3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin


The Accidentals coverAbout The Accidentals

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 13, 2019)

Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices—an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.

Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.”

In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life–seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an “accidental”—a migratory bird blown off course.

When Olivia becomes pregnant again, she makes a fateful decision, compelling Grace, June, and Holly to cope in different ways. While their father digs up the backyard to build a bomb shelter, desperate to protect his family, Olivia’s spinster sister tries to take them all under her wing. But the impact of Olivia’s decision reverberates throughout Grace’s and June’s lives. Grace, caught up in an unconventional love affair, becomes one of the “girls who went away” to have a baby in secret. June, guilt-ridden for her part in exposing Grace’s pregnancy, eventually makes an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Ed Mae Johnson, an African-American care worker in a New Orleans orphanage, is drastically impacted by Grace’s choices.

As the years go by, their lives intersect in ways that reflect the unpredictable nature of bird flight that lands in accidental locations—and the consolations of imperfect return.

Filled with tragedy, humor, joy, and the indomitable strength of women facing the constricted spaces of the 1950s and 60s, The Accidentals is a poignant, timely novel that reminds us of the hope and consolation that can be found in unexpected landings.


REVIEW:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

Can we just take a moment to admire that cover? I mean, is it not absolutely gorgeous?! I personally think so and that’s what initially caught my eye about this book (and I am, as a general rule, not a cover person). But then I read the blurb and I was sold. I had a great feeling going into this book.

And for the most part, it definitely lived up to the expectations I had set for it. It made me realize just how thankful I should be for being a woman in the time period that I am now rather than in the 1950s. I mean … just yikes. What women had to go through and deal with during that time period. It’s definitely eye-opening for sure.

However, the book wasn’t entirely perfect. I sometimes felt like it jumped here and there when it could have had better “flow” I guess you could say. Maybe a little disjointed even? But oh the character development! My long-time readers know that I am a sucker for good character development and this particular book had that in spades! It definitely made me want to keep reading!

I probably set the bar a little too high on this book and that’s why I felt a little disappointed in spots, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend it!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Minrose Gwin AP Kim Jew Photography Studios.jpgKim Jew Photography Studios

About Minrose Gwin

Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, and the memoir Wishing for Snow, cited by Booklist as “eloquent” and “lyrical”—“a real life story we all need to know.” She has written four scholarly books and coedited The Literature of the American South. She grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, hearing stories of the Tupelo tornado of 1936. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Find out more about Minrose at her website.

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4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES

Review: H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide
by Sue Grafton

H is for Homicide

 

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 256

Read: May 27 – 30, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: His name is Parnell Perkins, and until shortly after midnight, he’d been a claims adjuster for California Fidelity. Then someone came along and put paid to that line of work. And to any other. Parnell Perkins had been shot at close range and left for dead in the parking lot outside California Fidelity’s offices.

To the cops, it looked like a robbery gone sour. To Kinsey Millhone, it looked like the cops were walking away from the case. She didn’t like the idea that a colleague and sometime drinking companion had been murdered. Or the idea that his murderer was loose and on the prowl. It made her feel exposed. Vulnerable.

Bibianna Diaz was afraid for her life. If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that you didn’t cross Raymond Maldonado and live to tell the tale. And Bibianna had well and truly crossed him, running out on his crazy wedding plans and going into hiding in Santa Teresa – light years away from the Los Angeles barrio that was home turf to Raymond and his gang. Now she needed money to buy time, to make sure she’d put enough space between them. And the quickest way she knew to get money was to work an insurance scam – just like the ones Raymond was running down in L.A. The trouble was, Bibianna picked California Fidelity as her mark. And it wasn’t long before her name surfaced in one of Parnell Perkins’s open files and Kinsey was on her case. But so, too, was her spurned suitor, Raymon Maldonado.

He had a rap sheet as long as his arm, a hair-trigger temper that was best left untested, and an inability to take no for an answer. He also had Tourette’s syndrome, which did nothing to smooth out the kinks in his erratic and often violent behavior. All in all, Raymond Maldonado was not someone to spend a lot of time hanging out with. Unfortunately for Kinsey, she didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. Not after the love-sick Raymond kidnapped Bibianna. Like it or not, Kinsey was stuck baby-sitting Bibianna along with Raymond and his macho crew. You might say she was a prisoner of love.

It may be Kinsey Millhone’s most complicated and risk-filled case.


Review: This is the 8th book in the Kinsey Millhone series. It had been a while since I had read “G” but I remember really enjoying it, so I was looking forward to falling back in with Kinsey.

This one read a lot differently than any of the previous books in the series. It definitely had a grittier feel to it. Kinsey was in a more precarious position than I feel like she ever has been in previous books. It was a good read, I enjoyed it.

