“What She Gave Away” by Catharine Riggs; Should you trust the person sitting next to you?

Coming September 4, 2018!

Are you looking for a mild thriller that will not leave you too psychologically disturbed? Or maybe a Fall book for your Book Club? After reading this upcoming novel, you’ll never look at the library computer patrons the same way again and will want to go shred all those notes with computer passwords on them.

Here are my impressions on Catharine Riggs debut novel:

What She Gave AwayWhat She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my opinion, What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs is a mild psychological thriller. This story is packed full of murder, suicide, banking fraud and even more lies and manipulation. But who is at fault or is it just a series of unfortunate tragic events? The main characters, Crystal and Kathi, are both unreliable narrators which slightly complicates matters.

Crystal is an intelligent, conniving banker who seems to leave a trail of destruction behind her. Her actions are motivated by an underlying hate for everyone she comes in contact with. Crystal quietly plays a psychological game of “whats the worst that can happen” to anyone that might upset her. Often Crystal will manipulate circumstances resulting in harm to those around her.

Kathi is a naive trophy wife who drinks so much that she doesn’t even know how to formulate her own opinions much of the time. She struggles to survive and conform to society’s expectations of her. In the midst of complete financial disaster Kathi strives to keep some sense of normality in the life she has created. Her world is slowly collapsing around her and she has no idea how to help herself or who to trust.

The main conflict in the story is manipulated by Crystal’s actions. She is the catalyst behind everything that happens. Psychologically traumatized during her childhood, Crystal just wants to internally rage and secretly plot to destroy the lives around her. As the story progresses, Crystal gets more and more brave and her actions cause more and more harm. Add in a probation officer who has connected a few dots and is keen on investigating suspicious suicides and you have a story!

What are my overall impressions? I think the writing style is on point despite other reviewers complaints about the alternating point of view. That being said, I would have liked to know more about what Kathi was actually thinking. The novel has a first person point of view for Kathi but yet she doesn’t even seem to have an opinion much of the time so I found it hard to connect with her character. The length of the novel was appropriate and didn’t seem too lengthy. Crystal was sneaky and manipulative, but she could have come across as being more paranoid; she was too confident.

My two big criticisms of the novel are the suspense and the conclusion. There wasn’t enough drama and suspense for me to really say it was a huge thriller. It was more on point with say a John Grisham novel than of a nail bitting thriller.

Secondly, the conclusion was too lengthy and tidy for me. I would have omitted the Epilogue completely and just wrapped up the novel without it. And why jump to 2020? Without giving away the ending, why tie things up so neatly? Leave something for the imagination or unknown and don’t give us a happy, we are all friends ending to a story starring two characters who are morally corrupt and have a distorted sense of reality.

If thrillers are your thing, I say give it a chance! I enjoyed reading What She Gave Away by Catharine Riggs and if it were not for the ending and a bit more suspense, I would have given it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the chance to read and review the Kindle copy of this book.

Happy Reading!

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A quick cookbook recommendaton coming in Fall 2018

Grow Happy, Cook Happy, Be HappyGrow Happy, Cook Happy, Be Happy by Bryony Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release date: 01 September 2018

I received a short 7 page preview of this book and I think the finished copy will be inspiring. I would definitely recommend it if you love great food and have a passion for gardening. Bryony Hill demonstrates an appreciation for good quality local produce and creating beautiful meals. I love the pop of color on each page and the fresh close to nature presentations of the dishes. I truly believe that Grow Happy, Cook Happy, Be Happy is an inspiring cookbook which many readers will enjoy.

I want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for a free sample copy of this cookbook to read and recommend.

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How to do YOU choose a book?

We have all been there, you start reading a book that you were excited about, only to find it difficult to get into and not what you were expecting. It’s even worse when you have paid full price for that book. I can honestly say this fear of book failure has kept me from purchasing many books. If I am not at least 90% sure I will like a book, I will put it back on the shelf, go to my computer when I get home and order it from the library.

So how do you pick out of all of the books on the shelves and tables when you walk into your local bookstore? Do you look for the guided headings first, such as “Recommended” or “New and Hot”? Or do you first look at the covers and titles to see what catches you eye? When reviewing books online, the most important impressions to a publisher are how much you liked the cover, the summary and the author. Did you choose a book because it had an interesting synopsis or because it had a catchy cover page?

