Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Other People's Houses" by Abbi Waxman

At any given moment in other people's houses, you can find...repressed hopes and dreams...moments of unexpected joy...someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband...

*record scratch*

As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors' private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton's wife is mysteriously missing, and now this...

This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed! It was a hilarious, realistic, and brutally honest look into modern day family life. I am in awe of how author, Abbi Waxman, managed to spin the everyday mundane happenings of child rearing, grocery shopping, and marriage into such a delightful story. 

This book is about a group of neighbors whose lives are detailed after the main character, Frances, heads to one of her carpool kids' houses for a forgotten school item and walks in on her neighbor, Anne, having an affair on the living room floor. This effects not only the life of Anne and her family, but every family whose child rides in the carpool also.

This story follows the lives of 4 families that live on the same block and have daily interactions with one another. Some are friends out of mutual interests, other just because their children play together. I loved this book because it shows that everyone's life is anything but boring. It's always interesting to know whats happening in other people's houses. 

While everyone in this story has some kind of insecurity and marriage problem of their own, I feel the way the characters dealt with their issues were a real to life and completely relatable to most families today. Its a book that shows that not every family is perfect, no matter how they look to others on the outside, and that everyone has their own way of dealing with all the minor or major crisis's that appear daily in family life.

***Side note- I imagined the main character of this book as Katie Otto from ABC's sitcom "American Housewife". She is just funny as hell and takes on life with such sarcasm! ***

"Other People's Houses" is due to be released here in the U.S. on April 3, 2018 so pre-order it now! I give it 5 stars!

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for allowing me to read and give my honest review.  

Happy Reading! 

Maureen Lindley's "The Beloveds"

An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace.

Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.

Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband should have been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.

Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.
 ~taken from Goodreads

This book... I am all one for a dark, twisted thriller. Betty is a character I thought I would really like. I will admit I had high hopes for this book. It was a premise I hadn't seen before and it seemed interesting. I was wrong. 

This book is slow moving from the get-go and gets even slower in the second half. All of Betty's hatred for her sister, both past and present, are presented to the reader in the first half and primarily takes place in her thoughts and memories. As Betty drinks more and more,her thoughts get even more bizarre and evil. She goes from a selfish, scorned sister to a truly evil human being- all over a house she believes is alive and wants to have as her own.

There are very good parts to this novel that I really did enjoy. The way the author writes about Betty's time working in the art gallery had a melodic, magical element to it. Descriptions of the house and the grounds surrounding it were descriptive and enjoyable. The author does have some fine writing skills.

The biggest problem I had with "The Beloveds" was the complete lack of closure at the end. I got no satisfaction for finishing this long, mostly boring read. The book just ends and left me wondering "what just happened", and I mean tthis literally. Nothing at all happens. It left me wondering  if there a sequel. If there is a sequel do I really want to read it? I felt like I had wasted my time with a story that the author didn't finish writing.

This is a book I could have really liked, had the author, in my opinion, spent more time on story development and completion. It was a 2 star read for me.  

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for allowing me the opportunity to read and give my honest review. 

"The Beloveds" is due to be released here in the U.S. on April 3, 2018.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"I Was Anastasia" by Ariel Lawhon

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. 

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson. 

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. ~description taken from Goodreads

For those unfamiliar with the controversy that surrounded the basis of this novel this book will be very interesting. It is a bizarre and fascinating story. I found this fictional version entertaining, but it was difficult to follow. I had to really focus and stay alert. My memory had to be spectacular. I bookmarked and highlighted quite a bit so I could go back and reference. 

This story is told in reverse. There are conversations that happen and the reader is left to guess who characters are and how they play out in the story. I have read books similar to this format with no issues, so I honestly am not sure why this was such a struggle for me.

This novel follows two characters. Anastasia's story is told chronologically from start to finish while Anna's story is told in reverse, making it very difficult to understand where in the story I was and how exactly the two connect. Perhaps I was just waiting too hard for the connection to happen that I was distracted from the story?

Overall, the descriptions and characters were decent and the story line is entertaining. If you have read other non-fiction books about the Romanovs and know the outcome of this debate (no spoilers) than this book probably isn't for you. I felt I got more satisfaction reading nonfiction or simply researching online and looking at pictures of the women. 

This book is set to be released March 27, 2018 here in the US. If historical fiction based on real history excites you, then add this book to your TBR list! It was a solid 3 star read for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for allowing me an egalley to read and give my honest review. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"The Last Mrs. Parrish" by Liv Constantine

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent. 

So this was such a fun read! It will probably be a short review, so that I don't ruin any surprises!

It's fun, to me, to read about the lives of the 1%. The clothing, the houses, the nannies, and the special clubs and societies that make up their daily lives. Amber, the main character, envies these lives and has devised a plan to be the next and last Mrs Parrish. She is a sociopath and has no morals what so ever. The lengths she went to to secure her spot was jaw dropping.

I loved that there were only 3 main characters- homewrecker, wife and husband. I didn't get confused about who was who and were they belonged in the story. The story flows effortlessly and kept me engaged. Plot twists left me surprised and wondering how exactly this story would end. I was not disappointed!

