When I first noticed Plastic being posted on Instagram a couple of months ago, I knew IYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
When I first noticed Plastic being posted on Instagram a couple of months ago, I knew I had to read it. I was absolutely thrilled when Suzy of Suzy Approved Book Tours asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour.
I was drawn to this book, as I suspect many readers will be, because of my interest in society’s obsession with plastic surgery and the real or perceived need for Hollywood’s elite to maintain a certain level of youth and/or beauty to maintain their careers and continue feeling attractive to their partners. This book contained all of those elements with some darker twists that made it quite unique.
Dr. Harry Previn has a lot going on. His marriage is falling apart and he can’t seem to grasp why that is. One of his patients has recently died. His world is slowly coming apart at the seems.
When he is summoned to help a beautiful, young actress who has sustained some pretty horrible facial injuries, he begins his journey into a darker part of Hollywood life. Are Fay’s “people” benevolent friends and business associates looking to help her avoid unnecessary negative press and stress? Or is there something else going on?
Plastic was a very quick and very interesting read. Even if I didn’t know that Frank Strausser was a playwright, I’d say this book would easily lend itself to film adaptation. I do hope that it gets optioned if it hasn’t already. I would definitely read Frank Strausser’s work in the future.
Many thanks to Rare Bird Books and Suzy Approved Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
When Emma at Dampebbles Blog Tours sent out the synopsis for this one, I was immediately drawn to it. Who can resist a good domestic thriller thatWhen Emma at Dampebbles Blog Tours sent out the synopsis for this one, I was immediately drawn to it. Who can resist a good domestic thriller that includes a couple with the perfect marriage living the perfect suburban life with a “patient, systematic, methodical” femme fatale thrown into the mix? NOT this girl!
What did I love about this book? Ev. Er-Y. Thing. In terms of pacing, this is the fastest moving page-turner I’ve read in a long, long time. I read it in two sittings but I know many of you could easily read it in one. (Darn kids!) The reason for this is that Deserve to Die is written in a pretty unique way. Straight away we (think we) pretty much know the what and the who (or do we?) but not the why. I found myself compelled to get to the bottom of it. For better or worse, the author keeps us in suspense till very end. That’s all I can say about the plot without risking spoilers.
As for the characters, love them or loathe them, they all drew me in. Their various and sundry flaws made me despise them, root for them (with one exception), and want to slap them, sometimes simultaneously. And if you, like me, are a fan of very smart but very cold and ruthless villains, you’re in for a treat!
If you’re looking to end your summer with a compelling, page-turning, domestic suspense/thriller, I highly recommend Deserve to Die. This is the first book written by Miranda Rijks that I’ve read and I’m already looking forward to her next.
Greetings, fellow readers! It’s great to be back from my hiatus with a blog tour stop and giveaway for Layover by David Bell. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit this but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t read any of his previous books. On the brighter side, that only made me more excited to read this one so I could see for myself what all the fuss is about. And see, I do!
We start off with our main man, Joshua Fields, having a chance encounter with a beautiful woman during a layover in Atlanta. He’s not thrilled with his current job. She seems to be in some sort of emotional distress. They share a kiss and she tells him they’ll never see each other again. End of story, right? NOT! But is she the bad penny that keeps coming back? Or is she a victim of circumstance? Misunderstood martyr or manipulative murderess? Does missing Morgan have anything to do with another missing persons case being investigated in a town in which she once lived? Or are the two cases an unrelated coincidence?
This fast-paced game of cat and mouse plays out in short chapters with many little bombs being dropped along the way. I found myself finishing the last half of the book in one sitting, laundry be damned.
At times, I admittedly wanted to slap Joshua Fields. I was frustrated with his being smitten to the point of losing his good sense over a woman he’d met only once. At the same time, I found his naivete somewhat charming despite it requiring me to suspend disbelief a bit more than I’d normally go for. As for the femme fatale of this tale, I really didn’t know what to make of her until very end.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. I’d definitely read David Bell’s past or future books.
4.25/5 glasses of wine
Many thanks to Berkley and Get Red PR for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Vox, one of the most hyped and anticipated booksEnter the GIVEAWAY for U.S residents on my Instagram account!
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Vox, one of the most hyped and anticipated books of 2018. I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to join this blog tour and I’m equally excited to share my thoughts with you!
“Monsters aren’t born, ever. They’re made, piece by piece and limb by limb, artificial creations of madmen who, like the misguided Frankenstein, always think they know better.”
If you’ve alread heard about this book, I’m sure you’ve seen it compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s been almost 30 years since I’ve read that one so I can’t make a fair apples to apples comparison. I generally avoid comparing one book to another but I have say that I think this one may be even more terrifying. I can’t speak for the author’s intentions but it’s doing a lot of things — ruffling feathers, stirring pots, giving wake-up calls — and it’s my hope that she is pleased with the number and level of conversations that are happening as a result her bringing this book into the world.
I’m not going to talk very much about the plot because I want you to go in like I did, knowing only what’s in blurb. If you’re like me, you’ll be drawn in immediately and unable to put it down. It can definitely be devoured in one day. (Perhaps even one sitting if one does not have children home. When is that bus coming??) Christina Dalcher‘s writing is fluid, smart, and thoughtful. The nurse in me loved the medical, linguistic, and scientific aspects of Vox.
Vox is a book with lots of genre overlap. I would put it in the all of the following categories: literary fiction, dystopian, women’s fiction, political fiction, and even a bit of thriller and sci-fi. It’s definitely suited to a wide range of readers. I do think it would make for an excellent book club selection but, depending on the company, I might need lots of wine to get through it. It’s not a discussion to be had in one hundred words or less, let’s just say that. In the spirit of avoiding spoilers (and hey, I don’t want to loose any followers either) I will refrain from interjecting my own opinions here but… I hope readers will consider how they react to this book emotionally today vs. how they may have felt five years ago.
Vox is an impressive, provocative debut and I’m already on the edge my seat in anticipation of Christina Dalcher’s future work.
Many thanks to Berkley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The very first thing I noticed about this book is how absolutely stunning it is! InYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
The very first thing I noticed about this book is how absolutely stunning it is! In addition to the gorgeous photos on the cover, the entire book is printed on heavy, quality paper and has a definitely gift-worthy feel. On the inside, the photography is just as beautiful. But if you’re expecting page after page of greens salads, you’ll be surprised. Yes, there are plenty of ripe, beautiful veggies, but it doesn’t end there. We’re talking gorgeous loaves of bread, soups, desserts, and mains that you will actually want to eat. If you’re like me, though, you might wonder, at first, how it’s possible to eat all of those things while losing weight.
As it turns out, Karina Melvin’s philosophy focuses more on the how and why of eating vs. the heavy emphasis on what that seems to dominate much of today’s current diet culture. If you, like me, have grown fatigued with hearing about no carb/gluten/fat/nut/seed/evil-food-of-the-moment diets, you’ll find Artful Eating to be a welcome departure.
This book doesn’t promise a one-size-fits all magic solution. There is work to be done. Much of the book is devoted to exercises and activities to help us understand why we develop unhealthy patterns and how we can change them. Ms. Melvin helps us connect all of those things with daily practices that make staying on track a little easier. She approaches this from both the psychological and practical sides.
