Tag Archives: Novels

Spring Reading

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43779862-grown-ups

Grown Ups


My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I will be honest and say I had a hard time finishing this book. There were too many characters and too many flashbacks (especially in the beginning) for the story to really take hold and draw me in. The beginning of the novel had strategically placed flashbacks to provide the reader with information but they were not believable and came across as forced information. It wasn’t until near the end when I really started to care about how everything was going to fall into place. I can’t even say I was satisfied with the ending.

When you look at the structure of the novel, there wasn’t really a central climax or even rising action. There were constant little fights between the characters, mostly between spouses, but not really any main plot to grasp onto as a reader. Reading this novel was like having a bird’s eye view of three different couples going through the motions of life and martial problems. Yes, the characters were likeable, especially Nell. However, there were times when family friends and the children’s friends all completely lost or uninterested me because there were too many names thrown around. I kept wondering where the story was going and if there was going to be a point to all the madness.

I appreciate the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this novel and generally I am a light critic. However, I feel Grown Ups was missing something major, a main plot element, and without it, the reader cannot be drawn into the story. As readers, we want to envision a part of ourselves when reading a book, but more importantly, we also want to escape reality, even if for just a few moments. By giving us martial problems without some element of thrill or excitement, a story just ends up being a retelling of everyday occurrences.

I would still recommend this book, but it was not my favourite. I am left feeling as though the story could be better, and be fixed into a really amazing novel.

Thank-you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada / Doubleday Canada for the opportunity to read and review this upcoming novel by Marian Keyes.



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February – Update on my READ 50 Challenge for 2020

     What are YOU reading in 2020? My reading list so far this year is full of variety. I have junior high ELA and SS textbooks, I have YA novels and then I have the “just for me” reading which I occasionally fit in between homework assignments.

     For one of my assignments in university this term, I created a book club plan for Grade 9 ELA students. The four books I chose for the in-class book club are used to initiate student discussions about collective identity, diversity and issues affecting Canadians in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Indian Act. In addition, I wanted to make sure that all of the books I chose were written by Canadian authors in order to support Canadian talent. I believe junior and senior high students want to read relevant, new fiction, as well as books they see adults reading. My hope is that by making intentional literary choices within the classroom, teachers CAN encourage students to become life long readers.

*Photos from: https://www.goodreads.com

My “currently reading” list:

(BUT, I am most looking forward to reading about what Edward Snowden has to say!)

*Happy Reading* 

Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader

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A Story About Love In All Its Forms

In Five YearsIn Five Years by Rebecca Serle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really heart warming story about love and friendship. Dannie is lost but doesn’t realize it; she has friends, the perfect career and the perfect boyfriend. Bella is Dannie’s best friend and her exact opposite. Bella is adventurous and takes risks trying to find true love and passion in her life. As best friends since childhood, Dannie and Bella complement and challenge one another. Eventually Dannie’s perfect life and bubble have to pop, but how will she survive such a dramatic blow to her perfectly orchestrated life?

This is ultimately a story about love in all it forms. As humans we have the ability to be passionate and love unconditionally. Rebecca Serle’s story shows us just how unpredictable love can be and how it reveals itself to us in unexpected ways. I appreciate how the narrative unfolds in the moment. Dannie tries to control every aspect of her life, but love cannot always be controlled and it can lead us on paths we never thought we would go. In one instance, Dannie and David’s relationship is referred to as a parallel path, I would argue that love does this as well. We have the ability to love in my forms at the same time without our love for one person affecting our love for another. If you appreciate a great story with many hidden connections and deeper contexts, then this is a great book for you! I would definitely not hesitate to recommend this book.

I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher Atria Books for the opportunity to read and review a copy of this novel.

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My First Impressions of the New Mystery Series: The Addie Foster Mystery Series by Kimberley O’Malley

Death Comes in Threes (Addie Foster Mystery Series Book 1)

Death Comes in Threes is my first time reading one of Kimberley O’Malley’s novels. I was intrigued by the story from the beginning and Addie is a very fun, witty and likeable character. Grey is Addie’s supportive and easy going BFF who is there for her on a moments notice. Throughout the short time period taking place in this book, Addie has some very frightening and unexpected events happen. She rides through them like a trooper and seems to come out unscathed. The inserting of a handsome Detective also always helps! 

Some of the things I like about this novel are the energetic and funny characters. I love the Aunties and the dogs; albeit the thread of the two dogs I felt might have been overdeveloped. The novel was easy to read and the dialogue flows smoothly and naturally. The cover is also eye catching and makes you want to pick it up to see what it’s about.

