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Showing posts from December, 2019

Best of 2019

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So it's that time of year again: the time when "Best of..." lists appear listing various books that have captured our souls and our imaginations. A lot of times I am of the belief that next year can't beat the current one, but this time, I'm happy to report, reading wise, I already know that 2020 will be filled with a long of wonderful reading treasures. This time I will look back on the best books I have reviewed during 2019 (many of them were published in previous years) and I hope next year I will have the chance to do the same thing. To 2020!

From My Blog: 

The shame factor; heal your deepest fears and set yourself free by Stephan B. POULTER, PhD

Brief Reason I loved it: It's raw, honest and doesn't leave a stone unturned

The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio OLGUIN

Brief Reason I loved it: Tense mystery, real unapologetic woman and intriguing premise

The Bloody black flag by Steve Goble

Brief reason I loved it: Look at a pirate life and loved Spider John…

First chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Run Me To Earth by Paul Yoon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, now hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach, where bloggers post the first paragraph(s) of a book they are currently reading or planning to read sometime soon.

Most likely it will take me awhile to get to this book because the two books I am reading now are, well pretty thick: one at 470+ pages and another at 300+ pages, and I have recently started them this week, so most likely, Run Me To Earth by Paul Yoon will be my first January 2020 book. I hope you'll enjoy this week's selection. 
Alisak
(1969)
At the farmhouse, the three friends asked each other where they went to at nights. 
They had finished most of their duties for the day and were sitting down on the floor together in the corner of the long room that had, two decades ago, held dances and lavish parties but had now been converted into a ward. 
"A ship," Prany said. "I go to a very large ship." 
"Someplace where there is a working fire…

FF135. Book Review of Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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Name of Book: Miracle Creek

Author: Angie Kim

ISBN: 9780374156022

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the …

FF100. Book Review of Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

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Name of Book: Little Faith

Author: Nickolas Butler

ISBN: 9780062469717

Publisher: Ecco

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

In this moving new novel from celebrated author Nickolas Butler, a Wisconsin family grapples with the power and limitations of faith when one of their own falls under the influence of a radical church

Lyle Hovde is at the onset of his golden years, living a mostly content life in rural Wisconsin with his wife, Peg, daughter, Shiloh, and six-year old grandson, Isaac. After a troubled adolescence and subsequent estrangement from her parents, Shiloh has finally come home. But while Lyle is thrilled to have his whole family reunited, he’s also uneasy: in Shiloh’s absence, she has become deeply involved with an extremist church, and the devout pastor courting her is convinced Isaac has the spiritual ability to heal the sick.

While reckoning with his own faith—or lack thereof—Lyle soon finds himself torn between his unease about the church and his desire to keep his daughte…

FF149. Book Review of Twine by Monica Duncan

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Name of Book: Twine

Author: Monica Duncan

ISBN: 9780921332626

Publisher: Crowsnest Books

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

When Juniper Kowalski, a mediocre artist and graduate of one of the best art schools in the country, gets pregnant by her married lover, she ends up back in Gobles, Michigan, living in her dead grandma's trailer. She fears that her new life as a hotel maid, and as the best friend of a subrural call girl, has fulfilled some bleak fate. But Juniper's pregnancy also ignites a will to create. Every hurt that she's ever suffered begins to emerge as confrontational, public art.

Family lore has taught Juniper disdain for men. But it's not hatred for her absent father, abusive grandpa, or even her baby daddy, causing her issues. It's facing actual love from a big, flawed, breathtaking man. "Twine" celebrates a quietly radical view of small-town life, ambition, and motherhood. It is the story of a young woman who needs no hero, and what she does…

FFE148. Book Review of A WEDDING IN DECEMBER BY SARAH MORGAN

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Name of Book: A Wedding in December

Author: Sarah Morgan

ISBN:  B07L5Q893W

Publisher: HQN

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with he…

FF137. Book Review of The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell

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Name of Book: The Peacock Summer

Author: Hannah Richell

ISBN:9780062899347

Publisher: Harper

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

From internationally bestselling author Hannah Richell comes this compelling story of hidden secrets, forbidden love, and a mysterious old house.

Two summers, decades apart. . .

Two women whose lives are forever entwined. . .

And a house that holds the dark secrets that could free them both.

1955: At twenty-six-years old, Lillian Oberon is young, beautiful, and married to the wealthy and handsome Charles Oberon. She is also the mistress of Cloudesley, a lavish estate. But not long after her nuptials, she begins to feel her marriage is a sham. Like the exquisite objets d'art, curiosities, and treasures her husband collects, she is just another possession captured within the walls of the grand countryside manor. With a sister and young stepson in her care, Lillian has made peace with her unfulfilling marriage and fate--until a charismatic artist visits for the…

FF141. Book Review of Without Her by Rosalind Brackenbury

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Name of Book: Without Her

Author: Rosalind Brackenbury

ISBN: 9781883285791

Publisher: Delphinium

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

The author of Becoming George Sand has crafted a “standout novel of a tested friendship . . . highlighted by fine prose and finely drawn characters” (Publishers Weekly).

When her old friend Hannah doesn’t show up at her house in the south of France, everyone assumes that Claudia, who has known Hannah since their shared years at boarding school, will know where she is and what has happened. But as Claudia travels from the United States to France to help her friend’s husband and children conduct their search, she is forced to deal with her old jealousy of Hannah, as well as her own relationship in the present with her French lover, Alexandre. As events unfold, Claudia begins to wonder if Hannah and Alexandre may have had an affair and if that has something to do with Hannah’s mysterious disappearance.

In this exquisitely written, Ferrante-esque novel the quest…

FFE143, Renia's Diary: A Holocaust Journal by Renia Spiegel

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Name of Book: Renia's Diary; A Holocaust Journal

Author: Renia Spiegel, Elizabeth Bellan, Deborah Lipstadt

ISBN: B07NYGJY26

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

The long-hidden diary of a young Polish woman's life during the Holocaust, translated for the first time into English

Renia Spiegel was born in 1924 to an upper-middle class Jewish family living in southeastern Poland, near what was at that time the border with Romania. At the start of 1939 Renia began a diary. “I just want a friend. I want somebody to talk to about my everyday worries and joys. Somebody who would feel what I feel, who would believe me, who would never reveal my secrets. A human being can never be such a friend and that’s why I have decided to look for a confidant in the form of a diary.” And so begins an extraordinary document of an adolescent girl’s hopes and dreams. By the fall of 1939, Renia and her younger sister Elizabeth (née Ariana) were staying with their grandpare…

FF104. Book Review of The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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Name of Book: The Things We Cannot Say

Author: Kelly Rimmer

ISBN: 9781525823565

Publisher: Graydon House

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measu…

FFE117. Book Review of The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul

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Name of Book: The Lost Daughter

Author: Gill Paul

ISBN: B07G13Z9ZC

Publisher: William Morrow

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

If you loved I AM ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon you won't want to miss this novel about her sister, Grand Duchess Maria. What really happened to this lost Romanov daughter? A new novel perfect for anyone curious about Anastasia, Maria, and the other lost Romanov daughters, by the author of THE SECRET WIFE.

1918: Pretty, vivacious Grand Duchess Maria Romanov, the nineteen-year-old daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II, lives with her family in suffocating isolation, a far cry from their once-glittering royal household. Her days are a combination of endless boredom and paralyzing fear; her only respite are clandestine flirtations with a few of the guards imprisoning the family—never realizing her innocent actions could mean the difference between life and death

1973: When Val Doyle hears her father’s end-of-life confession, “I didn’t want to kill her,” she’s stu…

FFE129. Book Review of The Reckless Oath we made by Bryn Greenwood

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Name of Book: The Reckless Oath We Made

Author: Bryn Greenwood

ISBN: B07N5JS9X8

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

A provocative love story between a tough Kansas woman on a crooked path to redemption and the unlikeliest of champions, from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Zee is nobody's fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead's temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee's champion. He's barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.

When an abduction tears Zee's family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined--Gentry--and sets in motion …

FFE118. Book Review of The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin

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Name of Book: The Accidentals

Author: Minrose Gwin

ISBN: B079DQMZDW

Publisher: William Morrow

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

Following the death of their mother from a botched backwoods abortion, the McAlister daughters have to cope with the ripple effect of this tragedy as they come of age in 1950s Mississippi and then grow up to face their own impossible choices —an unforgettable, beautiful novel that is threaded throughout with the stories of mothers and daughters in pre-Roe versus Wade America.

“Life heads down back alleys, takes sharp left turns. Then, one fine day it jumps the track and crashes.”

In the fall of 1957, Olivia McAlister is living in Opelika, Mississippi, caring for her two girls, June and Grace, and her husband, Holly. She dreams of living a much larger life--seeing the world and returning to her wartime job at a landing boat factory in New Orleans. As she watches over the birds in her yard, Olivia feels like an “accidental”—a migratory bird blown off course.

When…

FFE132. Book Review of The Perfect Son by Lauren North

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Name of Book: The Perfect Son

Author: Lauren North

ISBN: B07KNSM9PM

Publisher: Berkley

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

A disturbing and shocking debut novel of psychological suspense about a recently widowed mother, her young son, and the lengths she'll go to in order to keep him safe.

When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie's eighth birthday, she's sure of these things: She's been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her.

After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that's what matters.

