The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

5 stars HIsorical Fiction

I read this novel and then, I listened to this novel on audio.  I really enjoyed the story.  I liked the character of Ellie as she was a strong, caring individual.  She could have walked away from the situation and started over yet she didn’t.  Ellie held strong and thought about her family and what was best.  I liked how the story moved from the present time period into the past and how the two connected.  Presented with some questions at the beginning of the story, allowing the reader to time travel, gave us the ability to see we could get the answers we needed yet, also gave us more questions that we were able to get answers to later in the book.

Presently: Ellie is planning on moving into a newly built home with her daughter, Raine.  This new home comes with a lot of memories although the house hasn’t had any family inside its walls.  Ellie and her late husband, Jackson were both architects and have spent the past seven years designing this house.  An accident claimed the life of her husband inside the studded walls of this dream home.  Now, inside this newly developed estate, Ellie plans on beginning their new life with Raine in the house that her and her late husband designed.   With her father close by, Ellie relies on him to help with the house and with four-year-old Raine but the emotional toll of this recent death still hits hard.  With other houses being built around them, there is one older house that anchors the development and Ellie finds that she already has one neighbor, so she will be all alone.  I felt this part of the book was more mysterious and adventurous.  I found that I read these sections more slowly as it felt more discreet and secretive. 

Time travel to 1965:  Ellie wants to do something; she has a fire within her.  Every summer she works at her father’s pharmacy but this year, she has heard about SCOPE and she wants to sign up.  She approaches her parents about SCOPE: “place nearly five hundred predominantly white college students in nearly one hundred predominantly black rural and urban areas in Southern states.”  This was part of the Civil Rights Act but her parents don’t care and refuse Ellie participation.   Ellie is determined to go, so she forges her parent’s signature on the form and she prepares herself to go.  What a ride this part of the book was.  I looked forwarded to this time period as the excitement never ended.  I was excited for Ellie yet I was scared as she went through some of the events. 

What a great story, I enjoyed how everything came together.  I think the audio of the book was nicely done too.  I’m definitely going to be looking for more of her books in the near future. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, Diane Chamberlain and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.  5 stars.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCOPE_Project#:~:text=The%20goal%20was%20to%20recruit,other%20leaders%20recruited%20students%20nationwide.

The Second Home by Christina Clancy

4.5 stars Fiction

What an interesting story, one that got me thinking. The story kept building, lies hidden beneath it all, how long could this deception go on? If the truth would finally be revealed, who would be left? As teens, they were friends. Michael seemed to fit nicely into their family and so, the family decided to adopt Michael. At first, this seemed like a perfect fit. The two sisters enjoyed having Michael as a brother now and father proudly showed him some of the items around the summer house which someday, he would now own. This adoption changed Michael too, for now he wasn’t the quiet boy he once was.

Leaving life in Wisconsin, the family would take off each summer and spend some time in Cape Cod in their summer home. Poppy and Ann look forward to this time every year and they can’t wait to show their brother Michael everything they do. I thought it was interesting how Michael initially views this vacation spot and how this changes as he got older. One summer, one of the sisters finds herself in a difficult situation. As I read these pages, I couldn’t read them fast enough, as I wanted it over with yet I wanted someone to intervene. The outcome was heart-breaking and frustrating to me but they thought it was the best way to get this matter settled. They thought that this situation was behind but it wasn’t.

As the years pass and the story progresses, their parents have now died. The children are now adults and Poppy and Ann have decided to sell the cottage in the Cape. I was steaming mad at this point. One of the girls couldn’t keep her mouth closed and the other one couldn’t open her mouth and talk. Holy macaroni folks! I can’t tell you all that went on but I wanted to speed read as things started to heat up but I didn’t want to miss anything. There are lots of memories in this house, good and bad but you just can’t walk away and lock the door and leave them behind. This was a great book for me but I don’t think the cover was very exciting on it.

