3/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blunder

What I Saw and How I Lied

Copyright: 2008

Pages: 281

Read: May 3-8, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him … until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is … who?


Review: This is the May book selection for the MMD Book Club. I was excited to see it available at my library and immediately fell in love with that cover! I was really looking forward to it. Young Adult isn’t necessarily a genre I’m overly familiar with, and I had never heard of this book, but I was really looking forward to digging into it!

And … it fell a little flat for me. It was very readable but I had trouble reconciling the fact that this was a National Book Award winner. I think I expected a little bit more out of this book just because it had won that award. But my feelings overall are kind of …. scattered?

As I already stated, it was extremely readable. But I couldn’t exactly figure out what the author was wanting to do with the book. Young adult, historical fiction, romance … yes! All of the above. But then near the end Ms. Blundell added in a murder mystery and that’s the part that didn’t really fit the whole book. It also didn’t help that we had at least 3/4 of the book with all this build up and then BOOM here comes the mystery part and she wraps it up in a very short 1/4 of the book. It just felt almost as if she needed something to “happen” and that’s the direction she took? I don’t know. I just felt like that entire part of the book didn’t really fit in with the vibe of the rest of the book. At least that’s my opinion on it…

Maybe it’s just because being a 30+ year old woman, I’m not really the targeted audience for this book. Maybe it’s because coming-of-age stories are not my forte. I don’t know. It wasn’t bad. Not at all! It was a fun and easy read. Ms. Blundell made me feel like I was right in the 1940s with Evie and her parents. I really loved the post-war setting. My “problem” was really with the murder part of the book. It just didn’t work for me in this book.

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

Review: George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington- The Forge of Experience

Copyright: 1965

Pages: 345

Read: Feb. 7 – March 7, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased on powells.com

 

Blurb: In this deeply significant work, James Thomas Flexner has given life to the stony image of George Washington which stares at us so impersonally from Mount Rushmore, the dollar bill and the schoolroom wall.

With a clear, swiftly readable style, Flexner shows the wholly human way in which the character of one of the greatest men in history was shaped and how it, in turn, shaped his achievements. Able and energetic, impulsive and vulnerable, Washington from the first had major virtues – but he was also fallible.

Put into a position of leadership in the French-Indian conflict at the age of twenty-two – a position for which he was not yet ready – the young Lieutenant Colonel initiated actions which showed more bravery than good judgment. His hasty attack in the forest, on what the French insisted was a party escorting an ambassador, proved to be the first shot fired in the global Seven Years’ War. Yet each mistake – and success – of these early years was part of the vast experience which ultimately molded Washington into what Flexner calls “one of the noblest and greatest men who ever lived,” a man prepared to become, during the American Revolution, “more than a military leader: he was the eagle, the standard, the flag, the living symbol of the cause.”

Flexure covers forty-three years of Washington’s life in this volume, the first in a series of four planned to carry Washington through the Revolutionary War and on to the end of his life.

Vivid on the one hand and factually solid on the other, Flexner’s narrative absorbingly shows us the future hero as a callow youth, writing bad verse and in love with love. We see the era and the society which formed Washington and the individuals who mattered to him: his mother, who became an obdurate squatter on the farm he inherited; his beloved and ailing older brother, Lawrence, who married into the distinguished Fairfax family; George William Fairfax, who, in turn, married Sally Cary; and Sally, who stirred in Washington such forbidden ardor that twenty-five years later he could write her that none of the great events of his career, “nor all of them together, have been able to eradicate from my mine those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.”

But it was Martha Custis, the handsome, domestic, timid and loyal widow he married, who brought the future President that happiness of a serener order which made “domestic enjoyments” at Mount Vernon and effective counterpoise, throughout his career, to ambition in the world of fame.

Impeccably researched, this work quotes directly from Washington’s letters, diaries and documents in presenting the most engrossing biography yet of the Father of Our Country.


Review: This is my second George Washington book on my Presidential Reading journey. I have the other three installments by Mr. Flexner and I intend to eventually put together an all-encompassing review of the four volumes together. So for now I will just write up a few of my thoughts on this particular installment.

My chief complaint regarding Ellis’ His Excellency was that I wanted more of George Washington – who he was and where he came from. This installment definitely fulfilled that desire. I was glad to really get a good idea of who Washington was from his earlier years. I found it interesting to read about his mother – who was not exactly what you would call a supportive/loving mother. His marriage to Martha was also discussed more in depth, and I greatly appreciated learning more about the relationship they shared.

I enjoyed learning new things about Washington’s earlier years. But I also struggled to get through the book at times. Having been written in the 1960s, I didn’t find it as readable as more contemporary books are. Mr. Flexner made great use of direct quotes from Washington’s personal letters/diaries, which was interesting to a certain extent, but I felt that it bogged down at times.

A great portion of this book surrounded the French and Indian War years. As usual, I do not really like reading about wars. (Which makes me very nervous to read the next installment, which covers the Revolutionary War years). I don’t really care to know about battle strategy and things like that. So I definitely stalled out quite a bit in reading this book when it hit that point.

Overall, it’s an okay book. I’m going to reserve my final judgment until I have finished the entire series because I feel like it’s going to come out much better when taken in its entirety rather than just each installment individually.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Two Dollar Bill by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill
by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 349

Read: Feb.19-26, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Not long after Stone and his ex-partner Dino make the acquaintance of Billy Bob – a smooth-talkie’ Texan packing a wad of rare two-dollar bills – someone takes a shot at them. Against his better judgment, Stone offers Billy Bob a safe haven for the night but almost immediately regrets it. The slippery out-of-towner goes missing and someone is found dead – in Stone’s town house no less. Stone is now caught by a beautiful federal prosecutor and a love from his past, a con man with more arises than hairs on his head, and a murder investigation that could ruin them all.


Review: This is the 11th book in the Stone Barrington series. I’m not going to lie, these books are not anywhere near literary feats. But they can usually be depended upon for some good fun!

This particular installment saw Stone in some precarious situations. And at some point I was shaking my head wondering how on earth Stone would get himself out of the jam he was in. He made some bonehead moves. And yet he managed to come out on top. It was all a little unbelievable at one point. But hey, it was still a fun read.

An entertaining book that leaves me eagerly anticipating the 12th book!

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

Review: Seven Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly

Seven Deadly Wonders
by Matthew Reilly

Seven Deadly Wonders

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 543

Read: Jan. 22-28, 2018

Rating: 2/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: A legend of the ancient world decrees that every 4,500 years, a terrible solar event will wreak worldwide destruction … but whoever sets the Golden Capstone atop the Great Pyramid at Giza will avert disaster and gain the ultimate prize: a millennium of world dominance.

Now the Sun is turning once again and nation will battle nation to retrieve the missing Capstone … but a group of small nations, led by super-soldier Jack West Jr., bands together to prevent any one country from attaining this frightening power. Thus the greatest treasure hunt of all time begins – an adrenaline-fueled race on a global battlefield.

From the Colossus of Rhodes to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Great Egyptian Pyramid itself, unlock the thrills of Seven Deadly Wonders.


Review: This book has been lingering on my shelves for many years, at least 5 I would say. It sounded really good, but I have a feeling the 500+ pages kept me from picking it up to finally read (that and the fact that it’s the start of a new series, like that’s something I really need, lol). But it was a selection from a Goodreads challenge call-out, so I finally picked it up.

So what did I think? Imagine an Indiana Jones movie in book form. Yep, that’s pretty much it. It read fast and was fun, but there was a lot of filler that I think the story could have done without. Yet looking back, I understand why that filler was there – to set up the series. I don’t know. Sometimes I struggle to keep my attention on longer books.

So as I stated, this is the first in a series …. the question remains: will I continue on?! Honestly, I’m not 100% certain. I do have the second (and third) book on my shelf, but I’m not entirely sure I want to continue on. I guess I’ll leave it up in the air at this time.

Either way, it was a fun adventure book. There’s a lot of character development and the writing is good. If it was just a tad shorter it would have been a little more enjoyable for me. But still a good book that I would recommend to those Indiana Jones lovers out there 😉 … and I can always hope this eventually gets made into a movie!!

