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

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evenlyn Hugo

 

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 388

Read: July 30 – August 3, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Book of the Month Club

 

Blurb: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? 

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump-start her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious Manhattan apartment, Monique listens in fascination as Evelyn tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s – and, of course, the seven husbands along the way – Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear there her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.


Review: What. A. Book. And not necessarily something that is my normal reading, but wow … was it a fun, juicy read! I’m definitely kicking myself for letting it sit on my shelf for the past year!

I found this book to be intriguing from the beginning. We see Monique meet Evelyn and it’s painfully obvious that something big is going to eventually be revealed. And it’s not going to be something easy to accept, either.

I have no idea that in less than a week, Evelyn Hugo will finish her story, and I’ll find out what this has all been about, and I will hate her so much that I’ll be truly afraid I might kill her.” pg. 224

I had a lot of fun reading this one. Throughout reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the marriages and various relationships mentioned didn’t have some bit of historical truth to them. It was interesting to imagine comparing Evelyn to some of the most famous actresses of the 1950-1960s. I can’t help but think there was some serious inspiration there!

Overall, a good book. I think a lot of different readers will find this one appealing. It’s a historical fiction with a little chick-lit/romance flair. As primarily a thriller/mystery reader, I was quite intrigued throughout the entire book and couldn’t wait to see how Evelyn would wrap this all up. It was a good fun romp through some of Hollywood’s golden years!

Definitely recommended!

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4.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, S

Review: I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky
by Marisa de los Santos

I'll Be Your Blue Sky

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 309

Read: July 19 – 24, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Clare Hobbes is tying the knot with a bona fide catch: a handsome, smart, hardworking lawyer who adores her. Zach makes a perfect egg over easy, refuses to go anywhere without her, reads the same books she does, and tells her he will never have a happy day for the rest of his life if they aren’t together. So why is she so jittery? Is it just prewedding nerves? She and Zach met a year ago, and since the moment he popped the question, her life has been like one long, breathless fall. How, Clare wonders, did she get here?

On the morning of the ceremony, the bride-to-be meets a woman named Edith Herron. During the course of their spontaneous yet profound conversation, Edith gives Clare the courage to do what she longs to do: follow her heart. Three weeks later, Clare learns that Edith has died, and that the elderly woman has given her another unexpected gift – the space to discover what she truly wants – an old house along the Delaware shore.

Nestled in crepe myrtle and hydrangea and perched at the marshy edge of a bay, Blue Sky House once opened its doors to seaside vacationers. Though the rambling home has been empty for years, Clare instantly feels a deep connection to Edith inside its walls, which are decorated with old photographs taken by her and her long-dead husband, Joseph. While exploring the house, Clare finds two mysterious ledgers hidden beneath the kitchen sink. Edith, it seems, was no ordinary woman – and Blue Sky House no ordinary place.

With the help of her mother, Viviana; her surrogate mother, Cornelia Brown; and her former boyfriend and best friend, Dev Tremain, Clare begins to piece together the story of Blue Sky House – a decades-old mystery more complex and tangled than she could have imagined. As she gradually peels back the layers of Edith’s life, Clare uncovers a tale of dark secrets, passionate love, heartbreaking sacrifice, and incredible courage. She also makes startling discoveries about herself: where she’s come from, where she’s going, what she wants, and who she truly loves.

Shifting between the 1950s and the present day and told in the alternating voices of Edith and Clare, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is vintage Marisa de los Santos – an emotionally evocative novel that probes the deepest recesses of the human heart and reminds us that in our darkest times, the people dearest to us are the light that illuminates our lives.


Review: This is the August selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. Once again this is a book that I would never have picked up on my own. In fact, I had never even heard of Marisa de los Santos before this book was announced as August’s read. However, I was willing to give it a go (MMD hasn’t let me down yet…) and was thrilled to be able to get it through my local library.

I was not expecting to be so swept up in this story! It was the perfect blend of present day and flashbacks – a structure that doesn’t always work for me. I do want to say that this is technically the conclusion of a trilogy. That being said, I found it to read quite well as a standalone. I had no trouble at all falling in with all of the characters, and if I had to guess the only thing that I would have “missed” is how Clare and Zach got together to begin with. But the way this book is set up, it worked well enough to already be at the wedding without much background of the courtship.

I feel like Marisa de los Santos is an extremely gifted author. She definitely has a beautiful way of words. That said, I will say that the only thing keeping this book from having a 5 star rating from me was the stretch that it sometimes took. It’s hard to explain this without giving away the whole book, but basically the way the characters were all connected in the end was a little far-fetched to me. It was almost too cookie cutter, happily ever after for my tastes. I had to really push down the “yeah, right ::eyeroll::” feelings at the very end. I guess I just prefer things to be a little messier than this one ended up being. That one little criticism is really all I have for the entire book though.