Note: Tell your loved ones where your Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc. these important documents – are when you have them done. Don’t wait till you’re old or dying to tell your loved ones where they’re at. I want to thank St. Martin Press, Net Galley and Christina Clancy for sending me an arc of this book. This review was my own personal opinion. 4.5 stars

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

3 stars Fiction

Too many flashbacks, that’s what I say.  I may be the oddball out but I think this book could have been written differently had you wanted to put ALL and I say ALL with capital letters, all those Egyptian rules and information in there.  Don’t get me wrong, I like reading a book and getting educated at the same time but don’t present it in the way you did here by having the reader jump back and forth through time periods.  I did like the two separate stories but let’s keep them separate and then, converge them together. 

It was a story of what if. What if you’d taken a different path instead of the path you had chosen? That’s the question Dawn had on her mind and one she needed answers to.  Was her husband Bryan a good choice or should she had stayed in Egypt with Wyatt?

While studying to be an Egyptologist, Dawn meets Wyatt who ends up being her friend and later, they have a relationship.  Dawn learns one day that her mother is dying and she returns to the states.  While visiting her mom, she meets Bryan who is also visiting a relative. They begin as friends but it leads into a relationship, then a pregnancy, and eventually, they get married.  They have a stable life, they’re content, but does she still love him?  One day at her job as a death doula, Dawn gets a request from one of her patients.  Can she do this for her patient – the patient’s dying wish? This wish gets Dawn thinking about her own past and about her relationship with Wyatt.  

With her stable life at home, Dawn feels compelled to return to Egypt to see Wyatt.  Dropping everything, she’s off!  I felt for Bryan as he’s at home while his wife is off in Egypt seeing if there’s still some fire in her old relationship.  With tons of information about Egyptian ruins and mummies I felt overwhelmed at times on whether I was there to learn about Dawn’s relationship or about historical facts.  The facts were interesting but they felt heavy as I made through this book.  Would I need to know these interesting facts later and would they come into play later in the book?  I sure hope not as there were just too many of them.  Dawn was getting on my nerves as it felt as if she was playing now in Egypt while the rest of the team was trying to work and make some amazing new discoveries.  They needed funding; each minute meant money to them yet Dawn just needed to know if she had made the right choice when she didn’t return years ago.  Quit talking about the wrappings and the mummies, let them get some work done. 

This didn’t read like some of the other books I have read by Jodi. I liked the stories; it was the presentation of the stories and all the nonfiction information that threw me off. If you’re able to block out distractions while reading, this might be a good book for you but it wasn’t a good book for me.  3 stars    #TheBookofTwoWays    #NetGalley

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest opinion.  Thank you for letting me review this copy. 

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

4.5 stars Historical Fiction

I hope you’re happy!  I can’t tell you how many times I uttered these words while reading this book.  While Ellis Reed slowly climbs up his career ladder, the rungs that he has been using, are slowly falling apart.  The year is 1931 and times are tough all around, as families struggle to stay afloat during the Great Depression.  The uncertainty of their future had some desperate individuals searching for ways to survive another day while Ellis Reed was looking for something more.

As a journalist, Ellis is searching for his “big break” as his rise to fame wasn’t coming fast enough for him.  Armed with his camera and his knack for writing, Reed discovers his “big break” but unfortunately, things don’t go as planned.  Not thinking about the repercussions of his actions, he takes a short-cut to secure his “big break,” which in turn, escalates matters. It’s not only Ellis who feels the impact of this fallout, but those he had dragged with him.  Ellis walks along a thin line as he tries to right his wrong as the clock ticks.

Images of the Great Depression flashed across my mind as I read this story.  The desperation and the difficult times that individuals experienced brought deep connections to what played out in this story.  I could understand Ellis’ actions as he strives to make a name for himself and later in the story, where some of those desires came from.  I liked how as the story progressed, there were some surprises.  A great story, I can see why this book is popular now.  4.5 stars

A big thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark, Kristina McMorris and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  #SoldOnAmonday #NetGalley

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

4.5 stars Mystery

Lie. Lie. Lie.  Holy buckets people, can anyone tell the truth?  It wasn’t like these individuals were digging themselves into a hole with their deceptions, for they were already sitting in their holes.  They were now just wondering how they were going to get out of it, successfully. 

The “therapist” definitely had some unusual techniques which gained her some new clients but at a cost.  Avery knew how to be a professional, she knew which lines not to cross but Avery preferred to get to the heart of the matter and get results.  She was a therapist and continued to be one, even when they removed her license.  Avery had expectations, she was motivated, and if you were serious and willing to put everything on the line, she’d be the one to help you through your most difficult time. 

