Friday, April 27, 2018

Julie's Review: The Secret to Southern Charm

Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #2
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: I love this family and these sisters
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Leaving fans “practically [begging] for a sequel” (Bookpage), critically acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see themselves, but also how they fit together as a family. After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve. Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light. But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.  

Review: The Secret to Southern Charm was like slipping back into a comfy pair of sweatpants and hunkering down. I love these sisters. I love that Ms. Harvey shows complex sister relationships without having them estranged or hating each other. Now don't get me wrong, they do fight but they resolve it. Although, they always have each other's backs. Which is what this second novel focuses on, them rallying around Sloane when her husband, Adam, goes MIA. Why Sloane can't get herself out of bed, Caroline and Emerson plus their mom, Ansley, take over to take care of her two small boys. 

Emerson and Caroline have their own things going as well. Caroline is still trying to decide if she should forgive her husband, James for cheating on her while she was pregnant. Emerson is still deciding if she wants to pursue acting or pursue a relationship with Mark. Not to mention Ansley dealing with her feelings for James and the fact that she pushed him off . It really doesn't help when he moves next door.

A lot of this book revolves around the importance of family, faith and love. I think it is always good to be reminded that these things are what really makes us who we are. They never doubt their love for each other even if they sometimes question their decisions.

I love these women in this series. They are strong and yet vulnerable. They have issues that are real. You want to be their friends and sit on the porch of the house in Peachtree Bluff and tell stories.

If you haven't read Ms. Harvey then you should. Ms. Harvey can hurry up and publish the next one in the series.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Julie's Review: The Flight Attendant

Author: Chris Bohjalian
Series: None
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Another fantastic novel by one of my favorites
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police - she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home - Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did? Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.  

Review: Prior to reading the book I saw a lot of people commenting on how they didn’t like Cassie. I’m a believer that you don’t have to like the main character to enjoy a novel. I didn’t have such strong feelings for Cassie. I'm not saying she wasn't a hot mess because she was that and a while lot more but I felt sorry for her because she didn’t have any strong relationship and didn’t really care about herself. She was an alcoholic, which is a disease but she was self-destructive.

Waking up beside a man she barely knows isn't really new for Cassie but him being dead in the morning is. Since she's pretty much a blackout drunk, she can't say for sure if she murdered him or not but she does feel like she is capable of that even at her drunkest. What happens next has you guessing who to believe and who to not believe. Did Cassie kill him? Was it in self-defense? Or has she stepped into something much more sinister than she could ever imagine. Will she keep lying to herself and those around her or will she realize that this is perhaps the best time to tell the truth.

Mr. Bohjalian really does keep the reader engaged and on their "toes". There are many twists and turns that I truly didn't see coming but looking back I feel like there were probably hints. I also wonder if Cassie was targeted from the beginning because of her drinking and blackouts.

I love spy movies and books so I was thrilled when this book had that edge to it. It is a fast paced thriller that will have you wondering what the hell is going on until it all comes together in the end.
The Flight Attendant is another fantastic character study novel by Mr. Bohjalian. I can only imagine the research that went into this one!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Julie's Review: The Good Liar

Author: Catherine McKenzie
Series: None
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 338
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.25/5
Bottom Line: If you keep secrets does that make you a liar?
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Summary: When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered. A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building. Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

Review: The Good Liar was my first Catherine McKenzie book but it won’t be my last. She has written a novel where everyone has secrets but that doesn't necessarily mean they are a liar. How can one moment can change the lives of 3 women inexplicably? This what she examines and peels back the layers on.

Cecily is the poster child/woman for the family’s of the accident. Except she’s hiding something from they world but most of all her family. In the end though, I felt that she was just racked with guilt and trying to protect her family. Kate, well she’s got a couple screws loose. She ran away when the opportunity presented itself and then came back when it suited her needs as well. I wouldn’t call her selfish but broken. Her intentions might mean well but were executed poorly. Then there is Franny;  coo-coo for cocoa puffs but I’ll let you read about her but I’m just going to say is that she needs some serious help.

While there were a few things I figured out before they were revealed, it didn't ruin the book at all for me. In fact even though I figured them out how the characters reacted was not what I expected, so that was refreshing. I also wanted to see how she would end it and I definitely didn't expect the ending.

If you are looking for a great suspense novel, pick up The Good Liar.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Julie's Review: The Husband Hour

Author: Jamie Brenner
Series: None
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Pages: 338
Obtained: Great Thoughts,Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: How do you heal when you are stunted by tragedy and guilt?
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny. Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time. One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future.

Review:  Husband Hour is about Rory and Lauren but for me it was really about family. How you can love someone in your family but dislike them at the same time. To say that Lauren and her sister Stephanie are at odds would be putting it lightly. They haven’t truly spoken in years and when Rory died, Stephanie didn’t attend his funeral.Talk about some issues, right?

So the idea of spending the summer in their family home on the Jersey Shore with her sister, is completely unappealing; especially when Lauren has the house mainly to herself most of the year. Their mother, Beth, thinks this summer will just the thing to fix her family. She doesn't understand why her girls just can't get along.

As a reader, you really feel for Lauren and everything she's gone through, especially as you learn the backstory. You also want her to forgive herself and move on. She can't stay stunted forever, even though that's exactly what she's choosing to do by hiding on the shore all year. As much as I found Stephanie annoying, I wanted her and Lauren to find their way back to each other. After all a sister can be your best friend.

My favorite part of the novel might have been the subplot about their parents but more specifically about their mother's rebirth/renewal. I loved how after years of doing something that needed to be done she reignited her passion. I think it made her husband see her in a new light.

What Ms. Brenner does an excellent in this novel is showing how someone’s death can stunt you in ways you didn’t even know and how life can pass you by. She also shows the different family dynamics and how kids can have no clue what is going with their parents. It's a study in love, loss, forgiveness and re-birth.

I would highly suggest you get Husband Hour as one of your Spring reads. You won't be disappointed by it at all.