I love that she covers some very basic, general cooking topics such as how to stock your pantry and “how to roast”. The recipes she includes are simple and look delicious. There is something to be said for a going back to basics. For most of us with busy work and/or family lives, it’s not practical to have to shop at six different grocers to obtain ingredients and then go home and spend two or three hours preparing a meal. I can’t wait to try the Roast Chicken and there isn’t a single recipe in the book that was unappealing or overly complicated. Almost all take under 30 minutes start to finish. (I’m currently recovering from hand surgery but BOLO for pics of recipes I try on my Instagram account after I can once again use both hands at the end of July.)
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to make healthy lifestyle changes. If you are open to exploring your relationship with yourself and with food, I think this practical, common-sense approach could be of great help.
Many thanks to Black & White Publishing and Bookcollective for providing me with a free copy of this book in change for an honest review. ...more
I’m going rogue here. I’m going to do something I’ve never done. I’m going to talk about aYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine
I’m going rogue here. I’m going to do something I’ve never done. I’m going to talk about a book without giving it a rating. I’ll try to explain. I knew when I began reading The Widow of Wall Street that there would be parallels to the life of Ruth and Bernie Madoff. I didn’t realize just how closely related the stories would be. This book is basically a fictionalized retelling of the rise and fall of Ruth and Bernie. Almost every single detail and event are identical or unquestionably similar. I was unable to separate the stories in my mind. As someone who has a very negative bias toward Bernie Madoff, I found it difficult to read this book with my usual open mind.
That said, I was compelled to keep turning the pages and would not dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I’d recommend it. Especially to those who may not have followed the story closely as it was unfolding and read and watched all related material since. It’s a fascinating story and I think Randy Susan Myers did a fabulous job with Phoebe’s character. She subtly answered the big question of how and why a woman can remain committed to a man even after learning their entire life was built on lies. That’s not to say Phoebe’s character was perfect; there are times I just wanted to scream at her. But flawed as she was, I also found some empathy for her. She effectively lost her husband. She lost her status, her worldly possessions, and her relationship with her children was completely fractured. She became a media spectacle. Nevertheless, she learned to cope with a quiet dignity I appreciated.
As for the pilfering and philandering Jake, I think Ms. Meyers was absolutely spot-on in rendering his character. In this book, as in real life, we are left with the question of why??? Psychopathy, machismo, narcissism, evil nature? What causes someone to willfully act in a manner that has the potential to cause such complete devastation to practically everyone he comes into contact with?
There were a couple of elements that were unique to this story that I really enjoyed. One is the relationships Phoebe forms at Mira House, where she volunteers. The other is too much a spoiler to mention but I think was a good call on the part of the author.
There are some excellent book club discussion questions at the back of the book. This would definitely be a great book club club pick! I would have loved to read about the author’s research in writing this book. She clearly did a great deal. And kudos to her for writing about Greenwich with such accurate detail. The only think missing was a trip to Conor’s Soul Cycle class!
The takeaway: This is an excellent book choice for anyone fascinated with the Madoff scandal, financial crimes, or crappy husbands.
Many thanks to Washington Square Press via Getred PR for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If your summer reading list is lacking something suspenseful and disturbing, (c’mon theyI'm hosting a GIVEAWAY through Friday on my lnstagram account.
If your summer reading list is lacking something suspenseful and disturbing, (c’mon they can’t all be light and fluffy) I highly recommend adding this book to your TBR.
If Bravo were casting for The Real Housewives of Sandefjord, they would most definitely want to contract with Cecelia Wilborg. Socialite, designer, day-drinking pill-popper… Cecelia wears a lot of hats. She’s driven to achieve perfection in all aspects of her life and that’s a lot of pressure. She’s understandably annoyed when charged with the task of bringing home a young boy left behind at the club pool. Seriously, she’s a busy woman and those Missoni blankets are not going to buy themselves.
Things go from bad to worse quickly when she discovers an abandoned house at the address she’s been given. Faced with making a difficult decision in terms of how to handle the situation Cecelia, well, let’s just say she doesn’t do exactly as I would have done. And so begins an epic tale of lies, secrets, and more lies to cover up the secrets.
The strength of this book, which is both plot and character driven, lies overwhelmingly in the awesomely rendered character that is Cecelia. She is an absolutely convincing dichotomy of a woman. She is both a “love to hate” and “I can can truly empathize with that” sort of woman. Careful attention was paid to the development of each character. Fear of preventing you from going in with an open mind prevents me from making specific comments on the other characters.
The Boy at the Door provides the trifecta of suspense; it’s a page-turner with an unreliable narrator and an original plot. Solid by any standards, it’s especially impressive as a debut. Though I’ve struggled with Nordic noir in the past, I’ve found this to be a fresh offering; a leaning toward domestic suspense that still offers some traditional crime and procedural elements. I will definitely look forward to Alex Dahl’s next novel.
Many thanks to Berkley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
If you’ve been monitoring my tweets (and why wouldn’t you be?) you’ve seen that I startedYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
If you’ve been monitoring my tweets (and why wouldn’t you be?) you’ve seen that I started fangirling over Our House the moment I started it. I don’t really do the fangirl gushing thing very well or very often but I’ve found some difficulty in restraining myself with this book. I will do my best to maintain some level of coherency in an effort to convey to you, as best I can, why I loved it.
The first thing that stood out is that we hear most of Fi’s side of the story via a crime podcast she has done called The Victim. It gave the whole book a bit of a modern epistolary-twisty feel.
“Of course, once you hear my story you’ll think I have no one to blame but myself—just like the audience will. I know how it works. They’ll all be on Twitter saying how clueless I am. And I get it. I listened to the whole of season one and I did exactly that myself. There’s a thin line between being a victim and an idiot.”
As far as the plot goes, it was absolutely engrossing. I almost choked when I read a comment from the police: “This could have happened to anyone, Mrs. Lawson.” I thought yeah, right, almost anyone could come home to find all of their belongings moved out and a new family moving in. But I’ll be damned. It really could happen. Learning how it could happen was fascinating. But it didn’t stop there. In fact, that was only the beginning.
I don’t often love a book if I’m not particularly attached to any of the characters but Our House was an exception. Perhaps because they were simply so convincing. Louise Candlish did an excellent job of balancing them out. There were moments I hated myself, realizing I was starting to feel sympathy for the wrong ones…
Right up until the ending, I was of the opinion that this was a page-turning, solid 4-4.5 star read. The ending made it a no-brainer 5 star read. I did not see it coming. At all. I can’t recall the last time I was so taken aback at the very last second.
When I read the blurb for Our House I was intrigued but wasn’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a far smarter, more sophisticated read than I ever expected. This is the first book I’ve read by Louise Candlish but it certainly won’t be the last.
Do visit the Our House website where you can hear a bit of Fi’s podcast. It convinced me that this would be an excellent audiobook as well.
Many thanks to Berkley Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I read this as part of the Bookollective blog tour. You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
When Tommaso is found by a privateI read this as part of the Bookollective blog tour. You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
When Tommaso is found by a private investigator thirty years after leaving Pulia, he pleads that his whereabouts not be disclosed. In a conversation that spans the better part of twenty-four hours, Tommaso tells his story to Will, the P.I., in the hopes that he will understand and therefore comply with his wishes to remain in the life he has created for himself in England.
