Monday, December 31, 2018

Memorable Reads of 2018-33 Best books of the Year

I will pretty it up later, but this post is reserved for memorable reads of 2018, because I have a hard time narrowing down books I've read, here are 33 that I will long remember past 2018. Have you read any of them? (Also, am 33 years old!) In no particular order, here they are...

Big Publisher Reads


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Why I loved it: I love stories of gender role reversal, and THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang has it in spades. Also loved the romance and the male character.



Splendor Before the Dark by Margaret George

Why I loved it: It's rare to meet a book that dares to break my heart on every single page, but SPLENDOR BEFORE THE DARK by Margaret George is very good at doing just that.


If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

Why I loved it: I'm not likely to forget a book that explores South Korea post Korean War and that is a beautiful and moving tale of women living during that time.


Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Why I loved it: Normally eternal life equals eternal bareness, but ETERNAL LIFE by Dara Horn is imaginative in asking a question of what happens if eternal life means endless chances for families, and what it would mean for human psyche.


Eagle and Crane by Suzanne Rindell

Why I loved it:  I often dreamt of the movie Pearl Harbor movie being done differently, and EAGLE AND CRANE by Suzanne Rindell was the perfect book to have my own version of Pearl Harbor movie.


The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Why I loved it: While I enjoyed the previous novel, SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE by Kristy Woodson Harvey, in THE SECRET TO THE SOUTHERN CHARM, she is not afraid of delving deeply into the characters and showing the audience their strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. She is also good at answering questions within the story yet leaving enough cliffhangers to keep the audience reading. I also look forward to the last book in the series.


The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

Why I loved it: While I got mere glimpses of Des in the previous book, in THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES, I really get to know her and begin to understand more about her and her personality. I also liked getting glimpses of Allie, and look forward to the third book and final of the series and seeing Allie grow up a lot more.


Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt

Why I loved it: I have previously read THE DARK LADY'S MASK, which I have enjoyed a lot, especially in getting to know Shakespeare and his possible muse, Amelia Bassano Lanier. In ECSTASY, I get to know another forgotten woman, Alma Mahler, wife and a talented musician to the famous composer Gustav Mahler. It's a wonderful tale of a woman who sacrificed much of herself but never let herself go or be forgotten.


Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

Why I loved it: Well written characters, a slice of time and place post WW2, amazing dialogue and a tale that felt short even at 500 pages. It's rare to find a book like that, but in KISS CARLO by Adriana Trigiani, all of those things meet in a delicious and well done package laced with humor, family, warmth and understanding. I sincerely hope to read more by Adriana Trigiani.


Small/Indie Publisher Reads


Camelot's Queen by Nicole Evelina

Why I loved it: Prior to being introduced to Nicole Evelina's Guinevere Trilogy, THE DAUGHTER OF DESTINY and CAMELOT'S QUEEN, I wasn't fond of Queen Guinevere, and had a love/hate relationship with her. After reading the previous two books, I feel as if I can understand her more and much to mine surprise, I will never look at her the way I looked at her before.


Amnesia Nights by Quinton Skinner

Why I loved it: If you love tales that mess with your mind and have a narrator that you can't make up your mind about, then AMNESIA NIGHTS by Quinton Skinner should be the right read. I think I enjoyed trying to figure the story out a lot more, especially since it seemed as if some memories are deceptively simple.


The Jinni's Last Wish by Zenobia Neil

Why I loved it: Looking for an Ottoman Harem tale filled with magic and genies as well as a tale where main character is a eunuch? THE JINNI'S LAST WISH by Zenobia Neil should be on the list. But what I loved about it is the storytelling, the character of the jinni and Olin and how she built up the world from fragments into a beautiful tale of love, passion and deception.



The Hope Fault by Tracy Farr

Why I loved it: It's definitely a tale that I have never read before; my favorite part was of how much secrets and life a person takes with them when they die, and that many of these secrets will never be revealed. I loved the part when the years went back and we experienced life backwards. THE HOPE FAULT by Tracy Farr definitely deserves multiple re-reads.


