2017 Book Review

Book Review: Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

3 ⭐️’s from Me
Goodreads Summary: “From the author of the hit literary horror debut Bird Box (”Hitchcockian.” —USA Today) comes a chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.”31752345 

My Review:

I’m sorry to say that this book wasn’t to my liking. After much hype, I was sadly disappointed.

The characters of this novel initially pull you in with their determination. The two parallel story lines are intriguing and develop a decent pace as we the characters strive to solve the underlying mystery. This was what pulled the book to a third star for me.

However, the resolution to this novel is very much embedded in science fiction – which, I admit, is not my cup of tea normally and may be why I generally disliked this novel. This far-fetched reality  seemed confusing and uncertain of itself. I found myself re-reading sections of the ending at an attempt to follow Malerman’s intent. I can see how others will get more out of this story, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Net Galley

Book Review: The Little French Bistro by Nina George

4 ⭐️ ‘s from Me.

Goodreads Synopsis: “From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, an extraordinary novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as the end of the world.

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.”

My Review:

When I had the opportunity to read another book by Nina George, I could not say no! I absolutely loved The Little Paris Bookshop. The same familiar, light-hearted tone while exploring deeper subjects is present here as well.

32283424

As we follow Marianne from desperation to her journey to a little bistro, we meet a lovely group of characters. This cast is one you fall in love with, wanting the best for everyone of them. Each person carries their own damage while looking for something. But just as important is the scenery that George depicts, an integral backdrop to the characters’ own attempts to define who they really are – especially for Marianne. George asks us is it ever really too late for second chances? Can we always have hope?

This is an uplifting and empowering story that will leave you thinking the rest of the day.

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

2017 Book Review

Book Review: The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

4 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: From the critically acclaimed author of The Hummingbird and The Curiosity comes a dazzling novel of World War II—a shimmering tale of courage, determination, optimism, and the resilience of the human spirit, set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day

On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.

Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.

But in the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.

But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.”

My Review:

This book started slow at the beginning, but if you keep going after the first few chapters you will soon be imme31850560rsed in this little village on the Normandy coast. As the villagers attempt to reckon with the occupation, their home begins to ebb but Emma – the village baker – shows them a way to silently resist. It is in this resistance that they find joy.

This is a story of silent resistance, but the emotional journey also portrays the fragility of life – and the resulting, unimaginable, tight-rope these villagers must walk in order to avoid discovery.   The Voltaire quote Kiernan uses at the beginning helps to generate this dangerous atmosphere:

“It takes twenty years to bring man from his vegetable state inside the womb…to the stage where he begins to grown into maturity. It took thirty centuries to learn something about his structure. It would take an eternity to learn something about his soul. It takes only an instant to kill him.” – Voltaire

Such authentic characters help make this WWII novel. I definitely recommend this read.

 

2017 Book Review

Book Review: Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

4 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Synopsis:  “A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.”

My Review:

After a runaway hit with The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins had set the bar high for anything that was to come next. Although it didn’t blow me away quite lik33151805e it’s predecessor, Into the Water is a gripping read.

I heard an interview on NPR (click here for interview) where Hawkins discusses the mystery of water and what lies beneath the surface – her inspiration from her novel. That idea – intrigue and fascination with the unknown – is vividly described in these pages. A simple body of water in a small town, a place for fun in the sun during the day becomes so much more in darkness – taking womens’ lives in its tow.

I do have to say I think there may have been too many narrators here
with similar voices as I was checking to make sure I had characters straight until about halfway through the novel.

The pace is familiar and welcome – like that of The Girl on the Train and will keep you wanting to read just one more page long after bedtime. However, the ending was not as twisty and almost felt a little predictable if not contrived.

Still a great book and a recommended read! Enjoy!

 

Blogging for Books, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

3.5 ⭐️’s from me

Penguin RandomHouse Synopsis: “Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control . . . or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.”

My Review:

9780385736893This is a beautifully written, easy, but emotional read.

This roller coaster of a novel hooks you in – and I mean hooks, I read it in one sitting. A tale of sisters and brothers and their relations. Family is at the heart of this story – just who defines the boundaries of family and what is normal? Rifts between family factions are unsurmountable, captured in one perfect quote: “We Live In The Same Place, But Never Together.” Yet, each lovable character is attempting to reconcile the family drama in a search for their own identity.

For those of you who are Brashares fans, I did indeed find myself having the same feelings of attachment to characters as I experienced in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series – The characterization in these novels is incredibly realistic. A good book for this summer ☀️

**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, Netgalley, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

4 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Synopsis: Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime. But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s. An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, The Fact Of a Body is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed―but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe―and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.”

My Review:

You may remember that when I set my blogging goals for this year, I stated I wanted to try a memoir. As I have a background in the law, this one caught my attention right off the bat…32076678

This is not a comfortable read and could have triggers for some, but definitely a journey worth taking. As the synopsis says, this is so much more than a story about murder, its a moving memoir. While preparing to follow her family’s footsteps in a law career, Marzano-Lesnevich is introduced to a murder case. However, this murder case parallels so significantly with her own life, Marzano-Lesnevich is soon facing her own demons at the same time. Secrets hidden for years must be revealed for a deeper understanding of the past. What is particularly amazing about this journey is not only does the author discover herself, but she so poignantly captures how one’s own history can color the frame of a legal decision – what is justice and who is it for? This book is a perfect example of how the law is not black and white – there is a ton of grey.

Go get your copy now – this book is out today!

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

2017 Book Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: I Found You by Lisa Jewell

4 ⭐️ ‘s from Me

Goodreads Synopsis: “A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.”

My Review: ifoundyou

This is a great mystery read for a vacation.  As “a man with no memory” seeks to discover and piece together his past, Jewell intertwines his story with other narrators to set a great pace.  I found the memory loss an intriguing framework for this mystery – this man’s recall and his relationship to places throughout the story peel away at layers of the story to create the feeling of an awakening while being a thriller at the same time. I do think that some of the events were occasionally far-fetched, but this was still a good read. I particularly loved the title as its pronouns could apply to multiple characters and leave you thinking long after you have finished the last chapter.

Uncategorized

Book Review: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

4.5⭐️’s from me!

Goodreads Synopsis:six “The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a “chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty”.

My Review:

This is one that lives up to the hype –  For anyone who was intrigued or fascinated by the Serial podcast – this is the book for you. (You know this one is a good read when I struggle to describe its magnificence while keeping this review spoiler free.) 

Told from the perspective of six different and complex people, the book seeks to recreate the disappearance of a teenager in the hopes of bringing clarity – But man does it have the twistiest of twists.  Switching from interviewee to interviewee worked for Serial and it works here. The reader is able to explore the dynamics and complexities of teenage cliques and their familial relationships all while trying to resolve a mysterious death. As in real life, the stories from different viewpoints are skewed to the narrator’s benefit – but even then every detail explored in these narratives are interwoven into a complex web of a story. You must pay attention!

You will be thinking of this one long after you finish…

 

Uncategorized

Book Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

3.5 ⭐️’s From Me

Goodreads Summary: London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

AshesMy Review:

I grabbed this book in London after being intrigued by some fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers.

The Great Fire of London is a great idea – especially with St. Paul’s playing such a central role. I could clearly imagine the devastation of the fire as Taylor vividly creates the atmosphere of 1666 – the search for an explanation of the fire and the wide-spread disaster of London. I even felt myself imagining the heat for the fire and the oppressive smoke. “Ashes and Blood. Blood and Ashes.”

Then, in the midst of all of this destruction, James Marsden, the son of a traitor must solve a murder. There are so many possibilities for motive – greed, deception, politics, secrets – the investigation gets twisty. Taylor even throws in the issue of gender oppression as Cat Lovett must face the conflict between her duties as a woman during this time and her dreams to be more. Both characters must face the question of who can you really trust when it seems as if everyone is trying to save themselves in this tumultuous time period.

The characterization was well developed and believable for the setting. Taylor switches narration between James and Cat throughout the book to deliberately reveal clues, but not quite solve the mystery before the end. As a result, the book has a steady pace and is engrossing, but I missed the sense of urgency I desire when reading a murder mystery.  It should be noted that you must like historical fiction to keep going with this novel or I fear you could easily get bored.

Uncategorized

Literary Adventures: Hay-on-Wye & London

Good morning fellow book lovers – It’s good to be back, although I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my vacation across the pond. London as always was just fabulous and I spent most of my time catching up with family, but there were some literary adventures thrown in…

First off,  if you have not seen Harry Potter And The Cursed Child yet, it is a MUST see. We kept checking for return tickets and were lucky to grab a pair. I was just blown away with how the play was adapted from the script, it was exceptional- I can’t say more because you must #KeeptheSecrets!!

Of course, a trip to London would not be the same without a stop at Foyle’s – and a mini book haul. I could have done so much worse, but there are those pesky luggage limits.
17c506c9-2784-4eb2-92e3-1892eb73ff11

We also went off to Wales for a few days and stopped off at the much-raved about town of Hay-On-Wye just on the border. This is a haven for book lovers – a town just full of bookstores. Don’t believe me – look at the map below:

acc32d27-118b-45af-97da-6c10d8a39a80

You can wander through bookstores that carry all genres, or more specialized ones, such a store full of only children’s books. There is also a wonderful map store in which we found a map including the town were my ancestors were from! If you can stop in this little border town, you will absolutely love it I promise.

More importantly, now I am back home – I will be back to book reviews asap!! Looking forward to getting caught up with all of your lovely posts and comments. Happy Reading!