#20BooksofSummer

Book Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Official Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Docomes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Intriguing, thought-provoking, and deeply moving!

This is a uniquely written story that delves into the concept of parallel universes, and takes the thought of “what if” to a whole other level. 

It is beautifully crafted. The characters are flawed, resilient, and real. And the plot is distinctive, emotional, powerful, and completely absorbing.

This is, ultimately, a story about life, love, destiny, friendship, familial relationships, and contentment.

I really enjoyed this story and I look forward to hearing all the differing opinions and interesting discussion I am confident it will create.

Thank you to the “Chick Lit Book Club” on Goodreads for nominating this as our August read. This has been in my “to read” pile for way too long and I’m glad you made me finally bump it to the top.

If you have’t read this story, pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Taylor Jenkins Reid, visit her website at: taylorjenkinsreid.com

or follow her on twitter at: @tjenkinsreid

Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell

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The Official Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Keycomes the story of a mysterious work of art and the woman inspired to uncover its history in the City of Light.

After surviving the accident that took her mother’s life, Claire Broussard worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. But these days she feels something lacking. Abruptly leaving her lucrative job in Chicago, Claire returns home to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she unearths a beautiful sculpture that her great-grandfather sent home from Paris after World War II.

At her grandmother’s urging, Claire travels to Paris to track down the centuries old mask-making atelier where the sculpture, known only as “L’inconnue”—or the Unknown Woman—was created. With the help of a passionate sculptor, Claire discovers a cache of letters that offer insight into the life of the Belle Epoque woman immortalized in the work of art.

As Claire uncovers the unknown woman’s tragic fate, she begins to discover secrets—and a new love—of her own.


Book Rating: 8/10

Intelligent, mysterious, and heartwarming!

This story is set in the City of Lights and takes us on a journey into the lives of three main characters. Claire, a young woman who decides to travel to Paris after her grandmother’s death to uncover the history and identity of an unexplainable piece of art; Armand, a brooding Frenchman who is trying to survive his own tragedies while also continuing the family legacy of mould making; and Sabine, a young woman who lived over one hundred years ago, who finds herself entangled in a complicated relationship as an artist’s model.

The writing is well done. The characters are interesting, sympathetic, and strong. And the plot, although a touch slow in the early part of the novel, quickly evolves into a fascinating story that not only manages to intertwine all the subplots nicely, but also ends with a sweet surprise.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It truly is an intriguing mix of mystery interspersed with a romantic guidebook of the most iconic and memorable must-sees of Paris, including historical landmarks, art, lifestyle, and of course food.

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

This book is due to be published on September 6, 2016. Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Juliet Blackwell, visit her website at: julietblackwell.net

or follow her on Twitter at: @JulietBlackwell

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

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The Official Synopsis:

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens…in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Engaging, mysterious, and romantic.

This is an intriguing story full of deception, secrets, adultery, murder, and love.

The characters are multilayered, introspective, and a good mix of those you love and those you love to hate. The prose is clear and precise. And the plot is full of suspense, romance and a multitude of twists and turns that will keep you captivated until the very end.

This really is a perfect summer read that will have you not only contemplating the idea of revenge and retribution, but will also have you dreaming of beaches, wharfs, and sea salt air.

This book is available now, and can be purchased from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Mary Kay Andrews, visit her website at: marykayandrews.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @mkayandrews

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

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The Official Synopsis:

By the award-winning author of East of the Sun, an epic love story moving from England to India, about the forbidden love between a young Indian doctor and an English midwife.

Oxfordshire, 1947. Kit Smallwood, hiding a painful secret and exhausted from nursing soldiers during the Second World War, escapes to Wickam Farm where her friend is setting up a charity sending midwives to the Moonstone Home in South India.

Then Kit meets Anto, an Indian doctor finishing his medical training at Oxford. But Kit’s light skinned mother is in fact Anglo-Indian with secrets of her own, and Anto is everything she does not want for her daughter.

Despite the threat of estrangement, Kit is excited for the future, hungry for adventure, and deeply in love. She and Anto secretly marry and set off for South India—where Kit plans to run the maternity hospital she’s helped from afar. 

But Kit’s life in India does not turn out as she imagined. Anto’s large, traditional family wanted him to marry an Indian bride and find it hard to accept Kit. Their relationship under immense strain, Kit’s job is also fraught with tension as they both face a newly independent India, where riots have left millions dead and there is deep-rooted suspicion of the English. In a rapidly changing world, Kit’s naiveté is to land her in a frightening and dangerous situation…

Based on true accounts of European midwives in India, Monsoon Summer is a powerful story of secrets, the nature of home, the comforts and frustrations of family, and how far we’ll go to be with those we love. 


Book Rating: 8.5/10

This is an intelligent and compelling story that I won’t soon forget.

It is the story of Kit, a young, British nurse who falls in love with a charismatic, Indian doctor, Anto, and travels with him to India, where she hopes to not only be a worthy wife, but also establish a reputable midwifery for those in need.

The story is predominantly set in India during the late 1940s, when the country had newly acquired independence and their separation from British rule caused inner turmoil and a widespread rebuke of the British people as a whole.

This is, ultimately, a story about familial dynamics, racism, deception, self discovery, determination, strength, loss, and love.

The prose is clear, precise, and remarkably descriptive. And the characters are empathetic, engaging, and multifaceted. 

This is truly an interesting story that is intriguing from the beginning to the very end.

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

This book is due to be published on August 9, 2016. Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Julia Gregson, visit her website at: http://www.juliagregson.net

or follow her on Twitter at: @JuliaGregsonUK

Book Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

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The Official Synopsis:

For readers of Kate Atkinson and Tana French comes a page-turning literary mystery that brings to life the complex and wholly relatable Manon Bradshaw, a strong-willed detective assigned to a high-risk missing persons case.