Before I let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Why I loved it: Previously I haven't read a tale of how much a drug affects relationships, and I haven't known the rule that mothers can have their newborns taken away if they take drugs. Reading BEFORE I LET YOU GO by Kelly Rimmer is a heartbreaking experience of two women because mine heart was literally breaking for the sisters and what happened to them.


Secrets and Shadows by Roberta Silman

Why I loved it: Another novel that deserves a re-read, but its definitely a unique tale of what happened to survivors who should have gone to camps but for one reason or another hid out. SECRETS AND SHADOWS by Roberta Silman also dared to put a face on survivor's guilt so to speak.


House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Why I loved it: I think what mainly drew me to HOUSE OF SHADOWS is the fact I didn't know the tale of Winter Queen and her possibly young lover. I also loved the writing and possibility of how lovers are destined to be with one another throughout times.


Red Adam's Lady by Grace Ingram

Why I loved it: From the cover and summary, I definitely thought RED ADAM'S LADY by Grace Ingram will be a typical romance. Oh boy was I wrong, and I am happy to have been wrong. RED ADAM'S LADY by Grace Ingram is a tale of living in medieval ages and what it's like. It's also a tale of slow romance and has all sorts of elements without being overwrought. For people who love medieval ages, RED ADAM'S LADY is not to be forgotten.


The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Why I loved it: Prior to THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON by Rebecca Rosenberg, I knew next to nothing about Jack London nor about Harry Houdini. In this book, I got to know the two couples a lot, and I enjoyed spending time with them. Best parts of the book, in my opinion, are of Mrs. London and Mrs. Houdini and the conversations they held with one another.


An Argument of Blood by Matthew Willis and J.A. Ironside

Why I loved it: It's not my first journey to England and to 1066, and I doubt it will be my last. But in AN ARGUMENT OF BLOOD, certainly made it a very enjoyable read because I got to know William the Bastard as well as Harold's sister that I didn't know about before, and I also loved watching the sister maneuver people and politics like a master chess player.


The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz

Why I loved it: Very often tales of war tend to focus on heroes, on generals and kings who seemed to be removed from everyday action. But in THE SOLDIER'S RETURN by Laura Libricz, the focus is on civilians, in particular women, children and peasant soldiers who are trying to live and survive through war, pillaging, fighting and rape. It's a raw and powerful tale of the futile of war.


Where do I go by Beverly Magid

Why I loved it: When it comes to Jewish fiction, the tales tend to focus more on the negative aspects of immigration, and they also tend to center around WWII. In WHERE DO I GO by Beverly Magid, while she presents some negative immigration aspects, there is focus on importance of family as well as support and of hope for the new world.


Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach

Why I loved it: A lot of times tales of affairs always has a hero and a villain. But in DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach, there are no villains or heroes; there are merely human beings who make mistakes for better or worse, and this ambiguity is what makes DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach a beautiful and human tale.


The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen  Vol I by Collins Hemingway

Why I loved it: Although I'm not a big Jane Austen fan, I have previously read all of her published books twice, (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY only once,) and I have to say that I strongly loved THE MARRIAGE OF MISS JANE AUSTEN VOLUME I by Collins Hemingway. There are memorable lines, an amazing courtship between Jane and Ashton, and tidbits of ideas that Jane Austen gets for her future novels. Next year, am looking forward to reading THE MARRIAGE OF MISS JANE AUSTEN VOLUME II, and hopefully in the future, THE MARRIAGE OF MISS JANE AUSTEN VOLUME III will be on my radar.


Fresh Fiction Reads

As much as I want to mention why I loved them, I cannot. Instead I will present links within the blog, so the reader can read my reviews in full on Fresh Fiction.


