Tuesday, December 20, 2016

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were SleepingYou wake up to find the man beside you is dead.   He is not your husband. This is not your bed.  What do you do?  Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.  But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.
 
Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.  But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.  Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?
 


This is one of those books that you just can't stop reading until it answers all your questions!  I needed to know what was going to happen, however there was just something that kept me from giving this book a five star rating.  While I wanted to know, I guess I didn't feel invested in the characters enough to feel connected to them.  I loved the twists and it kept me guessing, which is exactly what I enjoy and expect in a book like this.  I will continue to read title by Kathryn Croft because I have not been disappointed!  

              * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Fresh Out of Amazing

Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God's Unexpected InvitationYou’re Invited to Savor Some Grace Today

What do you do when everyone expects you to be amazing…and you’ve got nothing left to give? It’s an issue all busy women share—that pressure to always be a go-getter when sometimes all you want to do is get going (and stay gone for a long time).

Join author and speaker Stacey Thacker as she walks you through God’s mercies and shows you how to identify what’s dragging you down so you can find the specific encouragement you need increase your trust in Jesus by learning practical ways to rest when you’re depleted accept the invitation to see God big when you’re fresh out of amazing Whether you’re short on time, energy, motivation, hope, or all of the above, only one thing can bring your weary spirit back to life: Jesus


I found this title to be enjoyable, but much of the content was ideas and thoughts I have heard before.  I could see giving this title to a new Christian or someone who has recently found their way back to Christ, but it just didn't give me any new insights so I wasn't blown away.  The writing style was easy to read and repetitive at times, but I think that was needed to bring the theme of the book together.  The writer is a blogger and it read like a blog in many ways, just wished for a bit more.    

            * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
   

Word Writers: Philippians

Word Writers: Philippians: Experience the Bible . . . Writing Word by WordThe book of Philippians calls you to see beyond your present circumstances and discover the authentic joy awaiting you in Christ. Get ready to explore this uplifting book through the tried-and-tested inductive study method—with an added writing step to help you treasure each word!

In this exciting Bible study (complete with devotions, questions, and blank pages in the back), you will...

READ—Find out what these verses say.
REFLECT—Discover what these verses mean.
RESPOND—Apply these verses to your everyday life.
WRITE—Rewrite these verses to better remember them.

As you dive into Philippians you will learn what God's Word says about walking in humility and claiming your eternal hope.

 I must be honest in reviewing this book by saying that I enjoyed the actual devotional writing by the author, but after a few days of re-writing the scripture I gave that part up.  I found myself dreading that part and that's not how I want to start my devotional time.  While I understand the reasoning, I would have much preferred to write out a key verse or thought each day.  So while I didn't use the resource in the way the writer intended, I did find each day to be insightful and unique.  I appreciated the ways for finding deeper joy in each section because it was applicable to my life.  I plan to read the Ephesians study next.   

          * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed DoorsEveryone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

This story made me sad.  Sad to think that there could be people out there in a marriage like this.  While this book is often compared to Gone Girl, I tend to disagree.  Gone Girl seemed a bit far-fetched, but this actually felt like it could happen.  It just made me think, is this happening around me and I have no idea?  I was amazed how fast I was able to read this book, it was smooth and effortless.  I found myself almost anxious at times for the place that Grace was in with no hope.  This is exactly the type of story I enjoy and I plan to seek out other similar titles in the future.        

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *



Monday, October 24, 2016

The Light of Hidden Flowers

The Light of Hidden Flowers 
Book-smart Melissa Fletcher lives a predictable life in her hometown, working behind the scenes for her charismatic father in a financial career that makes perfect sense. But when her dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Missy is forced to step up and take over as his primary caregiver and the principal of the firm.

After her father’s death, Missy finds a letter from him in which he praises her for being a dutiful daughter but admonishes her for not taking any risks in life.

Devastated, Missy packs her suitcase and heads for Italy. There she meets a new friend who proposes a radical idea. Soon, Missy finds herself in impoverished India, signing away her inheritance and betting on a risky plan while rekindling a lost love.


