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Book Review | Lost You by Haylen Beck

BOOK REVIEW | LOST YOU

TITLE: Lost You

AUTHOR: Haylen Beck

PUBLISHER: Crown Publishing

RELEASE DATE: August 6, 2019

GENRE: Thriller, Fiction, Suspense

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

A provocative and unputdownable psychological suspense about two women locked in a desperate fight over a child each believes is rightfully hers

Libby needs a break. Three years ago her husband split, leaving her to raise their infant son Ethan alone as she struggled to launch her writing career. Now for the first time in years, things are looking up. She’s just sold her first novel, and she and Ethan are going on a much-needed vacation. Everything seems to be going their way, so why can’t she stop looking over her shoulder or panicking every time Ethan wanders out of view? Is it because of what happened when Ethan was born? Except Libby’s never told anyone the full story of what happened, and there’s no way anyone could find her and Ethan at a faraway resort . . . right?

But three days into their vacation, Libby’s fears prove justified. In a moment of inattention, Ethan wanders into an elevator before Libby can reach him. When the elevator stops and the doors open, Ethan is gone. Hotel security scours the building and finds no trace of him, but when CCTV footage is found of an adult finding the child wandering alone and leading him away by the hand, the police are called in. The search intensifies, a lost child case turning into a possible abduction. Hours later, a child is seen with a woman stepping through an emergency exit. Libby and the police track the woman down and corner her, but she refuses to release Ethan. Asked who she is, the woman replies:

“I’m his mother.”

What follows is one of the most shocking, twist-y, and provocative works of psychological suspense ever written. A story of stolen identity, of surrogacy gone horribly wrong, and of two women whose insistence that each is the “real” mother puts them at deadly cross-purposes, Lost You is sure to be one of 2019’s most buzzed-about novels. (Description from NetGalley)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading any further, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

I thought Lost You was a very sad story. Not emotional, but I felt very sad for the two main characters. I’m sure I couldn’t connect emotionally because I don’t have children of my own and don’t have a yearning for one at this point in my life, but I could empathize with both characters and what they were going through.

Libby wanted a child so bad and couldn’t have one of her own, so she paid thousands of dollars and destroyed her marriage to have a surrogate carry one for her….even then it wasn’t genetically hers.

Anna was a poor, recently jobless woman who needed to make some money, so accepted the role as surrogate only to find that she fell in love with her unborn child and decided not to give him up.

Both women did something terrible to each other and they end up paying the price for it. They both did it because of the love they had for the baby. They would both do anything to have him.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t as suspenseful as I thought it might be. I wasn’t at the edge of my seat and I figured the character’s paths were going to end badly. I’d characterize this book more as women’s fiction than a suspense or a thriller.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | GOODREADS

HAYLEN BECK is the pseudonym of acclaimed, Edgar Award-nominated author Stuart Neville, whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. His first Haylen Beck novel was Here and Gone.

Thank you to Crown Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book Review | The Road She Left Behind by Christine Nolfi

BOOK REVIEW | THE ROAD SHE LEFT BEHIND

TITLE: The Road She Left Behind

AUTHOR: Christine Nolfi

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2019

GENRE: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Mystery

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

“Three women. Two families torn apart by secrets.

Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.

Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.” (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading any further, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

Sometimes the first few chapters of a book can start slow and it takes some time to get into it, but Nolfi did a great job getting me interested in The Road She Left Behind right from the start. From the first chapter, I was wanting to know what happened and why Darcy was running away from her past.

The story revolves around a very dysfunctional family littered with tragedy and heartache. Without giving away much there’s a lot of broken hearts, guilt, death, and deception throughout. Most of the book left me wondering what would happen next, but as it got toward the end I started figuring out the puzzle and it became predictable. Not to say it wasn’t a good book. I did enjoy it, but I wanted a little more emotion and wanted more of the relationship between Darcy and Michael.

Overall, I would recommend this book for those who like reading women’s fiction. It was an enjoyable story about a family and their family drama which I’m sure everyone can relate to. While some label it as a mystery novel, I didn’t feel that it belonged in that category.