Do you often stick with the same genres? I like to think I have a wide range of genres that I read from until I look at my reading logs. I occasionally have to intentionally choose a book outside of my favourite genres to mix things up. My husband recently asked me to read one of the books he was required to read for his Master studies, hardest read ever. There is nothing like HAVING to read something versus wanting to read it. If I had picked it up myself off the bookshelf, I probably would have read it in a few hours. Instead, its been MONTHS and I am still only a few chapters in. I almost dare you to try this out first hand….I would recommend starting with say, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Let me know how quickly you get through one of the most read books in history.

Whether doing book reviews or just reading my latest pick from the library bookshelf, I find myself in the same predicament. I feel obligated to give a book reading my best shot, even if it means reading just one or two chapters at a time just to get through it. I must have some irrational fear of a dnf (did not finish). My most recent experience with this dilemma was reading a new novel The Hot Year by Anne Piper. I have included my review below. I just found this novel so difficult to keep plowing through and wanted to quit after just a few pages. I would recommend not wasting your hard-earned money (or time) on this book….I did that on your behalf, you’re welcome.

There are also some books that just seem too good to be true. I was definitely excited when I was approved to read a pre-publication copy of The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. The synopsis was intriguing and the cover has that wow factor. The author has published other novels with excellent reviews so I had high hopes for this one. Alas, the most I could give this novel was a generous 3 out of 5 rating. I have included my review below….you might want to give this one a chance, you will either love it or hate it.

And finally, I want to end with a book that you may just really appreciate, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. The cover is nostalgic, the story is intriguing and overall, I think many people will enjoy this book. If there was a heading at the book store, this novel would be under something like “Best Overlooked Books”. The Washington Post was one of many to praise Robin Sloan’s novel, saying Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is “smart, hip and witty, like the shiny surface of a new iPhone.” In addition, the book won many awards including one for its cover (which does indeed glow in the dark).

If you are going to spend $ on books this year, you should make this one of them. The story itself is not life-changing, but it is upbeat, fun and uniquely modern.

The Hot YearThe Hot Year by Anne Piper

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From my opinion, there are too many gaps in the narrative of this story and I almost quit reading well before the half way mark. The storyline is very difficult to follow and often there are jumps in narrative that are never explained. Why does Lucy love Miles? That was never explained. Who is Lucy, what is her background and where does she come from?

Lucy writes a newspaper article which seems a pivotal moment and yet the article itself is never properly introduced; Chapter 14 just begins with her newspaper article being published. Who knew Lucy could write or even wanted to write an article? Things like this were too confusing and made it difficult to continue reading until the end.

Lucy is flighty and an unreliable character. At times Lucy is ambitious and adventurous and other times she wants to be rescued and acts like a child. The dialogue between Lucy and Steve is difficult to follow and Miles is just horrible altogether. The reader is given no reason why Lucy fell in love with Miles in the first place.

I appreciated getting the chance to read this novel and want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for an ebook copy to read and review.

View all my reviews

The Favourite SisterThe Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What you can expect: mystery, backstabbing, glamour and drama.

I could best categorize The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll as a women’s fiction novel. The theme is a reality show similar to “The Housewives of” except that all but one of the women are not mothers and are portrayed as successful YOUNG women. Once a woman reaches the dreaded age of 34 she will be let go from the show.

The point of view switches from present, to past and from character to character. I think this is what makes the novel so difficult to get through. It is hard to know which point of view you are in when you put down the novel and come back to it.

The characters themselves are complex and each have a very distinctive personality. As readers we find out at the very beginning that one of the “Housewives” has been killed and then the plot goes through the events of the past to reconstruct what happened. I do sort of wish we were given just slightly more information about the death at the beginning, just something more to hold onto as the novel goes on. In the middle of the story the plot drags on a bit to the point where as a reader you might even second guess that someone is really going to die at the end. As a reader I wanted to be more engaged in the mystery than in the drama and glamour of each woman.

As many other reviewers have mentioned, the conclusion is very abrupt. After a lengthy novel that takes a while to plough through, I felt somewhat letdown by the ending.

Overall I have given The Favorite Sister a 3 out of 5. I think some people will just enjoy the drama and glamour of the women’s lives and not be too concerned about the mystery in the plot. For myself I wouldn’t pick it up to re-read it again.