This was a solid 4-star read for me.  In fact, I can't even tell you one thing that I would have changed to make it a 5-star, except to say that there was just a something missing for me to bump it up that extra star.  The writing was well done, I would say it was a little longer than it needed to be.  It was a beautiful story of different people finding their true self through life changes, heartache and exploration.  All this came together nicely and maybe it was just a little too nice.  I would highly recommend this novel to someone who wants more meat than the typical chick-lit provides.  Overall, I'm very glad I read this novel.
     
* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

I am back for my second round of Dewey's 24 hour readathon.  Like last time, the hubby is at work so I will get as much reading done as my 8 and 4 year old will allow!  I am not setting a specific TBR, other than finishing The Light of Hidden Flowers by Jennifer Handford.  I would like to start The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, but I just created a spreadsheet of all the Netgalley books I need to review and realized I better buckle down on those as well.  So, that's the plan at this point.  My start time is 8 am, so I'm putting the boys to bed late with hopes that they will sleep in and I will get an early start.  Last time I was able to read a little over 3 hours and about 300 pages, so I'd like to meet of exceed that if possible and I will call it a success!  Thanks again to all who dedicate their time to running this 24 hours.  My plan is to update here with totals as often as I can as well as on Twitter if I can do that without getting distracted.  Best of luck to my fellow readers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Things We Wish Were True


The Things We Wish Were TrueIn an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.
Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

Last year I read Marybeth Whalen's Sunset Beach series and really enjoyed it.  So I went into this novel expecting something similar.  While I enjoyed the book, I couldn't help wishing it would have followed a structure closer to the other titles I had read.  What I loved about the Sunset Beach series was the way they all revolved around a common town, but could stand independently as well.  I think I would have enjoyed this book more had she only focused on a couple characters, developed them completely and then returned to Sycamore Glen with different characters in a second book.  I wanted to feel more invested in each person and their story line, but it just changed to quickly and dealt with too much.  I would have loved to dive deeper with each person and studied them more.  For instance, the character Zell refers to her two sons throughout the book, but then all of a sudden it's implied that she has a daughter.  Her name is mentioned twice and then we never hear about her again.  I found that odd considering that Zell took a girl into her home and the fact that she had a daughter was never talked about.  I will continue to seek out titles by this author in the future.  Unfortunately this just wouldn't be one I would recommend.         
   
* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *


Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Mother's Confession

A Mother's Confession 'He’s dead and I’m safe, but I’m still scared. Sometimes I actually miss him, but then in the very next breath I find that I hate him so much that I hope there is a hell, just so that he can be suffering like he left me here to suffer.'

Olivia and David were the perfect couple with their whole lives in front of them. When beautiful baby daughter Zoe came along, their world seemed complete.

But now David is dead and Olivia’s world is in pieces. While she is consumed with grief, her mother-in-law Ivy is also mourning the loss of her son. Both women are hiding secrets about the man they loved. Secrets that have put the family in danger.

Something was very wrong in Olivia and David’s marriage. Can Olivia and Ivy break their silence and speak the truth? A mother should protect her child, whatever the cost…shouldn’t she?

I feel that whatever I write in this review cannot possibly do this book justice.  I am blown away, seriously.  I am on a desperate search to get anything Kelly Rimmer has ever wrote into my hands as soon as possible.  After this one novel, she will be an auto-read author for me every time!  I think I have to be vague in my review so as to not taint another reader's experience with this title.  I can say that I do fear mothers and fathers like David's. We are quickly becoming a society that feels entitled to everything and parents are constantly fighting battles for their children, even when their children are in the wrong.  After reading this story, I realize how dangerous that can truly become when these children become adults.  I will also be more careful and on the lookout for people around me like Olivia.  This book opened my eyes to a truly taboo subject that is very rarely addressed.  Wow, I am genuinely just in awe of this story! 

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fractured

Fractured Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.


This is one of those books, that when I finished the last page, I felt unsatisfied.  While I loved the story that was built originally, I think it got lost about the halfway point.  The story felt "fractured" in many ways and it was just hard to connect.  I appreciated the flawed characters the author created but just wanted more.  I realize this review may seem hard to understand, but I don't want to say too much for fear of giving anything away.  I guess I can sum it up by saying that the mystery and way the book ended was what I didn't care about and what was left completely unaddressed was what I did care about, so I felt underwhelmed.  I am giving this book 3 out of 5 stars, because it did keep my interest most of the time, I just wanted the author to finish what I thought was started.    