There is so much I want to sat about this book that I hardly know where to begin. Valeria Vescina writes beautifully. She creates an unbelievable sense of atmosphere and nostalgia. Her depictions of the landscape and architecture of Puglia have made it me want to visit this town I’d heard little of but am now slightly obsessed with.
The characters and their relationships to one another are extremely complex. As much as I loved Tommaso and Anna, I also found myself frustrated with and saddened by them at times. I was definitely invested.
What I loved most about this book was that it was a very emotional read. Yes, it’s a love story but it’s so much more than a love story. It’s a reminder of how things can go so very wrong when we try so very hard to do right by those we love. It’s about communication and miscommunication and redemption. It’s about the expectations we have of our parents and those we have of our children. It’s about how we differ in our reactions to anger and grief. I could go on and on. In short, it’s about all of the things that make us fragile, vulnerable, human…
That Summer in Puglia is a beautiful, character-driven novel I won’t soon forget. If you read it, I’d love to chat. This is definitely a perfect book club choice and I’m keen to talk it over with other readers. This book is an impressive debut and I’d certainly love to read more books by Valeria Vescina in the future.
Many thanks to Eyewear Publishing and Bookollective for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a delightfully fresh literary mystery. It was justYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a delightfully fresh literary mystery. It was just the thing to get me out of a the little slump I'd been in. I wasn't in the mood for something terribly heavy or terribly morbid. I'm always up for quirky characters. No matter that the quirkiest character was deceased prior to Chapter One. (Of an apparent suicide. In a hot tub. With a string of Christmas lights.)
Hazel, adopted granddaughter of Isaac Severy, famed mathematician, receives a cryptic letter upon his death. It's written by Isaac and in it he asks that she complete a series of tasks. She must tell no one. She must decipher a series of clues in oder to fulfill her grandfather's last wishes. It's not going to be an easy task. Hazel is not as scientifically-minded as her grandfather. Hazel has no idea why she has been chosen to complete these tasks. More importantly, she has no idea why her grandfather wants this particular set of tasks to be completed in the first place.
As we follow Hazel on her journey to carry out Isaac's last wishes, we learn more about how Hazel and her brother came to be part of the Severy family. They are an eclectic and somewhat dysfuctional bunch. All of the members of Isaac's family were carefully and fully developed. Each had a particular set of flaws and weaknesses. In most cases, these were balanced with a set of more likable traits. I really enjoyed the family drama aspect of this book; both the parts that were central to the plot and those that were not. Nova Jacobs did a remarkable job of balancing the whimsy and lightness of this book with serious issues many families face.
There was a subplot that was as intriguing as the plot. The author did a fabulous job of keeping both going at just the right pace. The farther I read into the book, the harder it was to walk away from.
As one might expect, there was a fair amount of math-y language throughout the book. String theory this and chaos theory that. If I'm honest, that was all blah, blah, blah to me but I fully appreciated what it meant to Isaac, his family, and his colleagues. I thought it added a unique twist. We read about all manner of professions and hobbies, why not mathematics?
Overall, I found The Last Equation of Isaac Severy to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. As a debut, it's even more impressive. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what Nova Jacobs has in store for us in the future.
Many thanks to Touchstone for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
*** GIVEAWAY*** on Insta. Entries open till 11:59pm 2/11/18. Open to U.S. residents. You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
“On*** GIVEAWAY*** on Insta. Entries open till 11:59pm 2/11/18. Open to U.S. residents. You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
“On the middle shelf in the bathroom cabinet lies Karin’s hairbrush. Her hairs are still snagged in its plastic teeth. She didn’t have time to prise them out and throw them away as she usually did. The brush is thick with hair, I smell it, I press it to my mouth.”
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive is full of beautiful, poignant passages. Tom Malmquist’s grief upon suddenly losing his wife shortly after the birth of their child is profound and palpable.
The book takes us on a journey of the days and months after Karin’s death while alternating with the months and years preceding it. The reader is given an intimate look into Tom and Karin’s relationships with one another and their families. We are given a glimpse into the reality that grieving family members often face. Tom is simultaneously dealing with caring for a newborn, making funeral arrangements, and dealing with bureaucratic red tape of having himself appointed as baby Livia’s legal guardian. (Apparently, in Sweden, the latter was necessary because Karin and Tom where not married. This was still true despite the fact that a DNA test performed while Livia was still in the hospital confirmed his paternity.) Sadly, shortly after Karin’s death, Tom’s father, who has been battling cancer for ten years, becomes gravely ill and dies.
While there was much to love and appreciate about this book, I found its formatting made it quite difficult to get through. There are no quotation marks which is enough to distract me but worse, there was no line break in conversation. There are pages – sometimes three or four at a time – that have not a single line break and alternate between dialog and narrative. The toggle between past and present was not always clear to me and I found myself needing to reread several paragraphs. Unfortunately, I was unable to adjust to this writing style and it had a significant impact on my overall experience in reading this book.
In Every Moment We are Still Alive will be a good fit for readers who are looking for a meaningful, poignant read who will not become distracted by the nontraditional writing style.
Please check out the giveaway on my Instagram Account.
Thanks to Melville House and TLC Book Tours for proving me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Every Exquisite Thingstarted off well enough. I would say that I enjoyed about the firstYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine
Every Exquisite Thing started off well enough. I would say that I enjoyed about the first third of the book. Then things began to fizzle and I was unable to recover my interest. I considered DNF'ing it but 1) I've already DNF'd two books this month 2) it was a fast enough read that I didn't feel I was wasting too much time 3) I held a glimmer of hope that the ending would blow me away.
I though the premise of the book was a good one - two teens that don't fit in with the "in" crowd are drawn together by book, The Bubblegum Reaper. They're introduced by the book's author over dinner and make an immediate connection. He is a fight-for-the-underdog poet and she is struggling to find her sense of self. Sadly, the rest of the story was lackluster and ineffective in delivering it's intended message. I believe I can see what the author was trying to do here; there were elements of romance and humor, teenage angst, and classic tragedy. It just didn't come together for me.
I felt that some of the events and dialogs were too juvenile to be realistic for eighteen year old high school seniors. I also had problems with the way Nanette's parent's marriage turned out. I'm unable to elaborate without adding spoilers. I was unable to develop a connection with any of the characters with the exception of Oliver, their mutual friend. Oh, and I liked Unproductive Ted as well. But he's a turtle and a character in the fictitious Bubblegum Reaper so I'm not sure if he counts.
Though I'm unable to give this book a glowing review, I will read another by Matthew Quick if the blurb interests me. I enjoyed his writing style.
Thanks to Little, Brown for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
P.S. I have edited and deleted this post several times and can't seem to get rid of the underlining. It is most certainly not coded to be underlined. If anyone has any ideas, please lmk. TIA....more
I'm hosting a GIVEAWAY for this on on my INSTAGRAM account!
Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, right? Thats what SuzetteI'm hosting a GIVEAWAY for this on on my INSTAGRAM account!
Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, right? Thats what Suzette thought too...
If you're a fan of thrillers, you've undoubtedly seen Baby Teeth everywhere over the past couple of weeks. It certainly one of the most hyped of the summer. Ninety percent of Goodreads reviewers rate this book between three and five stars. It obviously has a lot going for it. I'm not surprised, however, that it has also proved to be a very polarizing read. There is something deeply disturbing about a mother being afraid of her own daughter and a daughter that really, truly want to harm her mother.
As many of you know, I'm a nurse by profession, though I've not worked since the birth of my daughter. My own professional experience did have some impact on my experience with this book. I have actually met mothers who are afraid of their children and it's not an easy thing to deal with. It's extremely difficult to find resources for these families and they are often afraid of seeking voluntary services through DCF. It's the ultimate Catch-22. I, therefore, admit to approaching this book with some trepidation mixed into the intrigue. I reasoned with myself that all thrillers contain at least one character with behavioral health issues and asked myself why it should be different that, in this case, the character is a child. After reading this book, I came up with something that's admittedly not terribly scholarly or profound: IT JUST IS! We are conditioned to look at children as innocents; blank slates that, with the proper nurturing, will blossom into loving and contributing members of society. Baby Teeth forces us to reexamine that notion.
The moment I began Baby Teeth, I didn't want to put it down. Despite, or maybe because of, the feeling it gave me in the pit of my stomach, I was compelled to keep turning the pages. I thought it was very well-written all-around—well developed characters, chill factor, and multiple points of view which worked very, very well. There were one or two times I had difficulty with implausibility but there was enough that's (even more scarily!) plausible here that the balance remained in the book's favor.
I would argue that the very disturbing nature of this book is the exact reason that you *should* read it. It will give you lots of food for thought and make for interesting discussion material, to be sure. And let's face it, you don't want to have FOMO. Seriously, everyone is reading this book!
Baby Teeth is Zoje Stage's debut novel. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I will definitely read her future work.
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
UPDATE: ****GIVEAWAY**** I'm running a GIVEAWAY for this book on INSTA. @litwitwinedine Open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Entries close 11:59pm ESTUPDATE: ****GIVEAWAY**** I'm running a GIVEAWAY for this book on INSTA. @litwitwinedine Open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Entries close 11:59pm EST 1/7/18.
This book is unique in many ways. The first is that Karen Perry is actually a pen name for two writers collaborating on this book. This is the first book, to the best of my knowledge, that I've read penned by two authors and it definitely worked here.
Most of the book is told in the alternating first person points of view of Caroline and David. They're a long-married couple who have seen their share of marital difficulties but are currently cruising through a pretty good life in a relatively quiet and stable manner. Until SHE arrives. She being Zoe, a young blonde student of David's who claims to be his daughter from a relationship predating his marriage.
Straightaway, the reader gets the impression that something is not quite right with this young woman. Is she his daughter? Is she a psychopath? Is she both? Is she neither? So even though I thought I knew where this was going (I didn't), I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out. A+ in the pacing department!
With regard to the characters, I spent approximately 90% of the book wanting to beat David about the head. (Metaphorically speaking of course. I am not the violent type.) I don't often feel the compulsion to scream at a character in a book but I made an exception for David. Caroline was more likable though I can't say that I felt a deep affinity for her. I will withhold comments on Zoe so as not to influence anyone before they've read the book.
Girl Unknown really stood out for its representation of relationships. I'm not one for any romantic nonsense but I was totally on board with the way Caroline and David's marriage was portrayed. I found it to be very authentic in a way that must be difficult to accomplish. Their relationships with their other children, Robbie and Holly were also very realistic. I wonder if this is the product of this book having this book written by two writers - one male and one female. It many or may not - whatever it is, it worked - but I don't often feel about the way husband/wife relationships are depicted.
The plot provided lots of suspense throughout with several unexpected twists and turns right till the end.
Many thanks to Henry Holt for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
If you’re a friend or follower on here on Goodreads, you may have seen my status update at pageYou can read all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
If you’re a friend or follower on here on Goodreads, you may have seen my status update at page 108: “The jury is still out on this one. I’m not a fan of omitting quotation marks and it’s moving a little slowly.”
And this one at page 163: “Okay, now I’m hooked.”
A brief status update at the end of the book would have looked something like this: “Huh? What the heck?”
And that pretty much sums it up. Grist Mill Road started out slowly. Everything seemed very obvious and thought I knew where it was going. Until I didn’t. Once I didn’t, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. (Hence my “shopping be damned” Insta post.) While I have no objection to this lead up, per se, I did think 108 pages was a few too many to have to read before all the “good stuff” started happening.
The story was told from the points of view of Hannah, Matthew, and Patrick with interspersed chapters flashing back to the horrific event of 1892 that bound them together. This worked really well for me. I love an unreliable narrator and having three made the suspense almost unbearable. I was constantly doubting each character and couldn’t wait for the truth to come out. Christopher J. Yates in an extremely talented writer in terms of both imagination and execution.
The ending, however, left me feeling somewhat frustrated. While I appreciate books that don’t have neat and tidy endings, I was a little taken aback by this one. I may have been a little more forgiving of the conclusive events themselves if not for the feelings I had about Matthew’s character. I could not reconcile 1982 Matthew with 2008 Matthew. It just seemed like something was missing.That’s all I can say without spoilers but if you read the book, please feel free to DM me for an offline discussion. I am chomping at the bit to hash it out with someone.
This book had an enormous amount of potential. While it fell a little short for me in relation to its potential, I would definitely look forward to reading Christopher J. Yate’s future novels.
Many thanks to Picador USA for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Enter the giveaway and check out all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine. Giveaway ends 10/31/17 11:59pm EST.
This is another book that first caught myEnter the giveaway and check out all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine. Giveaway ends 10/31/17 11:59pm EST.
This is another book that first caught my attention at Book Expo 2017. Though I hadn’t read What She Knew, the first DI Jim Clemo book, I had absolutely no problem at all reading this book as a stand-alone.
Odd Child Out drew me in straightaway. It is a very steady page-turner. There are several reasons for this but the first is that this is the “smartest” mystery/thriller I’ve read in a very long time. Are you one of those bookworms that professes to read only literary fiction? Well then, this book is for you. Gilly Macmillan has written the perfect crossover for fans of literary and contemporary fiction who who are ready to take a step toward the dark side!
Odd Child out is also very uniquely plot and character driven. It’s really very well-balanced in that regard which I find unusual; especially in this genre. The story mattered more because I became very invested in the characters. What started out at as a typical who dunnit quickly developed into a gut-wrenching NEED to know.
The story is told in the first and third person points of view of multiple characters. I very much enjoyed this approach as it made each chapter feel fresh.
With regard to the characters, it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite. Of course, I loved Noah and Abdi. But I also loved the way the author rendered Abdi’s mother and sister, Sofia and Maryam. I loved that they were all realistic and flawed and I was very impressed by the way Gilly Macmillan depicted their relationships. There were so many subtle nuances that really made a difference in terms of my ability to relate and connect to them. In fact, I believe the relationships mattered more than the individual characters in many ways.