OVERALL RATING

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Book Review | Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

BOOK REVIEW | WUNDERLAND

TITLE: Wunderland

AUTHOR: Jennifer Cody Epstein

PUBLISHER: Crown Publishing Group

RELEASE DATE: April 23, 2019

GENRE: Historical Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

East Village, 1989
Things had never been easy between Ava Fisher and her estranged mother Ilse. Too many questions hovered between them: Who was Ava’s father? Where had Ilse been during the war? Why had she left her only child in a German orphanage during the war’s final months? But now Ilse’s ashes have arrived from Germany, and with them, a trove of unsent letters addressed to someone else unknown to Ava: Renate Bauer, a childhood friend. As her mother’s letters unfurl a dark past, Ava spirals deep into the shocking history of a woman she never truly knew.

Berlin, 1933
As the Nazi party tightens its grip on the city, Ilse and Renate find their friendship under siege–and Ilse’s increasing involvement in the Hitler Youth movement leaves them on opposing sides of the gathering storm. Then the Nuremburg Laws force Renate to confront a long-buried past, and a catastrophic betrayal is set in motion…

An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland is a at once a powerful portrait of an unspeakable crime history and a page-turning contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and just how far we might go in order to belong. (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

Where to begin…lets start with I LOVED THIS BOOK! It has history, love, lies, and tragedy. I also really like the cover and was happy it gave me a sense of what the two main characters might look like. I never wanted to put it down.

Now, to dive right into it…

I’m always drawn to historical fiction that specifically surrounds World War II. It was such a sad and devastating time that I believe it should be written about. We should never forget how terrible this point in history was and should always be reminded of it with books like Wunderland.

It reminded me of a much sadder female focused version of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Wunderland delve more into the details of what it was like when Jewish families and businesses were being destroyed. With Renate’s story, it gave detailed descriptions of how Jewish children were treated in school by both their full German blooded peers and teachers. You can get a sense of how hard and confusing it must have been for children when the friends they were so close to turned on them or when teachers (adults) that are supposed to teach and guide you start treating you like dirt. Then seeing your family and everything around you fall apart.

On the flip side, the character Ilse was a young German girl who got sucked into the Nazi party. Ilse was part of the BDM (Band of German Maidens) which was “the girls’ wing of the Nazi Party youth movement.” So as we follow Ilse’s story we get a sense of what was going through their minds as they wrote about Jewish people and were punishing them. Ilse herself had done some unspeakable things in the name of the Nazi party, but lived with the guilt of all that she’d done. Even though she’s a fictional character, I believe that there were so many young German girls and boys corrupted and their minds manipulated by the Nazi party making them believe what they were doing was right even though it was awful.

Overall, Wunderland is an incredible depiction of the terrors that came from the Nazi party and World War II. I would highly recommend reading this amazing book. As a side note, I feel Wunderland is worthy of becoming a movie one day. I certainly would watch it and probably cry my eyes out.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

I am the author of the forthcoming Wunderland, out April 23 with Crown Publishing. My prior works include The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, winner of the 2014 Asian Pacific Association of Librarians Honor award for outstanding fiction, as well as the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. I have also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Nation (Thailand), Self and Mademoiselle magazines, and the NBC and HBO networks, working in Kyoto, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok as well as Washington D.C. and New York. I’ve taught at Columbia University in New York and Doshisha University in Kyoto, and have an MFA from Columbia, a Masters of International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA in Asian Studies/English from Amherst College.

I currently live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband, filmmaker Michael Epstein, my two amazing daughters and an exceptionally needy Springer Spaniel. (Bio from Author’s Website)

Thank you to Crown Publishing Group for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review | Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

BOOK REVIEW | EVERY BREATH

TITLE: Every Breath

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2018

GENRE: Romance, Fiction, Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | TARGET | INDIEBOUND | BAM! | AUDIBLE

In the romantic tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a story about a chance encounter that becomes a touchstone for two vastly different individuals — transcending decades, continents, and the bittersweet workings of fate.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties — and asks the question, How long can a dream survive? (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

Once again, it didn’t take me long to finish a Nicholas Sparks book. I can never put them down. I did my usual walking while reading whenever I could and was disappointed getting to the door at work and having to put the book away. Then I’d pick it back up at lunch and at home. My poor husband can’t get a word in when a good book grabs all my attention. Anyway, I’m rambling and want to share a bit about my thoughts on this newest Nicholas Sparks book.