It read quickly and easily. It kept me interested in the storyline. I felt like all the characters were well-developed – even the less important characters had good development. I really liked this book.

Recommended. And I’m looking forward to “I”.

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: On the Same Page by N.D. Galland

On the Same Page coverAbout On the Same Page

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 31, 2018)

“N. D. Galland has created a delectable romantic comedy set in her home town of Martha’s Vineyard long after the summer crowds have departed.  With a satirist’s eye and a pitch-perfect ear for the social nuances of small-town life, it’s Pride and Prejudice for the Bumble generation.”

— Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and The Secret Chord

From the critically acclaimed author of Stepdog and The Fool’s Tale comes a romantic comedy that tells the story of one journalist secretly juggling two bylines for competing newspapers on a small island.

One island, two newspapers, and the reporter who played them both

Joanna Howes is a Martha’s Vineyard native who left the Island at eighteen and moved to New York City to become a writer. Now in her thirties, she reluctantly returns to care for her cranky, injured uncle. Needing income, she freelances for one island newspaper (the one Uncle Hank likes). But that doesn’t cover her bills, so she creates an alter ego to write for the rival paper (the one Uncle Hank doesn’t like).

The Vineyard has a split personality – part elite summer resort, part working-class small town. The Island’s two papers –the Journal and the Newes – are famously at odds with each other and reflect the seasonal schism in their reporting. Everybody’s shoulder seems to have a chip on it.

Joanna gets personally ensnared in a messy situation she’s assigned to write about for both papers: a wealthy seasonal resident sues the town for the right to use his private helicopter. When Johanna agrees to a cup of coffee with the witty, handsome stranger she meets at a zoning board meeting, she has no idea she’s made a date with Orion Smith, helicopter owner. Orion, meanwhile, doesn’t realize Joanna is the niece of his political nemesis, Henry Holmes.

Joanna scrambles to keep her disparate identities separate from each other in the tiny off-season community, but everything she does just gets her into deeper trouble…and further complicates her budding romance with the exasperating charmer she’s doing her best not to fall for.

A story about the half-truths we tell ourselves – and others – especially when our hearts are on the line.

“The most exciting story of skullduggery, intrigue and drama on Martha’s Vineyard since the last time Alan Dershowitz was snubbed at a cocktail party.”

— Peter Sagal, Host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and author of The Incomplete Book of Running

“[A] gem of a novel. . . . this rollicking rom-com unfolds on Martha’s Vineyard, which has spun its own share of fables. Quick, somebody call Hollywood. This one is ready for the big screen.”

— Bob Drogin, author of Curveball: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War


REVIEW:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

So when I was originally pitched this book it immediately spoke to me mainly because of the main character being a journalist on Martha’s Vineyard. You see, when I was in high school I honestly thought that I would be going to J-School at Mizzou and would end up writing for a newspaper in a small coastal town (yep, that was really my dream). None of those things ultimately happened, but it was really my dream for quite a few years. So when I read the blurb of this book about a journalist on an island it really spoke to me!

Overall, I enjoyed the book well enough. However, I didn’t really care for how weak Joanna came across at times. For having the success as a writer in New York City that she did, I felt like she should have had a lot more confidence in herself than she did. I also really disliked Orion’s character. He was nothing but a bully and I just couldn’t get past that. The actual storyline was decent enough for me and it read quick and easily. The setting of Martha’s Vineyard was really enjoyable to me – I felt like Ms. Galland really got the feel of island life across to me the reader.

Overall a good book that is outside my comfort zone. It was strange to be reading what is  billed as a romantic comedy when the romance didn’t come into the picture for quite some time. I think that ultimately helped my personal opinion of this one (romance is definitely outside of my wheelhouse).


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

N. D. Galland AP Photo by Maria ThibodeauAbout N. D. Galland

N. D. Galland is the author of the historical novels GodivaI, IagoCrossedRevenge of the Rose, and The Fool’s Tale, as well as the contemporary romantic comedy Stepdog, and the New York Times bestselling near-future thriller The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (with Neal Stephenson). She lives on Martha’s Vineyard.

Find out more at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING

Review: The Yard by Alex Grecian

The Yard
by Alex Grecian

The Yard

 

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 422

Read: Oct. 21-26, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

 

Blurb: Victorian London: a violent cesspool of squalid depravity. Only twelve detectives – the Murder Squad – are expected to solve the thousands of crimes committed here each month. Formed after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure in capturing Jack the Ripper, the Murder Squad suffers the brunt of public contempt. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…

A Scotland Yard inspector has been found stuffed in a black steamer trunk at Euston Square Station, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. When Walter Day, the squad’s new hire, is assigned to the case, he finds a strange ally in Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist. Their grim conclusion: This was not just a random, bizarre murder. It appears that the police – possibly the squad itself – are being targeted, and the devious killer shows no sign of stopping before completing his grim duty. But Inspector Day has one more surprise, something even more shocking than the crimes: the killer’s motive.