I must admit that I did shed a few tears at the end of this book. I do hope that DI Jim Clemo will make a return in the future. I would also be among the first in line to read anything else written by Gilly Macmillan.
Many thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
This book first captured by attention at Book Expo 2017. I’d not heard of Ella MayYou can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
This book first captured by attention at Book Expo 2017. I’d not heard of Ella May Wiggins prior to reading the blurb and I was very drawn to the story of this young woman who fought for social justice and racial and gender equality. I was also very drawn to the beautiful cover!
The Last Ballad is Ella’s story told in chapters which were snippets of the lives of several people who played a role in her story. With the exception of the chapters told in the first person by Ella’s daughter, Lilly, they were not exactly told in different points of view. As the story progresses we begin to understand how they they relate to one another and to Ella’s story on the whole. This worked well for the most part. I loved Lilly’s voice and wish we’d heard more of her story.
This story is beautifully written and it’s clear that Wiley Cash is gifted writer. However, I did find that there were times that I felt the pacing was somewhat slowed by superfluous or overly descriptive narrative. It was difficult to resist the temptation to skim over a few areas so that I could get to more of the “meat” of the story. Though I know this book was based on the true story of Ella May, I’m not sure exactly how much of the book is factual and how much is the author’s imagined version of characters, events, conversations, etc. (This may very well have to do with the fact that I was reading an ARC. Perhaps there will be additional Author’s Notes in the finished copy.) The the story was told in a more plot vs character-driven way. The author did balance this particularly in rendering Hampton’s character.
I applaud Wiley Cash for bringing us Ella’s story and reminding us of the unimaginable struggles she and her neighbors and co-workers faced on a daily basis just to put food on the table. Though this is a story from the 1920’s, parts of it felt sadly relevant to our own political climate today:
“…"Of course not”, Epps said again. “No violence.”
“Just a friendly presence,” Guyon said. “A Good show of good people – mill people – to let the Reds know they’re outnumbered.” "
“…Just a nasty woman.”
I definitely felt a little tearful at the end of The Last Ballad. I can certainly see why Wiley Cash has such a devoted following and I look forward to reading his novels again in the future....more
As someone who grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and reading the much-celebratedI'm running a giveaway for this book at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
As someone who grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and reading the much-celebrated books series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was very excited to hear about this book at Book Expo 2017. When I was offered the opportunity to participate in the blog tour, I jumped on it!
Caroline’s character, in both the book and television series, was never featured as prominently as perhaps it should have been. She maintained a steady, consistent, and somewhat stereotyped wife/mother role. I’m pleased that someone saw fit to explore her life in more depth.
Though I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who was or is obsessed with the Little House series, I must admit that I did have some difficulties with it. The first is the pacing. The first hundred-thirty-something pages described the Ingalls family journey from Wisconsin to Kansas. While there were a few moments of excitement, much of the narrative was taken up with rather mundane experiences and Caroline’s constant waxing nostalgic. The rest of the book was similarly paced and, in my opinion, could have been pared down quite a bit.
The second, in fairness, has to do with my own sense of nostalgia in some way. You see, when I was a little girl, (I was two when it started and nine when the last episode aired. Feel free to Google and do the math.) I thought there could have been nothing better than to be Laura Ingalls. It seemed as though she lived the perfect All-American life. After reading this novel, I realized that her family, along with many others, were living the American Dream at the expense of the Native American people they disrespected and displaced. I realize now that I should have made that connection much sooner but the truth is that, while I have given much consideration to the horrible way in which Indigenous Americans have been (and still are being) treated throughout the years, I never once thought of how this might impact my opinion of the Ingalls family. While I understand that the Ingalls family was one of many who staked a claim on Native land, Caroline was particularly averse to their presence which impacted my opinion of her. That said, I absolutely appreciate Sarah Miller’s honesty with regard to Caroline’s attitudes toward Native Americans.
Sarah Miller excelled at developing the characters of of several of Caroline’s neighbors including Mrs. Scott and Edwards. She also made palpable the loneliness and apprehension Caroline experienced as she traveled to Kanas.
Caroline: Little House, Revisited was published with the full approval of Little House Heritage Trust.
"Who was the creature, this mother, wife, psych, who looked like me and sounded like me, but whoYou can read all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
"Who was the creature, this mother, wife, psych, who looked like me and sounded like me, but who had never once in a dozen years suspected her husband of cheating, let alone having another child?"
Give Me the Child is a page-turner straightway! It's told in the first person by Cat, who learns her husband has another child after a middle-of-the-night knock on the door. The mother of the child has died and husband Tom must now raise his daughter, Ruby Winter.
So.... My first thought was that the you-know-what was going to hit the fan in a very big way. I think very few women could keep it together if they found out their husband had fathered another child so very close in age to the one they share together. But Cat seems to be taking this all in stride. Okay, I get it. You don't want to cause a big scene in front of the children, right? You are going to really give it to him the first chance you get, right?? I could not believe it, but she didn't!! She was impossibly passive and compliant with the whole thing, though she wasn't thrilled. There were times I wanted to scream at her:
But perhaps she is pressured to maintain an even keel because of her history of psychosis. She wouldn't want Tom thinking she was having another "episode". If she divorces Tom, she could risk losing custody of their daugther, Freya. Maybe she's just one of those people who forgives easily. Perhaps her professional training has taught her to maintain her composure even under the most stressful of circumstances. Or maybe she's hiding something herself. Do we have an unreliable narrator on our hands?
Things go from weird to weirder when we begin to become acquainted with Ruby Winter. She isn't behaving like the typical grieving child. However, Tom makes the valid argument that grief can manifest itself if different ways. The poor thing has had a difficult upbringing, after all. Still, Cat becomes increasingly unsettled when she begins to notice certain exchanges between Freya and Ruby. As Ruby's behavior becomes more and more concerning, she advises Tom that she feels Ruby needs professional help. For some reason, Tom is absolutely opposed to the idea. Relying on her intuition, Cat does a bit of digging into the death of Ruby's mother, Lilly Winter. She feels uneasy but she has no proof of wrongdoing. The nagging feeling stays with her. She does a little snooping in the home office Tom is always locked in. She's not the snooping kind (of course she's not) but what she finds shocks her. She begins to think:
As Cat is trying to make sense of all of this and ensure that her daughter is safe in their mess of a household, things are getting tense at Cat's place of work, known as The Institute. Cat studies psychopathy, otherwise known as CU (callous and unemotional) personality disorder in children. She is working with a particularly disturbed boy whose family dynamics further complicate his case. London is in turmoil with murders and riots all around. Cat is being hounded by a reporter from her past. Needless to say, all of these things compounded have Cat functioning under a great deal of stress. Her own sister questions her stability.
The thing I loved most about this Give Me the Child was that it had me asking questions until the very end. When it comes to reading mysteries, I love being lead and mislead at the same time. Mel McGrath subtly offered clues that had my mind going in different directions from paragraph to paragraph at times.
The ending was both surprising and frustrating. (I'm wondering if we might hear from Dr. Cat Luppo again.)
Mel McGrath previously published a series of three mysteries under the name MJ McGrath. This is her first published standalone novel. I will certainly look forward to reading her next.