This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza


Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver


Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan


Vox by Christina Dalcher


Josh+Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren


My Mother's Son by David Hirshberg


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht



The Map that Leads To You By J.P Monninger


Madness Treads Lightly by Polina Dashkova

FFE86. My favorite half night stand by CHRISTINA LAUREN

Name of Book: My Favorite Half Night Stand

Author: Christina Lauren

ISBN: B07CLFYBCT

Publisher: Gallery Books

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

Link for Review

3 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF42 Book Review of Only killers and thieves by Paul Howarth

Name of Book: Only Killers and Thieves

Author: Paul Howarth

ISBN: 9780062690968

Publisher: Harper

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them—their former Aboriginal stockman—the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the "dispersal" of indigenous Australians to "protect" white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life—and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Recreating a period of Australian and British history as evocative and violent as the American frontier era, Only Killers and Thieves is an unforgettable story of family, guilt, empire, race, manhood, and faith that combines the insightfulness of Philipp Meyer’s The Son, the atmospheric beauty of Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist, and the raw storytelling power of Ian McGuire’s The North Water.

Link for Review

5 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF85 Book Review for This life or the next by DEMIAN VITANZA

Name of Book: This Life or the Next

Author: Demian Vitanza

ISBN:9781503959767

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

From award-winning author Demian Vitanza comes a groundbreaking novel—his first to be translated into English—about one man’s alienation, radicalization, and disillusionment on the violent front lines in Syria.

Tariq Khan is a Pakistani born and raised in Norway. An outsider in his own country—adrift between two worlds divided by class, race, and culture—he’s always been searching for home. Alongside a flock of other streetwise young men, each looking for direction and each easily susceptible, Tariq finds his cause in the Muslim revival.

Idealistic, driven by faith, and empowered with purpose, he’s drawn to radical Islam—his last resort for achieving a sense of belonging, for embracing and being embraced. It’s only when he enlists in the war against Assad that Tariq’s eyes are truly opened. Dispirited with the violence, faced with the consequences of his choices, and increasingly distanced by the brutalities of jihad, Tariq contends with spiritual struggles that are his alone. So are the stories he will tell to make sense of his life.

In this daring and unprecedented work of literary fiction, Demian Vitanza explores the power of memory, the lure of rebellion, the search for meaning amid chaos—and the toll that such a journey can take before finally finding one’s way home.

Link for Review

5 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF87 Book Review of The light house keepers daughter by Hazel gaynor

Name of Book: The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

Author: Hazel Gaynor

ISBN: 9780062869302

Publisher: William Morrow

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years.

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.

Link for Review

Was a Fresh Pick for November 18th, 2018

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FFE88 Book Review of Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Name of Book: Unsheltered

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

ISBN: B075WQK8ZJ

Publisher: Harper

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred— whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF32. Book Review of Under a pole star by Stef Penney

Name of Book: Under a Pole Star

Author: Stef Penney

ISBN: 9781681441177

Publisher: Quercus

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

A whaler's daughter, Flora Mackie first crossed the Arctic Circle at the age of twelve and fell in love with the cold and unforgiving terrain. In 1889, she sets out to become a scientist and explorer. Despite those who believe that a young woman has no place in this harsh world of men, her determination leads her back to northern Greenland at the head of a British expedition.

Yearning for wider horizons, American geologist Jakob de Beyn joins a rival expedition led by the furiously driven Lester Armitage. When the path of Flora's expedition meets theirs, the three lives become intertwined. All are obsessed with the north, a place where violent extremes exist side by side: perpetual night and endless day; frozen seas and coastal meadows; heroism and lies. Armitage's ruthless desire to be the true leader of polar discovery takes him and his men on a mission whose tragic outcome will reverberate for years to come.

Set against the stark, timeless beauty of northern Greenland, and fin-de-si├Ęcle New York and London, Under a Pole Star is a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, a study of the corrosive power of ambition, and an epic, incendiary love story. It shows that sometimes you have to travel to the furthest edge of the world in order to find your true place in it.

