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!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"The Broken Girls" by Simone St James

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . . 

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. ~taken from Goodreads

"Mary Hand, Mary Hand, dead and buried under land.... Faster, faster. Don't let her catch you. She'll say she wants to be your friend...." 

Author Simone St. James does a brilliant and seamless job at blending a mystery/thriller with a bit of paranormal/ghost story! That aspect alone kept my read chilling, mysterious, and hard to put down. 

This book alternates time periods and main characters to tell the stories and myths surrounding the all girls boarding school of Idlewild Hall. Fiona is a journalist who's sister was murdered and placed in the old field on Idlewild's grounds. She learns that a rich benefactor has bought it to restore the school, she can't help but wonder who and why.

We also follow a group of girls who are roommates and attend the school in the 1950's. They are all girls who, in some way, have been discarded by both their families and the world. One goes missing on weekend, and the course of the remaining girls' lives change forever. 

There is also a myth that a ghost named Mary wanders the grounds in a black dress and veil and has been around since the school was built. She has a supernatural way to get into people's minds to whisper exactly what people fear most about their lives. 

Are all these stories connected? Who killed Fiona's sister? What happened to the missing roommate? Is Mary real or just a myth?

The one thing I can say about this book is READ IT!!!
It was my first read by the author, but I have already added his other books to my TBR pile! 

The Broken Girls is due to be released here in the USA on March 20, 2018. Preorder it now because the second it is released you will want to stay up all night to finish it! 

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

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Lisa Jewell's "Then She Was Gone"

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafĂ©, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl? ~taken from Amazon

It's no secret that Lisa Jewell is one of my favorite authors. She has a way of writing that draws me in, keeps me hooked, and leaves me breathless at the end. I was almost in tears when I was approved to read the egalley of her latest novel, Then She Was Gone available on Amazon now for pre-order and due to be released on April 24, 2018 here in the U.S.

This book was cleverly plotted. When we first meet each character I wondered how exactly they would fit into this story. By the book's end, they had blended seamlessly. Each character was unique in their own way. Some started off lovable and by the end I hated them. Others visa versa. Each was relatable in their own little way. 

This story was a non-stop page turner. I can't remember the last time I wanted to finish a book so fast, yet didn't want it to end. I knew, somewhat, where the story was going but couldn't figure out how it all played out. The ending was a surprise and absolutely satisfying. 

I don't think it's a shock that I give this book a 5 star rating. I look forward to the next book by Lisa Jewell, as she always finds a way to keep readers on their toes. She is on my short list of authors I adore. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for allowing me the egalley to read and give my honest review. 

Happy Reading!