Thanks to HQ for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
P.S. If you've made it this far and have any GIF sizing wisdom you'd like to impart, please PM me. ...more
You can enter to win a copy of The Way to London at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine till 11:59pm 9/29/17.
As many of you know, I’m always up for what’s new in WWIIYou can enter to win a copy of The Way to London at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine till 11:59pm 9/29/17.
As many of you know, I’m always up for what’s new in WWII fiction and books set in England so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the tour for this book. The Way to London is very much a character driven novel that provided a fresh and somewhat lighter read than many WWII novels already on my shelf.
The book begins with Lucy living a life of luxury in Singapore. It would be easy to mistake her for a shallow, spoiled young woman. And perhaps she is a bit. But there’s usually a reason people behave the way they do and Lucy is no exception. Bounced from one nanny to another and sent to boarding school, Lucy has never had a close relationship with either of her parents. So it’s no surprise that she seeks attention where she can find it and has some difficulty making meaningful connections.
As rumors of war swirl around Singapore, Lucy’s mother and lecherous stepfather discover that Lucy has been having a relationship with Yoon Hai, the nephew a prominent Chinese business associate. Lucy is ordered to be sent away lest she interfere with the marriage contract already being negotiated for Yoon Hai’s marriage to another woman. She is to be on the next ship to England to be sent to live with Lady Boxley, an aunt she barely knows.
When she arrives, she finds that her aunt’s estate has been turned into a military hospital. Despite this and the evidence of the hardship of war all round her, Lucy does her best to continue living the life a carefree, moneyed woman, frequenting the pubs and defying her aunt’s wishes. This continues until Bill, a young refugee, comes into her life prompting a series of events that will lead them both on a journey to find “home”.
Alix Rickloff has created many characters to love in this book which is actually very refreshing. Though flawed, most of the characters are inherently good. I found Lucy to be daring, sassy, witty, and deeply emotional despite her best efforts to hide it. There were several characters who took their time in revealing their true nature which worked beautifully in this book. And then there was Bill. Rough around the edges? Perhaps. In need of a little structure? Well, yes. A good-hearted young man any reader could love? Most definitely!
And now I must address the romance bit… Many of you already know that romance is not my jam. I’ve been through reading the sappy stuff now for many years. To my own amazement, I actually liked the romance that developed in The Way to London. I know, I can’t believe it either! Perhaps that’s because it was more playful and realistic to me as opposed to the predictable gratuitous stuff authors sometimes try to sneak in. Whatever it was, it worked.
Overall, this was a very fast, enjoyable read that I’m tempted to call WWII “light”. In a refreshing departure from many WWII novels, it doesn’t contain bloody battle scenes and won’t make you cry for hours. That’s not to say it’s without depth. It provides it’s own brand of wonderful in a charming, heartwarming way.
I hadn’t read anything by Alix Rickloff in the past and was shocked to learn that she also writes paranormal romance. Though you probably won’t find me reading one of those, I’m impressed with her versatility and would certainly read another of her novels in the future.
If you follow me on Goodreads, you may have seen my cry for help. I considered DNF'ing You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
If you follow me on Goodreads, you may have seen my cry for help. I considered DNF'ing The Child Finder at about the half way point. I had already put it down and picked it again once. Still, I struggled. Then something happened. I'm not sure what it was. Perhaps I had gotten used to the style of writing. Perhaps the pace quickened. Who knows? Whatever it was, I'm glad for it. It would have been a shame if I'd quit.
Here are some of my thoughts:
It's unique and original - Big kudos to Rene Denfeld here. It's not easy to create something that feels fresh and new in this genre and she did a fabulous job. The story itself is brilliant!
The characters - Though I found Naomi's character to be slightly one dimensional, I liked her well enough. However, the author really shined in the development of some of the other, more minor characters that collectively gave the book the ability to transport the reader to this rural mountain town of settlers in Oregon's Skookum National Forest.
Atmosphere - Another A+ here. The detailed descriptions of the beautiful, white, unforgiving landscape set the scene perfectly and completely.
Formatting - I was frustrated with the way the chapters are formatted. There were no clear breaks when the narrative perspective changed. I found the interjection of magical realism and fairy tales detracted from the story itself which I actually liked very much.
Romance - I know. I'm sorry. I'm a cynical woman who is not longer interested in reading flowery romances. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is gratuitous romances in books where their presence is not, in fact, necessary.
Melodrama - At times it was just too... While the writing was beautiful for the most part, there were a couple of times I found myself saying really??? For example: "Naomi felt something deeper than crying, a flush in her womb." Honestly, I've had three children and I'm not sure I've ever felt a flush in my womb.
While I did struggle with some aspects of this book, the story itself was original, well thought-out, and provided the ideal amount of intensity. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives. I'm giving this book a solid four stars. I hope to see Naomi return in a sequel to The Child Finder.
Please note that this book contains descriptions of child physical and sexual abuse and descriptions of wildlife hunting and trapping methods.
Thanks to Harper for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Though I managed to get through The Darkest Corners fairly quickly, I must say it didn't quite liveYou can read all of my review at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine
Though I managed to get through The Darkest Corners fairly quickly, I must say it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I've questioned whether or not that might be because I don't read a lot of YA fiction. I did my best to think about how my teen or YA self would have perceived the book. In the end, I really believe I would have struggled with the issues I had regardless.
First, the good:
The pacing was perfect. Though I was never kept at the edge of my seat, I found the pace to be steady and satisfying. I thought the plot had excellent potential. Even after I found myself not loving the book, I felt compelled to read on.
Now, the not-so-good:
I had major issues with many of the characters in this book. I found most of them to be stereotyped, predictable, and one dimensional. Their relationships with one another were also, for the most part, not very complex. The one exception to this is the relationship between Tessa and Callie. I found the tension between them at the beginning of the book to be palpable. I looked forward to the resolution of all that had been left up in the air since that long-ago summer.
As for the story itself, I had a couple of problems. First, it had too much going on. Normally, in a mystery or thriller, it's good to have multiple suspects. In this book, however, the number of different suspects, motives, and theories made for an implausible storyline. I also felt that the storyline felt a little "all over the place" for lack of a better term. There were times when the sequencing of events or flow just didn't feel right.
The ending was what turned this from a three or three and a half star review to a two and a half star review. As implausible as the story was throughout, the ending really took the cake. I was left with my head spinning in a not-good way. While I applaud the author's vivid imagination, I think the book would have been better served if it had been toned down a bit for the sake of believability.
Thanks to Ember, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Child was a quick and enjoyable read from start to finish. It’s told from the perspectiveCheck out my GIVEAWAY for this book at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
The Child was a quick and enjoyable read from start to finish. It’s told from the perspective of four different woman and differs somewhat from many multiple-perspective books in that only one is narrated in the first person. This gives the book a bit of an unreliable narrator feel, which is something I loved.
The characters are well thought-out. The author gave just enough to make me feel that I knew them, while holding back enough to make me wonder if there was something suspect about each one. I felt a particular affinity for Emma, our potential unreliable narrator. I rooted for her throughout the story even as I questioned her credibility. I can’t even scratch the surface as to why without giving away too many details. I suspect those that have read the book will understand exactly what I mean.
