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The Secret Keeper – Book Review

imagesDuring a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

My thoughts on The Secret Keeper – What can I say? What can I say? This was my first Kate Morton novel and I am in like. Here is a time weaving tale of mystery and intrigue. I didn’t see the massive plot twist coming. Well done! Well done!! SPELLBOUND.

I love to read a good historic novel that paints a realistic picture of the past and Morton does not disappoint. I felt like I was in wartime London. I remember thinking here is all this devastation going on around all these people and all the while there they are trying to maintain a semblance of everyday life. Going to work and clubs and restaurants, not knowing if they would make it through the next air raid at night. CAN YOU IMAGINE??

Her characters are so realistic and reflective of many of people’s personality’s. Her first person accounts for each character in turn make you identify with their feelings and ambitions and you easily fall in and out of like with some of them.

Take Dolly for instance. A day-dreaming and over-imaginative person who only thinks of how to get ahead. At a time like that! It’s funny and awesome that you can start out really liking her and then realize chapter after chapter that she’s actually a spoiled asshole.

I loved the mystery surrounding Vivien. Even though you know there is more to her than meets the eye (or page) until her story starts to come through she is a bit of an inigma. I enjoyed the bitter sweet ending too. Not all those who love win in the end.

What I didn’t like –  This was my second attempt at a Kate Morton novel. I have to admit if I didn’t start the book on CD in my car on my commute to work I might not have kept at it. Her writing doesn’t grab you right off the bat. I find that you have to read for a long time before the stories start to come together. I’m reading The Forgotten Garden now and having the same struggle but I hope it will be worth the wait.

Why I Recommend It – If you like historical drama and mystery you will like Kate Morton. There’s no fluff.

Check out this cool video with Kate Morton discussing The Secret Keeper and her inspirations for the book!

About the Author – https://katemorton.com

 

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Teaser Tuesday – Book Sharing

MONDAYS

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB from Books and a Beat.

1. Grab your current read

2. Open to a random page

3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week I am sharing a teaser from page 93 of You are a Badass How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

“I think, therefore, I can create awesomeness. Or horrendousness. But the bottom line is that it’s through our thoughts that we create our realities.”

 

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Bestselling author, speaker, and success coach Jen Sincero cuts through the din of the self-help genre with her own verbal meat cleaver. Full of blunt humor, sage advice, and the occasional swear word, You are a Badass offers its readers new opportunities for growth through 35 chapters of exercises, suggestions, and hilariously inspiring stories.

From “Fear is for Suckers” to “Your Brain is Your Bitch” these chapters provide enlightening lessons: How to stop doubting your greatness, how to love what you don’t love about yourself, and how to tap into source energy to live a bigger life than you’ve ever imagined.

I’m really digging this read so far! Sincero is very funny.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesday post, or share your “teasers” in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

My 2016 Summer Reading List

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Ahhhh summer! Is it the time to read or what? Beach side, pool side or relaxing in a hammock. One of my goals this summer is to clean up my to-read list on Goodreads. I have 131 books on this list! Many I’ve forgotten about because I just keep adding more. My bad. In my defence some of these are cookbooks, reference books or business books. But if you’re a book addict like me you can relate to this problem. Raise your hand if it’s impossible to leave the library with just one book! Ok cool.

There is no rhyme or reason to my selections. Some are just for fun. A couple are on the more serious/thrilling side. I feel like 12 books is a steep order but I will do my best!

And so without further ado I give you my 2016 Summer Reading List.                                          

208933781. Hello From the Gillespies – For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….

232126672. All the Missing Girls – For Bookclub

Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

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3. Library of Souls – I’m pretty excited for the third instalment in this series especially with the movie coming out this summer! 

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

186024064. Yellow Brick War  – Because I’m a sucker for all things Oz. If you are too, Danielle Page’s books from Oz are a fun read.

Once upon a time, there was a girl from Kansas named Dorothy.
You might know her as the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone. She ended up in Oz, where she became friends with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. But the temptation of magic was too much for her. She let it change her. Her friends became twisted versions of their former selves.

The magical land of Oz is now a dark and menacing place.

My name is Amy Gumm. Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because I got swept away on one too. I also landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is Good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling: Assassin.

The only way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz—and Kansas—is to kill her. And I’m the only one who can do it.

But I failed. Others died for my mistakes. Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened and Kansas and Oz are both in danger. And if I don’t find a way to close it?Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again.

232785375. The Little Paris Bookshop – If you’re a book lover than what’s better than reading books about a book shop? …in Paris?

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

187749646. A Man Called Ove – This one has been on my to-read list for far too long! Time to check this one off.

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

254890947. The High Mountains of PortugalBecause Life of Pi was awesome. 

In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.

Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.

Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.

The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century—and through the human soul.

