Genre: General Fiction

#BookReview
The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

#BookReview The Fortunate Brother by Donna MorrisseyTitle: The Fortunate Brother

Author: Donna Morrissey

Series: Sylvanus Now #3

Published by: Viking on September 6, 2016

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 260

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Penguin Random House Canada, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

Synopsis:

A powerful tale of a family reeling from the tragic loss of a son, while facing a mysterious murder on their doorstep–told by one of Canada’s most beloved voices. 

After being uprooted from their fishing outport, the Now family is further devastated by the tragic loss of their eldest son, Chris, who died working on an Alberta oil rig. Kyle Now is still mourning his older brother when the murder of a local bully changes everything. The victim’s blood is found on the family’s pier, and suspicion falls first on an alienated wife, and then finally on the troubled Now family.

But behind this new turmoil, Chris’s death continues to plague the family. Father Sylvanus Now drowns his sorrow in a bottle, while mother Addie is facing breast cancer. And the children fight their own battles as the tension persists between Kyle and his sister, Sylvie, over her role in their brother’s death.

A cast of vivid characters surrounds the Now family, some intriguing, others comical–all masterfully crafted. As the murder mystery unfolds, other deeper secrets are revealed. Wise in the ways of the heart, The Fortunate Brother is a moving family drama from beloved storyteller Donna Morrissey.


Review:

Intriguing, poignant, and deeply moving!

This story is steeped in the rugged history, hardships, landscape, dialogue, and culture that is unique to Newfoundland. 

The writing is smooth and flawless.  The characters are grounded, raw, hardy and loyal. And the plot has a nice mix of suspense, tragedy, and emotion.

It is, ultimately, a murder-mystery that takes us on a subtle journey through loss, love, grief, guilt, perseverance, community dynamics, and family relationships.

This is definitely a well written, character-driven novel, by a respected Canadian author, that shouldn’t be missed.

 

This book is due to be published on September 6, 2016.

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

Chapters/IndigoAmazon Canada

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Penguin Random House Canada, for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Donna Morrissey

Donna Morrissey has written six nationally bestselling novels. She has received awards in Canada, the U.S., and England. Her novel Sylvanus Now was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and she was nominated for a Gemini for best writing for the film Clothesline Patch. Her fiction has been translated into several different languages. Born and raised in Newfoundland, she now lives in Halifax.

Photo by Bridgette Morrissey

#BookReview
Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell
@JulietBlackwell

#BookReview Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell @JulietBlackwellTitle: Letters from Paris

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Published by: Berkley Publishing on September 6, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 360

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Berkley Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

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.


Review:

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.

 

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

 

 

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

 

About Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover's Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

#BookReview
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews
@mkayandrews

#BookReview The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews @mkayandrewsTitle: The Weekenders

Author: Mary Kay Andrews

Published by: St. Martin's Press on May 17, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 464

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

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.


Review:

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.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

About Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of American writer Kathy Hogan Trocheck, based in Atlanta, who has authored a number of best-selling books under the Andrews pen name since 2002.

Trochek graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976. She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991. She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and switched to the Andrews pen name in 2002 to author Savannah Blues, which marked a change in her style to more Southern-flavored themes.

#BookReview
Girls’ Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

#BookReview Girls’ Weekend by Cara Sue AchterbergTitle: Girls' Weekend

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

Published by: Story Plant on May 3, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: eBook

Source: Cara Sue Achterberg

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Dani, Meg, and Charlotte have bonded over babies, barbeques, and backyards, but when they escape for a girls weekend away, they can’t bring themselves to return to lives that don t seem to fit anymore.

Harried Dani can’t explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.

Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.

Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.

All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they’d be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they’re headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining. 

GIRLS’ WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search of who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy by an author who is quickly emerging as one of our most incisive storytellers.


Review:

This is an intriguing story about three women, mothers, who are struggling in independent ways with aging and self-identity.

It is a heartwarming story that touches on the importance of friendship, familial relationships, marriage, child-rearing, happiness, loss, discovering what’s important in life and, ultimately, reinventing one’s self.

It is very well written. And the characters are well-developed, real, interesting and flawed.

This truly is a poised, enlightening novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

This book is available now.

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

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

Thank you to Cara Sue Achterberg for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Cara Sue Achterberg

Cara Sue Achterberg is a blogger and novelist who lives on a hillside farm in South Central, Pennsylvania.

Cara’s novels, I’m Not Her (August 2015, The Story Plant) and Girls’ Weekend (May 2016, Story Plant) are both works of women’s fiction. Her upcoming novel, Practicing Normal, will be published June 2017 by The Story Plant.

Cara is also the author of Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids in tow. It’s a guidebook for the organic life.

Cara is a prolific blogger and currently posts regularly two blogs which can be accessed through her website, CaraWrites.com.

Cara teaches creative writing and her essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, national magazines, websites, and blogs, in addition to local media.

Cara grew up in Hockessin, Delaware (and still considers Delaware the best state of all).

Cara is passionate about organic food, clean air, productive gardens, uncluttered lives, and real relationships. She is also passionate about adopting rescue dogs and currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.

Cara’s next project is a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs.

When not writing or weeding (which can sometimes be one and the same), Cara enjoys running, hiking, reading, visiting Virginia wineries, and trying not to fall off her favorite horse, True.

#BookReview
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

#BookReview The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita LeganskiTitle: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

Author: Rita Leganski

Published by: Harper Paperbacks on February 26, 2013

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure’s silence is filled with resonance – a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure’s remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.


Review:

This is a bittersweet, sophisticated novel that reminds us of the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

It is a lovely story that touches on familial relationships, love, loss, guilt, grief, and ultimately forgiveness.