This book was inspired by true events and real people. This is the first book of Sparks’s that he explained what went into writing this book and it started with him visiting Bird Island in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. On that island there’s a mailbox called Kindred Spirit. As Sparks explains it, “anyone can leave a letter or postcard; any passerby can read whatever has been placed inside. Thousands of people do so every year.” This place is an important part of the book and it somehow revolves around the relationship between the characters Tru and Hope.

Tru Walls and Hope Anderson are two people from completely different parts of the world and meet at Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Tru is from Africa and works as a safari guide. He’s worked at many camps and has lived in Africa his whole life. Hope is a trauma nurse from North Carolina and has never been to Africa. She has a boyfriend of six years, but are on a break because well…he’s a jerk. Not how she put it, but that’s how I’m putting it. So completely different worlds.

After a few days together, they both knew they had fallen in love and eventually told each other. But their lives were on completely different paths and there were things Hope wanted that Tru just wouldn’t be able to give her. There’s a lot more to this that I don’t want to give away, but they had a heartbreaking parting and never spoke again until decades later when Hope was trying to find him.

I’m glad they found each other again after so long, but I’m very sad that they didn’t have that time together and unfortunately, the remaining time they have is clearly going to be short (I won’t spoil that part for you). Both Hope and Tru regret not trying hard enough to find each other again, but the Kindred Spirit finally brought them together. Hope even mentions in a letter she placed in Kindred Spirit that, “I was the one who ended it, for reasons I have agonized over for decades. It was the right decision at the time; it was also the wrong decision”.

While it’s not my favorite book Sparks has ever written, he still is able to write characters and stories to make you emotionally connected to them. Knowing that this book was inspired by a true story made me more sad to read the ending and to know they spent so much time apart. After reading this I still want to know what happened to them, but that’s probably best kept with the real people this book is inspired by.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot and it has a lot of what Nicholas Sparks is known for, but it had a slightly different feel in the sense that I didn’t think the ending was a happy one. Usually I feel uplifted in some way after reading one of his novels, but this one left me feeling sad and wanting more. I would recommend this if your a Nicholas Sparks fan like me and you want to read a love story that has more sadness to it than most.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Timesbestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016. (About the author found on Amazon.com)

Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 by Warner Books. He followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember(1999), The Rescue(2000), A Bend in the Road (2001),Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding(2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice(2007),The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and The Best of Me(2011), as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah. His seventeenth novel, The Longest Ride, was published on September 17, 2013. (Found on NicholasSparks.com)

You can see his full bio here: Nicholas Spark Biography

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Book Review | I Love You, Ronnie by Nancy Reagan

BOOK REVIEW | I LOVE YOU, RONNIE

TITLE: I Love You, Ronnie; The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan

AUTHOR: Nancy Reagan

PUBLISHER: Random House

RELEASE DATE: February 26, 2002

GENRE: Nonfiction, History

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

No matter what else was going on in his life or where he was traveling to make movies, at the White House, or sometimes just across the room Ronald Reagan wrote letters to Nancy Reagan, to express his love, thoughts, and feelings, and to stay in touch. Through these extraordinary letters and reflections, the private character and life of an American president and his first lady are revealed. Nancy Reagan reflects with love and insight on the letters, on her husband, and on the many phases of their life together. A love story spanning half a century and the private life of this classic American couple come vividly alive in this rare and inspiring book. (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book and it was such a quick, easy read that I finished it in one day.

You can see in Reagan’s letters to Nancy that he was so in love with her. He constantly mentions how he can’t live without her and that he was a lonely man before he met her. Then you get to see how much she loved him as she thought back to their life together when he wrote the letters.

One of my favorite parts of Reagan’s letters are how many different nicknames he had for Nancy. it was so funny reading nicknames like Nancy Poo, Nancy Poo Pants, and Glamour Puss. Thankfully, Nancy explains where some of the nicknames come from, but not all, making me wonder how the others came about. Every time a new nickname came up, I thought about my husband and me. We also have so many silly nicknames I’ve lost count.

It’s very nice to see another side of Ronald Reagan from the person who knows him best and was with him through all the ups and downs of his life as well as his career. Nancy made it a point that her life was all about Ronald Reagan and making sure he had a conformable home. He always made a point to show her how grateful he was for it and never stopped writing her letters.