As for the story itself, I found it to be much more mystery than thriller. It was a steady page-turner but lacked the intensity and constant action of a thriller. This is an observation and not a criticism, as this story did not require those elements in its telling.
I thought the ending was brilliant from several standpoints. I won’t elaborate so as not to give too much away. That said, I struggled a tiny bit with the believability factor but, in the end, decided the author’s creativity and the steady pacing made up for it.
Though The Child is not a sequel to Fiona Barton’s wildly popular The Widow, reporter Kate Waters from that novel is one of the main characters in this book. I hadn’t read The Widow and wondered if that would have any effect on my experience in reading this book. Though there were a couple of minor references to a case in Ms. Waters past, which I assumed was the case in The Widow, it was nothing that detracted from the book or made me feel as if I was missing a key point.
Thanks to Berkley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Having never read any of Anita Shreve's earlier novels, I was drawn to The Stars are Fire becauseYou can read all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.
Having never read any of Anita Shreve's earlier novels, I was drawn to The Stars are Fire because I enjoy learning about historical events I know little or nothing about. This events in this book unfold as a result of what has become know as the Great Fires of 1947, a series of forest fires that devastated hundreds of thousands of acres in Maine.
Grace Holland is five months pregnant when the fires rip through her neighborhood, destroying everything in their wake. Grace is smart and resourceful. She manages to save herself, her two small children, her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's children. Her husband, Gene, with whom she shares a dispassionate though not horrible marriage, has been called to help the men of the town build a fire wall. But as the other men begin to return home, Gene remains missing. Finally, homeless and destitute, Grace is forced to consider moving into her recently deceased mother-in-law's home. As she arrives to check out the condition of the home, she is greeted by beautiful piano music. Enter Aiden, the handsome, educated, piano-playing squatter.
Things go along just swimmingly for a time. Grace gets a job at the local physician's office. Her mother, now living with her, cares for the house and the children. Grace and Aiden seem to be growing closer together. When Aiden leaves for a job in Boston, they are both hopeful that it won't be the end. Unfortunately, a sudden (and somewhat expected, if I'm honest) plot twist occurs. You can probably see where this is going but I do not wish to add any spoilers.
Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. This wasn't an edge-of-the seat book for me but I found the pacing to be steady and enjoyable. My rating is a reflection of the balance between fabulous writing and character development and a somewhat clichéd and predictable story. Though this wasn't a five star read for me, I can certainly understand why Anita Shreve has such a devoted following and I would be open to reading her past or future titles.
Thanks to the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
I'm proud to have been a stop on the blog tour of this book. You can read about that and all my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine
I was immediately drawn toI'm proud to have been a stop on the blog tour of this book. You can read about that and all my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine
I was immediately drawn to this book for so many reasons. I loved The Orphan Train and could not wait to read another book written by Christina Baker Kline. I love Andrew Wyeth’s work; I really could go on and on about how much I love his paintings. I’ll restrain myself though and say only that I’m unbelievably drawn to his signature color palette and his peaceful yet intense nostalgia-evoking subjects and scenery. Lastly, I love books that tell the little-known stories behind well-known people, places, and events.
A Piece of the World is the story of Christina Olson, Wyeth’s friend and muse. Christina is a very complicated woman; in turns she is stubborn, resilient, sensitive, strong, introspective, and perceptive. This story itself has obviously been meticulously researched. The scenery is beautifully rendered and made me feel as though I’d been transported to Cushing, Maine (where I am now itching to go). The author did an amazing job of blending fact and fiction into a book that I simply could not put down.
This book is special from start to finish but the thing that about it that really struck me was how the story was told. Many books are written in first person but few convey the enormous sense of intimacy found in A Piece of the World. The reader is made to feel as though they are Christina’s trusted confidant.
“Closing my eyes, I lean over the side, the salt spray on my face mingling with tears. I weigh the shell in my palm – this cameo shell that has no place with the others. A store-bought trinket with no history, no story. I knew, deep down, when he gave it to me that he didn’t understand anything about me."
I was expecting to read an interesting story about Christina’s relationship with Wyeth but this book is so much more than that. It’s really an exploration of the life of a woman who, faced with many challenges, is determined to remain true to herself. It was a very emotional read for me and one I’ll not soon forget.
Many thanks to HarperCollins/William Morrow for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
I was so excited to begin this this book. I knew that it was based on a true story story butYou read this and all of my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine
I was so excited to begin this this book. I knew that it was based on a true story story but it was one I was unfamiliar with. I made the conscious decision not to do any research on the case prior to reading this fictionalized version.
As you can probably tell from my rating, I had several problems with the book. The first is that it was really quite boring. It just dragged on until the very last chapters. There were several points at which I almost gave up but I kept on in the hopes that things would pick up. I was truly surprised when it did not. This is, after all, a book about the murder of two children. What I'm sure made for a very compelling news story simply didn't translate well into a novel for me.
The second problem I had was related to the way the mother of the children, Ruth Malone, was described in the book. It is often mentioned that she teased her hair, wore too much make-up (her mouth was referred to as "sticky" with lipstick), dressed provocatively, wore cheap perfume, smoked, drank, etc. The picture I conjured in my head was one of a cheap-looking, garishly made-up woman. And that would have been fine except for the way men seemed to react to her. There was no man who didn't immediately fall under her spell. They were falling all over themselves to get to her. Especially Pete Wonicke, the rookie newspaper reporter assigned to her case. After a while I was just like c'mon, really?? As it turns out, Alice Crimmins, the woman who was the actual murder suspect in the murder of her two children, was actually quite beautiful. I'm not sure why the author chose to exaggerate these characteristics to the extend she did. Ultimately, it made Ruth's character less believable to me.
Both the Alice Crimmins and Ruth Malone were judged to be guilty in the court of public opinion and this was one part of the book that I thought worked well and seemed very realistic. It brought to mind the cases of Susan Smith and Casey Anthony, both of which I followed closely at the time of their trials.
Though this book was a disappointment to me, I would not dismiss Emma Flint as an author. In fairness, I like the way she wrote. I just didn't happen to like what she wrote in this book.
Thanks to Hachette Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
Lily and the Octopus opens on a Thursday evening. Ted knows it was a Thursday because that's theYou can read all of my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Lily and the Octopus opens on a Thursday evening. Ted knows it was a Thursday because that's the day he and Lilly, his beloved dachshund, reserve for talking about boys they think are cute. (They don't always agree but they do tend toward younger men.) He suddenly notices the octopus. On Lily's head. He's not sure how or when it came to reside there and he clearly feels some guilt over not having noticed it sooner. He, of course, understands what the octopus is but he will not call it anything other than "the octopus". Not when speaking about it to his best friend, Trent. Or to his questionably competent therapist, Jenny. Not even to Lilly's own veterinarian.
Throughout the book, we learn about how Ted came to choose Lily (the runt of the litter!), and the many adventures (real and imagined) they've had together throughout the years.
The one thing that struck me throughout this story was how authentic Ted's voice was. There was no doubt in my mind that Steven Rowley had loved and lost a dog at some point. The anthropomorphizing was so spot-on! I can just see Lily talking to Ted. A head tilt here, an averted gaze there. I totally get how he knew what she was thinking at every moment.