At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been reported missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, and her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family, but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.


Book Rating: 8/10

This is an intriguing, highly suspenseful story with rich characterization.

The story is set in Cambridgeshire, England and is told from multiple perspectives, including the heroine Manon, a jaded, lonely detective who is relentless and tenacious, and Miriam, the missing girl’s mother who is strong and courageously optimistic.

This is, ultimately, a story about familial secrets, loneliness, deception, infidelity and murder.

The writing is precise and clear.  The characters are complex, varied, and fascinating. And the plot builds nicely, has drama, tension, and multiple twists and turns.

Overall, this novel is a well written, interesting whodunit that raises the question, “how well do you really know anyone?”

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

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For more information on Susie Steiner, visit her website at: http://www.susiesteiner.co.uk

or follow her on Twitter at: @SusieSteiner1

 

For 100 Days by Lara Adrian

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The Official Synopsis:

Pleasure has a price . . .

Just when everything in my life is falling apart, I find a chance to turn it around–to step into someone else’s glittering world, if only for a little while. I become someone new, no longer the woman defined by an ugly past, but a woman freer and bolder than myself. A woman who isn’t afraid to explore every passion, even at its darkest, with a mysterious and seductive man who believes my mask is real.

Handsome and commanding, enigmatic and irresistible, billionaire Dominic Baine is an obsession I cannot afford and should not risk. He ushers me into consuming new pleasures and addicting new desires, until the line between my real life and the fantasy one I’ve stolen with him begins to blur.

I know I cannot keep my truth from him. I know my past will not stay buried forever. But before I can make it right, everything comes crashing down. I have deceived this powerful, dangerous man . . . and now there is a price to be paid.


Book Rating: 8/10

Sinful, sexy, and devilishly naughty!

This is a highly erotic story that combines a gorgeous, scarred, billionaire titan with a beautiful, damaged, struggling artist in a plot filled with dangerous secrets, haunting pasts, explosive chemistry, and steamy passion.

The writing is well done. And the characters are complex, flawed, and intriguing.

This is only the first book in the series though, so unfortunately we will now have to wait for the next two books in the series, For 100 Nights and For 100 Reasons, to discover how the drama between Nick and Avery will ultimately unfold.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Lara Adrian, visit her website at: http://www.laraadrian.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @lara_adrian

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

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The Official Synopsis:

From the internationally celebrated author of the Original Sinners series comes a brand-new tale of betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris. 

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.


Book Rating: 9/10

Dark, gritty, and impressively compelling!

This novel takes you into the lives of, the multi-generational bourbon maker family, the Maddoxes. They are rich. They are southern. And they are ruthless. And like most families with privilege, money, and power, they have a lot of skeletons in their closets, and hidden behind those closed doors you will find an intricate web of abuse, lies, adultery, secrets, and murder.

The characters are complex, avaricious, vindictive, and self-destructive. And the plot is well written, rich in detail, and highly suspenseful. 

This really is a truly engaging and captivating story and I only hope that I will get to enjoy more of the Cooper and Paris saga in the future.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Tiffany Reisz, visit her website at: http://www.tiffanyreisz.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @tiffanyreisz

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

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The Official Synopsis:

The third book in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a major global initiative the Guardian calls “The great rewriting project of the 21st century” 
Shakespeare’s controversial comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” sees wilful, independent Katherina transformed into a willing, obedient wife to Petruchio. It is one of Shakespeare’s most re-visited plays, with adaptations including “Kiss Me Kate,” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” 
Anne Tyler’s delightful “Vinegar Girl” features Kate, a socially awkward young woman, adored by the preschool children she teaches but misunderstood by her peers. Her father is a scientific genius, but not so great on emotions. About to lose his (equally genius, equally socially inept) research assistant, Pyotr Cherbakov, because of visa problems, and desperate to save the project that is his life’s work, he comes up with a plan: Kate will marry Pyotr who will then be able to stay in the country and finish the project. The plan sounds perfect, except for one small hitch: Kate.”


Book Rating: 8/10

This is an interesting, humorous take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

It is a quick, easy read full of dry wit, eccentric characters, and oddball situations.

The main character, Kate, is lovable, direct, and asocial. And the supporting characters are unique, zany, and vivid.

I think, overall, Anne Tyler has done a really good job at taking a true classic, and re-telling it in a fresh, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny way, with beautiful writing and remarkable description.

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

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You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

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The Official Synopsis:

What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

If you love David Nicholls and Lisa Jewell then this is the book for you. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This is a heartwarming, charming, funny story about friendship, love, and life.

For me what resonated throughout this novel is that timing is everything.

The main character, Rachel, is determined, conscientious, and likeable. And the supporting characters are imperfect, quirky, and interesting. 

And although the plot seems to drag slightly during the middle, it has enough heartbreak, romance, and entertaining dialogue to keep you intrigued until the last page.

Overall, this is an engaging, easy read that I enjoyed.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Mhairi McFarlane, visit her website at: http://www.mhairimcfarlane.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @MhairiMcF

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

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The Official Synopsis:

Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK’s most acclaimed storytellers.

Cornwall, 1920, early spring.
A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family. Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life.

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Extremely compelling, poignant, and hauntingly realistic!

This is a novel that reminds us of the considerable physical and psychological horrors of war and their effects on both the soldiers themselves and the loved ones they left behind.

It is a subtle, but deeply moving story about familial relationships, friendship, loss, guilt, grief, survival and ultimately love.

The writing is clear and precise. The prose is beautiful and poetic. The settings are vividly described. And the characters are strong and multifaceted, especially Daniel, who is resilient, damaged, lonely, and empathetic. 

This truly is a powerful, heartbreaking story that I won’t soon forget.

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