135389008. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap – A book about losing your place, finding your purpose, and immersing yourself in what holds community, and humanity, together—books

Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia coal mining town presented itself, they took it. And took the plunge into starting their dream as well. They chose to ignore the “death of the book,” the closing of bookstores across the nation, and the difficult economic environment, and six years later they have carved a bookstore—and a life—out of an Appalachian mountain community.

A story of beating bad odds with grace, ingenuity, good books, and single malt, this memoir chronicles two bibliophiles discovering unlikely ways in which daily living and literature intertwine. Their customers—”Bob the Mad Irishman,” “Wee Willie,” and “The Lady Who Liked Romances,” to name a few—come to the shop looking for the kind of interactive wisdom Kindles don’t spark, and they find friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book in good company.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap will make you want to run to the local bookstore, and curl up in an arm chair with a treasure in bound pages.

218536219.The Nightingale – FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

2782148610.Don’t You Cry – In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

646916511.What Alice Forgot – Because I love everything I’ve read by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

1125005312. The Snow Child – Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

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After You – Book Review

0143108867“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”
 
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

My thoughts on After You – I applaud Jojo Moyes. Very rarely am I ever a fan of sequels. I approach them with trepidation, wondering how these new chapters are going to effect my outlook on the whole story and I really liked this book.

I remember when Me Before You was recommended to me and with skepticism I read it. I am normally a mystery, thriller or historical fiction reader. Never do I pick up a romance type novel and think “oh ya this is for me” but I was pleasantly surprised.

Once again with After You I didn’t have any great expectations. I may not have even read it but because of my commute to work  I actually listened to After You on CD in my car and I found myself laughing out loud and then shaking my head. Moyes writes all her characters voices with such simple honesty and fortitude you can’t help but love them. You want to meet them. You relate to their stories and feelings.

I have read a few of the really negative reviews on this book and the big disappointment was that there is no Louisa and Will. Of course not. How could there be? I wasn’t expecting Will to show up. We know he is gone and that was part of my curiosity. How is she – the writer – going to do this?? You can’t go into this book expecting anything to be the same. Some of the characters yes but the story has moved on.

I will admit I wasn’t thrilled with Lily because she was exasperating to read and Louisa put up with way too much from her. The Lily story seemed a little too far fetched with the whole I need to meet my family thing coming from a 16-year-old girl who obviously had family whether she liked them or not. Her problem was not not having Will’s family it was about her being a spoiled unmonitored child.

So some of it did drag on a bit but over all it’s an excellent read.

Why I recommend the book – It’s a nice tenderhearted read for anyone who is curious about what happens next.

 

About the Author – Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30, she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992, she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University.

Jojo worked as a journalist for ten years, including a year at South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and nine at The Independent where she worked variously as News Reporter, Assistant News Editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.

Jojo has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. Since then she has written a further eleven novels, all of which have been widely critically acclaimed.

Jojo has won the Romantic Novelist’s Award twice, and Me Before You has been nominated for Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. Me Before You has since gone on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.

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The Red Queen – Book Review

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This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …

My thoughts- I’m conflicted. I liked this book. It has a captivating storyline. It is entertaining and well written. I didn’t find it overly predictable, though I had my suspicions as to what was going to happen early on, it wasn’t blatantly obvious. The author did a good job of keeping the reader guessing and following along.

You will love it if you are a fan of Harry Potter, Divergent and the Hunger Games because it feels like you’re reading all of them rolled into one. I have to say I was a little let down early on when I felt like I was having a book deja-vu but I won’t sit here and just draw lines of similarity throughout this review if I can help it. There are too many. Another teenage female, a tough poor girl from the village of S*&% finds herself suddenly “special” and she has to be strong for everyone blah blah blah.

Then you had the evil stepmother queen, the social class divide, the jealous pretty girl, the boy best friend from the sticks etc. etc. Oops I said I wasn’t going to do that.

While the whole blood separation was an interesting twist I didn’t find Mare, the protagonist, to be a very interesting or believable character. There were secondary characters in the book who were far more interesting like Cal the prince who made it all happen in the first place. Even the bad guy Maven was more believable in his part.

I was confused over the whole war thing too. If the Silvers were so special with their super-powers why didn’t they just go in and end it?

Thanks to the riveting ending I’m hooked enough to keep reading the series. I guess I was just hoping for something new.

Why I recommend the book – Because it is young adult fantasy fiction and I am not a young adult. This book is keeping up with it’s intended audience and they probably love it right down to the little love triangle. It works for teenagers or for an adult that just wants to have a light fun read.

About the Author – Victoria Aveyard is an young adult and fantasy writer from United States. She is known for her fantasy work Red Queen, which is going to be adapted into a movie. Aveyard wrote the novel a year after graduating from University of Southern California‘s screenwriting program in 2012. Sony Pictures teamed up with her to write spec Eternal
She tries her best to combine her love of history, explosions, and butt-kicking heroines in her writing. Her hobbies include the impossible task of predicting what happens next in A Song of Ice and Fire, road trips, and burning through Netflix.

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