemy movie with Julia Roberts). He did seem to really love Zoe though. They live quite the charmed life until Zoe starts to dig a little deeper. Is their charmed life, really that way or is Henry hiding something? I mean she's hiding something from him, why couldn't he be hiding something from her?

As Zoe starts to dig in to her past and her origins, things start to come together or fall apart depending on your view, very quickly. It is here where Ms. Moretti is at her best because you can't stop turning the pages because you are dying to know how the pieces of the puzzle fit together since it's not really evident. There are definitely a couple of mic drop moments which were awesome!

I know that Ms. Moretti has a couple other books out and I will be seeking them out plus anxiously awaiting her next novel as well!

The Vanishing Year will be the talk of the book world when it is released. It is one of those books that you will find yourself recommending to friends! Do yourself a favor and grab it.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Lisa's Review: The Underground Railroad

Author: Colson Whitehead
Series: None
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 320
Obtained: Amazon
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Fantastical and Fabulous.
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!

I have not known what to read for some time now and so I have not.  After focusing on academic reading (lots of it) for the last five years, it has been good to take a break.  A short trip to the airport and The Good Girl (I concur with Julie), turned that around.

I came to The Underground Railroad during Seth Myers’ recent interview of Whitehead. So intrigued was I, that two minutes in I popped out of bed to download the book to my Kindle.

It is hard to resist the concept of The Underground Railroad as a literal railroad (something we all believed to be true at some point in childhood or if you are a much older reality star. Ha!)  I have never read Gulliver’s Travels, so that explains why I spent the first half of the South Carolina chapter thinking “Really? South Carolina? During slavery?” before recalling the idea that each state Cora, (our protagonist) “visits” is presented as an alternate state of American history.

Whitehead is right. He puts Cora through a LOT. All of it heartbreaking – none more so than the subtle ironic reveal near the novel’s end. Throughout, I was despondent when Cora was, I cheered when she triumphed, even in small ways and I often wondered “what if?”  

It is not a perfect novel by any means and indeed my quibbles are minor, so to elaborate would be petty.  This is a novel worthy of the attention it is receiving.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Julie's Review: The Velvet Hours

Author: Alyson Richman
Series: None
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Ripped from the headlines history makes for an intriguing novel
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path. Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.  

Review: The Velvet Hours is a novel that is rich in setting and description. It makes you want to discover and live in a Paris apartment that is in a time capsule. It is also about the story of a woman who made the most of her lot in life and appreciated art.

Marthe de Florian is a famed courtesan who has pretty much holed herself away for years in her very sheik Paris apartment. She's not agoraphobic but just prefers the comfort her possessions give her. That is until her granddaughter, Solange, starts to visit. It is to Solange that she starts to share her history.  It is within her grandmother's history, that Solange starts to feel that she can carve her own way in the world. Her grandmother's strength is what gives her the freedom to fall in love and take chances.

What I liked about Marthe's story is that even though she was a "kept" woman, she used it to her advantage. She collected art and knowledge that served her well throughout her life She knew she was loved and actually had more freedom than some wives during that time period. She had a gift for seeking out those things that were beautiful but that meant something to her as well. Each piece in her various collections represents a certain time in her life.

As a reader, it was wonderful to observe Solange coming into her own. While her father didn't hold her back, by exposing her to her grandmother, she was able to imagine a life all her own. Her grandmother's stories allowed her to feed her creative side. It also gave her more freedom than being in her father's shop to explore and meet new people.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, then you will enjoy this book. The Velvet Hours is my first Alyson Richman novel but it won't be my last. 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mini Reviews: The Lost Girls and The Things We Wished Were True

This is the first time I'm doing trying this format out and I'm hoping it works out well for the future.

Author: Heather Young
Series: None
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: A taut story about how family history can affect the present without even knowing it
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!

Mini Review: The Lost Girls is a striking novel about how unknown family history can still shape the present. Justine finds herself stuck in a rut and in a relationship that perhaps isn't awful but it's not really good either. So when she gets the call that her great-aunt has died and left the house on the lake to her, she packs her stuff up, grabs her girls and leaves for a new life. Of course, we all know it's not that easy and your past finds a way to get a hold of you. We also learn the story, through Lucy's eyes, of how 6 year old Emily went missing from the house years ago. The pages turn fast and you won't believe the ending. I will caution you, Maurie can be a bit much to handle some times.  I loved how the story was told in different time periods and how the title can mean a few different things.

Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: None
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 288
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Everyone keeps secrets, even from ourselves
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library

Mini Review: The Things We Wish Were True is a novel about how we hide things from those we love the most, including ourselves. Told from varying points of view and stories that eventually intersect we met the community of Sycamore Glen. Sure everything looks ideal if you are driving by but we all know looks are deceiving. Perhaps the one thing I took away from this novel is that while it is important to forgive others in your life, it is truly important to forgive yourself for your mistakes. This is a good novel for remembering we are all human.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Julie's Review: Vivian in Red

Author: Kristina Riggle
Series: None
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Polis Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line: A wonderful look at the early days of Broadway and how our past can sneak up on us at anytime
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Famed Broadway producer Milo Short may be eighty-eight but that doesn't stop him from going to the office every day. So when he steps out of his Upper West Side brownstone on one exceptionally hot morning, he's not expecting to see the impossible: a woman from his life sixty years ago, cherry red lips, bright red hat, winking at him on a New York sidewalk, looking just as beautiful as she did back in 1934. The sight causes him to suffer a stroke. And when he comes to, the renowned lyricist discovers he has lost the ability to communicate. Milo believes he must unravel his complicated history with Vivian Adair in order to win back his words. But he needs help—in the form of his granddaughter Eleanor— failed journalist and family misfit. Tapped to write her grandfather’s definitive biography, Eleanor must dig into Milo’s colorful past to discover the real story behind Milo’s greatest song Love Me, I Guess, and the mysterious woman who inspired an amazing life. A sweeping love story, family mystery and historical drama set eighty years apart, Vivian in Red will swell your heart like a favorite song while illuminating Broadway like you've never seen before.

Review: Vivian in Red is a fantastic novel about how our personal history and those things we regret will come up, rear their head at any time. Milo Short has that regret and seeing a vision of her sends him into having a stroke. After his stroke, the physical abilities come back easily but he's still not speaking and no one is sure exactly why. Medically speaking he should be able to talk but something is blocking him. Enter his granddaughter, Eleanor, who has a mission from the family to research Milo's beginnings and write a biography about him. Never-mind that Milo didn't want one written.
Eleanor needs the job and well who can write it better than a family member, plus she's pretty much pressured into it by the rest of her cousins.

It is clear that Eleanor is the "black sheep" of the family but it is also quite evident that she adores her grandfather. It is also evident that she's a little lost in both love and work. She can't quite find what she wants to do with her life and if someone has to convince her to love him, maybe he's not the right one. Of course when your do-good cousins interfere it's hard to figure out your own feelings.  She starts digging into her grandfather's beginnings on Broadway when one name jumps out to her...Vivian Adair. At the same time, Milo keeps seeing apparitions of  Vivian in his mind and in his room. She has something to be said and now is her time to have it said.

I love the way that Ms. Riggle takes you down one path and makes you think something and then all the sudden things become much clearer as the story goes on. In Vivian she highlights mental health issues for women back in the 30s and how things were swept under the rug. How people knew something was "off" about her but didn't know how to handle. Even kind, Milo Short doesn't quite know what to make of Vivian but he tries to help her anyway not knowing that he might be doing more harm.

I loved the setting around the heyday of Broadway and how Milo got his start and became successful. I loved the glitz and glamour but also the hard work that is portrayed throughout the novel. Work on Broadway was demanding and tiring. You were only as good as your last lyric or last hit. 

I would love to see Ms. Riggle write another book set in the same time period in Broadway with a different perspective. From her writing, I could tell that she has a passion for this time period and the setting.

If you love family mysteries and historical fiction then you should definitely pick up
Vivian in Red. Also, I could pretty much stare at the cover all day. It is breathtaking.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Julie's Review: Triple Love Score

Author: Brandi Megan Granett
Series: None
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Pages: 455
Obtained: publicist
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Clever use of Scrabble and fun romantic story
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: A poetry professor stumbles into fame and fortune as an anonymous online Scrabble(r) poet. Miranda lives a quiet life among books and letters as a poetry professor in a small upstate town. When two snap decisions turn up the volume on her life, she must decide whether or not her best laid plans actually lead to where her heart wants to go.

Review: Triple Love Score is a clever take on Scrabble. Miranda is down and out in her love life when she meets the handsome and roguish, Ronan. Who wouldn't be cast under his Irish accent spell and the attention that he gives her since Scott left her high and dry 6 years prior. For her it's casual and something that can just be for fun, but as a reader you have to wonder what Ronan's intentions truly are. Of course, just when she's getting her life back in order and maybe moving on from Scott, guess who drops right back into her life?

Of course things aren't as easy as you want them to be with Miranda and Scott. You want him to just tell her what the heck happened to him six years ago. He's being very coy and standoffish with her when she approaches the subject with him. He does help her to reach out to someone who can help her with her Instagram account to market it and monetize it.

I adored Miranda and her outlook on life. Does she have a couple missteps along the way but who doesn't? She has been in love with Scott since they were young kids growing up together. I loved the way she used Scrabble to work out her feelings on whatever was going on in her life. I loved how she stood up for herself against those that were trying to bring her down. I thought her relationship with her step-mother was more of a friendship because she never tried to replace her mother. They had mutual respect for each other and cared deeply for one another.

This was a fun, quick read that reminds us that the ties that bind us aren't always family and that sometimes you have to let go to hang on.

I definitely look forward to seeing what else Ms. Granett writes in the future.