6.5/10

#BookReview
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
@JuliaFierro @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island, an islet off the coast of Long Island. Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns to live in “The Castle,” the island’s grandest 

estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children biracial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals. 

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island’s bread-and-butter. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. 

Her upbringing on economically segregated Long Island and her fascination-followed by-heavy research into gypsy moths inspired this novel, translating her acute observations into a literary meditation on race, politics, and community. In incorporating the political tensions of the 1992 presidential election, Fierro makes powerful parallels to the 2016 presidential Clinton campaign. 

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations. 


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Pensive, poignant and undeniably tragic!

In this latest novel by Fierro, she transports us to Avalon Island, an islet infested by not only the gypsy moth but small-town, small-minded politics, economics, and environmental consciousness.

The prose is vivid and exquisitely descriptive. The characters are destructive, materialistic and damaged. And the plot, which is ultimately about love, life, loss, cruelty, deception, familial dynamics, and vengeance has too many subplots and tackles too many issues, including industrial pollution, social and class division and strife, abuse, racism and emerging sexuality to not get a little bogged down and awkward.

I have to admit this was a really hard one for me. There is no doubt that Fierro can write and write well and some readers will love the dark, somber feel of this story, but for me, I couldn’t quite connect with the characters and the story had too much misery and not enough redemption.

About the Author

JULIA FIERRO is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer and Cutting Teeth. Her work has been published in Buzzfeed, Glamour, The Millions, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, a creative home to more than 3,500 writers in NYC, Los Angeles and Online.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Julia Fierro for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Julia Fierro, visit her website at: juliafierro.com/author/

or follow her on Twitter at: @JuliaFierro

#BookReview
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

Synopsis:

We live in the same place, but never together.

Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.

Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Poignant, tragic and excessively complex!

In this latest novel by Brashares she delves into the emotional and psychological effects of blended families on all those involved and highlights the challenges faced by those specifically caught in the middle.

The characters are vulnerable, troubled and coming of age. The prose is simple and clear. And the plot, which is ultimately about guilt, love, life, loss, yearning, heartbreak, deception, friendship and family just seems to have a little too many subplots, too much angst, too much drama and too many issues, including class, divorce and race to not get bogged down and overpower the characterization and fluidity of the main storyline.

I am a huge fan of Ann Brashares from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series and I look forward to reading other novels by her in the future but for me this one wasn’t one of her best.

Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways, especially Random House Canada, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                                          

For more information on Ann Brashares, visit her website at: annbrashares.com

or follow her on twitter at: @AnnBrashares

#BookReview
All The Lies We Tell by Megan Hart
@Megan_Hart

Synopsis:

Everyone knew Alicia Harrison’s marriage to Ilya Stern wouldn’t last. They’d grown up on a remote stretch of Quarry Street, where there were two houses, two sets of siblings, and eventually, a tangled mess of betrayal, longing, and loss. Tragedy catapulted Allie and Ilya together, but divorce—even as neighbors—has been relatively uncomplicated.

Then Ilya’s brother, Nikolai, comes home for their grandmother’s last days. He’s the guy who teased and fought with Allie, infuriated her, then fled town without a good-bye. Now Niko makes her feel something else entirely—a rush of connection and pure desire that she’s been trying to quench since one secret kiss years ago. Niko’s not sticking around. She’s not going to leave. And after all that’s happened between their families, this can’t be anything more than brief pleasure and a bad idea.

But the lies we tell ourselves can’t compete with the truths our hearts refuse to let go…


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Intense, poignant and full of angst!

This is a dark, married-the-wrong-brother romance that highlights how tragedy affects us all differently; sometimes we cling to each other and sometimes we runaway.

The prose is fluid and smooth. The characters are troubled, complex but not entirely endearing. And the plot, which is ultimately about guilt, love, life, loss, heartbreak, yearning, sexual tension, friendship and family does have some of the sexy and steamy we’ve come to expect in Hart’s novels but at the same time seemed to have just a little too much going on for me.