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

With Love from the Inside

With Love from the InsideGrace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter’s voice and the final moment she’d heard anyone call her Mom. Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing—reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth.

Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan’s big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart—not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her “synthetic” friends who live in her upscale neighborhood. 

Grace’s looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William’s death seventeen years ago—proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever.

Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers—the one who painted her toenails glittery pink and plastered Post-it notes with inspiring quotes (“100 percent failure rate if you don't try”) all over Sophie’s bathroom mirror—before their time runs out.

Wow - this is my kind of book!  It gave me all the feels and a perfect balance of character development and plot movement.  I'm definitely going to be looking out for Angela Pisel's next novel based on everything this book had to offer.  This book explored the relationship between mother and daughter in a unique way that show just how deep that connection is.  I don't often highlight quotes or ideas from fiction, but I found myself as a mother inspired by ideas that I learned.  Grace talks about how her family used to setup their family nativity and I want to start that as a tradition in my own family.  She also made me realize that life is determined by the small things, not the big events.  A quote that specifically impacted me was "...as I go over the "good mom" checklist in my mind, I realize only a few things really matter.  Are you loved, and do you love others well?"  And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there were many tears involved in the reading of this novel as well.  This is definitely one of my favorite reads of all 2016! 

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Broken Grace

Broken GraceOn an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbot wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouse to recover—but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

                                                         And someone is watching. Someone willing to kill again to 
                                                         protect a secret.

I loved every second that I spent with this book!  The writing was well done, but not over done.  It kept the pages turning.  I'm a sucker for an unreliable main character and that's exactly what this book delivered on many levels.  While I don't think it was impossible to figure things out, I enjoyed how the book took you on a journey to get there.  It was also very believable, which sometimes doesn't happen in books like this one.  I would recommend this title to anyone who likes a realistic thriller that has multiple levels to it's mystery.  I hope to pick up other books by this author in the future. 
 
 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Behold the Dreamers

Behold the DreamersJende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ fa├žades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.


I am so conflicted about this selection, even as I write this review.  The first two-thirds I was all in and didn't want it to end.  However, there was a shift that ended up leaving me disappointed.  Characters that we had invested in, were just gone.  Jende became a totally different person that I just didn't think accurately portrayed who the author built him to be.  I was suddenly supposed to be invested in something completely different than when I started out and I just felt disappointed.  I wanted more of what I started with and just didn't get that.  On the positive side, the writing read quick and I loved the style.  While the story line was not what I hoped for, the issues this book dealt with are very real and I appreciated how it was handled.    
        
 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
  
 

You Will Know Me

You Will Know MeKatie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.

 I really enjoyed what this novel delivered.  A thriller, in a gymnastics setting, was the perfect set up.  These girls dedicate their entire lives, and the lives of their families, to this grueling sport.  So it comes down to, what are you willing to do for yourself, or your daughter to make all the sacrifices worth it.  The writing was well done and I felt that it portrayed the teenage gymnasts perfectly.  While I wouldn't label this a "whodunit" thriller, I was very interested to see where it would go and how it got there.  I think this book really created a great scenario and took it all the way to the end in a believable way.  I will be checking out other titles by this author soon!  

   * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Sugar Men

The Sugar MenSixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away.

For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers.

Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.

I will be the first to admit, I passed judgment on this book before I even opened it and it proved me so wrong!  I was immediately connected to the characters and felt so invested in their lives and stories.  I had to remind myself several times that while the events in history did happen, that the story was fictional.  I think anytime a story feels that real, it's accomplishing its task of being a wonderful, engaging read.  I have read countless WWII novels as well as novels set in holocaust camps, but this one was one of my favorites.  So many of those novels tend to be long and drawn out, but this author was able to pack the same punch in a much simpler way and I really appreciated it.  I requested another Ray Kingfisher novel and I will be picking it up very soon!  

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

   

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Girl Before

The Girl BeforeIn this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.

In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents. We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.