I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that, at the end of this book, Lilly does lose her battle with the octopus. And yes, I did cry a fair amount. But this book is so much more than your typical loved-and-lost dog story . It's about self-discovery, unconditional love, and a life well-lived.
To be fair, I realize have a different perspective than most on the loss of an old dog such as Lily. You see, Lily was one of the lucky ones. She lived with and was loved by the same person her whole life. Only 10% of dogs are so lucky. 10%!! And though she was 12, which is not super-old for a doxie, she had lived a fairly long life. So, while I felt so sorry for Ted, I was able to feel happy for Lily in many ways. I see so much suffering and cruelty in the dog rescue world. I wish they could all live and die like Lily; with life-long respect, dignity, and love.
I loved reading this interview with the author featured on Electric Lit. He talks about giving Lily a voice, his insistence that Lily have an octopus (a giraffe would not have worked), and his unwillingness to allow the book to be de-gayed. The latter of which, thankfully, was not an issue to anyone except Surely (not her real name) on Goodreads.
I'm so happy that I finally read this book. Some part of me probably procrastinated in some Freudian way fearing the sadness but I needn't have worried. The scales still managed to tip toward happy here. And I can now cross this book off my 2017 Mount TBR Challenge. I'll also be posting a link to this review from Read Diverse Books as I'm participating in The Read Diverse 2017 Challenge this year as well. Read Diverse Books is committed to reviewing, discussing, and promoting books written by and about people of color and other marginalized voices. If you're not already subscribing, please check out Naz' blog!
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Though I wouldn't call anything contained in this review a spoiler, if you are thinkingYou can read this all of my other reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine
Though I wouldn't call anything contained in this review a spoiler, if you are thinking about reading this book, you might want to think twice before continuing. I do not feel I can review this book without including certain information which has significantly influenced my rating and opinions.
Okay, now that the disclosure is out of the way, I'd like to state that once again, I seem to be the cheese that stands alone. This book is getting lots of well-deserved 5 star reviews. I totally understand why so many people loved it. I hope I'm able to articulate what it was that didn't work for me in this book that has so many good things going for it.
The Author - Sarah Pinborough is an incredibly gifted writer. She toggles effortlessly between the past and present and the voices of Adele and Louise. The Pacing/Suspense Factor - There is no doubt I was drawn in right away and kept at the edge of my seat till the very end. The Characters - Is this one good? Is that one evil? Should I feel bad for her? Or him? All three of our main characters are richly developed. (For better, or worse as in any good thriller!) The Plot - It's a three-ring circus in just the right way! I don't think I've read any other book with these particular husband/wife/mistress dynamics.
Believability Factor - This is quite possibly the most outlandish psychological thriller I've ever read. Genre Miscategorization/Omission - This is the reason that what I initially thought was going to be a 5 star book turned out to be a 3 star book for me. While I can understand its categorization as a psychological thiller, there is a very, very strong intersection with another genre which has not been publicized. (I won't name the other genre because I'm trying not to give too much away.) I can understand why this is the case, however, if I had known, I would not have read this book. At the end of the book, I felt disappointed and a little misled if I'm honest.
A Final Thought
While my overall experience with this book is only 3 stars, I'm not entirely sorry I read it. It's creating a lot of buzz! Opposing views make for great book club discussions, online debates, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing how the reviews shake down a month or two after publication.
Many thanks to Flatiron Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I had high hopes for The Wonder based on the reviews I’d read in addition to my ownPlease visit Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine to read all of my reviews.
I had high hopes for The Wonder based on the reviews I’d read in addition to my own experience reading Room. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations.
First, and foremost, I found the pacing to be unbearably slow. The first 50% of the book could have been written in far fewer pages without compromising the details of the story. The chapters were frustratingly long. I’m not a huge fan of long chapters to begin with, but when there’s not much going on, they only serve to add to the sense that the book is dragging on.
Then there are the characters. As a nurse by profession, I found Lib’s character to be judgmental and annoying. Anna, though likable, was a little too pious to be believable. I would have liked to see her religious fervor balanced with a bit more normal girlishness. In fairness, we did catch a few glimpses; a few more would have made her character more realistic. Sister Michael, Lib’s job-share nurse if you will, started out as dull and staunch but I grew to like her quite a lot.
In terms of setting, Emma Donoghue did a great job describing the Irish countryside and the living quarters of the characters. I also enjoyed learning about the potato famine and other Irish historical facts and customs which were seamlessly woven into the story.
The last 10-15% of the book certainly held my attention. I can’t say much about the ending without spoilers but it packed an emotional punch. I was at once sad, angry, relieved, and surprised.
I loved that this book was based on the Fasting Girls, a group of about fifteen women from all over Western Europe and North America, who were said to have survived without food for long periods of time.
I think a great deal of my frustration with this book came from my feeling that it had much more potential. Because there were some aspects of this story I enjoyed, and because I so enjoyed Room, I would look forward to reading Emma Donoghue’s next book.
I would like to thank Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
From the outside, Max and Alissa seem to have the perfect marriage. They should. They're filthy rich and haveRead all my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
From the outside, Max and Alissa seem to have the perfect marriage. They should. They're filthy rich and have only been married for two months... But everything is not always as it seems. Or is it?
Duplicity is a clever and well-paced story of murder and mayhem. I was kept in suspense from the very first page where we are introduced to The Other One. At first, all we know about the other one is that he/she is obviously a psychopath, a (favorite and) necessary element in any thriller as far as I'm concerned.
The Detective is DS Carter, a thoroughly likable, moral, seasoned detective who has been overlooked for a promotion in favor of "a twat" named ADI Wilmott.
Wilmott is a narcissistic, womanizing, and generally unlikable fellow. He becomes so besotted with the stunningly beautiful Alissa that his objectivity is clearly non-existent. If I'm honest, it was a bit maddening. I rather wanted to throttle him.
There's a history of bad blood between Wilmott and Carter. They had worked together on an earlier case involving a rich and powerful Lord. When politics dictated the case not be properly investigated, Carter became angry and disillusioned. Wilmott became complicit. Hence, his promotion... This made for an entertaining bit of conflict/struggle between good vs. evil.
The chapters seamlessly alternate between The Detective and The Other One. I love novels with alternating points of view and this is book is a perfect example of how, when it's done right, it can keep things fresh and add an interesting dimension. Sibel Hodge does an amazing job of keeping the voices very distinct. Though The Other One was clearly not meant to be a hero or heroine, I loved reading those chapters the most as there was a bit of a cheeky element to the character that sometimes made me smile.
Halfway or so through the story, the identity of the killer is revealed. Oddly enough, this in no way made the second half less suspenseful than the first. In fact, in many ways, the ensuing events quickened the pace. And there were a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming until the very end.
Though at times the story seemed a bit far-fetched, anything this book lacked in believability, it more than made up for in creativity and the page-turner factor.
I'm hoping there will be a sequel to this book. I don't want to reveal any spoilers but I was excited by the direction in which DS Carter's life going at the end of the book and I'd love to read about his future investigations.
Many thanks to Thomas and Mercer for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.