Angeline by Anna Quinn

4.5 stars Fiction

When she took a life of prayer, I felt that this was an easy way out for Angeline.  Entering the convent, she would have very few choices in her life.  Living a life as a nun, her life would be structured, safe, and she’d be closely watched.  Angeline saw this as a safe option and as she prayed for those who were sick, troubled, or suffering, Angeline’s own horrible loss of her own family was still sitting in the back of her mind. 

Her comfort zone came to end when the convent she had grown to love had to close.   Angeline was moved to another facility which was more tolerant and liberal of the world around them.  The strict convent rules of the past, in which Angeline had become comfortable with are now cast aside and she now must learn how to adapt.  Dressed in jeans, the other nuns spent less time in prayer and more time in fellowship and other activities.   Were greater things in store for her here or was this a new challenge that God placed before her, to strengthen her?  Moving into a yurt, I had to smile thinking about Angeline adjusting to this more relaxed atmosphere. 

An item inside her yurt brings back childhood memories and I saw a side of Angeline that she had been hiding.  What brought this on?  I had to know.  The book picks up speed as someone begins threatening the Sisters in this convent but who would do that and why now?  As we dig deeper into Angeline’s past, we find that she’s been hiding something special from everyone.  Are these items related?

I enjoyed the character of Angeline, she felt childlike and innocent until her world took a turn.  The storyline was not what I expected when I started reading this book, I enjoyed all the twists that the author added. Thank you to Blackstone Publishing, Anna Quinn, and NetGalley for my copy of this book.  This review is my own opinion of this book.  4.5 stars

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

4 stars Suspense

This book got me going from the get-go.  I wanted to slap pretty, young Heather (have to keep it nice) and you don’t want to know what I wanted to do to Stephen. URG! I just couldn’t believe that Stephen thought it was okay to divorce his wife Pamela, to marry Heather.  Seriously?!  I know what you’re thinking, that this happens all the time but the deal is ….. Pamela has Alzheimer’s and is living in a nursing home.  Stephen is basically having an affair and now, he wants to get rid of his baggage. 

Meanwhile, Pamela and Stephen’s adult daughter’s Tully and Rachel are surprised of their father’s announcement.  How could their father act this way towards their mother?  The daughters decide to take some action to help their mother while at the same time protect themselves.  I enjoyed the many surprises and the endless twists this book provided.  I’m getting used to endings like these, not saying that I’m liking them but I feel it gives up readers something to talk about.  Great story.  4 stars   

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to Sally Hepworth for the opportunity.

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.,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

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

4 stars Fiction

What the heck!?  You can’t be serious? I cringed a few times as I read this book, for the main characters were walking blindly.  They lived in fear, they were risking their own lives and the lives of their own children as they dodged not being caught and deported.  Sometimes I wondered if they even knew what complications lied ahead or if the thought of moving backwards was not option so they didn’t consider it.  I was hoping for the best and I feared the worse was headed their way. When would it ever end?

It was sweet when they fell in love and had their first child but when they decided to flee Columbia, the choices that had to be made and their actions totally changed the tone of the book.  They were headed to America, where a better life awaited them, didn’t it?  Entering America, they were beginning their new lives as illegal immigrants, earning money under the table, and “just surviving.”  When the couple started having more children, I was getting nervous.  More mouths, more responsibilities and additional individuals to hide.  The status of their children was now mixed and I wondered, how would that play out when it was time to go back to Columbia.

With the return date on their Visa’s coming up, the thought of returning home doesn’t sound like something they’re ready for.  Do they really have a choice? This was an eye-opening book, as the family makes some difficult decisions which places additional burdens on them.  This book covers a lot of hard topics including racism, alcohol, some sexual assault and animal abuse (small section).  It was definitely a book that got me thinking, a book that I’m glad that I read.   I received a copy of this book over a year ago from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.  

4 stars Fiction

Saving Ruby King: a novel by Catherine Adel West

4 stars Fiction

The evidence the officials discover, labeled the crime a home invasion.  Ruby’s mother lied dead at the scene.  In this Chicago black community, this was just another crime committed and marked in the books.  Yet, some individuals knew exactly what had occurred behind the doors of this house throughout the years.  They knew the truth.  The abuse that had been silenced and buried for years was finally over and Alice was finally free from her husband, Lebanon.  Ruby knew it too for she lived it, day in and day out.  Alone now with her father, Ruby faces the reality that it’s just her and her abusive father.

Layla is Ruby’s friend and what a great friend she is.  Although Layla was told by her father Jackson, to stay-out-of-it, Layla can’t.  Jackson, a pastor of this community’s church and some members of the congregation know what Lebanon is capable of but their actions and voices are silent.  Layla steps up to help Ruby providing much more than I realized she had in her. 

Crossing timelines and hearing from multi-viewpoints, it took me a while to get into the flow of this book. I liked how Layla kept at Ruby, she never gave up and she questioned Ruby and didn’t preach at her constantly.  I thought having all the different characters and viewpoints was interesting and made for a more-rounded book, although keeping them separate took some work, on my part.  Set in Chicago, the book addresses many issues such as domestic violence, race, a church community, family and friendship.   I received this book from NetGalley and Park Row in exchange for an honest opinion (a few years ago). 

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.