I have to admit that this wasn’t one of my favourite novels by Hart but her exceptional ability to write stories about unconventional relationships and to push people to understand and accept that there is no one norm will always make me a huge fan.

If you haven’t already had a chance to read my review for one of her previous novels “Beg For It” be sure to check it out HERE!

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Montlake Romance, for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on May 1, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

For more information on Megan Hart, visit her website at: meganhart.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @Megan_Hart

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen @MaryTorjussen @BerkleyPub‏

Synopsis:

A jaw-dropping novel of psychological suspense that asks, “If the love of your life disappeared without a trace, how far would you go to find out why? “ 

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened.

As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Suspenseful, complex, and highly descriptive!

This is a psychological thriller that emphasizes that people aren’t always who they seem and victims have many faces.

The pose is clear and precise. The main character, Hannah, is intelligent but hard to relate to. She is incredibly selfish, in constant denial and consistently makes poor choices. And the plot, which is ultimately about obsession, anger, hatred, physical abuse and violence is mysterious and very twisty but has just a little too many sub plots including family, neighbour, friendship and work drama to remain believable and realistic.

I have to admit that this story captured my attention from the moment I read the synopsis and for the first half of the book I was exceptionally intrigued and curious, but I found that by the time Torjussen wrapped up all the loose ends she had lost me. I will commend the author on an incredible imagination though and I do believe that this is one of those books that some people will absolutely love, unfortunately for me the moments of lucidity in this novel were too outweighed by all the chaos.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Berkley Publishing, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on April 18, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Mary Torjussen follow her on Twitter at: @MaryTorjussen

Book Review: Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

Synopsis:

Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.

When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.

Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution . . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.

To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.

But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Suspenseful, intriguing and romantic!

This story is told from two perspectives; Alanna, a young, pregnant, Irish singer who must quickly learn how to survive as a widow when her husband is suddenly taken from her; and Jesse, a womanizer who finds himself struggling to rediscover who he truly is after suffering a catastrophic event.

The story, for me, started off really well. The plot was interesting and intriguing, and the immediate action and suspense had me completely captivated and engaged. However, by the second half of the story I was a little less engrossed. The character development seemed a little flat, and the repetitive Irish dialogue consistently caused a disruption to the flow.

I have to admit that I was really looking forward to reading this novel as Colleen Coble is a well-known, successful author in this genre, and although this wasn’t my favourite novel, I enjoyed the overall message of the importance of love and I do look forward to reading future releases by her.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on January 10, 2017. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Colleen Coble, visit her website at: colleencoble.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @colleencoble

Book Review: Filthy Rich by Raine Miller

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The Official Synopsis:

Billionaire Caleb Blackstone lives in the glamorous world of wealth and success, with every material luxury. But the moment he sees Brooke Casterley, none of that matters. Caleb is filled with a raw, undeniable need that he can’t ignore…for a girl who is so completely different from everything and everyone he’s ever known.

Only Brooke isn’t looking for love. She knows all too well just how much damage the wrong guy can do. Still, what sane, broke British girl can resist the charms of an incredibly sexy, chivalrous billionaire? What starts as flirtation quickly turns into all-consuming passion. Nothing could have prepared her for the searing heat of Caleb’s touch—or just how much she craves him.

Their whirlwind romance is the stuff of high-society fantasy—but for every moment of pleasure, there is a cost. Past mistakes and tragedy shadow them both…and falling for him might be the kind of trouble she can’t afford.


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Erotic, steamy, and full of drama!

This story is told from two perspectives; Brooke, a young woman trying to move onward and upward after suffering some severe mental and physical hardships; and Caleb, a rich, handsome billionaire who has never fallen in love.

The story, for me, started off really well. The plot was interesting and intriguing, and the characterization and budding drama had me completely engrossed and captivated. However, by the second half of the story I was a little less engaged. The plot seemed to become a little flat, and the repetitive dialogue/narration caused the flow to be slightly disjointed.