Link for Review

5 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF47 Book Review of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Name of Book: Rainbirds

Author: Clarissa Goenawan

ISBN: 9781616958558

Publisher: Soho Crime Press

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to turn her back on the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.

As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.

Link for Review

5 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FFE65 Book Review of After nightfall by A.J Banner

Name of Book: After Nightfall

Author: A.J Banner

ISBN: B076VM7WRF

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FFE74 Book Review of Vox by Christina Dalcher

Name of Book: Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher

ISBN: B079WQK537

Publisher: Berkley

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF84 Book Review of Josh+Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Name of Book: Josh+Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Author: Christina Lauren

ISBN: 9781501165856

Publisher: Gallery

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Most men can't handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they're often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Roomies, Beautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she's a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren't up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don't send them running, her lack of filter means she'll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She's a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there's nothing between them...right?

Link for Review

Was a Fresh Pick for September 25th, 2018

5 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FFE82 Book Review of Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Name of Book: Girls' Night Out

Author: Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke

ISBN:B078GPQS1P

Publisher:Lake Union Publishing

Year it was published:2018

Summary:

From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding…

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

Link for Review

2 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FFE45 and FF53. Book Review of The neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Name of Book: The Neighbors

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

ISBN: 9780778311003

Publisher: MIRA

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Abby looks forward to meeting the family who just moved in across the street—until she realizes they’re the one couple who could expose her deepest secrets

After a night of fun back in 1992, Abby is responsible for a car crash that kills her beloved brother. It’s a mistake she can never forgive, so she pushes away Liam, the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames—the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret, that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam moves into the neighborhood with his own family, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the terrible secrets they’ve both been carrying…

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF80 Book Review of The Sea goddess by LINNEA Hartsuyker

Name of Book: The Sea Goddess

Author: Linnea Hartsuyker

ISBN:9780062563736

Publisher: Harper

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

An exhilarating Viking saga filled with the rich history, romantic adventure and political intrigue that have made Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, as well as Phillippa Gregory’s historical fiction and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology popular bestsellers.

Six years after The Half-Drowned King, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is now king of Sogn, but fighting battles for King Harald keeps him away from home, as he confronts treachery and navigates a political landscape that grows more dangerous the higher he rises.

Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild has found the freedom and adventure she craves at the side of the rebel explorer Solvi Hunthiofsson, though not without a cost. She longs for a home where her quiet son can grow strong, and a place where she can put down roots, even as Solvi’s ambition draws him back to Norway’s battles again and keeps her divided from her brother.

As a growing rebellion unites King Harald’s enemies, Ragnvald suspects that some Norse nobles are not loyal to Harald’s dream of a unified Norway. He sets a plan in motion to defeat all of his enemies, and bring his sister back to his side, while Svanhild finds herself with no easy decisions, and no choices that will leave her truly free. Their actions will hold irrevocable repercussions for the fates of those they love and for Norway itself.

The Sea Queen returns to the fjords and halls of Viking-Age Scandinavia, a world of violence and prophecy, where honor is challenged by shifting alliances, and vengeance is always a threat to peace.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF60 Book Review of The daisy children by Sofia Grant

Name of Book: The Daisy Children

Author: Sofia Grant

ISBN:9780062693440

Publisher: William Morrow

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear...

When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.

There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

Link for Review

Was a Fresh Pick for September 7th, 2018

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

FF51 Book Review of American stranger by David Plante

Name of Book: American Stranger

Author: David Plante

ISBN:9781883285739

Publisher: Delphinium

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Brought up in a secular household on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Nancy Green knows suspiciously little about her parents’ past. She knows they escaped Germany, avoiding the fate of so many of their fellow Jews during World War II, but the few family heirlooms they brought to the United States are reminders of a lost life that, for Nancy, remains shrouded in mystery. She seeks connection and a sense of belonging, a relationship in which she can find some sort of religious fulfillment.

