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Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4.5 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary:Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.”

7My Review:

I had heard whisperings of what a fun read this was way before it came up on my library list – and I agree!

Former movie star, Evelyn, in recounting her life to Monique, offers the following advice:  “Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.” However, as you follow her story, one husband at a time, you learn that this is more than advice – it’s her life motto. Her life is anything but ordinary – as is the mystery of why she has asked Monique to hear her story…

The novel is broken into sections about Evelyn’s life with each husband – these section titles perfectly capture how Evelyn recalls each period in her life, setting the mood for the pages to follow.

Reid aptly entangles touchy, controversial questions about sexuality, sexual identity and suicide all through the life of one individual who was not afraid to make the most of what she has. The interspersing of tabloid excerpts allow us to see the results of Evelyn’s decisions, both planned and unplanned. The nuances of how one fast choice can effect so many others with lasting repercussions continue to surprise the reader as you keep turning those pages – pulled on my Monique’s mysterious roll in all of this. Reid even switches Evelyn’s narration into the second person to further emphasize her struggles to justify her actions. The characterization is simply magnificent.

I read this in one sitting and absolutely loved it. A quick, but intriguing read, it is no wonder this is a finalist on Goodreads this year.

Net Galley

Book Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

4⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start

of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.”

My Review:

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Like many of you, I was excited to read Weir’s new novel although skeptical of how it would hold up. There was a bit too much science for my liking causing the story to be a bit boring/dry in those parts. The characters, especially Jazz, were overly intelligent so that the reader could understand

the story. I felt more of this could have been done through narration.

However, the descriptive language and background enabled Weir to perfectly create a new world who’s existence doesn’t seem so far off from the present day – ultimately allowing the reader to more easily understand and relate to the comings and goings in what should be an otherwise alien place.

The excitement and pace of the novel made this a quick read from me. I repeatedly found myself wondering where Weir would take the storyline next. I loved how Weir was able to throw in economics with science and a heist story, a little something for everyone. Perhaps this will be another Hollywood Hit.

**I received my copy via Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher for this opportunity.**

2017 Book Review

Book Review: Darktown by Thomas Mullen

4.5 ⭐️’s from me27274326

Goodreads Summary: “Responding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines.”

My Review

Although fiction, this book draws its inspiration from the appointment of the first African American police officers in Atlanta, Georgia. The depiction of the events in this book seem all too real. The horrific, segregating rules these police officers must follow make their jobs just that much more difficult – making you wonder how they kept motivated at all. Mullen’s characterization of the men’s struggles against oppression causes the reader to feel angry, dismayed and somewhat hopeful for change all at once. This book was apparently drafted before the events of Ferguson here in the U.S. However, it seems incredibly relevant, if not more so, to the racial tensions facing America today. This book would be perfectly paired with the March Trilogy by John Lewis as an educational tool to confront both the past and the present ideas of the Civil Rights Movement.

Not to be forgotten, this book has all the classic elements of a ‘Whodunnit?’ – drawing the reader deep into a compelling mystery, intertwined with a corrupt and racially unequal police force. The pace leaves nothing to be desired – a definite must read.

Net Galley

Book Review: Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart

3.5 ⭐️’s from me.

Goodreads Synopsis: “The best-selling author of Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble continues her extraordinary journey into the real lives of the forgotten but fabulous Kopp sisters.

Deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged to see young women brought into the Hackensack jail over dubious charges of waywardness, incorrigibility, and moral depravity. The strong-willed, patriotic Edna Heustis, who left home to work in a munitions factory, certainly doesn’t belong behind bars. And sixteen-year-old runaway Minnie Davis, with few prospects and fewer friends, shouldn’t be publicly shamed and packed off to a state-run reformatory. But such were the laws—and morals—of 1916.

Constance uses her authority as deputy sheriff, and occasionally exceeds it, to investigate and defend these women when no one else will. But it’s her sister Fleurette who puts Constance’s beliefs to the test and forces her to reckon with her own ideas of how a young woman should and shouldn’t behave.

Against the backdrop of World War I, and drawn once again from the true story of the Kopp sisters, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is a spirited, page-turning story that will delight fans of historical fiction and lighthearted detective fiction alike.”

My Review:

One of my first reviews was of the first Kopp sisters novels. I was fascinated by the way Stewart took the past and intertwined it into her stories. So, naturally, I was very excited about the next novel in this series.

33413882Unfortunately, book number three had something missing for me. The underlying crime-solving element seemed muted in this novel as the sisters face their own drama. Instead of the whimsical, but historical crime-solving tale of a female cop, we heard more about the sisters themselves. I know Stewart is planning on continuing the series and this novel is definitely helpful for developing characterization. Don’t get me wrong, I will add the future novels to my TBR pile as this is still a very fun and light read. And the Kopp sisters are entertaining.

**I received my copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher for this opportunity.**

 

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Book Review: Weave a Murderous Web by Ann Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks

3.5 ⭐️’s

Synopsis: “No good deed goes unpunished. When Jane Larson—a hot-shot litigator for a large firm in New York City—helps out a friend, she is sucked into the unfamiliar world of divorce and child support.

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Jane’s discovery of the deadbeat dad’s hidden assets soon unravels a web of lies, drugs, and murder that keeps getting more dangerous.

Soon, Jane is involved in a high stakes race to recover a missing suitcase of cash and catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.”

My Review:

This was a true legal thriller, fast-paced and intriguing. (And it even has a Halloween-type name – perfect for this time of year!!) Jane Larson takes on what appears to be a simple pro-bono case, but gets so much more. With a legal background myself, I always like to combine the law and books – so naturally I was pleased when the opportunity to review this one presented itself.