Review: I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I usually enjoy historical fiction when it is wrapped up with a mystery. I’m so glad that I did finally get around to this book because I really did enjoy it.

My one main criticism would be that we really knew who the killer was entirely too early. It was still interesting to watch the case unfold, but I’m just not a fan of knowing who the killer is so early in the book.

I can’t tell you how atmospheric this book felt to me. I really felt like I was walking the streets in London in the 1800s, I felt like Mr. Grecian really captured the feel of the city during that time period.

So overall I’m thrilled that I read this book and it gives me a new series to follow (like I needed that!!) But yes, I would definitely recommend this book to both historical fiction lovers and mystery lovers. I felt like it was a perfect blend of the two genres and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax
by Dorothy Gilman

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax

 

Copyright: 1970

Pages: 176

Read: Oct. 14-19, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Used book store

 

Blurb: When Emily Pollifax answered the phone that Sunday morning she quickly forgot about her Garden Club tea in the afternoon. The last time she had heard the voice on the other end of the line it had sent her off on a journey that plunged her into a wild tangle of secret agents and high adventure – an exciting change from her quiet life in the New Jersey suburbs. Now the man from the CIA was asking if she could leave immediately on a mission that would take her half-way across the world. What else could Mrs. Pollifax say but yes??


Review: Ok, so I had read the first Mrs. Pollifax book, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax back in 2016 and wasn’t really all that thrilled with it. But when I saw this one on the shelf at my favorite used bookstore I figured for $1 it wouldn’t kill me to give it another shot.

I’m glad I picked this one up that day. I thought this installment was much better than the first. I felt like I got to understand Mrs. Pollifax better. I felt like there was more meat to the story itself and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this installment, they really added to the story in a positive way.

I’ll definitely be on the hunt for book #3 in this series. I’m definitely glad I gave Mrs. Pollifax another shot!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

The Stranger GameAbout The Stranger Game

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Hanover Square Press; Original edition (October 1, 2018)

A literary suspense novel in which an eerie social game goes viral and spins perilously—and criminally—out of control.

Rebecca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the “stranger game,” a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense and disappearances are reported across the country.

Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may take her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was first pitched this book that blurb immediately drew me in. I had to know more about what the Stranger Game was and how things would end up playing out!

And whoa, let me tell you, this book starts out with a super creepy vibe and I was immediately hooked! I was expecting a fast paced thriller, but I was pleasantly surprised by a more slower paced, layer by layer unfolding book that really left me with chills when I was finished! I found this book to be extremely readable and there were lots of twists and turns to make this one a really good read.

I highly recommend it!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Peter Gadol

Peter Gadol’s seven novels include THE STRANGER GAME, SILVER LAKE, LIGHT AT DUSK, and THE LONG RAIN. His work his been translated for foreign editions and appeared in literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and Tin House. Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is Chair and Professor of the MFA Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design. Visit petergadol.com for more info on his work.

 

Instagram Tour:

Monday, October 1st: @thecityofdarkclockwork

Tuesday, October 2nd: @katielmae

Tuesday, October 2nd: @createexploreread

Wednesday, October 3rd: @bookishwinterwitch

Thursday, October 4th: @dropandgivemenerdy

Friday, October 5th: @novelmombooks

Saturday, October 6th: @bookclubwithbite

 

Review Tour:

Monday, October 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, October 2nd: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, October 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, October 4th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 8th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, October 9th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, October 10th: @somekindofalibrary

Thursday, October 11th: Openly Bookish

Friday, October 12th: @wherethereadergrows

Monday, October 15th: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Tuesday, October 16th: Helen’s Book Blog

Wednesday, October 17th: Sweet Southern Home

Wednesday, October 17th: @basicbsguide

Thursday, October 18th: @jennblogsbooks

Monday, October 22nd: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Tuesday, October 23rd: @bookishmadeleine

Wednesday, October 24th: Write Read Life

TBD: The Lit Bitch – excerpt

tlc tour host

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

G is for Gumshoe
by Sue Grafton

G is for Gumshoe

 

Copyright: 1990

Pages: 327

Read: Sept. 14 – 19, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Kinsey Millhone celebrates her thirty-third birthday as only she can – she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of triggerman Tyrone Patty’s hit list. As much as she hates to admit it, Kinsey realizes even she’s going to need help fending off a hit man and she hires a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-Driving P.I. who takes his job very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into a case that will lead her to the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal. And, in the process, will bring her face-to-face with her own mortality…


Review: This is the 7th book in the Kinsey Millhone series. I had read the 6th book a few months back and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was excited when this fit a Goodreads challenge call-out so I could get to it sooner rather than later!