Some of the areas of Death Comes in Threes which fall flat for me are the mystery plot development, the overuse of some narratives and the length of the book. The mystery in the book isn’t very deep and could use a bit more complexity and intrigue. I want to know more about the three strangers and their deaths and not just a quick note saying they died, end of the story. I also wish there were a few more chapters. The third death was rushed and seemed like the author just wanted to end the book so #3 mystery man is found dead. If the story is called “Death Comes in Threes” I want to know about what happens to them, not in a weird way, but have more of a story behind it. 

Secondly, certain elements in the narrative were overused. Addie doesn’t need to stand by the door to dismiss the dark brooding Detective every time he comes to see her. Furthermore, every character in the story doesn’t need to stop and say how cute her dogs are, we get it. 

And thirdly, I just found the story too short. Add in more detail about the mystery. Lengthen the time between events and add a bit more meat and potatoes (this is entirely just my own opinion). 

All in all I would love to read the rest of Addie’s adventures to solve the mystery which this novel started. I feel like I have only read half of the story. 

I want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher Laurie White / Carolina Blue Publishing for an e-copy of Death Comes in Threes to read and review. 

Also upcoming “Dyeing for Change” by Kimberley O’Malley (Addie Foster Mystery Series Book 2)

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Christmas is coming! A new book in the CookBook Nook Mystery series; available November 8, 2018

Wreath Between the Lines (A Cookbook Nook Mystery 7)Wreath Between the Lines by Daryl Wood Gerber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a newcomer to the Cookbook Nook Mystery Series by Daryl Wood Gerber, I found Wreath Between the Lines a fun, engaging Christmas read. There was plenty of action to the plot and Jenna is a friendly and sweet character with maybe more than her share of curiosity. Because I am new to the series I didn’t fully understand Jenna and her father’s relationship but her father seems to be supportive of all her investigative actions even while he is away on vacation.

The plot jumps right into a murder which happens at Jake Chapman’s home, a rich millionaire who happens to be a friend of the family. Suspicion about the motive for the murder, Jenna jumps right in to solve the case and find out why it appears Jake was the intended target of the attack. This is the point in the story where I find my first major critique. I am surprised at how quickly Jenna accuses everyone around her. She doesn’t seem to have a filter in who she suspects as a criminal and often confronts people directly. I think the story loses a bit of its credibility with Jenna’s immature investigative tactics. This is the first reason I have only given the novel a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

My second major critique would be wordiness. There are too many descriptions and unnecessary details added which downplay some of the action in the plot. For instance, when Jenna is running to help Jake whose friend has been murdered and strung up by Christmas lights, why do we get a description of Jake’s detached garage? I just feel as though some long descriptions of characters and places are unnecessary or awkwardly placed. The writing is overly detailed to the point where it is excessive. Some of these things might still be edited out before the final copy so I haven’t given too much weight to that in my rating.

All in all, I think I would be happy to give another one of Daryl Wood Gerber’s books a try and would definitely not hesitate to recommend this as a quick and spirited Christmas read.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Beyond the Page Publishing for an advanced copy of this e-book to read and review.

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A Moody Fall Read: An Old Manor House, A Tragic Mystery and a Missing Family Heirloom – “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker's DaughterThe Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Expected Publication October 09, 2018

Birchwood Manor is a brooding historic home with more than a few stories to tell. Birdie, one of the main characters acts like a narrator for the story. We get to know fragmented parts of her story but we also get to see all of the other lives inexplicably drawn to the home as well. Throughout the years people have come and gone, each person unknowingly becoming part of the home’s story.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is my first read by Kate Morton and I have mostly only positive things to say about it. The novel has such a picturesque setting and who doesn’t love a large historic home just waiting for someone to unravel its mysterious past? As readers we get multiple points of view which gives us a birds eye view of Birchwood Manor throughout its history. However, the alternating points of view can also be occasionally difficult to navigate from chapter to chapter. Some reviewers have mentioned that the story was hard to follow, but I actually enjoyed getting to hear all about the lives of each of the characters. I think Morton did an excellent job at navigating the complex plot while still being able to give us enough about each character to be able to connect with them. Some of the branches in the plot did die off, but I didn’t really miss them and did not feel they added to the success of the book overall.

Elodie is another one of the stories main characters and she is easy to connect with right away. She seems like she is a down to earth girl who just gets drawn into the history of Edward Radcliffe and his family’s story. Edward Radcliffe came from a wealthy family and was an aspiring artist. But how did his life become surrounded in tragedy and what caused his seemingly sudden demise? Elodie finds a leather satchel that hides clues to the Radcliffe family’s tragic history and leads Elodie down a path she can’t help but follow.

I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and think it will be a book which will stay in my memory bank for a while.

I want to thank NetGalley and the Publishers Simon & Schuster Canada and Atria Books

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Happy Reading!

Mantelpiece Clock

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“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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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.

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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.

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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

32600721

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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