Marissa and Matthew, they were the golden couple.  I tip my head back and laugh……ha, ha.  On the outside, they put on a good show (like so many other individuals) but beneath it all, there’s a storm brewing.  Perhaps their storms will calm down and perhaps they’ll turn into a hurricane, who knows how the wind will blow. I thought it was sneaky how Marissa got Matthew to come into Avery’s office at the beginning of the book.  This got the story started for me and I felt that perhaps Marissa values her relationship with Matthew and wanted to save it.  Tennis Match: Learning more about Matthew, I began to think I was rooting for the wrong person, what the heck is Marissa think she’s doing?  They’re a couple because? This book was more of a mystery for me than a thriller.  Lots of fun with this book.   #thegoldencouplebook

The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub

4 stars Mystery

There was a lot to figure out in this book.  Does a vacant house troubled with the history of an unsolved triple homicide sound appealing to you?  I would think that most individuals would have done some type of research before buying such a home.  Let me introduce Nora, Keith and their family.  This husband and wife packed up their California home, along with the 2 teenage daughters, their dog and they found such a house in Brooklyn. Trying to grasp why this family would make such a move was just the beginning of my inquiries as the mysteries grew the minute this family took possession of their new home.

Told from a variety of viewpoints, I found this family a bit different.  Nora doesn’t waste much time after the move to sneak off and privately use her phone to call Teddy.  Who this Teddy is, I had no idea, but their conversation sure was close and personal. Who is Teddy?  Their daughter Stacey enjoys true crime and once the whole family becomes aware of the home’s history, Stacey becomes obsessed with it.  She was definitely into figuring things out including who the individual was, that she’s saw watching their house.  Individuals get introduced and strange things start to occur that I needed to straightened out.  How did this all pertain to the storyline?  I liked how some of the characters were able to make some discoveries on their own and how they acted sensible and clever instead of being crazy and stumbling around.  There were a few parts in the book that were slow but I did enjoy trying to figure out the various mysteries in the book.  I also thought that the ending of the book was rushed and cut-off, it just didn’t fit, compared to how the rest of the book was written.  The ending was a big disappointment.  4.0 stars

I received a copy of this book from Scene of the Crime Early Read, Harper Collins, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

5 stars Historical Fiction

That Opal was a hoot!  I couldn’t believe the transformation of this lady from the beginning to the end of the book.  I was grinning from ear to ear as I heard her, her spunk, determination, and compassion just fell out of the book.  Being a black woman, she knew exactly where her place was but that wasn’t a place were Opal wanted to be. If you think about the time period that Opal and Nev were an item (1970’s), equality was a hot issue.  Liberation, racism, and equal rights were being sought after and it seemed that everyone was on edge. 

On stage, I could only image what their performance was like and I would have loved to just see them up close.  I doubt any performance was ever the same as their personalities, feelings, and the chemistry of the stage all came into play when they took the stage. Opal seemed to be the one who pushed their performances, who shined, while Nev filled in where he was needed and he worked on other matters. 

Set up like an interview, this book is an oral history of the lives of Opal Jewel and Nev Charles, a singing duo from 1970’s.  I loved the book, Daisy Jones and the Six so I knew I would enjoy this book also.  The two books are alike yet they’re different.  I liked how this book was an interview which consists of flashbacks that told the story of Opal and Nev.  We hear from their friends and family, they speak about their ups and their downs, and we forget that this book is a work of fiction. As I read the book, I imagined hearing Opal’s voice as she talked about her relationship with Nev and then, I had to get the audio of this book to actually hear her words being spoken.  Her voice brought strength to the words that I had previously read, for it solidified what I had previously thought about her.  I really enjoyed the audio version of this book and the books was fantastic also, I got the best of both worlds!   

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest opinion.

Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

4 stars Mystery

This was dark.  I felt as I was reading this novel that I was being led down different paths, roads that never really connected to one another till later in the book. I knew immediately when Emma left Abigail at the party that she had made the wrong choice.  The beer is flowing freely, the bonfire is hot and the guests are ready to party.  Abigail leaves Emma behind as she walks off into the woods with the boy.  Abi tells her friend that she’ll be fine and that, she’ll find a ride home later.  Abigail never made it home that night.

