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
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
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
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
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!
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
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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