Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Illusionists: A Novel by Rosie Thomas

Plowing through The Illusionists was like re-reading Gone With the Wind all over again...and I don't exactly mean that in the best way.  It's a hefty novel rounding out close to 500 pages and was divided into Parts - you know like Part 1, Part 2...and so on. When it comes down to it, I just didn't understand where it was going.  When I finally delved into Part 2, all of a sudden the story turned into sorta a murder mystery - what the what?  There were certain chapters where I was glued, and other's I was barely able to keep my eyes open - it was really just a flip of the coin for me.

I don't always do so well with period type novels, so maybe that's where I was struggling, but I just didn't get it and was fairly disappointed in the long run.  Man I hate having to admit that.  Some of you might really enjoy this novel, since I've seen some really great reviews on Goodreads.

Thank you to BookReporter for sending me this beautiful, complimentary hard copy of The Illusionists: A Novel by Rosie Thomas. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.

Description: Over the course of a brilliant career, bestselling novelist Rosie Thomas has earned an untold number of awards and the devotion of millions of loyal readers. Her new novel The Illusionists, set in London in 1870, is a thrilling step forward—a captivating tale of passion and intrigue in the theater world.

At the start of The Illusionists, we meet Eliza, a young, beautiful woman of limited means. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil—a born showman whose dream is to run his own theater company. Devil’s righthand man is Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. And then there is Jasper Button, the enigmatic, unlikely final member of this fascinating cast of characters. Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked. As Eliza gets sucked into their seductive and dangerous world, she risks not only her heart, but also her life, which is soon thrown into peril.

Rating: **

Recommend:  My personal opinion is to pass on it, but then some of you might really enjoy it - check out other reviews on Amazon or Goodreads and decide for yourself! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Who doesn't love a good nail-biting page-turner?! In all truthfulness, I'm not really a fan of starting a new book - it takes me forever to set the stage and envision who is who and what is going on.  But that so wasn't the case with The Last Breath. At page one I was instantly hooked and


For reals people.  This book was almost perfection for me - minus all the gratuitous sex scenes.  Ugh, why is that so necessary for some authors!  Gah!  It's like since Fifty Shades of Grey became a literary sensation, every writer and their mother wants to push the envelope with how gritty their love-making can get.  I guess I'm one of the rare individuals who thinks that a little mystery and implied sensuality goes a long way.

But apart from that - so stinkin good.  If you've read any of my reviews in the past, you know I don't like to go into details on what I thought of the characters or the storyline because I don't want to influence someone who hasn't read the book yet themselves.  But seriously I couldn't figure out the ending for the life of me and it completely took me by surprise!  Amazing and bravo Ms. Belle.

Thank you to Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for a complimentary advanced reading copy of The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review. Get your copy here!

Description: Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt. 

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope. 

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…

Rating: ****

Recommend:  If you love a good dose of suspense-filled women's fiction, then you will devour this!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

As cozy and snugly the fall & winter seasons are for curling up with a good book - they're also insanely busy!!  I really do want nothing more than to be able to get some more books under my belt before the end of the year and it's just not looking likely that I'll meet my 35 book goal for 2014. *sniff*  I might have been a teensy bit too ambitious this time.  Even still, wrapping up with Little Mercies brought me in at #25 for the year and it's been a great year of reading for me!!

A massive part of why I've had such a wonderful year of reading goes to NetGalley and all that they offer for everyday readers like me to be able to request advance copies of books online. Seriously, when things get slow at work - they.save.me.

I actually finished Little Mercies back earlier this month, but only have a free moment to write a little something of my thoughts on it.

It was so good y'all!!!

I've even passed it on to my Mother-In-Law who also loved it and then on to one of my best friends, Jessica. Intense, moving, heart-breaking, mind-blowing...and you know what's the most sobering aspect about this story?  It happens a lot.  I can't really go into details, I just don't believe in sharing more than what the synopsis already gives you.  But let me say this - I'm not a mom, so I can't relate on a personal level of how tragic and devastating something like Ellen goes through.  But even still, just imaging it is traumatizing enough.

Seriously, pick this one up you won't regret it!  I received my copy compliments of NetGalley and Harlequin.  I bought The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf a while back and now am anxious to dig into it even more now!   Little Mercies is already out now, so don't hesitate and grab yourself a copy here!

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

Rating: *****

Recommend: Yes!  But do keep in mind, if you're a mom to little ones this could be hard to digest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

I realize I've been quite MIA for a while now - things got a bit crazy with my sister's wedding last month and I was fairly consumed with all the preparations, travel and all that goes along with it. But I'm back now and ready to pick up where I left off and hopefully able to somewhat achieve my goal of reading 35 books this year!!

Even though I am a massive fan of The Memory Child by Ms. Holmes, I do admit I struggled to get through Stillwater Rising.  I don't know if it's because I had difficulty relating to the subject at hand or what - but I just wasn't all that connected to the characters.  Even still, I thought it was a hugely interesting story and really appreciated the perspective surrounding the shooter's mother.  We hear about these horrible school shootings and tragedies and always sympathize with the victim's families and their losses, but we don't often think about how hard it must be for the shooter's family to deal with the guilt or weight of responsibility that they must feel at being the perpetrator's parent or loved one.  \

This is the first book in the Stillwater Bay series, but I'm not sure if I'm all that interested in continuing on with the following books.  This one was already quite predictable and I'm pretty satisfied with how it all ended. 

There are 2 covers for this book that was printed - the picture above and then this one below.  I seriously can't decide which one I like better, they're just both so beautiful!

NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing (um crazy, back from my hometown Seattle!) graciously allowed me the opportunity to read Stillwater  Rising by Steena Holmes, for which I am still insanely grateful for!  You can pre-order a Kindle copy from Amazon for $5 right now by clicking here!  Stillwater Rising releases on Nov. 11th.

Description: After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship."

Rating: ***

Recommend:  I still think this is a great read and I for sure recommend!