I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher MacMillan for the opportunity to read an ebook copy of The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll.

View all my reviews

Some other books I have read for my READ50 2018:

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/10332816

 

Thank-you for joining me on my reading adventures.

Happy Reading 📚

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2017 Reading Log and Looking Ahead to 2018

Happy New Year! It is officially January 1, 2018. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Season and I am sure many of you are diligently trying to make a New Years Resolution for the year ahead. For those of you who have followed along with me, I have challenged myself to READ50 books each year. Every year I set the goal at 50 with hopes to well surpass that goal. In addition, I also set a general goal for myself to improve the literature I chose as well as what I do with the information gained once I have read each book. See below for my READ list from 2017, 60 books in total. Feel free to also follow me on Goodreads if you want to see what I am currently reading or find a review on many of the books I read in 2017. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38629860-adrienne-b

2017 was the first year I joined NetGalley and delved into the world of online reading and reviewing ARC books (Advanced Reader Copies). The draw of free pre-publication books was compelling but with the free ebooks also comes a sense of obligation to give an “honest” but well written review. For me this has been a challenge for sure. Some books are just not well written or full of unnecessary plot complications. With NetGalley your review (good or bad) goes right to the Publisher and if they want they can also contact you back. The thought of a publisher reading my review can be intimidating to me. However, the feedback I have received in the process has been complimentary and usually just an attempt from the Publisher or Author to have to spread the word as much as you can about their upcoming novel. If you are interested in the book reviewing side of the great world of books, you can join NetGalley here: https://www.netgalley.com Amongst hundreds of Auto-Approved books, there are also books that have to be requested. Join prepared to be declined as well. Some publishers will only approve those who have a large blog following and/or can prove they have more than several thousand followers. 

If you are more of a quick, casual book reviewer, I would recommend starting with GoodReads, Amazon and/or Chapters/Indigo’s websites first. Chapters/Indigo even gives you plum points for every review you provide which is a great incentive to post on their website. 

One of my lofty goals for 2018 is to convince my 10 year old son to start recording some of the books he is reading. I might even get him to include a quick review or jot down some thoughts on how he liked or disliked the books he is reading. He loves the The 39 Clues Series and is on to the 2nd Series The 39 Clues: Cahills Vs. Vespers. He is also into the Bone Series books by Jeff Smith right now too. Fingers crossed that on my next post you will hear a bit about what my son has been reading in 2018 too!!

My READ50 + List 2017

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Happy Reading in 2018!

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Fall Reading and New Releases

If you need a few book recommendations, here are a few new books that are my most recent reads:

Glass Houses by Louise Penny 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35197712-glass-houses

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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor 

Release Date August 01, 2017

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32600721-the-cottingley-secret?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

“Because the world was still at war, we needed to believe in something better. In that moment, and perhaps for much longer, it seemed to me that the possibility of believing in fairies was more important that one little girl telling the truth.” – The Cottingley Secret, Hazel Gaynor

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The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

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UPDATE: Now that I have read the entire novel, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book this Fall. It is fun and energetic. You will warm to Bridget’s character quickly and her emotions feel authentic. Definitely a must read!

Original Post: So far so good! I have only read the Prologue and the first three chapters but I am left wanting more! I hope Bridget’s story continues along the path of being exciting and fun with hint of romance. There is a small chance that the plot of this novel will be predictable but as it is my first time reading a novel by Paige Toon I cannot say for sure one way or the other. I can say that so far the first three chapters are entertaining, convincing and witty and that Paige Toon’s novel has drawn me in. I can’t wait to read The Last Piece of My Heart in its entirety. Thank-you also to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read a pre-release teaser of the novel. https://read50.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/light-summer-reading-and-spring-2017-new-releases

In the Midst of WinterIn the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
Expected Publication October 31, 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Richard, Lucia and Evelyn’s lives collide and intertwine in a way that none of them could have predicted. Richard, a man who struggling with his own inner demons is forced into a situation where he needs to react, make decisions and take control of his own happiness. Lucia is a feisty woman who is originally from Chile but has carved a life out for herself in Brooklyn, NY. Lucia is an optimist who is always able to help those around her but when it comes to making decisions for herself she is unusually hesitant. Evelyn is a young woman from Guatemala who has struggled and been forced to see and experience things that no one should ever have to endure. An unexpected accident thrusts these three individuals together into a journey it seems only lifetime could have prepared them for.