If you want a happy, feel-good story this will definitely fit the bill for you. It was fun to work out all the questions that Clare was left with in the Blue Sky House. I definitely enjoyed it and will be looking forward to exploring more of Marisa de los Santos’ works in the future!

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

Review: What Remains of Her by Eric Rickstad

What Remains of Her.jpgAbout What Remains of Her

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 24, 2018)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girlscomes this chilling, harrowing thriller set in rural Vermont about a recluse who believes the young girl he’s found in the woods is the reincarnation of his missing daughter, returned to help him solve her and his wife’s disappearance.

I won’t say a word. Cross my heart and hope to die…

Jonah Baum, a professor of poetry at a local college in Vermont, sees his ordinary life come tumbling down when his wife and young daughter vanish from their home. No evidence of a kidnapping. No sign of murder. No proof that Rebecca didn’t simply abandon her marriage. Just Sally’s crude and chilling drawings, Jonah’s little lies, and the sheriff’s nagging fears that nothing is what it seems.

For Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, it’s something else. She trusts in Sally not to just disappear, not after they’ve shared so many secrets—especially about the woods and what they saw there. But she’ll never tell. No one would believe her anyway.

As the search for Rebecca and Sally intensifies, and as suspicion falls on Jonah, the disappearances become more relentlessly haunting than anyone can imagine. Because what’s seen in the light of day is not nearly as terrifying as what remains hidden in the dark…


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 I was immediately drawn to the cover and description. I had never read anything by Mr. Rickstad, but I knew that I really wanted to give this one a try.

And boy oh boy … is it a book! I found it to be so compulsively readable! I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what had really happened all those years ago … as well as how the current happenings were going to unfold. There were times that I really thought Jonah had completely lost his mind and was hallucinating everything.

At 400+ pages I expected to take longer to read this one that I did. But I couldn’t get to the end fast enough. And let’s just talk about that ending … wow. It’s one that I never. saw. coming. There were twists and turns that I saw and twists and turns that I never imagined. It was such a good book. I loved it!

Highly recommended! And now I can’t wait to explore Mr. Rickstad’s backlist … and I’m eagerly awaiting what he comes up with next!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Meridith Levinson

About Eric Rickstad

Eric Rickstad is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Silent Girls, Lie in Wait, and Reap, novels heralded as intelligent and profound, dark, disturbing, and heartbreaking. He lives in his home state of Vermont with his wife, daughter, and son.

Find out more about Eric at his website, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

 

tlc tour host

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Harry Bosch, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Lost Light by Michael Connelly

Lost Light
by Michael Connelly

Lost Light

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 385

Read: July 13 – 18, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: The vision has haunted him for four years – a young woman lying crumpled in death, her hand outstretched in silent supplication. Harry Bosch was taken off the Angella Benton murder case when the production assistant’s death was linked with the violent theft of two million dollars from a movie set. Both files were never closed. Now retired from the L.A.P.D., Bosch is determined to find justice for Angella. Without a badge to open doors and strike fear into the guilty, he’s on his own. And even in the face of an opponent more powerful and ruthless than any he’s ever encountered, Bosch is not backing down.  


Review: This is the 9th book in the Harry Bosch series. I really need to read these quicker than one a year. I distinctly remember how the 8th book ended, with Harry’s retirement from the LAPD. And I was eager to see where he went from there. So I was anxious to finally get around to this book to see how he was faring in retirement. I was not disappointed!

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It had an interesting storyline and I found it to move pretty quickly. Bosch is so not tech savvy and it left me chuckling more than once – and it definitely reminded me of my father-in-law!! There was also a very interesting revelation at the end of the book that has me looking forward to the 10th installment!

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what case Harry finds himself involved in next … as well as where his personal life goes from here. I hope I get to book #10 sooner rather than later!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie

A Vision of Murder
by Victoria Laurie

A Vision of Murder

 

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 296

Read: July 8 – 12, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: When Abby gets roped into investing in a fixer-upper, she has no idea she’ll go from real estate mogul to real-life ghostbuster. After the deal is closed, phantom inhabitants of the house replay a violent night from long ago that ended in the murder of a beautiful blonde. The only way to evict the house’s spectral tenants – and save Abby’s handyman from flying drills – is to uncover the dead woman’s identity and solve her murder.

Aided by her boyfriend, sexy FBI agent Dutch Rivers, Abby discovers the key to the puzzle is a hidden treasure lost since World War II. Unfortunately, Abby’s not the only one intent on finding it. As she gets closer to the truth, a madman shadows her every move. Now a race is on to find the treasure and solve the mystery – and only the winner will survive…


Review: This is the 3rd book in the Abby Cooper Psychic Eye series. I had read and enjoyed the first two so much that I immediately ordered the next three from Paperbackswap … but then I let them just sit. So I was glad when this one came up for a call-out on a Goodreads challenge! I was ready to get back in with Abby and see what kind of trouble she found herself in this time.

Overall I’m a little conflicted on this one. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I didn’t really care for the overall storyline – with the World War II hidden treasure and ghosts. That just didn’t work for me, but paranormal can be very hit or miss with me. So it’s not surprising that the storyline wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea.

I also noticed how angry Abby seemed to be in this one. At times I felt like she was purposefully ticking off Dutch, her boyfriend. It just got to be repetitive and annoying. I can understand that things didn’t go as planned with their planned vacation and then there was a lot of togetherness. But if they intend to have a future together, they’re going to have to figure out how to live with each other a little bit better.

So while this one wasn’t necessarily my favorite so far, I’m still looking forward to getting to the 4th book in the future!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington in the American Revolution

 

Copyright: 1967,1968

Pages: 552

Read: March 20 – July 10, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Powells.com

 

Blurb: History has blinded us to the all-too-human character of George Washington; in doing so, it has blinded us to the true nature of his greatness. We have urgent need to know this man we call the Father of Our Country. And now, at last, James Thomas Flexner has given us the biography that fully meets our need.

In George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783), we are witness to eight fateful years, as Washington lived them day by day and month by month. We see a Virginia officer catapulted – despite his obvious military limitations and his own protestations of inadequacy – into the command of an amateur army opposing an experienced European force under elite leadership. The fact that Washington was at first out-generated is not suppressed. His failures and reverses are not diminished or excused.

Yet even as we share the anguish of his unsuccessful battles – and the political unrest and uncertainty that marked the Revolution – we understand the slow but sure process by which Washington taught himself, through trial and error, to become the clear master of his English foes.

As James Thomas Flexner so brilliantly demonstrates, Washington’s command of the Continental Army was deeply marked by the extremes of his own complex personality: his compassion and his towering rages; his short-term pessimism and his abiding belief in the virtue of the American cause. By turns indiscreet, impulsive, and artfully dissembling, the General’s ruling mood was – as his wife Martha wrote – unhappiness: the troubled mind of a civilian in uniform, yearning for Mount Vernon, for his hearth and home.

When the war ended, it was as a civilian, too, not as a man of war or bloodshed, that Washington risked his personal leadership to turn back a movement that might well have (as has so often happened in history) resulted in a kind of fascism as cruel as the tyranny which it would have replaced.

To read George Washington in the American Revolution is to be in the vital presence of human aspiration and to enter into a drama of transcended interest and excitement. This is the story of America’s great hero revealed as all the greater because his human faults and foibles have not been denied their rightful place in the record of his leadership.


Review: This is the second book in Mr. Flexner’s four-book series on George Washington. I knew going into this one that I would struggle with it. I do not like to read about battles and wars, so I knew that the mere fact that this entire volume revolved around the American Revolution was going to slow me down. However, I didn’t anticipate it to take me 4 months to finish it either. And to be honest, near the end, I was definitely  skimming. I just couldn’t make myself sit down and read much at a time.

That’s not to say that the book wasn’t well written, because it most certainly was. The writing was easy to read. It’s just that my interest was not there for the subject matter. I didn’t really want or need such a detailed account of the American Revolution. I know that this time period is crucial to understanding who George Washington was, as a person and an American. However, it just ended up not being my cup of tea.

I am definitely looking forward to moving on from here in this series. Mr. Flexner definitely has a writing style that I find enjoyable. Hist attention to detail and research is superb. And while I’m sure that in the end this particular installment will be the “weakest” of the four books for me personally, it certainly is a good book.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier

Trick or Treat Murder
by Leslie Meier

Trick or Treat Murder

 

Copyright: 1996

Pages: 245

Read: July 2 – 6, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It’s October in Maine, and everyone in Tinker’s Cove is preparing for the annual Halloween festival. While Lucy Stone is whipping up orange-frosted cupcakes, recycling tutus for her daughters’ Halloween costumes, helping her son with his pre-teen rebellion, and breastfeeding her brand-new baby, an arsonist is loose in Tinker’s Cove. When the latest fire claims the life of the owner of the town’s oldest house, arson turns into murder… 

While the townsfolk work to transform a dilapidated mansion into a haunted house for the All-Ghouls festival, the hunt for the culprit heats up. Trick-or-treat turns deadly as a little digging in all the wrong places puts Lucy too close to a shocking discovery that could send all her best-laid plans up in smoke.


Review: This is the third book in the Lucy Stone series. I read and enjoyed the first two books and I was really looking forward to getting back with Lucy and seeing what trouble she found herself into this time.

Overall, I found this one to be a cute little read. However … if I had to hear one more time about Lucy breastfeeding the baby, I was going to lose it. I know that nursing is a special part of motherhood in those early days, weeks and months. But it got to be a little too much for a short 245 page book. I swear it felt as if it was mentioned on every other page. I got sick of it, to be completely honest.

Other than that one little complaint, I found this to be a fun read. I didn’t know who the arsonist was until it was revealed at the end. I enjoyed the storyline and am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series!

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

Review: Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Our Kind of Cruelty
by Araminta Hall

Our Kind of Cruelty

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 273

Read: June 29 – July 1, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Book of the Month

 

Blurb: This is a love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity. V was the first person to understand him. To love him. In return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s secured the right job; he’s found the perfect home; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He’s ready to start their blissful life together.

It doesn’t matter that V hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.

It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. As long as Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue …

Spellbinding and seductive, Our Kind of Cruelty is a darkly twisted love story – one that draws razor-sharp lines between love and obsession, between truth a perception, and dares you to pick a side.


Review: This was my April selection from Book of the Month. I won’t lie – I felt a little dirty selecting it because this was the quick take description from the site: “The creepy, chilling Gillian Flynn-approved tale of a twisted sex game and what happens when obsession goes too far.” A book about a “twisted sex game” is way outside my comfort zone. But then the blurb just immediately drew me in and I knew I had to have this one. 😀 Then it arrived and I set it aside with all my other BOTM club selections (which heavier on the unread side than the read side…) I was still a little unsure about my selection of this one.

Then after I had read some pretty heavy books I knew I needed something snappy for my next read. Something that would be a quick and enjoying thriller. I picked this one up mainly because it started with “O” and it fulfilled a Goodreads challenge that I’m woefully behind on.

I was not prepared to be completely sucked in from the beginning. I read it in about 48 hours and was just dying to get to the end and figure out what really happened. It was an interesting look into the mind of a stalker. It definitely highlighted the problems with domestic issues between men and women at times. But really it was just an interesting view into how a stalker thinks and skews everything to fit their perspective. I enjoyed this twist on the domestic psychological thriller.

I highly recommend it! (And don’t be put off by the “twisted sex game” mentioned. Sure it’s kind of graphic in a few places, but it wasn’t over-the-top in my opinion.)

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill
by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 375

Read: June 22-28, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X – meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah – in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further dance.


Review: This is the July selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I was initially a little hesitant to pick it up because of the setting. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything set in India and my knowledge of India and their customs are very limited, so I was unsure how I would take to this book. I can fully say that I am thrilled that I gave this one a shot! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I absolutely adored Perveen’s character. She was so strong and I just loved her. I obviously do not want to say too much about the book here and spoil it, but there was one defining moment in this book that was really the turning point for me. Perveen stood up and did something for herself that had me literally wanting to dance across the room in jubilation. It was at that point that I realized just what kind of character Perveen was – and she’s definitely one that I hope we continue to see in future series installments! As a woman, I loved everything that Perveen stood for. Sure she made some boneheaded moves at times (who doesn’t?), but for the most part she was level-headed and intelligent. Just a well-written, well-developed character!

I actually enjoyed learning a little bit more about the culture of India, especially what women have to endure at times. As a woman in America, I am used to certain liberties that women in other countries are not allowed. I find it hard to fathom this, but I also understand cultural customs. I found it to be quite educational.

Overall this is a book that I never would have picked up by myself. I took a chance on it and am so glad that I did. I highly recommend this book to mystery lovers and historical fiction lovers alike. It’s a well-written and entertaining book. It was easy to read and enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Definitely recommended!

3.5/5, Alexander Hawke, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Assassin by Ted Bell

Assassin
by Ted Bell

Assassin

 

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 590

Read: June 14-20, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Bookmooch

 

Blurb: Alexander Hawke, a direct descendant of the legendary pirate Blackhawke, is an expert on espionage and terror. A shadowy terrorist kingpin has orchestrated the systematic slayings of American diplomats, and as the death toll mounts, Hawke is called upon to avert a cataclysmic attack – while avenging a senseless crime that has left him devastated.

 


Review: This is the second book in the Alexander Hawke series. I had read the first book, Hawke, way back in 2013, so my memory of that was not very good. Luckily it didn’t really matter because there was enough background included for me to be able to follow along easily.

At 590 pages this book is way longer than what I normally read. The beginning was a little slower than I would have liked. But once the book picked up it was quite enjoyable to read and the 590 pages didn’t feel too terribly long.

Overall a good book that I enjoyed. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what adventures lay ahead for Alex Hawke!