3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, S

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea
by Rita Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 400

Read: May 18 – 25, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library E-Book

 

Blurb: In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.


Review: This was a total impulse read based on a Goodreads challenge callout requirement. It’s not something that I would have picked up under any other circumstances.

Overall I was not that impressed by this book. It was just “ok” for me. I felt like a good 100 pages could have been deleted out and the story still could have accomplished its goal. Plus I didn’t care how there were so many points of view. Some of them didn’t feel necessary to tell the story being told.

It just didn’t work for me to be honest. It wasn’t bad, and it read easily enough. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

The Far End of Happy
by Kathryn Craft

The Far End of Trouble

 

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 336

Read: May 6 – 9, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Postal book club

 

Blurb: Ronnie’s husband is supposed to move out today. But when Jeff pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned.

The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage – and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie’s fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family’s lives depend on the choices she will make – but is what’s best for her best for everyone?

Based on a real event from the author’s life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.


Review: So this book was a selection for my postal book club. I had never heard of it or the author, but when it came in the mail I was excited to give it a go. And for the most part it was pretty good. But this is for a suspense/thriller postal book club – and this book definitely did not fit that bill. So in that respect it was a little disappointing.

As for the book itself it was an interesting story. It’s heartbreaking to know that this actually happened to someone’s family in real life. I personally have never been directly impacted by suicide, but I have a close friend who lost a family member to suicide. I definitely applaud the author in being able to put her story down on paper. I’m sure it was in a way therapeutic, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to relive that story and put it out there for the world and all it’s criticism. That takes guts.

I thought it was a good book and it kept my interest, I was eager to get to the end to see how it all turned out. Although as a reader you pretty much “know” how the standoff will end it was still an interesting journey getting to that point. Overall I enjoyed this one.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer
by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 341

Read: April 24 – April 28, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

Blurb: Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.


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 originally pitched this book for review one phrase stuck out most of all in the blurb: “influential book blogger.” I mean, I felt like I wouldn’t be a very good book blogger myself if I didn’t read a book about a book blogger, right? So yeah, that’s basically what drew me to this book to begin with.

Overall, I found this book to be a really interesting read. My number one “complaint” (if I can even call it that) is that really it was almost 150-175 pages before I felt like anything of value had really happened. It was readable and enjoyable to that point, but I just didn’t feel like things were progressing like they should have been by that point in the book. Of course now that I have finished the book I realized just how wrong that assumption was (!!) – those first 150-175 pages were a lot more important than I realized at the time.

This book was a slow burn book; things were revealed little by little until the conclusion rushed at you and practically left me with whiplash. I never really did care for any of the characters, but that really didn’t affect my overall thoughts on the book. I knew there was something strange about Graye, there was enough information about her past to really leave me with a lot of questions, but I had no idea just how off Graye really would end up being.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It read easily and I found it to be a thrilling ride. Don’t let the first half of the book stop you from reading this one to its conclusion – it’s definitely worth the wait to find out just how crazy some things can end up being! Definitely recommended!!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Eliza

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours, U-V-W

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

About Only Ever Her

Paperback: 298 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 7, 2019)

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.

Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?

Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?

As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?

While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.


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 pitched this book for review I was really taken by the cover. I’m not much of a cover person, but I just felt like this particular cover was just so pretty! Plus the storyline sounded interesting, so I eagerly snatched up this opportunity.

I found this book, overall, to be a fast read. It was quick and enjoyable. However, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters who had a voice in this book. I struggled at first to keep them all straight. What made it even worse was that I never really felt like any of the characters were fully fleshed out.

Speaking of the story, I was a little bit let down by the overall storyline. When it was finally revealed as to what happened to Annie, it just didn’t feel necessarily “right”. I felt like the author was going one way with the story and then a hard left turn was made and it went another direction. It wasn’t necessarily a bad direction, just not one that I was really expecting. And that hard left turn made me really scratch my head trying to understand why one particular character was even included in this book at all.

So my overall thoughts? I’m kind of torn. On the one hand I liked it. It was a quick and easy read. And yet, I don’t feel like it really lived up to what it could have been. I’m not entirely sure to be completely honest. It was good, but not great. A decent read that kept me entertained. But it definitely had way too many characters for less than 300 pages. And unfortunately it’s probably not a book that I will remember anything about in a few months. Decent enough, but not outstanding.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of When We Were WorthyThe Things We Wish Were True, and five previous novels. She speaks to women’s groups around the United States and is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads (www.shereads.org). Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-seven years and are the parents of six children. Marybeth divides her time between the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the coastline of Sunset Beach, North Carolina. You can find her at www.marybethwhalen.com.

Connect with Marybeth

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs
by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 376

Read: April 9-13, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Teddy Fay, the rogue agent last seen escaping from an imploding building in Iron Orchid, has been considered dead for some time. But President Will Lee thinks Teddy may still be alive. In a top secret Oval Office meeting, Stone Barrington learns that he and his cohorts, Holly Barker and Dino Bacchetti, are being sent to the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Marks, courtesy of the CIA, to track down Teddy once and for all.

