Tuesday, June 11, 2019

G1099 Book Review of The southern side of paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Name of Book: The Southern Side of Paradise

Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1662-0

Publisher: Gallery

Part of a Series: Peachtree Bluffs Trilogy

Type of book: Georgia, Peachtree Bluffs, sisterhood, motherhood, secrets, family, friends, unexpected changes, love, dreams vs desire, marriage, happiness

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

From internationally bestselling author and “rising star of Southern fiction” (Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author) Kristy Woodson Harvey comes the third novel in her Peachtree Bluff series, in which a secret threatens the tight-knit bond between a trio of sisters and their mother.

With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).

Characters:

Main characters include Ansley and Emerson while the sisters of Caroline and Sloane and their families take on secondary roles in the tale. From the previous two books, one expects Emerson to be happy because she had reunited with her high school sweetheart and has landed a role of a lifetime. But soon the reader learns that her fiance isn't happy with her in Hollywood and due to his background of coming from a family where he came third, if at all, he wishes that Emerson would sacrifice her dreams, which leaves Emerson in a position of trying to balance between her dreams and her happiness. Ansley has also finally found happiness, but after being a single mother to three girls for so long, she seems to be afraid of trying to grasp it or to believe it, and often she puts her daughters first over her first crush, Jack. Sloane and Caroline are also trying to work out their own issues, but there isn't a lot of focus on them, which makes sense because the reader has previously gotten to know them in the last two books.

Theme:

Life is one big surprise

Plot:

Just like the prequels, SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE and THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM, the tale is told in first person narrative from Emerson's and Ansley's points of view. And yes, the secrets and revelations that were revealed in the previous two books get wrapped up in this one, so reading the previous two is a must. (And if not, why not read them anyways to get introduced to a lot of awesome primary and secondary characters?) It's heartwarming and a real summer treat among the hot days. The story didn't drag on, and there is focus on realism of developing characters as well as showing how we are more than caricatures. Also, just when you think you figured life out, lots more curve balls will get thrown towards you.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of DEAR CAROLINA and LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE and the founder of Design Chic, a popular interior design blog. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, and Domino. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Visit Kristy at kristywoodsonharvey.com or on Instagram @kristywharvey.

Opinion:

Kristy Woodson Harvey's previous book, THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM has already set high expectations when it came to the series finale of THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE, thus I expected the book to be good, but I didn't expect it to blow both of them out of the water so to speak. The characters of Emerson and Ansley really outshine, and I loved the drama and heart that followed numerous exposed secrets as well as facing up to some secrets that were introduced in the previous two books. Out of the three, THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE is definitely a top favorite out of the year. There is plenty of conflict, of tension, but above all there is emphasis on familial ties between the women and the men in their lives as well as the fact that we are complex and flawed human beings. I am only sorry to be reviewing it so late, and I am sorry that this is the last book in Peachtree Bluff Series because I'm not quite ready to leave the Murphy alone yet.

I was given this 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.)

Monday, June 10, 2019

G684 Book Review of The Girls by Emma Cline

Name of Book: The Girls

Author: Emma Cline

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9860-3

Publisher: Random House Book

Type of book: California, 1960s, teenage angst, looking for love in the wrong places, cult, crime, murder, life, control

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Characters:

Main characters include Evie Boyd, a teenage girl who is suffering from issues that other women around her age suffer from and a woman who is looking for love and acceptance in the wrong places. Evie for me is a bit prickly and tended to be unlikable. There is also Suzanne who guides Evie and introduces her to Charles Manson like cult figure as well as someone who seems to have all the answers to life. The men are given very little spotlight and one finds the adulation that women had towards him or them a bit confusing, maybe because Evie acted as more of a bystander rather than someone in the thick of things?

Theme:

Loneliness and isolation can be taken advantage of

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative from Evie's point of view. Its more focused on the women rather than the men, and it contained quite a lot of truths that I hadn't really considered or thought about. While I was confused about why the young women were enthralled with the Charles Manson-like personality, (unfortunately not much is explored about the cult life) I wasn't confused as to why Evie followed Suzanne and would have continued to follow her. It certainly made me look at the Manson murders in a new way, to be honest.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Emma Cline is from California. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review. She won the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize for Fiction.

Opinion:

When I won THE GIRLS in 2016, I had no idea what a wonderful and thrilling novel I'd won. I'm only sorry that it took me so long to read the book. Most often when there is focus on a charismatic leader, or the reason that girls get into bad things, its always a male. But what if in this case, its because of a young woman one sees in the park? That is the premise that THE GIRLS operates under. Part psychological thriller part exploration of a Charles Manson type of leader and the girls that made him famous, THE GIRLS also deals with insecurities, with an insatiable longing that Evie Boyd and Suzanne go through when on a cusp of adolescence. THE GIRLS is definitely spell binding and have caught me in a spell that was almost impossible to let go.

I won this at goodreads firstreads

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.)

G1115 Book Review for What we do for love by Anne Pfeffer

Name of Book: What We Do For Love

Author: Anne Pfeffer

ISBN: 978-1-7338220-0-8

Publisher: Self published

Type of book: California, teenage pregnancy, reliance, art, money, day by day, modern day

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

"If Lorelai Gilmore of Gilmore Girls was dropped into a thriller, it might resemble this appealing novel." --Kirkus Reviews

Winner of Chick Lit category -- 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards


Thirty-eight-year-old Nicole has given up on finding love. The single mother prefers to focus on a few things that she cherishes--her sixteen-year-old son Justin, her friends, and her art.

When she convinces a major museum to show a piece of her work, and she thinks her career has finally turned a corner, her son brings home a girl, Daniela, to spend the night. Daniela's parents have thrown her out of the house: she is pregnant with Justin's child.

Shattered, Nicole feels she has no choice but to take the girl in. She finds herself falling in love with Daniela, but increasingly troubled by the behavior of the girl’s icy, tormented mom and hard-drinking, hard-fisted dad.

Nicole struggles as fear and deceit enter her formerly peaceful life. Forced to deal with people she doesn't trust or like, fearful for the future of both her son and the grandchild they're expecting, Nicole wonders if she can do what she tells Justin to do: always have faith in yourself and do the right thing.

What We Do for Love: A Novel is a standalone story written by award-winning author Anne Pfeffer.

Characters:

Main character in the tale is Nicole Adams, a previously divorced single mother of a sixteen-year-old son, Justin. Nicole is a talented potter who wants to branch out into art instead of doing commercial work, and she is surrounded by strong support from family and friends. She is resourceful, has a big heart and often tries to keep peace. Secondary characters would be her son Justin, an intelligent sixteen year old young man who desires to attend an ivy league school as well as his girlfriend Daniela who comes from less than ideal circumstances and who is pregnant with Justin's baby. There is also Nicole's older sister whose husband is trying to find himself, and ultimately Daniela's mother who is fleeing an abusive relationship and who has important secrets she is hiding.

Theme:

Expect the unexpected

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Nicole's point of view, and it takes place over a month or so as Nicole gets unexpected visitors in her house, as well as realization that out of those visitors she is the only with a steady job and steady income. A lot of the plot is focused on trying to live day by day with unexpected visitors as well as worrying about the future and trying to lighten the situation. There are no dramatic secrets to unearth but instead its focused on a slice of life.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)




Buy the Book:
Amazon
Add to Goodreads
​​


Meet the Author: ​

Award-winning novelist Anne Pfeffer grew up in Phoenix, Arizona reading prodigiously and riding horses. After working in Chicago and New York, she escaped back to the land of sunshine in Los Angeles.

​She has worked in banking and as a pro bono attorney, representing abandoned children in adoption and guardianship proceedings. Anne has a daughter living in New York and is the author of four books in the YA/New Adult genres.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter
Opinion:

To be honest, I think I was expecting a lot more from the story than I got. First of all, yay that it features a single mother with a son (My son is a toddler) and I also liked that despite the stereotypes and so forth, she is portrayed as a bread-winner and is more concerned with her child rather than finding a relationship. I also loved the strong familial support she got from her friends and family and that there was much more to her than just being on the surface. Having said that, the ending ruined the tale for me to be honest, and I have a more difficult time believing in it. There is romance, but as mentioned, the main objective is for Nicole to figure out what she is going to do about her son and his pregnant girlfriend as well as a number of unexpected guests.

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 20 - Rocksprings Crafts - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 20 - The Pen & Muse Book Reviews - book spotlight
May 21 - Locks, Hooks and Books - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 22 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
May 23 - A Fountain of Books - review / author interview
May 24 - Working Mommy Journal - review
​May 27 - #redhead.with.book - book spotlight / giveaway
May 28 - Library of Clean Reads - review / author interview / giveaway
May 29 - Southern Today Gone Tomorrow - review
May 30 - FUONLYKNEW - review / giveaway
May 31 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
June 3 - eBook Addicts - review / giveaway
June 4 - Paulette's Papers - book spotlight / giveaway
June 4 - The Hufflepuff Nerdette - review / author interview / giveaway
June 5 - StoreyBook Reviews - review / giveaway
June 7 - Books for Books - review
June 10 - A Wondrous Bookshelf - review
June 11 - Amy’s Booket List - review / guest post
June 12 - Peaceful Pastime - review
June 13 - Fur Everywhere - review / giveaway
June 14 - Adventurous Jessy - review / giveaway
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review / giveaway

Go here for a giveaway 

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.)

G48 Book Review of The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

Name of Book: The Carrion BIrds

Author:Urban Waite

ISBN: 978-0-06-221688-5

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: 1990s, New Mexico, pointless, violent, bloodbath, mystery, cartel, drugs, family, chase, action

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with violence, vengeance, and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction-the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living

Life hasn't worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower and father who has made some tragic mistakes, he's got one good thing going for him: he's calm, cool, and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. A useful skill to have when you're paid to hurt people who stand in your boss's way.

But Ray isn't sure he wants to be that man anymore. He wants to go home to Coronado, New Mexico, to see the twelve-year-old son he hopes will recognize him. He wants to make a new life far from the violence of the last ten years. One last job will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival's stash. Simple, easy, clean.

Ray knows there's no such thing as easy, and sure enough, the first day ends in a catastrophic mess. Now, the runners who have always moved quietly through this idyllic desert town on the Mexican border want answers. And revenge. Short on time, with no one to trust but himself, Ray must come up with a clever plan or Coronado's newly appointed lady sheriff will have a vicious bloodbath on her hands.

Relentlessly paced and beautifully orchestrated, with refreshingly real, vulnerable, and very human characters and a vivid sense of place, The Carrion Birds is an unsettling and indelible work of literary noir in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane.

Characters:

Wait a minute, there were characters? Oh yeah, there were, but I can't recall much about them to be honest besides the fact that a lot of end up contributing to the horror of bloodbath in this particular town.

Theme:

Wait, there was supposed to be a lesson I should have learned?

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative, and if I recall correctly, the author wasn't able to keep track of who's talking. The tale is very descriptive, but at the same be prepared for senseless violence that adds very little to the character development. I also was so tired of reading this book, that I even skimmed the ending.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Urban Waite is the author of the critically acclaimed novel THE TERROR OF LIVING. His short fiction ahs appeared in THe Best of the West Anthology, the Southern Review, and other literary journals. He grew up in Seattle, attended the University of Washiongton, and studied writing at Western Washington University and Emerson College. He lives in Seattle with his wife.

Opinion:

Ugh. I think the author is more in love with making this tale a blood-bath than something good and worthwhile. When I first won this book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I did expect grit, but I also expected to learn lessons or to be challenged or to actually like the book. This book is nothing like the other western tale I read that had me questioning a ton about survival and seeing people, both bad and good- as human beings. I ended up being disappointing in reading this book, especially when the only thing I recall is the obsession with murders and creating this unbelievable gory bloodbath. Are there any lessons from this book? None that I can pass on, ultimately.

I won this from goodreads firstreads 

0 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, June 7, 2019

G1087 Book Review of Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

Name of Book: Vintage 1954

Author: Antoine Laurain

ISBN: 9781910477670

Publisher: Gallic

Type of book: 2017, 1954, relatives, France, 1954 France versus 2017 France, nostalgia, finances, humor, time travel, aliens, wines, mixology, romance

Year it was published: 2019

Summary:

'The very quintessence of French romance...' The Times

When Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties.

The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who's on his first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows.

But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to 2017, and time is of the essence...

Characters:

Primary characters would Hubert, an owner of an apartment building where he meets Bob, Magalie and Julien. Hubert has a colorful history when it comes to the apartment building and it often seemed as if he was weary of life or else had no idea what to do about the financial money. There is also Bob, who had a lifelong dream of traveling to Paris and to fulfill that dream for himself and for his wife who is in a coma. Julien is a talented mixologist who has a secret crush on Magalie, who restores broken things. There are other characters, but they only get a glance, such as Hubert's mysterious great uncle who traveled to South America and disappeared as well as famous French celebrities.

Theme:

Past has things to teach

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, although I think the primary characters would have been Hubert and Julien. But other characters such as Magalie and Bob also make their points of view known. The science fiction in the tale is brief, and most of the focus is on Paris of 1954 and what the characters saw and experienced, especially when compared to modern day. I think the story is more plot driven than anything else, and most of the focus was on Paris rather than the character growth.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Antoine Laurain lives in Paris. His award-winning novels have been translated into 14 languages and have sold more than 150,000 copies in English. THE PRESIDENT'S HAT was a Waterstones Book Club and Indies Introduce selection, and THE RED NOTEBOOK was on the Indie Next List.

Jane Aitken is a publisher and translator from the French.

Emily Boyce is an editor and in-house translator at Gallic Books

Opinion:

What I liked about VINTAGE 1954 is the slight humor that laces the pages, my favorite scenes being that of Bob the American meeting his wife, or else when the point of view shifts from Hubert upon the discovery of an old bus to the passengers having their own thoughts about him, which I found funny. I haven't seen the movie An American in Paris, but have heard of Edith Piaf. I also should mention that the tale is replete with famous people of 1950s, and aside from Edith Piaf, I am not familiar with any of them, and often wished that I had an glossary to look up who's who. I also think that VINTAGE 1954 is more of a call for people not to forget their roots or their history, to look beyond the modern days and see what past can teach us.

This was given to me for a 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, June 1, 2019

Coming Attractions for June 2019

To be honest, I feel as if I am still coping with a few things that went wrong in my life. I also am beginning to think that it might be time to become a bit more involved in my dream projects: travel through 50 states and time travel, which might happen. Wish me luck.

Book Tours/Spotlights: 

What we do for love by Anne Pfeffer (June 6th, 2019)

The Revolutionist by Robert Tucker (June 10th, 2019)

Winter Frost by Lauren Carr (June 11th, 2019)

Burton Blake by Robert Tucker (June 20th, 2019)

Eternally Artemsia by Melissa Muldoon (June 25th, 2019)

Possible Reviews:

Alice and Gerald; A Homicidal Love Story by Ron Franscell

The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

The Girls by Emma Cline

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Promised Land by Martin Fletcher

The Exile by Gregory Erich Phillips

Planned Reads:

The Shame Factor; Heal Your Deepest Fears and Set Yourself Free by Stephan B. Poulter, PhD

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (50 States Project)

The Barrowfields by Philip Lewis

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee; Using Jewish teachings to raise self-reliant children by Wendy Mogel, PhD

It's My Trail, Too; a Comanche Indian's Journey on the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Ronald R. Cooper

For Fresh Fiction: 

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac

The Rose by Tiffany Reisz

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

June 2019

The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani
SR: June 5th, 2019
FR:
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
FR: N/A
The Summer of Ellen- Agnete Friis
SR: May 21st, 2019
FR:
All the Winding World-Kate Innes
SR: May 29th, 2019
FR:
Eternally Artemisia-Melissa Muldoon
SR: May 30th, 2019
FR:
What we do for love-Anne Pfeffer
SR: May 21st, 2019
FR: June 5th, 2019
The Revolutionist- Robert Tucker
SR: May 21st, 2019
FR:

Nonfiction:
Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
FR: N/A
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