Unfortunately, Nancy’s first encounter is with a Hasidic man who, dissatisfied with Judaism, has taken vows to become a monk. Then, while studying English literature in Boston, she meets a Catholic boy who captures her interest, but he’s desperate to escape his overbearing mother and the clutches of the Church. After a devastating breakup, Nancy finally settles down with a husband whose background and beliefs seem at least similar to her own. Perhaps now she’ll stop yearning for something more, and trade volatility and heartbreak for a sensible, practical life. But forcing a fit—into a society, a sect, a family, or even a marriage—isn’t easy for anyone, and Nancy still has a long way to travel before she finds her true home.

From an acclaimed author of both fiction and memoirs, including National Book Award finalist The Family, American Stranger is a wise and insightful story about the search for identity, and how our real lives are far more complex than our labels.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

G1042 Book Review of The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Name of Book: The Kiss Quotient

Author: Helen Hoang

ISBN: 978-0-451-49080-3

Publisher: Berkley

Type of book: Asperger's, role reversal, California, wealth, escorting, family, coming-of-age, self-acceptance, romance, love, half-Vietnamese half Swedish/white female

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

Characters:

Main characters would be Michael and Stella. Michael is half Swedish half Vietnamese and works as an escort to help his family out. He often fears becoming like his father and most of the tale is of him wrestling with his inner demons and trying to do the right thing, (albeit the right thing can become a wrong thing...) Michael also looks like Daniel Henney and also enjoys Asian dramas and does kendo and has a dragon tattoo. He is two years younger than Stella and is the only boy in his family and also is fashionable and desires to launch his own line. Stella is an accomplished young woman who works as an econometrician and has been diagnosed with Aspergers. She has very poor sexual experience and wants to improve on that. She enjoys Asian culture a lot (in particular K-Dramas) and has a lot of idiosyncracies as well as peculiarities. She also tends to be awkward in social situations. Despite that she is extremely wealthy, talented and intelligent. She loves work more than people and in most of the book she has to struggle with learning to love herself the way she is.

Theme:

Love is possible for everyone

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Stella's and Michael's points of view. One of the things I loved about the tale is the role reversal between Michael and Stella, that is things associated with a man are moved on to a woman, and from a woman to a man, which I was happy to see because I also tend to be a brainy girl (more in arts and creativity rather than math, but still, I often believe I intimidate people around me...) what is also amazing is during a particular scene how they see one another in different parts of the world, yet both share the same feelings. I loved how slow Michael went with Stella and how he never pushed or pressured her into doing things she never wanted to do.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And then the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger's syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and a pet fish. Visit her online at helenhoang.,com, facebook.com/hhoangwrites, instagram.com/hhoangwrites, and twitter.com/hhoangwrites.

Opinion:

I sincerely hope that reading my praise about THE KISS QUOTIENT won't be redundant, but for the one the rare times I am actually in agreement with popular opinion: THE KISS QUOTIENT was one of the best books I have had a chance of reading this year. I really enjoyed everything about it, from the characters to the plot, to presenting a girl with Asperger's, the relationship and learning about the Vietnamese culture. Also loved role reversal and wish to see more books like THE KISS QUOTIENT. The book definitely breathed life into the genre and its an exciting ride from start to finish and every page in between. Only thing is, maybe because I read it during holiday season when I don't have much chance of romance happening in my life, but I felt sad and lonely, especially in knowing the reality:  that men like Michael who are accepting and loving of Stella's flaws only exist in imagination rather than in real life.

This was given for a review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, December 28, 2018

G1059 Book Review of Camelot's Queen by Nicole Evelina

Name of Book: Camelot's Queen

Author: Nicole Evelina

ISBN: 9780996763288

Publisher: Lawson Gartner

Part of a Series: Guinevere's Tale Trilogy

Type of book: King Arthur, 497-518, kingdom, magic, Avalon, Anglo Saxons, Bretons, tribes, England, wars, rape, assault, obsession, adultery, affair, religions, Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgan 

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.

Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.

Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.

Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.

This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but prepared to suffer its downfall as well.

Characters:

Main characters include Guinevere, Arthur, Morgan, and to an extent, Lancelot as well as Elaine. Guinevere, a warrior queen, becomes a strong asset to Arthur and often advises him on numerous issues. Love has grown between the two, and Arthur wants to continue to be with her. Guinevere is portrayed as a priestess of Avalon, but someone respectful and understanding of other faiths. Arthur is definitely a man beyond his time, and tries his very best not to let nepotism be in his judgment, which I liked a lot, and that no one is above justice. Morgan is Guineveres enemy, although the two tolerate one another under the best of circumstances, and she is manipulative, crafty and knows the right buttons to push. Lancelot is Guineveres champion and he is kind, sweet, loyal and charming, although he does let people take advantage of him. Elaine seems to have been pushed more into the dream world and she is also obsessed but doesn't have will to do anything or to manipulate situation.

Theme:

Things are not black and white

Plot:

THE story is in first person narrative from Guineveres point of view. In my opinion the author has done an excellent job in simplifying and humanizing characters, taking away caricatures and helping the audience understand that things are not so black and white as medieval tales often portrayed. I enjoyed the story, learning about the origins of some myths and of how it's hard to find villains in the tale. I also loved seeing valid reasons for Guineveres deeds, and really wish that this book would have been my introduction to Arthur myths instead of  Bulfinch one.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)



AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS



About the Author

Nicole Evelina is a historical fiction, non-fiction, and women’s fiction author whose five books –Daughter of Destiny, Camelot’s Queen, Been Searching for You, Madame Presidentess and The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend (nonfiction) – have won more than 30 awards, including three Book of the Year designations.

Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness.

Nicole is currently working on Mistress of Legend (September 15), the final novel in her Guinevere’s Tale historical fantasy trilogy and researching two future non-fiction books. She also teaches online writing and business classes for authors at Professional Author Academy.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.

Opinion:

Just like the previous book, DAUGHTER OF DESTINY, CAMELOTS QUEEN was educational, emotional and very gripping as the reader follows Guinevere into the role of queen and sees her mature from a young woman to someone fair, wise and confident, despite the travails that awaited her at every corner. There is focus on her affair with Lancelot, but what's remarkable about it is that it doesn't take up the entire book! Most of the book deals with her growth and how and why things became the way they had with her and Arthur, which I really enjoyed. Some things I do wish would have been explained: while I am familiar with the names of Tristan and Isolde, I am not familiar with their legend and what happened to them and why; therefore I would have liked to see some references or mention of what was going on with her. I also didn't feel comfortable with a hint that one of the characters murdered a baby simply because it wasn't wanted. ( I understand and am no stranger that illegitimacy was seen as shameful and that people did whatever they could to get rid of their unwanted children, but still, as a mother, that scene really got under my skin.) And one of the other characters` pregnancy isnt addressed ( in next book the reader finds out it's conclusion,) Aside from those minor issues, I loved learning and seeing Guinevere growing more and more into herself and seeing foundation established for the fall of Camelot. 

This is for HFVBT tours


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 10
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 11
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Daughter of Destiny)

Wednesday, December 12
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, December 13
Review at A Book Geek (Daughter of Destiny)

Friday, December 14
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

Saturday, December 15
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Daughter of Destiny)

Sunday, December 16
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective (Mistress of Legend)

Tuesday, December 18
Review at Book Nerd (Camelot’s Queen)

Thursday, December 20
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Camelot’s Queen)

Friday, December 21
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 27
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Camelot’s Queen)

Friday, December 28
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit (Mistress of Legend)

Saturday, December 29
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Mistress of Legend)

Sunday, December 30
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Mistress of Legend)

Monday, December 31
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Curling up by the Fire (Mistress of Legend)

Wednesday, January 2
Review at Book Nerd (Mistress of Legend)

Thursday, January 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views (Mistress of Legend)

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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