I enjoyed the experience of reading this novel.  At times, it almost read like a memoir.  I truly believed these things were happening to Claire and it felt extremely realThe author did a phenomenal job of getting in the head of each character in order to portray them in a way I actually think would be very true to form.  While I was intrigued, nothing was shocking or "how did I not see that coming" for me.  It was more a fast-paced character study and I loved it.  As long as you don't have to have a huge surprise element, I think this is a great book to read next!  


         * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
 


My Name is Leon

My Name is LeonLeon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we somehow manage to find our way home.

The description given for this book on NetGalley differs greatly from the one given above that is posted on GoodReads.  Based on the GoodReads summary, I would not have picked up this book.  I requested it because it was compared to The Language of Flowers and I don't think that's an accurate comparison at all.  While I loved the character of Leon, Maureen and Sylvia I didn't care for anything else about this book.  I felt that it had an agenda and I was not impressed.  I just wanted the story of Leon and instead I got Leon, mixed with issues that just fell flat.  I just didn't care anymore and that made me sad because I was rooting for Leon and Maureen.  I think better editing and focusing more on Leon's story and less on some agenda would have served this book much better.    


 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Let You Go

I Let You Go 
On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .
 

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.


I had heard a lot of hype about this book and it delivered.  Since I knew how much people loved it, I must admit that I was looking for things so I wasn't as shocked as others probably were.  The writing was fast paced and engaging, so I will be looking for more books by this author.  There aren't many books that keep me up late in the night but this one definitely did.  While I have never experienced the things that Jenna did, it felt very real and raw.  I felt her pain and just connected with her right off.  If you love a good thriller, with a story beyond the excitement, this is a great choice!


 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
      

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fading Starlight

Fading StarlightA Tale of Unexpected Friendship and Old Hollywood Glamour

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging--a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she's surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingEnue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren's help uncovering the old woman's secrets. In return, she'll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren's tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.


This was my first Kathryn Cushman novel and I am already looking forward to picking up another one of her books very soon!  I thought the writing was simple, yet exactly what the story needed.  Just the right amount of description.  While some may not enjoy the quotes and Bible verses within the text, I actually enjoyed hearing them and then seeing them applied throughout scenes in the story.  I connected with the main character in her quest to make right choices, while still making the wrong ones at times and dealing with the consequences.  It just felt very "real life" to me.  I gave this book 5 stars and would love to see the author decide to write a followup book.   

          * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Sister

The Sister"I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me ..."

Grace hasn't been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie's words, the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie's. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn't know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie's father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie's sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan's home.

But something isn't right. Things disappear, Dan's acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace's mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie   and   Anna,  is  Grace  in  terrible   danger?     There was
                                                        nothing she could have done to save Charlie ...or was there? 

A debut novel that definitely packed a punch!  While at times things seemed predictable, all the pieces weren't there to make a complete picture. This kept me guessing and wondering the whole novel, which is exactly what I look for in a book like this.  I never knew which characters were trustworthy and I loved it!  If you enjoy a good book that plays mind games with you, pick this up - it will not disappoint! 

          * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *



 

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Tulip Factory

The Tulip FactoryBefore they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two.

Timing, however, isn’t on the couple’s side. After their relationship ends, Corrine finds that years of putting her career and passions on hold for love have led to a stalled life. She once saw her receptionist job as temporary but got too comfortable and, before she knew it, lost sight of her dream of becoming a writer.

Now, as Corrine makes her way into her late twenties, she’s on a quest to find herself. As she struggles to figure out what she really wants, she’ll discover that sometimes you have to take happiness into your own hands and that a fulfilling life is built on opportunities—even the missed ones.


I was very intrigued by the description of this title and I was delighted with the chance to review.  However, that is where the delight ended for me.  This book was predictable and just went nowhere.  The characters drank way too much, but never saw this as a cause of their problems.  I just felt like there was really no point in the story.  The characters were flat and predictable.  And the ending was just so bizarre in my opinion.  I will say that the author's writing style was easy to read and went quickly.  I tried hard to see the positive in this book but it just wasn't the book for me.  

         * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

None Like Him

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing) 

Human beings were created to reflect the image of God--but only to a limited extent. Although we share important attributes with God (love, mercy, compassion, etc.), there are other qualities that only God possesses, such as unlimited power, knowledge, and authority. At the root of all sin is our rebellious desire to be like God in such ways--a desire that first manifested itself in the garden of Eden. In None Like Him, Jen Wilkin leads us on a journey to discover ten ways God is different from us--and why that's a good thing. In the process, she highlights the joy of seeing our limited selves in relation to a limitless God, and how such a realization frees us from striving to be more than we were created to be.



