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!

2017 Book Review, Net Galley

Book Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

4.5 ⭐️’s from me!

Goodreads Summary:33607640 “After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages–for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City–and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich–and often tragic–as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden–and the woman who killed him–on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives –and lies–of the beating hearts within.”

My Review:

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to review this book. I loved Davis’ other novel The Dollhouse, but I have to say The Address was even better! Davis has truly mastered the art of intersecting the history of an iconic building with her fictional characters.

I felt as if I was transported to the 1880’s and the construction of the Dakota. The gilded age was a perfect backdrop for the mystery of this novel. Then as the parallel plot with the characters in the 1980’s, you can’t help but be pulled into a voyage of rapid page-turning.

The overlap with fact and fiction was just want you want in historical fiction. A little intrigue layered with facts like arrival of the Statute of Liberty or maybe the appearance of famous journalist, Nellie Bly.

The Dakota is the local of love, betrayal, adventure, new beginnings and tragic endings. Definitely pick this up if you were a fan of The Dollhouse.

**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, BOTM Club

Book Review: American Fire by Monica Hesse

4⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.”

My Review:

Lately I have found myself more and more attracted to the true crime drama, both in written form and film. In many ways it can be more thought-provoking than fiction – because you know it actually happened.

I had heard rumblings about American Fire before it became published. So naturally, when I had the chance to get a copy – I made sure to get it. American Fire tells the captivating story of a couple, Charlie Smith and Tonya Burdick, who set fire to sixty-seven abandoned buildings across Accomack County, Virginia. As Hesse sets out to discuss the fires, we learn that this is so much more than just a plethora of fires.

Hesse uses her journalistic skills for an in-depth exploration of the historical, psychological, and motivational explanations behind arson in order to expertly relate her research to the events in Accomack County.  She explores the personal histories of Charlie and Tonya; And with that comes the exploration of rural America today, a different exploration of identity altogethers. The struggles of families in Accomack County could ring true in many rural American towns today making the story so much more intriguing.

Then on top of it all, this is ultimately a love story – a love story that Hesse compares to the likes of Bonnie and Clyde and other crime couples of the ages. An age-old motive, love is at heart of these arsons and, perhaps, the reason for their unraveling.

A must-read for true-crime lovers. Hesse will have you hooked from the very beginning.



Book Review: Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

4⭐️’s from me!

I discovered this one at our new Amazon Book stores. It was on a shelf of highly recommended reads, but was one I hadn’t come across yet – so, naturally, I picked it up. Can you ever leave a bookstore without a book? I certainly can’t!31921286

Goodreads Summary: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick–wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community–is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel–with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship–will react.
Eden is the account of the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as Becca prepares to disclose her secret and her son and brothers conspire to put the estate on the market, interwoven with the century-old history of Becca’s family–her parents’ beginnings and ascent into affluence, and her mother’s own secret struggles in the grand home her father named “Eden.” ”

My Review:

It is such a simple concept to center the storyline around a single local, but Eden is so much more than just a family home. The setting is so central, so integral to the characters’ narrative that you cannot imagine a different house for the storyline. This enables Blasberg to masterfully parallel Eden’s weathering of various storms throughout the years with the perils the women of Eden must face.

The consistent location also creates the perfect situation for commentary on the evolution of the female role in a family. Three generations of women face similar life-altering decisions, but the societal expectations in the respective time periods are vastly different resulting in lasting and unique scars.

A complex story in a deceivingly surprising setting. Definitely give this one a look!

2017 Book Review

Book Review: Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

3⭐️’s from me32027278

Goodreads Summary: “Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It s also Darcy s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.

As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.”

My Review:

This is a very easy summer read, if you are looking for a quick story to escape to while enjoying the sunny weather. It is a cutesy story about finding yourself. A resident librarian of Nantucket has interesting neighbors this summer, neighbors who make it evident that she must finally confront her past in order to move forward. The characters are lovable and almost like a little summer family. However, I found this book very unmemorable in the end; it didn’t leave me thinking about much of anything. I guess that’s what makes this review a short one?

2017 Book Review

Book Review: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

4⭐️’s from me!

Goodreads Summary: “From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, g

reed, ruthless ambition, and murder.”

My Review:


What an interesting take on a murder mystery. I am a huge fan of the Agatha Christie classics and this book paid homage, yet perfected an interesting spin. This book has a mystery within a mystery book! What more could you ask for?

As Susan Ryeland reads the latest manuscript up for editing, she discovers a whole new real life mystery. The manuscript and reality are so intertwined that you have one giant puzzle on your hands. The read will keep you looking for those tiny Poirot-type clues – you know the ones that dare you try to solve the mystery before the characters. And, to top it all off, for the literary buffs out there, the large amount of references to classics was absolutely delightful (while somehow, not too cheesy). My only complaint would be that I wanted to know the result faster! The book almost seemed a little too long because of that, but a great read overall.


Book Review: Euphoria by Lily King

3.5 ⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “Inspired by the true story of a woman who changed the way we understand our world.

In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists are thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her intelligent and aggressive husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio are producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives…”

My Review:

First off, the cover of this book (I read the paperback version) is very deceiving. Full of bright and vivid colors, I did not expect the dark nature of the journey I was a


bout to embark on. Yes, the colors could represent the tropical location, but by no means do they capture the mood of this novel. Consider yourself warned.

We meet Nell Stone and her husband as they are exploring the different tribes of New Guinea. As they leave one rather intense tribe, they run into fellow Anthropologist Andrew Bankson. And thus begins a triangle of interdependence between the characters –  each struggling to find their own euphoria, whether it is through work, self aggrandizement, or love of another.

In addition, this is a fascinating story of anthropology. The book asks can a study of another people ever be impartial. Can we ever look at a different culture without the influence of our own experience/ without carrying our own baggage? Despite the historical placement of this storyline, this question of judgment still rings true today as does Nell’s struggle to be an educated woman in a field dominated by men.

Perhaps the biggest take-away from this novel for me was the desire to learn more about the life of Margaret Mead. Although there are some obviously large differences between reality and this story, I can see how her autobiography would be absolutely fascinating. Stay tuned…

Net Galley, Netgalley

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

3⭐️’s from me

Goodreads Summary: “Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard

31147267full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he h

ad lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.”

My Review:

This novel starts off incredibly well. The excitement and mystery quickly drew me in.  Apollo, a man tormented by his past family issues, struggles to live-up to his own expectations of the perfect father. He strives to be the best for his family, but doesn’t quite realize what it is costing him. This is an excellent depiction of the conflict between social expectations and reality.

True to fairy tale form, this normal beginning soon introduces dark elements. The story picks up the pace that somehow within its fantasy still seems to capture the struggles of the modern day. It was hands-down a creative and exciting ending – that definitely shocks.

Unfortunately, this was a little too unrealistic for me; but I know this is not my typical genre. If it is, definitely give this one a try!

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


Book Review: The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The IdenticalsHappy Fourth of July!

I hope you all have enjoyed some time at the beach like me.  And, of course, I used it to catch up on some fun summer reads – including this 4⭐️ Novel!

Goodreads Summary: Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike–and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together–or at least appear to–the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart.

My Review:

By now I know if I need a good summer read, Elin Hilderbrand is a sure bet. Her newest novel, The Identicals, is complete with the summer beach setting and family drama. The twin theme was a great conflict to base the novel around – and the characterization some how has the reader sympathize with both sides, almost begging for a reconciliation between the sisters. Hilderbrand mirrors the sisters’ differences and similarities with the differences between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to keep you turning each and every page. Family drama, love, revenge, deception, lies, and the beach – all the magical elements of a great beach read!


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.