I have to admit that I was really looking forward to reading this novel, as I really enjoyed reading “The Blackstone Affair” series in the past, and although I didn’t love this as much, I think fans of Raine Miller will still enjoy this first book in “The Blackstone Dynasty” series.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Montlake Romance, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on November 15, 2016. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Raine Miller, visit her website at: RaineMiller.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @Raine_Miller

 

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

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The Official Synopsis:

Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing, powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth. Most Wanted is sure to be Lisa Scottoline’s most discussed, bestselling novel yet.


Book Rating: 6.5/10

I really don’t like to give bad reviews, as I can only imagine how hard it is to be a writer and how much effort goes into every book they write. However, saying that, I was little disappointed in this one.

This story has a great premise, a little suspense, a bit of mystery, and some interesting moral and ethical dilemmas.

Overall though, I found the plot slow and slightly unrealistic, and the characterization seemed somewhat flat and unbelievable.

I have read several really good Lisa Scottoline books in the past, such as Every Fifteen Minutes, and I look forward to reading her next release, but this one wasn’t one of her best.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

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The Official Synopsis:

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.


Book Rating: 6.5/10

As a book lover, I was really excited to read this book. I thought it had a great premise and great potential. Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to my expectations and I can’t really pinpoint exactly where it went wrong.

The imagery of Paris and the French countryside is vivid, bold, and extremely well done. The characters evolve, develop, and grow throughout the story. And the plot is unique and thoughtful.

It is, ultimately, a story about loneliness and longing, the ability to love and to be loved, and what it means to truly live.

However, saying all that, it just never seemed to capture my attention. It didn’t flow well and I found myself putting it down numerous times before pushing myself to pick it back up to finish it. 

This is probably one of those stories that some people will love, but I would have to say with all the other great stories out there I would give this one a miss.

 

 

Shadow Play by Iris Johansen

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The Official Synopsis:

An explosive new Eve Duncan thriller from the New York Times #1 bestselling author

Eve Duncan is the most sought-after artist in the field of forensic sculpting. Dedicated to her work ever since her daughter Bonnie was taken and killed at the age of seven, Eve feels a sense of duty to those whose lives were lost and whose bones are now in her hands. When a sheriff in California contacts her with a request for help on the reconstruction of the skull of a nine-year-old girl whose body has been buried for eight years, his intensity and investment in the case puzzle her. But when the ghost of the girl begins communicating with her, Eve finds herself wrapped up in the case more intensely than she could have ever imagined. Not since Bonnie has Eve had such an experience, and suddenly she finds herself determined to solve the murder and help the little girl find peace. Except that the killer is still out there, and he knows Eve is on the case. And he won’t rest until anything and anyone that could reveal his identity is eliminated… 


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Unfortunately, this book didn’t really work for me.

I have read many of the other Eve Duncan books in the series, this is book #19, and really enjoyed them, but this one was a little disappointing.

The plot wasn’t that suspenseful. There was a supernatural element that seemed to make the story disjointed at times. And even though some of the usual characters were back, Eve and Joe, the other supporting characters were unrealistic and flat.

I usually like Iris Johansen’s work so I will definitely give her next book a try, but unless you are a die-hard fan of the Eve Duncan series, I’d give this one a miss.

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

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The Official Synopsis:

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl’s estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


Book Rating: 6.5/10

This is a hard book for me to review. I actually picked it up a few months ago, started it, put it down, and only now just picked it up again to finish it.

This story involves two plots that run simultaneously to each other. One is about the wolves. The other is about Rachel, the zoologist that oversees them.

The plot of the wolves was very interesting and the author did a great job describing their behaviour and their interaction with nature. On the other hand, the plot of Rachel was a little less intriguing and focuses on familial dysfunction, detachment, and motherhood. 

The vocabulary of this story is very rich and the imagery is incredible. However, for me, the lacklustre characterization made the story, as a whole, a little flat and slow.

 

 

 

 

 

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