This book packed quite a punch!  I was positive that it was going to be just like other books I have read, but was I ever wrong.  It just gave me so many AHA moments I was sad when the book ended.  I used it as my daily devotional and I honestly learned so much about the characteristics of God I was in awe and plan to reread soon.  My only disappointment was the fact that my copy was an e-book and I couldn't write in the margins and highlight!  I can't recommend this book enough!  I will be picking up another Jen Wilkin title in the near future.    

           * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Sunday, April 24, 2016

People Who Knew Me

People Who Knew MeEmily Morris got her happily-ever-after earlier than most. Married at a young age to a man she loved passionately, she was building the life she always wanted. But when enormous stress threatened her marriage, Emily made some rash decisions. That’s when she fell in love with someone else. That’s when she got pregnant.

Resolved to tell her husband of the affair and to leave him for the father of her child, Emily’s plans are thwarted when the world is suddenly split open on 9/11. It’s amid terrible tragedy that she finds her freedom, as she leaves New York City to start a new life. It’s not easy, but Emily---now Connie Prynneforges a new happily-ever-after in California. But when a life-threatening diagnosis upends her life, she is forced to rethink her life for the good of her thirteen-year-old daughter.
A riveting debut in which a woman must confront her own past in 
                                                        order to secure the future of her daughter, Kim Hooper's People  
                                                        Who Knew Me asks: “What would you do?”

  
This book was fascinating!  In part because I completely understood why she did what she did and then I was totally clueless as to why she did it.  I would get so frustrated with her at times, but still felt sympathy for other times.  It truly was a study of how much a person can take before they break and to what lengths they will go to survive.  While I personally would not have handled it like she did, I was intrigued by her decisions none the less.  If you enjoy a character driven story with a marriage/family focused plot that reads quickly, this is a great book to pick up starting on May 24th, 2016!

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
  


Dewey's 24-hour Readathon Complete

Totals for Dewey's 24-hour Readathon:
 
3 hours 15 minutes total reading time 
308 pages 
1 completed book
 
I was disappointed in my reading choices, so I know I will plan this better next time. I also unfortunately started suffering from a cold or allergies and it just wiped me out. But still happy with my totals considering everything. I enjoyed participating in several of the mini challenges and I won an hourly prize which was really exciting!! Thanks so much to all the volunteers at Dewey’s for such a great day- looking forward to October! #Readathon

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dewey's 24-hour Readathon!

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I am minutes away from starting in my first ever Dewey's 24-hour Readathon and I can't wait!  Since this is my first time I will probably only be updating here at the end with totals.  I will mainly be posting updates in the File section of the Facebook Group under the file name Whitney's (Must Read Soon) Reading Log or posting under the name Whitney Severns Werling and my twitter account @MustReadSoon.  My TBR is not set in stone, but I did pick a few books so we shall see.  I also need to knock out some NetGalley's I have as well.  I am home alone today with my 2 boys so I know I won't be reading all day, but hoping I can get them excited enough to read some too!See you back here for the wrap-up!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Midnight Watch

The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the CalifornianAs the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on. Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the chartroom below, but Lord did not come to the bridge. Eight rockets were fired during the dark hours of the midnight watch, and eight rockets were ignored. The next morning, the Titanic was at the bottom of the sea and more than 1,500 people were dead. When they learned of the extent of the tragedy, Lord and Stone did everything they could to hide their role in the disaster, but pursued by newspapermen, lawyers, and political leaders in America and England, their terrible secret was eventually revealed. The Midnight Watch is a fictional telling of what may have occurred that night on the SS Californian, and the resulting desperation of Officer Stone and Captain Lord in the aftermath of their inaction.

Told not only from the perspective of the SS Californian crew, but also through the eyes of a family of third-class passengers who perished in the disaster, the narrative is drawn together by Steadman, a tenacious Boston journalist who does not rest until the truth is found. The Midnight Watch is a powerful and dramatic debut novel--the result of many years of research in Liverpool, London, New York, and Boston, and informed by the author's own experiences as a ship's officer and a lawyer.