So, where is Abi?  To answer that question, we’ll need to time travel and return to “Then” and get some history on our characters. Throughout this book, you’ll be rotating time periods from “then” and “now”, so don’t lose track of where you are. 

Welcome to Whistling Ridge, a small community, where not-even the preacher was honorable.  It seemed as if every citizen has a secret side of themselves, a side that only a few others see.  That hidden side can hold many different attributes and, in this town, it holds a great number.  From prejudices, abuse, phobias, anger and lying, these are just some of the issues that you’ll find on their city blocks.  I really find it interesting how all these individuals can live together in one small community and they can actually exist with one another. With everything that is dividing our country now, how can such a small town have such a high number of issues and still function as a community?  The history of these individual play a major role as they investigate where Abi went.

I, myself have never lived in a small town but my grandparents did when I was growing up and I visited there quite frequently. My grandfather owned the general store in town and we’d see lots of folks stop in.  I don’t remember hearing or hearing my grandparents talk negatively about their neighbors.  Perhaps, it depends on where you live and perhaps, they kept that information away from my ears.  I seem to gravitate towards dark stories and this one definitely checked that box, while also keeping me engaged and energized.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams

4.5 stars Thriller

Given the evidence, I’d have done exactly what Lena did when she was notified that her twin sister had committed suicide.  Sure, Cambry wasn’t completely stable but Lena feels that she knows her sister and that she wouldn’t commit suicide.  Cambry was supposed to be taking a break from life, traveling, living in her car, enjoying the world around her so, why would she suddenly decide to end her life by jumping off a bridge?  Then, there’s the police report.  This piece of paper raises too many red flags for Lena.  Why hasn’t anyone else questioned this record?  Do they understand all the phone calls Cambry made?  What about Cambry’s last message, what did she mean by that?  Was it just a coincidence, the contact between Cambry and the same highway patrolman before and after her death?  This was one intense read and I wanted needed to know the answers.

As Lena meets Reymond Raycevic on Hairpin Bridge, she wants the full account of what occurred between Reymond and her sister, when the two of them came into contact.  As Lena listens, the Montana Highway Patrolman comes off irritated for having to repeat this but nevertheless, he gives Lena what she wants.  Whoops!  Better slow down Mr. Patrolman, you might just not want to be so overconfident.  This is getting good as Lena is a great listener and she’s paying close attention to everything that he’s saying. She’s not giving up until she knows the truth and she’s not putting any trust in the words on the typed-up police report.      

Another fantastic book by Taylor Adams, an exciting pursuit that had me turning the pages way past my bedtime!  I received a copy of this book from Scene of the Crime Early Read Program in exchange for an honest opinion, thank you for sending me this book. 

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

4 stars Mystery

Love makes some individuals blind and stupid.  Claire claims that she loves Jack and Jack feels that Claire is the one yet, let’s be real here.  Do they think that they can hide parts of their lives from each other, when they’re days away from tying the knot?  I wasn’t sure who was wearing the better disguise, Claire or Jack?  I do know that I enjoyed discovering how they each thought that they had the upper hand.    

I was in Claire’s corner as I learned how closed-lipped Jack was about parts of his life.  Was he just wanting to move on or was he trying to hide something? She knew that she wasn’t Jack’s #1 but I wasn’t prepared for how this really affected her. The longer I read the book, I thought perhaps they might just be right for each another, as Claire’s secrets were disclosed.  

Setting in motion the events leading up to their wedding ceremony, the parties arrive on the island and I was in awe. Talk about money! It’s an amazing place but dang, this wonderful day was turning into a nightmare.  A nightmare that I enjoyed but the individuals on the island, weren’t having so much fun. 

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The author did a great job disclosing their secrets and I enjoyed the implications that these had on the individuals involved. A time for celebration, the main characters were on edge while many of the guests were enjoying themselves on the island, I liked how there was this mix as it provided an element of uncertainty in the book.  This was a great mystery that I had a hard time putting down.

Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. #HerDarkLies #NetGalley