Again, I enjoyed working the case with Kinsey. It was interesting to see just what kind of trouble she finds herself (usually because she puts herself there…). I also enjoyed the addition of Robert Dietz, I hope we get to meet him again in future installments.

I found this one to be a fast paced and enjoyable book that I really enjoyed reading. It definitely has me looking forward to “H” soon!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm
by John Grisham

The Firm.jpg

 

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 501

Read: September 6 – 13, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased used

 

Blurb: When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray – doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail – already knew. You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice – if he wants to live.


Review: So I’m going back and (slowly) reading Mr. Grisham’s backlist. I can’t believe I had never read this book before! It started out really good and hooked me from pretty early on. Don’t be daunted by that 500 page count … it goes by very quickly!

The old saying goes … if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. And that’s basically the premise of this book. I still can’t believe that a man who was as smart as Mitch McDeere could fall for all that and get involved with the Bendini firm – he should have run like crazy when all this stuff was told would be “provided” to him! But then we wouldn’t have a novel and where would the fun in that be? I did enjoy how the story unfolded and I really didn’t know how things would end up. I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy with the way the book ended.

Now I’m eager to see the movie … hadn’t read the book and never saw the movie! I always enjoy doing a book to movie comparison. I hope to be able to get to that soon … I’ve already seen where I can rent it on my Amazon Prime account (hey, I’m still really new to all this streaming stuff, haha!).

Overall, a very good book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Definitely recommended!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, Kinsey Millhone, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive
by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive

Copyright: 1989

Pages: 307

Read: April 9-15, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: When Kinsey Millhone first arrives in Floral Beach, California, it’s hard for her to picture the idyllic coastal town as the setting of a brutal murder. Seventeen years ago, the body of Jean Timberlake – a troubled teen who had a reputation with the boys – was found on the beach. Her boyfriend, Bailey Fowler, was convicted of her murder and imprisoned, but he escaped.

After all this time, Bailey’s finally been captured. Believing in his son’s innocence, Bailey’s father wants Kinsey to find Jean’s real killer. But most of the residents in this tight-knit community are convinced Bailey strangled Jean. So why are they so reluctant to answer Kinsey’s questions? If there’s one thing Kinsey’s got plenty of it’s persistence. And that’s exactly what it’s going to take to crack the lid on this case.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving Jean’s murder, the more dirty little secrets she uncovers in a town where everyone has something to hide – and a killer will kill again to keep the past buried…


Review: It’s been forever since I visited with Kinsey Millhone and so I was glad when this book popped up on my April call-out on a Goodreads challenge.

I had a lot of fun working the case with Kinsey. It definitely ended up going in a direction that I never saw coming, although there was a couple small instances that should have clued me in had I been paying more attention.

Jumping back in with Kinsey definitely made me want to read more of her and soon! I don’t remember her being so badass, but I definitely enjoyed it! She’s smart and strong, a good (and sometimes rare) combination in female protagonists. I definitely appreciate that aspect of her character.

I did jot down this quote from the very end that resonated with me:

If love is what injures us, how can we heal?

I’m seriously bummed that Ms. Grafton passed away a little while ago. I’m disappointed that the alphabet now ends with Y … but I am satisfied with the decision to not use a ghost writer to finish the series out (I hate, hate, HATE when that occurs.) I’m looking forward to getting around to G sooner rather than later!!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, G, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Law and Disorder by Heather Graham

Law and Disorder
by Heather Graham

Law and Disorder

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 256

Read: June 1 – 22, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

Blurb: Desperate to escape her kidnappers, Kody Cameron can turn to only one man…and he’s holding a gun. Outnumbered and trapped in the deadly Everglades, she has little recourse, but something in this captor’s eyes makes her believe she can trust him. Does she dare to take the risk?

Undercover agent Nick Connolly has met Kody before and knows she might very well blow his cover. Though determined to maintain his facade, he can’t let Kody die. He won’t. And his decision to change his own rules of law and order are about to make all hell break loose.


Review: This was the June selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads. Having enjoyed the last two months’ selections, I was eager to see what would be on the agenda for June. This one didn’t really do much for me.

I don’t read a lot of romance to begin with. So I was a little leery to give this one a go, but I figured it was free so why not. (Plus I unexpectedly enjoyed Beastly last month.) It left me with a definite “eh” feeling. I think a lot of my problem was that I found Kody’s character to be pretty foolish. I also felt like the storyline was rushed.

I’ve never read anything by Heather Graham before and I have a really bad feeling that this was not necessarily a good place for me to start. But I finished it and while it didn’t really appeal all that much to me, I’m sure romance readers will enjoy it.