St. Marks is a vacationers’ paradise, but its luxurious beach clubs and secluded mountain villas are home to corrupt local politicians and more than a few American expats with murky personal histories. Stone and Holly soon discover that on St. Marks everyone is hiding something – and that Teddy Fay may be hiding in plain sight.


Review: This is the 14th book in the Stone Barrington series. These are total brain candy books for me and this one fit the bill perfectly for that.

I have not read Iron Orchid. I didn’t know how that would affect my enjoyment of this book. I can tell you that I had little to no trouble to following this story line. Sure, I didn’t know much background on Teddy Fay, but the way that this story was set up, you really didn’t need to.

I think this is the third time that Holly Barker has made her way into a Stone Barrington book. And now we’ve got Will Lee entering into the Stone Barrington series. I don’t know, I just don’t really care for character cross-overs in series books. I don’t care for it in TV shows either, so I think it’s just a personal preference of mine. Either way … the way this book ends, Teddy Fay may make another appearance in a future book.

Overall, this book was good. As usual it read quickly and easily. It kept my attention throughout. The plot line was interesting. A good solid installment in the Stone Barrington series. I’m definitely looking forward to #15!

 

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

Review: 15th Affair by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 351

Read: March 25 – 28, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased at Goodwill

 
Blurb: Lindsay Boxer has a beautiful baby daughter and a husband she loves unconditionally. Always focused on her career as a San Francisco police detective, she never wondered what domestic bliss might feel lie, but she’s never been happier. She can’t imagine that a brutal murder at a downtown luxury hotel and the disappearance of a gorgeous blonde woman from the scene would have anything to do with her own life and marriage – yet Lindsay can’t ignore disturbing clues that hit very close to home.

When an explosive tragedy plunges San Francisco into chaos, Lindsay is pressed to investigate a criminal plot that stretches around the globe, and she again finds herself following signs that lead to her own front door. Fighting powerful enemies trying to protect their operatives and conceal the truth at all costs, Lindsay turns to the Women’s Murder Club for help as she desperately searches for the elusive and deadly blonde … before she loses her husband for good.


Review: This is the 15th book in the Women’s Murder Club series. Overall I’ve enjoyed these books, so I was looking forward to jumping back in with Lindsay and her crew. To be completely honest, I picked this one up because I wanted a quick and easy read near the end of March that I could finish before the start of April. I can always count on Mr. Patterson for a fast-paced thriller that I can fly through.

This particular installment … I don’t know. Like, I enjoyed it, but I also really struggled with it. As a mother of two young children and a woman who works outside the house, I can’t imagine working the kind of hours that Lindsay does. And then she didn’t have Joe in this particular installment to help her out and a lot was falling on her next-door nanny. And I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the twist that happens between her and Joe. It definitely puts a big question mark onto her relationship with him and the book leaves a big hole in regards to that as well (darn cliffhangers!).

I think it all boils down to the fact that I really miss the earlier books in this series – when the Women’s Murder Club was an actual thing. With those ladies banding together and solving the cases. That just doesn’t happen anymore in these later books. And I get that characters (like people in real life) do grow and go different ways in life, but I also feel like this particular series was really founded on that and now that that particular part of the series is gone it’s leaving something missing.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Back to School Murder by Leslie Meier

Back to School Murder
by Leslie Meier

Back to School Murder

Copyright: 1997

Pages: 268

Read: Feb. 3 – 6, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It’s back to school time in the peaceful Maine town of Tinker’s Cove, and for mother-of-four Lucy Stone it isn’t a moment too soon. But trouble at the local elementary school soon has the sometime crime-solver juggling family, job, and night classes with another mystery to solve. And it starts with a bang.

A bob goes off with the noon lunch bell, but not before all the kids are safely evacuated, and Carol Crane, the new assistant principal, is hailed as a hero. But days later, Carol is found murdered and everyone is stunned when the most popular teacher at the school is arrested for the crime. However, not everyone is buying the open-and-shut case, including Lucy Stone, who senses there’s more to things than meets the eye.

It soon becomes clear that Lucy is flirting with danger, as sizzling secrets and explosive surprises provide a primer for the most diabolical of motives. Hot on the trail of a clever killer, the dedicated mom and seasoned sleuth must harness the courage and cool aplomb to uncover a crime that just might give her an education in the fine art of murder.


Review: This is the 4th book in the Lucy Stone series. So far I’ve really enjoyed this “cozy” mystery series. (I feel a need to clarify “cozy” here, because while technically classified as a cozy mystery, these books don’t feel as cookie-cutter cozy as others do – that’s probably why I’m so drawn to these books!) I really enjoy Lucy’s character.

In this particular installment, Lucy is really struggling with herself as a woman – not just a mom. I can totally relate. However, she made some boneheaded moves in this book that I didn’t care much for … hopefully she got all that out of her system. Anyway. The one thing that I really struggled with in this book was who the killer ended up being. It just seemed a little far-fetched to me. There were three other perfectly good suspects … and yet the actual killer came out of left field. And it just didn’t feel right to me. I usually love a good twist, but this twist didn’t really work for me.

All that said, it was still a fun read. I enjoyed catching up with Lucy and I’m really looking forward to seeing her continue on at the newspaper in town. I think that will add a lot more depth to the series. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on. While this one’s storyline probably wasn’t up to par with the previous three, I did still enjoy it. Overall, a fun and easy read.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, J, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Injustice for All by J.A. Jance

Injustice for All
by J.A. Jance

injustice for all

 

Copyright: 1986

Pages: 376

Read: Jan 24 – 28, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It was like a scene from a movie: the beautiful blond screaming on a Washington beach, a dead man lying at her feet; the dashing Homicide detective arriving to offer kindness and solace to the distressed lady. What it wasn’t was a restful vacation for J.P. Beaumont. And now a murderous mix of politics and passion is turning Beau’s holiday into a nightmare – and leading the dedicated Seattle cop into the path of a killer whose bloodlust is rapidly becoming an obsession.


Review: This is the second book in the J.P. Beaumont series. I read and enjoyed the first book, Until Proven Guilty, last year so I was looking forward to jumping back in with Beau.

Beau probably isn’t any different from any of the other male detective protagonists that I follow religiously, but he certainly feels different. I like his character. And his partner. And his attorney. Maybe that’s the difference … I really like all of the supporting characters in addition to him.

Either way, this book was an interesting storyline. Not necessarily all that surprising when the ending was revealed, but it was still enjoyable to work the case with Beau. He had a lot of obstacles that he had to work around in order to get to that final conclusion, so that was interesting as well.

Just a good, solid read in my opinion. Nothing truly new and exciting, but enjoyable and entertaining in my opinion. For a book published in 1986, it doesn’t have that dated feel that some of the other book series I read have. So I enjoyed this one and am definitely looking forward to continuing on with Beau in the future!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

Fresh Disasters
by Stuart Woods

fresh disasters

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 277

Read: Jan 15 – 24, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library Book Sale

 

Blurb: Stone embarks on his most dangerous adventure yet when a chance encounter with the wrong man sends him straight into the heart of New York’s Mafia underworld.

It starts as just another late night at Elaine’s and ends with the hapless Herbie Fisher, the bane of his existence. Stone finds that what should have been a throwaway case instead leads right to a powerful mob boss with a notoriously bad temper and long reach. Fortunately for Stone, the twists of the case also take a more congenial turn – sending a little romance his way, and giving him another opportunity to try to rescue a beautiful woman in distress. But as the danger deepens, Stone is left to wonder if he can disentangle himself from this lawless mess before he winds up – as his friend Dino likes to put it – “at the bottom of Sheepshead Bay with a concrete block up his ass.”

With the often hilarious action, razor-sharp characters, and crackling dialogue that are his hallmarks, Fresh Disasters is Stuart Woods at the pleasurable height of his storytelling powers.


Review: This is the 13th book in the Stone Barrington series. I can’t lie … the Stone Barrington series is definitely one of my reading guilty pleasures. They’re definitely mindless entertainment. But they usually read relatively fast and are enjoyable.

This particular installment I had a love-hate relationship with. First, we find Stone sleeping with 3 different women in this book. Clocking in at 277 pages, that’s got to be some kind of record, even for Stone Barrington’s standards. I’ll give him the first two, but it was the third one that bothered me the most. I’m no prude, but come on, at some point it doesn’t feel believable that Stone can (and does) hop into bed with almost every woman he encounters. But then you’ve got the Herbie Fisher character … and it kind of makes up for it. Stone groans every time Herbie comes into his life, and as the reader, I can’t help but giggle. He’s a likable character who keeps things interesting for Stone.

So yeah, I’d say another decent installment in this series. As I’ve said before of these books, they are no literary feats … but they are just plain fun!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees
by Jon Cohen

harry's trees

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 428

Read: Jan 4 – 14, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy – Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements – a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive – come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.


Review: This book is the January selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. As usual, this selection is way outside my normal reading. It’s billed on Goodreads as magical realism. I was a little leery to take this one on, but having skipped the last few months I knew I wanted to at least give this one a shot – it didn’t sound terrible, just not necessarily my norm.

So what did I think? Well, ultimately, it wasn’t a bad book. In fact the first half of the book really swept me up and I was really enjoying it. And then right around the time that Oriana and Harry put their “scheme” into motion it kind of dropped off for me. I think it was right around that time that I could see the obvious about how the ending would happen – and for the most part, I nailed it. I don’t like predictability in my endings, and this one was just a little too predictable for my personal taste.

The book itself is well written and thought out.  The characters were all well-developed and each had their own interesting story. The character development was definitely a big part of this book and that was probably my favorite part about the entire book. I can definitely see the “magic” of this book, but I had a hard time buying into it personally.