 

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, Jack Reacher, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Die Trying by Lee Child

Die Trying
by Lee Child

Die Trying by Lee Child

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 422

Read: Jan. 12-19, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: Jack Reacher is an innocent bystander – in the wrong place at the wrong time – when a woman is kidnapped. Now, he’s at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom, for this mysterious woman is worth far more than Reacher’s ever suspected. And though she doesn’t ask for his help, he’s going to give it to her…

Because ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a hero. He’s used to saving lives. But this time he’s going to take a few before he’s through…


Review: This is the second book in the Jack Reacher series. I read the first one, Killing Floor, nearly 4 years ago. Oops!

This one, for the most part, I enjoyed. I felt like the plot was a little convoluted and far-reaching. But I suppose that’s kind of what you get when you’ve got a character like Jack Reacher….But I like Jack Reacher the character. He’s got charm, and yet he’s indisputably badass at the same time. There’s just something about him. I honest think that his character is the reason I kept reading this one, because to be honest with you, the overall storyline was not really my cup of tea. Clocking in at 422 pages, this book was a little chunkier than I have been reading lately. Unfortunately, I also feel like at least 100 pages could have been cut out and not much would have been missed.

Can a reader like a book because they like the main character? Because that’s really my feeling on this one. I didn’t care for the storyline itself, but I felt like Reacher made the book worth reading. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more Jack Reacher … let’s just hope it’s not 3+ years before I get to it 😉

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Madness of Mary Lincoln by Jason Emerson

The Madness of Mary Lincoln
by Jason Emerson

The Madness of Mary Lincoln

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 190

Read: Jan. 8-12, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: In 2005, historian Jason Emerson discovered a steamer trunk formerly owned by Robert Todd Lincoln’s lawyer and stowed in an attic for forty years. The trunk contained a rare find: twenty-five letters pertaining to Mary Todd Lincoln’s life and insanity case, letters assumed long destroyed by the Lincoln family. Mary wrote twenty of the letters herself, more than half from the insane asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, and many in the months and years after.

The Madness of Mary Lincoln is the first examination of Mary Lincoln’s mental illness based on the lost letters, and the first new interpretation of the insanity case in twenty years. This compelling story of the purported insanity of one of American’s most tragic first ladies provides new and previously unpublished materials, including the psychiatric diagnosis of Mary’s mental illness and her lost will.

Emerson charts Mary Lincoln’s mental illness throughout her life and describes how a predisposition to psychiatric illness and a life of mental and emotional trauma led to her commitment to the asylum. The first to state unequivocally that Mary Lincoln suffered from bipolar disorder, Emerson offers a psychiatric perspective on the insanity case based on consultations with psychiatrist experts.

This book reveals Abraham Lincoln’s understanding of his wife’s mental illness and the degree to which he helped keep her stable. It also traces Mary’s life after her husband’s assassination, including her severe depression and physical ailments, the harsh public criticism she endured, the Old Clothes Scandal, and the death of her son Tad.

The Madness of Mary Lincoln is the story not only of Mary, but also of Robert. It details how he dealt with his mother’s increasing irrationality and why it embarrassed his Victorian sensibilities; it explains the reasons he had his mother committed, his response to her suicide attempt, and her plot to murder him. It also shows why and how he ultimately agreed to her release from the asylum eight months early, and what their relationship was like until Mary’s death.

This historical page-turner provides readers for the first time with the lost letters that historians had been in search of for eighty years.


Review: I majored in history in college. I had a few favorite topics in American history, and the time of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was one of them. I actually wrote a paper in my History of Illinois class about Abraham and Mary’s marriage. So some of the information in this book was relatively familiar to me from my research during my college years.

It has been a long time since I really read a historical non-fiction book with a somewhat critical eye. I took a lot of notes during my reading and one thing that really stuck out to me was the author’s obvious soft spot for Robert Lincoln. Historically, Abraham and Mary’s son has not been shown in a very good light for having his mother committed to the insane asylum. Some people feel like Robert had a sane woman committed just so he could save the embarrassment she was causing to the Lincoln family. Mr. Emerson has a differing opinion, and claims that Robert was just doing his duty to his mother by protecting her.

The student of history must not make conclusions outside of historical context. This is the principal mistake made in regard to Robert Lincoln. His personality, his motivations, have never been considered in their proper Victorian attire, but when they are, and when he is given a fair standard to measure against, there can be no doubt that Robert Lincoln was an honorable man who loved his mother. [p. 155]

It is not unknown the struggles that the Lincoln family endured. Not only did Mary Lincoln have to bury 3 of her 4 children, but she was also right beside her husband when he was shot. I’m not sure anyone would be able to suffer those kinds of losses and come out completely unscathed. Everyone does handle grief differently, but any way you look at it, the losses Mary had to deal with were substantial.