The Titanic has always been fascinating to me.  So many lost lives, so must potential never realized. So when I was given the opportunity to review this title I was intrigued to read a fictional account based on historical facts.  The author was so well researched that while it read like a fictional novel, it provided so much knowledgeable information.  I feel in love with some "characters" and tried desperately to understand why others didn't respond to the distress signals.  I found myself looking up more information outside of the book just because I wanted to know more!  The only reason I gave this a 4 star rating instead of 5 was at times the characters were hard to differentiate, but this could have easily been because I don't have an in-depth understand of maritime ranks.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction based on actual events.  I will be on the lookout for more novels by this author in the future!

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Paris is Always a Good Idea

Paris Is Always a Good IdeaRosalie Laurent is the proud owner of Luna Luna, a little post-card shop in St. Germain, and if it were up to her, far more people would write cards. Her specialty is producing "wishing cards," but where her own wishes are concerned the quirky graphic artist is far from lucky. Every birthday Rosalie sends a card inscribed with her heart's desire fluttering down from the Eiffel Tower - but none of her wishes has ever been fulfilled.

Then one day when an elderly gentleman trips up in her shop and knocks over a post-card stand, it seems that her wish cards are working after-all. Rosalie finds out that it is Max Marchais, famed and successful author of children's books who's fallen into her life. When he asks her to illustrate his new (and probably last) book, Rosalie is only too glad to accept, and the two - very different - maverick artists become friends.

Rosalie's wishes seem to be coming true at last, until a clumsy American professor stumbles into her store with accusations of plagiarism. Rosalie is hard pressed to know whether love or trouble is blowing through her door these days, but when in doubt, she knows that Paris is Always a Good Idea when one is looking for the truth and finding love.

This book had everything I love in a book - Paris, a grouchy older man, love, and mystery! Knowing this going in I wasn't expecting much because I didn't want to be disappointed.  But it blew me away.  I really enjoyed every second of reading this story.  The man characters were adorable and the grouchy man was endearing.  I would love to see this story continue.  I enjoyed how the chapters went back and forth between the characters and showed events through both perspectives.  I don't see this done very often, but will seek it out more in the future.  At times the mystery felt obvious, but I didn't care.  How they came to the realization was what mattered most.  If you are looking for a book that will read easily and delight, this is for you!  While I don't buy many books, I will be on the lookout for this novel to add to my shelves.

     * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Only Ever You

Only Ever You: A NovelJill Lassiter’s three-year-old daughter disappears from a playground only to return after 40 frantic minutes, but her mother’s relief is short-lived–there’s a tiny puncture mark on Sophia’s arm. When doctors can find no trace of drugs in her system, Jill accepts she’ll never know what happened, but at least her child is safe.

Except Sophia isn’t. Someone is watching the Lassiter home in an affluent Pennsylvania suburb, infiltrating the family’s personal and professional lives. While Jill struggles to balance building her photography business with parenting high-spirited Sophia, and David is distracted by pressure to make partner at his law firm, both of them are holding on in a marriage that’s already been rocked by loss.

Three months after the incident at the park, Sophia disappears again, but this time Jill and David become the focus of police and media scrutiny and suspicion. Facing every parent’s worst nightmare a second time, Jill discovers that someone doesn’t just want Sophia for her own, she wants to destroy the entire family.

I absolutely flew through the first half of this book.  When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about how I could be reading it.  It was a solid book from the beginning.  I loved the mystery element coupled with the family dynamic because it made the story multi-layered.  Then I kind of hit a bump.  Some of the events required me to suspend belief because they seemed a little too far fetched.  The mystery seemed so easy and I kind of checked out.  I had felt the book went from a 5 star to a 3 star at that point.  And then...let's just say - keep reading!  The characters were human and easy to relate with.  And I loved the book because it gave me a satisfying ending without everything tied up all neat and perfect.  I ended up giving the book a solid 4 stars and will look for more works by Rebecca Drake in the near future!      

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *




Saturday, February 20, 2016

Keep Me Posted

Keep Me PostedTwo sisters share the surprising highs and cringe-worthy lows of social media fame, when their most private thoughts become incredibly public in this fresh and funny debut novel.

Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday have not done a bang-up job of keeping in touch. In their defense, it hasn’t been easy: life veered in sharply different directions for the once-close sisters. Today, beautiful and big-hearted Sid lives an expat’s life of leisure in far-off Singapore, while harried, iPhone-clutching Cassie can’t seem to make it work as a wife and a mom to twin toddlers in Manhattan.
 
It doesn't help that Sid spurns all social media while Cassie is addicted to Facebook. So when Sid issues a challenge to reconnect the old-fashioned way—through real, handwritten letters—Cassie figures, why not?
 
The experiment exceeds both of their expectations, and the letters become a kind of mutual confessional that have real and soul-satisfying effects. And they just might have the power to help Cassie save her marriage, and give Sid the strength to get her life back on track.
 
But first, one of Cassie’s infamous lapses in judgment comes back to bite her, and all of the letters wind up the one place you’d never, ever want to see them: the Internet...
 
 
This book was a disappointment.  Initially, I was very intrigued by the description but I didn't feel that it delivered what I was hoping for.  While the sections that described Cassie's motherhood adventures were hilarious, I found myself wanting a book that included more of that humor instead of the far off plot that just seemed too unbelievable.  Letter writing is a lost art and I was hoping for so much more.  Also, just a personal issue for me was the excessive use of the f word.  I just find it distasteful and didn't like how it was used so much in the book.  I gave this book two stars, but feel my actual rating would be 2.5.        


 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Saturday, January 23, 2016

When I'm Gone : A Novel

When I'm Gone: A NovelLuke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.
The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.


This was a unique read for me.  Initially, I was really interested in the story, then that sort of wore off.  I fully expected to give this book three stars, but then the ending... It ended at a place I that was exactly what this book needed.  I love these type of family stories that involve a "past" that must be discovered.  While some of it was a little unbelievable and too coincidental, I was able to suspend that enough to really enjoy involving myself in Luke's life.  I would definitely be interested in checking out other books written by Emily Bleeker.  

 
 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Word Game

The Word GameFor overprotective parent Alyson Ward, any time her daughter, Lyla, is out of sight is reason to panic. So it’s a big step for her when she lets Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin’s house. Comforted by the knowledge that her sister, Tricia, is the chaperone, Alyson does the one thing she never thought possible: she lets go and trusts that her daughter will be safe. But Alyson’s sense of peace is short lived. When Lyla comes home the next morning, she reveals something that could tear apart not only their family but also the entire community. Now, Alyson and Tricia must confront their painful shared past as they come together to help a little girl who they fear might be harboring terrible secrets similar to their own. Will the sisters be strong enough to face their demons in order to protect the child, even if it means telling their most private truths?
Oh man, I had such high hopes for this story!  While the subject matter was difficult, I felt strongly that I would really enjoy the book.  And I liked it okay, but something just fell short.  There are very few times that I wish a book was longer, but in this case I did.  I wanted to know more about the relationships.  I felt bad for what happened, but I didn't feel affected by it like I usually am with this kind of story line.  I just wanted more!  Other reviews I have read, disliked Aly and her actions.  I actually fully supported her in every situation that she was involved in, past and present.  I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it, because it was a quick read.  However, it's not a book that I think readers will become emotionally invested in.  I gave this book 3 stars overall.

* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
         





Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Girl You Lost

The Girl You LostEighteen years ago your baby daughter was snatched. Today, she came back.

A sinister and darkly compelling psychological thriller from the No.1 bestselling
author of The Girl With No Past.

Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them.

Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her?

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her daughter and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts.

Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory.
Simone lost her baby. Will she lose her life trying to find her?

This story was fast-paced, intriguing and a great thriller!  I did not want to stop reading and plowed through the whole book!  My only criticism would be that I would have liked to have a little more setup with regards Simone, Matt and Helena.  I felt terrible for what happened to them, but didn't feel as connected to them as I felt like I could have.  I love books like this, but so many times they seem predictable, unrealistic or just disappointing.   This book delivered!  While I knew there had to be more, I was never quite sure what that would be.  That's why I loved it - it definitely had me guessing until the end!  I will be picking up more Kathryn Croft books now that she is on my radar!       

   
 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *