Thursday, June 30, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

★★★ 1/2
"You could jump so much higher when you have somewhere safe to fall."

I couldn't wait to read this new book by Liane Moriarty - it didn't end up being anywhere nearly as good as her other two novels I read (Little Big Lies and the Husband's Secret), but I enjoyed it none the less.  A complex story of friendship, parenthood, relationships, and everything in between and what can happen when tragedy strikes.  I thought it took way too long to find out the tragic event that had happened, but the little girls provided a lot of entertainment and I enjoyed reading about all of the interwoven relationships between the characters.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Hurricane Sisters

★★ 1/2
"We were an imperfect family.  I knew that.  But at last we were on each other's side, dug in with a new and more profound commitment.  Our happiness was hard won, it was ours and I was determined to keep us whole."

This was the first book that I have read by Dorothea Benton Frank.  It was a decent, light read, but it didn't really go anywhere.  The characters all seemed sort of a like and I couldn't force myself to really like any of them.  I guess this book was exactly what I was expecting - a good beach read - but not much else.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Girls by Emma Cline

★★★★ 1/2
"Poor girls.  The world fattens them on the promise of love.  How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.  The treacled pop songs, the dresses described in the catalogs with words like 'sunset' and 'Paris.'  Then the dreams are taken away with such violent force; the hand wrenching the buttons of the jeans, nobody looking at the man shouting at this girlfriend on the bus."

It seems like I have been waiting forever to read this book!!! The writer's portrayal of fourteen-year-old Evie is precise and the insight into her young mind is beyond solid and one of the most realistic I have read in a very long time.  The language was beautiful and horrifying and gut-wrenchingly real.  I felt like I was in Evie's head the entire time and the general feeling of the book kept bringing me back to my teenage years.  The novel could have easily been classified as Young Adult if it wasn't for the very mature subject matter.  And that bring me to Evie's ultimate involvement in unspeakable crimes that I couldn't stop thinking about from the very first page.  She seemed so young to be caught up in a world completely unknown and foreign to her.  There was a part of me that didn't want to keep reading, but I couldn't put the book down.  A brilliant work of fiction by an amazing new author.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The House Girl by Tara Conklin (audio)

"Over the years she had learned to fold down rising emotion just as she would fold the clean bedsheets, the sheet growing smaller and tighter with each pass until all that remained of the wide wrinkled expanse of cotton was a heard closed-in square."

This debut historical-fiction novel by Tara Conklin intertwines two stories.  Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell is a slave on a failing tobacco farm in Virginia in 1852 and Lina Sparrow is a young lawyer in New York in 2004.  The two women are connected with Lina becomes involved in a class action lawsuit against slavery and beings to research Lina and her descendents.  It also comes to fact that Lina might have been a famous painter and that her art was passed off as having been created by her owner.

I enjoyed this story - especially that of Josephine in the 1850s.  I thought she was an extraordinary women that had to endure circumstances beyond her control.  I found myself losing focus a little when reading about Lina in present-day.  I really liked description of Josephine's artwork (and would have liked to see more development of this), but the lawsuit seemed out-of-place to me.  I felt like it was just placed there as an after thought to better connect the novel, but it felt a little disorganized and unrealistic.  Even so, I found myself fascinated with the book.  I loved the author's use of Josephine's thoughts in the beginning of the story and thought that the incorporation of letters and art critiques added a lot of interesting aspects to the novel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (audio)

"Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time."

Cinderella meets sci-fi / cyborgs / Beijing in fairy-tale retelling and the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  I wanted to like this book more, but there was just too much going on and not enough development.  The main problem I had was with the characters - especially in Cinder, the main character.  Her actions seemed very inconsistent and I often thought her decisions were based more on adhering to the "Cinderella" storyline and were not realistic.  I kept hoping that she would develop more as a character, but she didn't.  I also would have liked to see more detail and history in the world that the author created.  I did, however, enjoy the author's creative take on a classic fairy-tale and was interested in where the book would go.  Overall, it was moderately entertaining and worked well as an audio book.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick


A year after Arthur's wife dies, he finds a mysterious charm bracelet in her closet.  Having never seen the bracelet before, he begin a search to find out not only about the charms, but about his wife's life before their marriage.  This book was fun, easy to read, and just plain "charming."  I loved going on Arthur's journey with him and really enjoyed how much he developed and changed through out the story.  It was so neat seeing him deal with the things that he learned about his wife and seeing him reconnect with his children and others in his life.  A great reminder not to take life's simple moments for granted!

Thank you so netgalley, Harlequin, and Phaedra Patrick for an ACR of this book!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (audio)

"Maybe that's what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place."

I liked this quirky and funny and highly original novel - it was just so much fun to read! Bernadette was such an interesting character, but ultimately it was her 15-year-old daughter Bee that won me over.  When Bee's mother disappears shortly before that family's scheduled trip to Antarctica, Bee is determined to find her.  The book consists of numerous documents including emails, letters, and secret corespondents leading to the story's dynamic ending.  The last half felt a little flat for me at times, but the novel had a lot of really great moments and I loved that it highlighted a charming mother-daughter relationship.