I really appreciated Isabel Allende’s newest novel In the Midst of Winter. She dug deep into the hearts of what would otherwise be unremarkable people. She took an underpaid young house maid and gave her a history that is unimaginable but real at the same time.

Allende also explores some BIG, real social and political events in Latin American history. I might argue that one of these events would be enough for the novel. In the Midst of Winter tackles three characters each with very different and very tragic lives. At times some of the political events got lost in transition for me. I found myself stopping to think about which thread was being described, which country and which character.

The beginning of the novel was very good in my opinion. It drew me in and kept my attention. Once the action began for the conflict I was reading quickly and cared less about how Richard, Evelyn and Lucia resolved their situation. The climax seemed rushed, almost like you could see the author writing and someone over their shoulder saying, “alright, now resolve and finish this novel in 5 pages or less”.

However, there are too many good elements to this story for me to give it less than a four. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to my friends and I think it would be excellent for a book club.
***I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read a pre-release copy of this book.

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Butterfly Party

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They say rules are made for breaking. This year was supposed to be a no party year. For my children I do an alternating year for birthday parties, one year my son will get one and the next my daughter. However, this year my daughter is turning 6 and she has been talking about having a birthday party for MONTHS, literally. So I gave in and said we would have just a few friends and family come and we decided on a Butterfly theme.

THE THEME

Butterflies are a perfect theme for those looking to cost save on a birthday party as well as have a large selection of paraphernalia to choose from. For my daughter’s party we purchased a few things like hanging streamers and edible butterfly wafer paper for the cake but otherwise many things were hand-made. My son spent hours working on painting his own designed giant cardboard butterfly and it was a perfect decoration. For some people looking for inspiration for a butterfly party, I have included some pictures and ideas below. To give your creativity a nudge, check out Pinterest which has a ton of helpful resources. 

THE PARTY

Some ideas for the party:

  • butterfly nets/catchers
  • butterfly wings
  • butterfly wall & window stickers
  • strings with paper butterflies attached to “catch” with nets
  • fruit platter in the shape of a butterfly
  • “butterfly food” labels on snacks
  • napkins folded into butterflies
  • napkins and forks tied together to look like a butterfly
  • for lots of ideas, check out my Pinterest Board: Butterfly Birthday Party.

20643594_10155341297540700_427818676_nFor party favours, try easy diy butterfly candy bags (see pictures below), butterfly wands or headbands (check out Amazon’s party pack), butterfly nets or wings to take home and even butterfly glow sticks (found at most Dollar stores or Amazon). 

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THE CAKE

Last but not least, the cake. Pinterest has SOO many good examples of what you can do to make a butterfly cake. You can even make a butterfly shape out of cupcakes and save yourself a great deal of precious time. Keep in mind that kids will not usually eat very much cake at a birthday party and always try to choose flavour over design. Packaged fondant gives your cake a sleek look but nobody really likes the taste of it. 

I opted for a simple but unique cake design. The layers are made with boxed french vanilla cake mixes with some strawberry jello and/or food colouring mixed in for flavour and colour.  The icing is a simple buttercream icing: butter, icing sugar and heavy cream. For added flavour you can add a tablespoon of fruit reduction to buttercream icing once it has been whipped. In my cake I added a raspberry reduction to the middle layer giving it a refreshing taste and a natural pink colour.

*A tip when you are adding fruit reduction to buttercream icing is to make sure you have very little water in your fruit puree, you want to boil down your fruit puree by at least half the amount of sugar, water and fruit you started with. Too much water in your fruit reduction can separate your buttercream icing. 

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The exterior of the cake has a crumb coat of buttercream icing and a second coat of icing which is smoothed down as much as possible. 

For the butterfly decoration, I chose edible wafer paper butterflies. Amazon really let me down on this one and my order is due to arrive several months after my daughter’s party! Luckily a friend with an edible ink printer saved the day and ran off a sheet of perfect wafer paper butterflies for me. We used a small crafting knife to cut out the butterflies and folded them twice just off centre to give a realistic design.

*A tip for attaching wafer paper or edible paper to a cake is to use a decorating brush to apply a small coat of corn syrup on the back of the paper before applying to your cake. The corn syrup is thin enough to not show through the paper and sticky enough to adhere to fondant or buttercream icing. 