I give this a 4.5 star read! The Last Mrs Parrish is available at your local bookstore, online retailer or library so you should definitely read it! Let me know what you thought once you're done!

Happy Reading! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jonathan and Drew Scott's "It Takes Two"

Jonathan and Drew Scott, known for their wildly popular HGTV shows including Property Brothers and Brother vs Brother, follow up their New York Times bestseller, Dream Home, with a highly anticipated memoir. It Takes Two: Our Story shares never-before-revealed tales of the brothers’ childhood and rise to fame—from starting their first business at 7 years old, their years modeling and acting, to their first house purchase at the impressive young age of eighteen. They soon found their true passion in life, combining their natural gifts for entertaining with the skills they learned from buying, renovating, and selling homes.
Complete with hilarious behind-the-scenes stories from set, Jonathan and Drew discuss how their family and upbringing have led to their success in life. Throughout, the brothers keep fans laughing with the clever—and sometimes zany—sibling banter for which they’re known best. ~taken from Amazon

So this is a book that had been on my "highly anticipating" list and I knew that if the audio version was actually narrated by the twins, that was the route I was taking. IT WAS and it did not disappoint! 

The light-hearted banter between Jonathan and Drew flowed throughout the book. They shared stories of their childhood, tales of their troubles pre-HGTV, and behind the scenes information once they became huge stars!

The sarcastic duo's voices were pleasant to listen to, and surprisingly their personalities projected the same in the audio book as they do on tv. Even their brother, girlfriend, fiance and parents had cameos, cementing in my mind that these two characters are the real deal. No fluff added to their multiple tv shows. They are who they are!

This book was a pleasure to listen to and I especially loved hearing about their life prior to fame. I won't give away any spoilers! The only complaint I have about the audio version is that sometimes I forgot who was actually talking! They sound the same! 

If you enjoy Jonathan and Drew Scott on television, you will enjoy hearing (or reading) this memoir, I guarantee it! 

A 5 star read for me! You can pick this up now at your local bookstore, online book retailer or library! 

Happy Reading! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Marieke Nijkamp's "Before I Let Go"

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.
Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.
Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter... ~taken from Amazon

Soooo... I think I should start by saying that I loved her first book, "This Is Where It Ends" , as it was original and very thought provoking. You can read my review here.

That being said, this book just didn't quit do it for me. Let me see if I can explain... 


This story did keep my attention, as I read through it pretty quickly. The chapters alternate between first person account and also letters (often unsent) between Corey and Kyra. The writing was beautiful, descriptive, and easy to read.  

That being said, the entire story in itself was quite unbelievable. First, we have this mentally ill girl in a very small town she was born and raised in, and the entire town hates her or is scared of her? Then suddenly they all fall in love with her, deam her as some kind of goddess with magical powers, but let her die? It was just odd.

Then there Corey's behavior when she goes back for the funeral. Careless, reckless and pretty much just acting like and outright bitch. I couldn't believe how rude she was to people and how mean the people, mainly grown adults, spoke to her. It was like watching a Disney Channel show where everyone yells and is disrespectful to each other the entire episode. 

I completely understand that desperation and fear can cause people to change. But an entire town acting like they did, including Kyra's family, was completely frustrating and unrealistic. Then, the way they treated Corey, allowing her to run away and live in a falling down, unheated hotel with no food, water, or warmth? COME ON!!! 

The characters, besides Corey and Kyra, were way under developed. At times I had trouble remembering who exactly Corey was interacting with and what their role in the town was. Even Kyra's parents were forgettable. Because Kyra's last name was mentioned ONCE at the very beginning, when the story mentions Mr. or Mrs. Soandso, it took me a minute to even register they were important characters in the story.

There was also the weird, supernatural element to the story. Corey constantly hears voices while Kyra supposedly could predict the future by the pictures she drew, but none of it was ever explained. It just added more frustration to the story.

 Finally, there was no actual build up. The story just kind of plateaus and then ends quickly leaving me asking "what just happened? That's it? There's no more?". 

So, I give this 3 stars. Yes, I was gripped, but was ultimately left confused and frustrated. I think the only reason I read so quickly was to see where the plot was going, ultimately feeling a complete let down.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me a copy to read and give my honest review. This book is now available at your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Simon Lelic's "The New Neighbors"

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door. ~taken from Goodreads

Jack and Syd think they've hit the jackpot when they buy their first home together. From the first few days they move in, weird things start happening...

This story is told from alternating perspectives in the form of journal entries from each couple. It was a unique writing style I didn't quite like at the beginning, but it seemed to grow non me and worked out for the best by the end of the book. 

The characters are unique and intriguing and kept me engaged. There are plenty of plot twists to keep me wanting to read more. While this wasn't the most compelling and riveting psychological thriller I have read, I did enjoy it and it did keep me guessing. 

The ending was a bit rushed, and I had a hard time following as all the questions i had throughout reading unraveled so quickly. The weird happenings throughout the story were explained, but it was a bit too neatly wrapped up. 

This book is due to be released here in the U.S. in April 2018. If you are looking for a quick read, you can pre-order now! I give this book a 3.5 star rating! 

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group to allow me the eARC to read and give my honest review.

Happy Reading!