Although this was a quick read, it did take a while for the story to truly pull me in and for the pieces to start fitting together. At the beginning, I was uncertain of where exactly the authors were headed, but then the characters and dialogue took off and fit together making for an exciting read.  Also, I did find it hard to connect with the characters. But the fast-paced drama was just what I needed for a plane journey home.

**I received my copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher for this opportunity.**

 

 

2017 Book Review

Book Review: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

3 ⭐️’s from me.

Goodreads Summary:The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. I wonder which one of us will be next?

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St. Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?
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Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.”

My Review:

Many people raved about this thriller, but I really find it that compelling. To me a good thriller means it will haunt me in the days to come – I’ll feel a “pull.” However, this one didn’t stick. Even as I am editing my review now I am struggling to remember all the details about this one.

I did feel like I wanted more characterization. Detective Lottie seemed like such an interesting character with such potential that I found myself wanting to learn more about her and her family than wanting to solve the mystery.

This book was written well, the mystery itself just took a while to get going.

Not too much else to say about this one.

Theatre Review

Theatre Review: Donors by Nicholas Contreras

I am so jealous of those of you who are in Edinburgh right now. Between the Edinburgh Book Festival & Ed Fringe there is just so much to see. Lucky for me I was fortunate enough to catch a show that was streamed Live on Facebook late last week and figured I would do something a little different and review a show!

5⭐️’s from me!

Donors is described as : “Older egg seeking hot young sperm.​ Desperate times call for desperate measures when your biological clock is ticking. After all, our sole purpose is to reproduce…right? Roy and Linda meet in a fertility clinic. Desperation for motherhood and a misplaced model of masculinity turns a chance encounter into a last-ditch attempt at fixing all that life has dealt them. DONORS delivers humour, wit, and emotion through high stakes and rich characters that result in a delightfully captivating and, ultimately, heartbreaking story.”

Donors

Having only two actors on stage for the entirety of a show is always a risky undertaking, even more so when dealing with such an emotional subject as fertility. But Lloyd-Jones and LaMontagne-Schenck take it in stride. The raw emotions portrayed by Lloyd-Jones as Linda struggles with the questions of whether she can be a single mother coupled with the immaturity and awkwardness of LaMontagne-Schenck’s character will keep you captivated until the very end. Poignant dialogue portrays the uneasiness around donor sperm – the awkward conversations, the looming questions, the emotional baggage. This show has it all.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention that the set itself is simple, but so powerful. The use of blocks not only helps to spell out the subject matter of the scene but provides the necessary framework for these rollercoaster dialogues. A creative way of bringing cohesiveness to the show.

My only regret is that there wasn’t more to watch – time seemed to shift to fast.

If you are in Edinburgh be sure to give this one a try! Show Info Here

**Full Disclosure – I am related to one of the cast members, but all opinions are my own**

BOTM Club

Book Review: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

4⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.

Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself—from its tender moments of grace to its savage power—Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?”

My Review:

I have always been a fast reader, but man I was surprised at how fast I finished this one. This is a book you can devour in one setting.

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Gin Phillips tugs on the heart strings of mothers as she describes the horrifying drama of a mother tr

ying to protect her son at the zoo. Articulating the terrifying ordeal of maintaining rational thought while protecting our young is no easy task. Yet, Phillips’ writing has it all – the emotions are raw, frazzled, and intense. Survival mode.

I particularly liked how Phillips switched point of views from the mother to the shooter and occasionally other characters. This technique allowed Phillips to delve into the motivations of individuals, questioning whether its even possible to identify potential killers before these horrific events happen. A poignant reminder of how fragile life is and how our lives can be scarred forever from just one event – especially given today’s reality.

Without saying too much, I did want more from the ending. I ultimately wanted to know more…

A thrilling roller-coaster of a ride, this is one of the best thrillers that I have read this year.

Blogging for Books

Book Review: Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

3 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary:A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California.

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She’s going to need a hand with her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s young toddler son, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage, one. S. performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to one another as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear.

Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.”

My Review:

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Sadly, I didn’t find this book as mesmerizing as was promised. This is a dark comedy about societal expectations – particularly for mothers. Lepucki finds the humor in the pressure these expectations and the resulting effects on the whole family.

I found the characters very dislikeable – which is no doubt the intention, but they got under my skin. The writing is excellent and characters are complex; I’m just not sure what I gained from reading this novel.

Not favorite, but could appeal to some.

**I received my copy via Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher for this opportunity.**

2017 Book Review

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

4 ⭐️’s from me!

Goodreads Summary: 32796253“Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.”

My Review:

If you are looking for a book to get wrapped up in this summer – this is it! I finished this one in less than 24 hours…

Quincy has survived a horrific ordeal, but her memory of the events is hazy at best. She has done her best to move on from her past but new events threaten to disturb the balance she has created.

This book throws plenty of curve balls – and I definitely found myself thinking “No, please, No!” and “It can’t be them…can it?” on more than one occasion. I was well and truly hooked way past by bedtime – it reminded me of when I used to secretly read under the covers with a flashlight as a child because my book was just soooo good. Sleep doesn’t matter right?

Amongst all the mystery and thrilling events, Sager asks us what does it mean to be normal? And are we somehow bonded by our similar sufferings – how far will that bond go? Quincy is so real and authentic you are right there with her as she confronts her past – invested in her survival. It is no wonder all my book loving friends are recommending this read. Take our advice!