I was very happy with the way the butterfly cake turned out. Never sell yourself short for attempting to make your own cake; a homemade cake LOOKS homemade because it TASTES homemade. 

 

Happy Party Planning!

 

 

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The Challenges of Summer Reading

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Do you find that making time for reading in the summer can be a challenge? There are so many outside things to do: go on hikes, take your kids to cool off at the pool or splash pad and BBQ’s with friends.

However, as busy as we are in the summer, my kids have seemed to be enticed by the chance to win prizes through our local library’s Summer Reading Program. Each week they record time spent reading (or being read to for my smallest child) and get entries into draws for prizes for every one hour read. The program has offered my kids a lot of incentive to sit down and read a book during their down time instead of staring at the TV.

For those adults who love to read AND win stuff, there are also Adult Summer Reading Programs too. Check out your local library to see if they are offering one; often the adult prizes are pretty nice!

There are so many benefits to reading, not just for children but also for developing adult minds as well. I found this article examining the “Science-Backed” health benefits of reading.

  1. Reading increases intelligence
  2. Reading boosts your brain power
  3. Reading makes you more empathetic
  4. Flipping pages of a book helps with your understanding and comprehension skills
  5. Regular reading has been linked to decreasing your chances of developing Alzheimers disease
  6. Reading helps you relax and overcome stress
  7. Reading before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster
  8. Reading out loud to your children inspires your children to want to read more

And finally, how is your 2017 Reading Challenge progressing? I am currently at 45 books for this year, but I will admit that the last month or two I have slowed down a bit. A few of my most recent reads and/or reviews are:

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into this book. I appreciated the multiple points of view and it kept the storyline interesting. My biggest critique is I felt there was a bit too much back and forth for my liking. I would have preferred fewer points of view in favour of a more in-depth characterization. I have to say I liked Girl on the Train more than Into the Water but I would definitely still recommend this book and enjoyed it. Give it a try!

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Expected Release Date January 01, 2018)

Carnegie's MaidCarnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sudden death on a trans-Atlantic journey opens up a future far different than Clara Kelley could have ever imagined. As an immigrant to America from Ireland, Clara is expecting nothing more than some steady low paying employment so she could help support her family back home. A tragic accident upon the vessel Envoy has left one Clara Kelley deceased and given the other a chance at a future far better than was anticipated. A caller is waiting for the Clara Kelley who has been offered employment as a highly desirable ladies maid for one of the richest families in America and Clara jumps in the carriage. Clara has only a second to choose her fate and decides to carve out a future for herself.

Clara is transported to Philadelphia where she meets the wealthy and innovative Carnegie family. She learns how to pretend to be something she is not and eventually finds a friend in the eldest son of the Carnegie family, Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie’s Maid is a historical fiction about class differentiation, industrialization and the many forms that love can take. This story reveals how not just the drive for success, but also love for ones family can at times cloud our judgement and affect our morality. Clara and her master Andrew Carnegie share a special understanding of ideals and both want to provide financially for their families. In a way they both help each other succeed.

I really enjoyed Carnegie’s Maid and would definitely recommend it. I appreciated the author’s writing style and felt like it was a well written, captivating story. (view spoiler) Furthermore, I could have also used more of Andrew’s point of view; his characterization wasn’t developed enough for me. The beginning of the story gives the reader a little taste of who Andrew is but otherwise the story is entirely from Clara’s point of view. I feel as though more insight into the thoughts of Andrew Carnegie would have helped the overall success of the story.

I want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read and review Carnegie’s Maid.

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1) by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1)

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

Short for ChameleonShort for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Short For Chameleon and how hilarious it is at times. Vicki Grant keeps the story short and sweet and adds just the right amount of quirkiness to each character. The main character Cam works for his Father’s business “Almost Family Surrogate Agency”. The business employs people to pretend to be relatives of clients who are willing to pay to have fake relatives for social obligations. As a result, Cam is constantly finding himself in unusual situations. I think teens and young adults would find this novel engaging, funny and entertaining. I only hope that there is more to come from Cam and his new friend Raylene.

I also want to thank GoodReads, Vicki Grant and the publisher HarperTrophyCanada for a free copy of this book.