It is exquisitely written. The prose is beautiful. The setting is vividly described. And the characters are well-developed and complex, especially the protagonist, Bonaventure Arrow, who is strong, brave and empathetic. 

This truly is a subtle story that flows effortlessly, makes an impact, and leaves an impression.

 

#BookReview
The Last Days of Summer by Sophie Pembroke

#BookReview The Last Days of Summer by Sophie PembrokeTitle: The Last Days of Summer

Author: Sophie Pembroke

Published by: Carina UK on June 9, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Carina UK, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to the beautiful world of Rosewood this summer 

The only feel good summer read you’ll need, The Last Days of Summer is perfect for fans of Harriet Evans, Debbie Johnson and Lucy Diamond.

Saskia has always loved Rosewood. It was her family home, her sanctuary and her memories of it are vividly alive even after two years of being absent. Never did she think she would be standing in the rose garden afraid to cross the threshold and own up to the past she had run away from.

So much about Rosewood hasn’t changed, everyone still dresses for dinner, sips cocktails on the terrace, her father cooks every delicious meal and her beloved grandfather still tells spellbinding stories. But the cold reception from her grandmother, Ellie’s complete avoidance of her and the judgmental gaze of Edward, her grandfather’s new assistant (who seems to know more than enough about her past), are all new to Kia.

All Kia needs to do is attend her grandparent’s Golden Wedding Party and make it to the train station without her secret coming out. What could possible go wrong in just one weekend?


Review:

Interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking!

This is an engaging novel that touches on the importance of familial dynamics, secrets, loss, forgiveness, love, the power of truth, and the importance of home.

The characters are well-developed, complex, and flawed. And the plot builds nicely, unravelling piece by piece, keeping you captivated until the very end.

This is a compelling story that, ultimately, reminds us that all our lives are sprinkled with a little bit of fiction.

It is a very enjoyable, easy read and I would definitely recommend it.

 

This book is due to be published on June 9, 2016.

 

 

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

#BookReview
What We Didn’t Say by Rory Dunlop
@roryjamesdunlop

#BookReview What We Didn’t Say by Rory Dunlop @roryjamesdunlopTitle: What We Didn't Say

Author: Rory Dunlop

Published by: Bonnier Zaffre on June 30, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Bonnier Publishing, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A darkly funny story of a marriage in crisis, perfect for readers who loved Us by David Nicholls and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Jack and Laura have separated. Jack thinks it’s all Laura’s fault.

Laura disagrees.

Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.

Laura interrupts.

Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn’t Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live – and die.


Review:

Deeply moving, insightful, and captivating.

This is a poignant novel that reminds us that life is short and precious, and that fundamentally we all need to love and be loved.

It touches on familial dynamics, marriage, secrets, jealousy, love, trust, and the importance of communication.

The story is written using a two-person narration, in a creative and unique style, which allows readers to flow both effortlessly between past and present, as well as hear both perspectives seamlessly.

It is well written. The prose is simple, precise, and darkly witty.  And the characters are complex and real.

This is engaging story with a powerful impact, and I highly recommend it.

 

This book is due to be published on June 30, 2016.

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

Amazon UK

 

For more information on Rory Dunlop, follow him on Twitter at: @roryjamesdunlop

 

 

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

#BookReview
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

#BookReview Miller’s Valley by Anna QuindlenTitle: Miller's Valley

Author: Anna Quindlen

Published by: Random House on April 5, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 257

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Filled with insights that are hallmarks of Anna Quindlen’s bestsellers, this extraordinary novel is about a woman coming of age, as she unearths secrets about her family and her town, and surprising truths about herself.

For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.” 

Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.


Review:

This is a very interesting and intriguing story.

It is a sobering novel that reminds us that life is short and precious, and that everyone and everything that enters our life shapes us in some way and makes us who we are today.

It touches on familial dynamics, secrets, friendship, unconditional love, and the true meaning of home.

This story is well written. The characters are complex and real. And the first-person narration, by Mimi, captures you from the beginning and sweeps you along through her life’s highs and lows effortlessly.

This is a quiet, subtle story with a powerful impact that I think would be a shame to miss.

 

#BookReview
The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

#BookReview The Moment of Everything by Shelly KingTitle: The Moment of Everything

Author: Shelly King

Published by: Grand Central Publishing on September 2, 2014

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 270

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.

Maggie Duprès, recently “involuntarily separated from payroll” at a Silicon Valley startup, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly’s Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.
When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance-even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a book she hasn’t encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley–it’s an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.

Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.


Review:

This was a book club read for me this month, and I have to say I enjoyed it.

To me this story is a journey of finding one’s self, discovering what makes you happy, realizing that sacrifices are not really sacrifices when we make them for love, and friendship. 

The setting is a wonderful juxtaposition, where on the one hand we have a quaint used book store. A store seeped in history and the past, right down to the musty shelves and the crinkled pages. And on the other hand we have Silicon Valley, the epitome of the future, all things new, better, faster and electronic.

The story flows nicely. The prose is subtle but lovely. And the characters are quirky, interesting and engaging.

It is a nice, heart-warming story that was a pleasure to read.

 

#BookReview
The Things We Knew by Catherine West

#BookReview The Things We Knew by Catherine WestTitle: The Things We Knew

Author: Catherine West

Published by: Thomas Nelson on July 12, 2016

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Thomas Nelson, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

When their tragic past begins to resurface, can he help her remember the things she can’t?

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.


Review:

This is an intriguing story about the difficult challenges we face in life and how we each, independently, cope with them.

It is an engaging mystery that touches on the importance of familial relationships, secrets, loss, forgiveness, grace, and, ultimately, the power of truth.

It is well written. And the characters are well-developed, complex, interesting and flawed.

Overall, I found this novel to be a nice, heartwarming enjoyable read.

 

This book is due to be published on July 12, 2016.

 

 

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

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