But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won't liste…

FF138. Book Review of The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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Name of Book: The Sisters of the Winter Wood

Author: Rena Rossner

ISBN: 9780316483360

Publisher: Redhook

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

In a remote village surrounded by vast forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami's babka and the low rumble of their Tati's prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell - despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And this is not the only danger lurking in the woods.

As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret passed down through generations. Faced with a magical heritage they never knew existed, the sisters realize the old fairy tales are true...and could save them all.

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.)

FF103. Book Review of Milady by Laura L Sullivan

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Name of Book: Milady

Author: Laura L Sullivan

ISBN: 9780451489982

Publisher: Berkley

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

From the glittering ballrooms of 17th Century England to the dangerous intrigues of the French court, Laura L. Sullivan brings an unlikely heroine to the page, turning on its head everything we’ve been told about The Three Musketeers and their ultimate rival.

I’ve gone by many names, though you most likely know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess. Seductress. A secondary player in someone else’s tale.

It’s finally time I tell my own story. The truth isn’t tidy or convenient, but it’s certainly more interesting.

Before you cast judgment, let me start at the beginning, and you shall learn how an innocent girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe.

Because we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong.

Link for Review

4 out of 5

(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readabl…

FFE112 FFE144 and FF158. Book Review of The Golden Wolf by Linnea Hartsuyker

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Name of Book: The Golden Wolf

Author: Linnea Hartsuyker

ISBN: 9780062563743

Publisher: Harper

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

The fates of Ragnvald and his sister Svanhild unfold to their stunning conclusion in this riveting final volume in The Golden Wolf Saga, a trilogy that conjures the ancient world with the gripping detail, thrilling action, and vivid historical elements of Game of Thrones and Outlander.

Ragnvald has long held to his vision of King Harald as a golden wolf who will bring peace to Norway as its conqueror—even though he knows that Harald's success will eventually mean his own doom. He is grateful to have his beloved sister, the fierce and independent Svanhild, once more at his side to help keep their kingdom secure. Free from the evil husband who used her, she is now one of Harald's many wives.

While Svanhold is happy to be reunited with her beloved brother, and enjoys more freedom than ever before, she is restless and lonely. When an old enemy of Ragnvald&#…

FFE59. Book Review of The way of beauty by Camille Di Maio

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Name of Book: The Way of Beauty

Author: Camille Di Maio

ISBN: B074H94421

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn- of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dream…

FF77. Book Review of Queen for a day by Maxine Rosaler

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Name of Book: Queen for a day

Author: Maxine Rosaler

ISBN: 9781883285753

Publisher: Delphinium

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

After Mimi Slavitt’s three-year-old son, Danny, is diagnosed with autism, she finds herself in a world nearly as isolating as her son’s. It is a position she shares only with mothers like herself, women chosen against their will for lives of sacrifice and martyrdom. Searching for miracles, begging for the help of heartless bureaucracies while arranging every minute of every day for children who can never be left alone, they exist in a state of perpetual crisis, normal life always just out of reach.

In chapters told from Mimi’s point of view and theirs, these women emerge as conflicted, complex individuals, totally unsuited for sainthood, often dreaming of the day they can just walk away. Taking its title from the 1950s reality TV show in which the contestants—housewives living lives filled with pain and suffering—competed with one another for deluxe refrigerat…

FF136. Book Review for The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson

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Name of Book: The Other Mrs. Miller

Author: Allison Dickson

ISBN: 9780525539247

Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

Two women are watching each other.

Phoebe Miller isn't sure when the rusty car started showing up in the cul-de-sac she calls home, or why its driver would be spying on her. What could be interesting about an unhappy housewife who drowns her sorrows in ice cream and wine and barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.

When a new family moves in across the street--the exuberant Vicki, who just might become the gossipy best friend Phoebe's always wanted, and her handsome college-bound son, Jake, who offers companionship of a different variety--Phoebe finds her dull routine infused with the excitement she's been missing. But with her head turned she's no longer focused on the woman in the car. And she really should be...

An addictive domestic thriller for fans of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Couple Next Door, The Other Mrs. Mill…

FFE115 and FF151. Book Review of Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

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Name of Book: Her Secret Son

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

ISBN: 9780778351269

Publisher: Mira

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

How far would you go to protect the ones you love…when they may not be yours to protect?

When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncove…

FFE113.Book Review of Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers

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Name of Book: Waisted

Author: Randy Susan Meyers

ISBN: B07JYLR3F4

Publisher: Atria Books

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.

Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother's knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.

The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave b…

FF107. Book Review of Cape May by Chip Cheek

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Name of Book: Cape May

Author: Chip Cheek

ISBN: 9781250297150

Publisher: Celadon

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.

Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love…