In the span of ten years, the former First Lady had gone from the White House, to a boarding house, to living as a homeless wanderer, and now, to an insane asylum. [p. 71]

Anyone who has read anything on the Lincoln family should have some knowledge of what is known as the “insanity episode” that Mary suffered. I personally feel as if Abraham kept Mary somewhat sane while he was alive. He was really her crutch that kept her from spiraling out of control. When he was gone she lost that crutch and that’s when her downward spiral really came to light. Based on the evidence from his research, Mr. Emerson puts forward Bipolar Disorder as a potential diagnosis from which Mary Lincoln suffered.

Looking at Mary’s early life, one can discern early manifestations of Manic-Depressive Illness (now called Bipolar Disorder), with symptoms of depression, delusions (of persecution, poverty and various somatic ailments), hallucinations, inflated self-esteem, decreased or interrupted sleep, mood swings, and extravagant spending (monomania). [p. 5]

Overall, I felt like this was a well-written, well-researched book. I enjoyed reading it and learned quite a bit. I found it easy to read. I know that this is not what my readers usually see featured on my blog, but I am trying to expand my reading into more non-fiction.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office
by Michael Palmer

Oath of Office

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 464

Read: Dec. 2 –8, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased used

 

 

Blurb: In a suburb of Washington, DC, Dr. John Meecham goes on a shooting spree in his office, killing his associate, staff, and two patients before killing himself.

On a quiet country road, a housewife finds herself compelled to drive recklessly, nearly killing herself and her passenger.

In a quaint restaurant, a kitchen worker wields his knife, unable to stop himself from almost severing his hand.

What is the connection? How can Dr. Lou Welcome clear his friend Meecham’s name? And what is the unspeakable conspiracy that leads all the way to the White House?


Review: I’ve had this one on my shelf for quiet some time, but had been putting it off for whatever reason. Well, to be honest … it’s probably because I’m not usually a fan of medical thrillers. I figured it was time to get to it or get rid of it. (Remember, my shelves are at critical levels….)

So this one started out with a bang for me. I read the first couple hundred pages rather quickly. And then the book started to take a more scientific route and I kind of ran out of steam. I can handle medical storylines, but you really start to lose me with science.

Overall this book was a decent read for me, but not necessarily a favorite. It was interesting enough, and the storyline itself was quite believable. I look forward to reading more of Michael Palmer’s medical thrillers in the future.

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

Review: The Undertaker’s Daughter by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker’s Daughter
by Sara Blaedel

The Undertaker's Daughter

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 320

Read: Nov. 26 –28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: NetGalley

 

 

Blurb: Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen.  Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: her father–who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on Ilka and her mother more than three decades ago–has died.  And he’s left Ilka something in his will: his funeral home.  In Racine, Wisconsin.

Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn’t heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin.  Desperately hoping to gain some insight into her father’s life, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father’s things before preparing the business for a quick sale.

But shortly after her arrival, one of the bodies in the morgue is vandalized. The dead man, Mike, was suspected of killing his girlfriend in high school, but disappeared from Racine and was never seen again–until recently. Disturbed by the attack, Ilka resolves to find out what really happened all those years ago….


Review: I hadn’t signed on to my NetGalley account in probably more than a year … I’m not exactly sure what made me log in randomly one day last week, but I figured why not? I browsed around a little bit and checked out my auto-approved options … this book was one of those. So I figured I’d give it a shot – the blurb appealed to me almost immediately. Plus I have a friend who lives like 30 minutes from Racine, so I thought it would be interesting to read a book set there!

So what was my opinion? This book was extremely easy for me to read. I flew through it in 2 days flat. But …. it wasn’t necessarily compelling I suppose you could say. I think I was expecting this to be more mystery/thriller than this ended up being. I expected Ilka to follow through on the “find out what really happened” part mentioned in the blurb. That whole aspect of the book seemed to take more of a backseat. Yes, we did “find out what really happened” but it was not because Ilka solved the case – like I was sort of expecting.