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~ Happy Summer Reading ~

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Light Summer Reading and Spring 2017 New Releases

Sunset in Leduc copy

Spring has come and I am excited to get to spend more time outdoors. Gardening, going for walks or just stopping to take pictures of the beautiful Spring scenery has taken up more of my time than reading/blogging. However, I do want to give you some new (and a few old) release books that you may want to check out. I will be honest in saying that my reviews are not always positive and sometimes I just simply don’t engage with the plot or style of writing. BUT I have done some of the leg work for you which might help you decide between what new release books you may or may not want to pickup for your next camping weekend.

Also, next to come on my READ50 list for this year is The Last Neanderthal by Clair Cameron – I’ll let you know what I think when I am done!!

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Release date March 2, 2017)

An Emotional and Tension Filled Glimpse of Life in Bristol During the French Revolution

Birdcage Walk

Baroque is the word that comes to mind after finishing Birdcage Walk . Drama, tension and poetic influence is how I would describe the book. I cannot say that I loved this new novel by Helen Dunmore. I felt the plot was missing some key climatic elements. I did not care for the heroine Lizzy, I was hoping for her to rise above her situation and so many times she let me down. Diner was very unlikable and controlling but yet Lizzy would throw herself into his arms again and again. Lizzy doubted herself so many times I struggle to call her the heroine. Lizzy’s half-brother seemed to be the best thing that happened to her in the entire novel, and yet when it came to a decision between her brother and her husband, she chooses her husband.

What I do feel Helen Dunmore excelled at was her descriptions and settings in the novel. She vividly captures what life was like in Bristol at that time in history. Her writing is poetic and sensual as she attempts to depict what emotional trials people might have faced during the French Revolution. However, Dunmore’s repeated insertion of political discussion into the dialogue felt forced and did not really add anything to the development of the characters or the narrative.

I would recommend this book to my friends but I am not sure I would reread it.

I do want to give my appreciation to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a free ARC copy of Birdcage Walk . Thanks again.

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (Also available as an audio book)

Island Girls

Island Girls was a fun read and the characters all had unique personalities. The plot kept along at a good pace and I think it would be a perfect summer read. However, this novel is not deep nor has overly complex character development.

As a stipulation to their deceased father’s will, three very different women find themselves stuck sharing their father’s Nantucket home for an entire summer. Arden, Meg and Jenny all begin the summer with their own agendas while trying to survive just a few months together as a blended family. Rory Randell was handsome and wealthy but left behind a mess of emotional drama between his three daughters, two ex-wives and latest wife. Rory’s three daughters have one summer to fix the drama and grievances they have with each other in order for them to inherit the family home. This is an enjoyable read but do not expect deep insights or believability. I liked it, but some things are just too good to be true in my opinion.

A Suitable Affair by Erica Taylor (Expected Publication June 6, 2017)

A Suitable Affair
You won’t be disappointed!

A Suitable Affair is a light-hearted and entertaining read. Lady Susanna Macallistar, the heroine of the story, finds herself with a large dowry but she is falling short in her search for eligible suitors. The one gentleman who has offered to court her is too compliant and boring, a stark contrast to her own vibrant and adventurous personality. After a random and potentially dangerous encounter with a stranger in Hyde park, Susanna finds herself drawn to the newcomer, Ian Carlisle, the handsome Earl of Westcott. Ian has trouble ignoring the magnetism between Susanna and himself but his affection is clouded by his troubled past and his quest to bring a murderer to justice. Susanna turns out to have a few secrets of her own as she struggles between society’s expectations of a Lady and her own ambitions.

The writing style at the beginning of A Suitable Affair is verbose in my opinion. The author uses too many words in the characters dialogue and some of the sentences and descriptions are awkward. Susanna does not need to describe in length her motivation behind everything and she often repeats the same thing in two different ways in one conversation. After the first few chapters the writing style becomes less forced and the characters conversations flow more smoothly. The plot is entertaining from the beginning with the murder mystery keeping the storyline complex and engaging. And of course the romance isn’t too bad either! I appreciate that Susanna’s character is not just adventurous and witty but she is also brave and intelligent. The more the plot progresses the more interesting and developed Susanna’s character becomes.

I would not hesitate to recommend A Suitable Affair to my friends and I think if some of the wordiness in the first few chapters could be edited out I would definitely rate it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for a chance to read an advanced copy of A Suitable Affair .