Overall, its a very wonderful cute love story of the President and First Lady. Even though people knew how much they loved each other just from seeing them together, it was great to read about them from Nancy’s point of view. After reading this book, I feel even more certain that they are the most in love historical couple.

OVERALL RATING

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I’m Back!

Hello My Fellow Book Lovers!

It’s been a long time (longer than I want to admit). I took a few years off to do some other things that were really important to me.

I started a non-profit called the Lisa Michelle Memorial Fund. It’s a fund started in honor of my mother and provides scholarships to students who have lost a parent to substance abuse. It’s been a great rewarding experience to provide these scholarships every year.

I also had been promoted at work and took on a very demanding role. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much in the process. Now I’ve found a new job (same company) as an entertainment underwriter. I essentially get to insure commercials, music videos, documentaries, films, and so much more in film/video production. I love my new job and it has much better work life balance.

I also gained two beautiful nieces and became godmother to both of them. They are beautiful, smart, and fun little girls, so I was spending a lot of time with them. Now they have moved to Idaho and I find myself with a lot more time on my hands.

Now that I’ve gained back some free time, I realized how much I missed my book blog and the book lover community. I may not post as much as I did, but I do want to get back to sharing my thoughts on books, sharing new books I’ve found, and find some new ones in the great community of readers.

Looking forward to being back!

Book Review | The Last Girl by Joe Hart

BOOK REVIEW | THE LAST GIRL

cover74018-mediumTITLE: The Last Girl (A Dominion Trilogy, Book 1)

AUTHOR: Joe Hart

PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2016

GENRE: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.

Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.

Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Are there times when you feel like you’re in a prison? When you feel like you have no control of what’s going to happen to you? Zoey (who has no clue what her last name is) has been a prisoner of a facility known as the ARC the majority of her life. She’s only allowed to eat certain foods, read certain books, and has to abide by the rules or be punished. All this because she’s one of the few young girls left in the world. They take these young girls from their families and take away their freedom.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Last Girl. The first part of the book brings you into the ARC and what Zoey’s daily life is like. She’s escorted everywhere and has to stick to a schedule that includes wearing certain outfits, communal eating, and doing laundry. Her life essentially is not her own.

The second part of the book details her escape from the ARC and her first few days of freedom in the world, but unfortunately doesn’t have time to enjoy it while they are searching for her and while she’s injured. Zoey encounters many many obstacles during her escape from hunger to running into men who want nothing more then to violate and sell her.

When I first started reading this book, I was siding more with the people running the ARC because these are the last few women on earth that might be able to produce a female birth. They are protected, fed, and have a space of their own, but as I continued to read I started to understand Zoey’s struggle. I can’t imagine not being able to decide what I get to do each day, what I get to eat, what I get to read, and who I can spend my time with. It’s not living which is part of what fueled Zoey to fight back.

When Zoey escapes from the ARC is when I really got into the book. The author made me feel Zoey’s pain when she was running away trying to stay alive.  I felt like my heart was beating with her’s with each man she killed for her freedom. It was like I was there experiencing it for myself. I thought about what would be going through my head seeing the wilderness for the first time while on the brink of death. Seeing the world for what it was rather then what was told to her. I’d be frightened just like she was. I’d be confused just like she was. I’d be angry.

The lead character, Zoey, is another aspect of the book that I loved. At first you think she’s just a small fragile girl that just continues to go through the motions, but she’s actually this very strong woman fighting for what she wants out of life and fighting for those she cares about. There are many times when a weak person might die, but she didn’t. She fought and fought hard.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Last Girl. It’s full of intense scenes that keep your heart pumping and it’s impossible to put down. It’s like you’re experiencing everything first hand. It’s a great thriller with a strong female lead that keeps you rooting for her until the end. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota, where he still resides today. He’s been writing horror and thriller fiction since he was nine years old. He is the author of five novels and numerous short stories, including the books The River Is Dark, Lineage, and The Waiting. When he’s not writing, Joe enjoys reading, working out, watching movies with his family, and spending time outdoors. (Bio found on www.joehartbooks.com).

Thank you to Joe Hart and Thomas & Mercer for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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