I enjoyed Ilka’s character to a certain extent. I didn’t care for her very relaxed opinion towards sex at all. And I didn’t find it very believable that someone who had been a school photographer back home could suddenly start dealing with dead bodies (some in pretty nasty shape) with little to no problem. I did appreciate her drive and resolve to turn her father’s funeral home around. But honestly, she’s still sort of an enigma to me. The character development was a little bit all over the place. Every character had their quirks that were discussed at some point, but I never really felt like I got to know any of them. They were all still shrouded in mystery…. maybe that was supposed to be the draw of this series?

I’m not exactly sure what more to say. It really wasn’t a bad book … it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. I needed just a little bit more mystery in this book. And more character development. Plus … it ended in a cliffhanger – just, no! A huge pet peeve. I’m not sure I’ll read more in this series as it is released, but I do look forward to trying out Ms. Blaedel’s Louise Rick series in the future.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Reckless Abandon by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon
by Stuart Woods

Reckless Abandon

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 342

Read: Nov. 18 –23, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Stone Barrington is, once again, right at home in New York City. But this time he’s joined by the tenacious Holly Barker – the lady police chief of Orchid Beach, Florida. She’s come to Manhattan hot on the trail of a fugitive from her jurisdiction. And Stone is, well, glad to see her, right up until the moment when her presence creates a great danger to both of them – and to their surprise, she becomes the pursued instead of the pursuer…


Review: I say this every time – Stuart Woods Stone Barrington books are no literary feat by any means. They are simply good fun escapism. Nothing more than some brain candy for a few days. And that’s okay. Sometimes that’s exactly what a reader needs!

This particular installment (#10 in the series) introduced me to Mr. Woods’ other recurring character, Holly Barker. And I’m not entirely sure I liked her. She came off as Stone Barrington in a female body and I don’t know exactly how that translates in her own series. Ed Eagle, another of Mr. Woods’ characters also has a small role in this book so I was introduced to two new characters.

This book had Holly on the hunt for a particularly nasty fugitive. The FBI wants him in Witness Protection so he can testify in some cases for them while Holly wants him for something like 12 murders back in Florida. I think most of my issue with this book is that Stone is not stupid. Woman-crazy, sure. Stupid, no. So the mere fact that he went off with Holly (who was half-cracked over catching the fugitive) really didn’t translate well for me. I think I just didn’t care for Holly as a character. Or maybe I just didn’t like the character crossover – I know they do that sometimes with the TV shows I watch and I very rarely like those episodes.

Either way, not a terrible book, but not one of my favorites in this series either. On to the next one … there’s only 30 something books to go!

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

Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl
by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 464

Read: Aug. 1 –26, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads

 


Blurb
: Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead. In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe’s former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.


Review: I was excited to see this as August’s selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads (especially after not being at all interested in July’s selection…). I had never read anything by Ms. Macmillan, but I do have What She Knew on my shelf. So I was eager to jump right into this one!!

Overall, I enjoyed the book. But I did have some issues with it. First, there was all this build-up to the climax and then I was ultimately let down. I mean, you have all these people telling the story how they saw it and then you just end it with a brief mention of an arrest and sentence … and that’s it? It was a little disappointing to me and I felt like there could have been just a little more to the story.

There was also the entire side story with Sam’s character – what was the point of him being mentioned at all? Ok, I take that back…. as Zoe’s attorney for her “incident” he definitely did deserve a mention. But beyond that it felt totally unnecessary.

I keep going back and forth wondering if the fact that I read this book in spurts every day with it being part of Serial Reads hampered my opinion of this one. Maybe then the flow of it would have felt a little more natural? I’m not sure. I’m still pretty sure that when you spend 95% of the book with the entire lead-up to the who-dun-it then you’re going to have a little bit of a let down no matter what because 5% is not enough time to wrap it all up without feeling rushed.

I never really felt entirely vested in any of the characters. Zoe was very off-putting to me. Chris was a slime-ball from the beginning. Tessa was irresponsible. Lucas was just kind of there. Richard was ridiculous. Sam was pointless. It was all one big cluster…. ha! I don’t know. I’m still scratching my head as to how I did enjoy this one so much. I did find it to be very readable. And I was very interested in knowing what happened to Zoe’s mom, Maria.

Either way, I did ultimately like this book and am definitely looking forward to reading more from Ms. Macmillan.