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon (Release Date May 18, 2017)

The Last Piece of My Heart

So far so good! I have only read the Prologue and the first three chapters but I am left wanting more! I hope Bridget’s story continues along the path of being exciting and fun with hint of romance. There is a small chance that the plot of this novel will be predictable but as it is my first time reading a novel by Paige Toon I cannot say for sure one way or the other. I can say that so far the first three chapters are entertaining, convincing and witty and that Paige Toon’s novel has drawn me in. I can’t wait to read The Last Piece of My Heart in its entirety.

Thank-you also to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read a pre-release teaser of the novel.

And last but not least…..have YOU read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and what did YOU think of it? And which do YOU prefer, The Girl on The Train or Into the Water

Happy Reading

~ Adrienne

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Mystery and Intrigue in London in the 1800s

Just a quick book review if you are looking for a recommendation for some light reading this April! A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain is a time-shift historical fiction available April 11, 2017.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30334200-a-twist-in-time?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

A Twist in Time is chock-full of mystery and secrecy in upper class British society. The novel which takes place against the backdrop of London in the 1800s is a surprisingly good read! When I read the description I was expecting it to be a bit like Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict but this book was far better!

Julie McElwain gives us a vivid view of life in 1815. Kendra Donovan the heroine of the series struggles to accept that she has been dropped somehow in 1815 and is thrown into a series of murder investigations. The literary is style engaging and Kendra’s character is confident and adventurous. The plot of “A Twist in Time” keeps up a good pace moving from scene to scene and I didn’t feel like there were any long and drawn out sections. Some time-shift novels have an heightened sense of implausibility but because Kendra has chose to trust the Duke of Aldridge and his nephew Alec with her secret, it somehow makes her presence in the 1800s more plausible. I also appreciated the author changing the point-of-view intermittingly from Kendra to some of the other characters to allow for differing perspectives. Kendra Donovan is an intelligent, solid and delightful heroine and I cannot wait to read more about her adventures.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Pegasus Books for a pre-release copy of the book to read and review.

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Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26594969-miss-you?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Miss You is a delightful read which manages to capture the essence of fate. The story is told by Tess and Gus, two people whose lives intertwine occasionally but who have only ever spoken a few words to each other. Will fate eventually intervene to save these two lost souls from themselves?

Tess is unexpectedly thrust into a life she never dreamed of for herself. She gives up everything including her university acceptance to take care of her little sister Hope when nobody else has stepped in to help. Tess struggles to find herself and her own ambitions in the life she passing through. She is almost a spectator, often refusing to make any decisions regarding her own needs or desires. Tess has a giant heart though and loves Hope to the same degree as a mother would love their child. Tess let’s romance into her life but never gives herself over completely, like she is waiting for some feeling that she can’t quite understand.

Gus is a smart and intelligent young adult who regularly acts on impulse. He is criticizes himself for not acting in the moment and yet most of events that happen in his life are because of impromptu actions. Gus graduates university and finds a steady girlfriend named Lucy; his relationship with Lucy seems to point to an advantageous match. Yet so,etching is still missing and Gus can’t even bring himself to be full open and honest with Lucy. Instead Gus turns to Charlotte who fulfills he sexual desire but leaves a lot to be desired in the relationship department. With two rocky relationships on the go at once and trying to figure out his career ambitions it seems like Gus’ life can go nowhere but down hill.

Miss You is a story about life, fate and relationships. I feel as though fate is like a seed in this book, being blown around but never landing in the soil. So many times Tess and Gus almost meet or do actually meet only with no remembrance and recognition. The story’s motto “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” basically happens again and again. Do Gus and Tess really just have one moment where their lives reach a drastic turning point? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it happens again and again which makes the story more realistic.

A few turnoffs for me were for starters the length of the novel; it really is quite long with 433 pages. I think it can be trimmed down and some filler taken out. I really don’t need to know about every dinner date or job that Tess or Gus had during the 16 years of the story. I also would have liked Gus and Tess’s lives to converge more, there was such a long time in the plot where it was just their own individual stories. And finally, the ending (I won’t offer a spoiler) BUT it could have been more believable and more developed throughout the story so that it fit with the rest of the plot.

Thanks for reading my review and I’d like to thank Harper Collins Canada (HCC First Look program) for an advanced copy of the book! And I love the cover, it is very eye catching.

Happy Reading!

~Adrienne

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