2018 Book #38 – The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

51rU25aJ4XLTitle: The Other Lady Vanishes
Author: Amanda Quick
Date finished: 5/7/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Seems like its connected to another of her recent books, The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California–where the most dazzling of illusions can’t hide the darkest secrets…

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they’ll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they’ll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be–and uncover the specter of a killer who’s been real all along…

My rating:  2.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have always been a big fan of this author under all her pseudonyms, and I’ve read a lot of her books. I haven’t read in a couple years, so I was excited to read this one when I was approved for it. There were some things that I did enjoy about the book but unfortunately there was also a lot that I didn’t care for. The conversations between characters felt stilted and awkward, and there was a distinct lack of tension between the characters. I didn’t feel much emotion between the characters. And the plot was pretty convoluted and drawn out, every time I thought the ending was wrapped up there was another plot twist. And everyone kept dying. I thought the plot line had a lot of potential and the scenery and location that was built up was perfect. Overall this wasn’t my favorite of her books but there was a lot of potential to it so I’d still say give it a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #102 – Faithful by Alice Hoffman

51ol8tqfs5l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/29/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about a girl named Shelby Richmond. The book begins when Shelby has just graduated from high school and follows her life over the next few years. Shelby was driving the car when she and her best friend Helene were involved in an accident and although Helene survived she was irreparably damaged and is now living in a hospital bed at her parents’ house. Shelby blames herself and falls into a deep and violent depression, never wanting to leave her parents’ basement and wishing only to escape from the world. Eventually though she moves to New York City with her boyfriend/drug dealer Ben Kink. From here her life twists down some unexpected paths and somehow she ends up with a comfortable life even though she still feels like she doesn’t deserve happiness.
Overall I just loved this book. I have to be honest though, this one was a hard story for me to get into at first. When the book starts Shelby is so lost in her own grief that it is hard to see past her prickly character. But as the story evolves, the reader becomes connected to Shelby in a deep and intense way. Shelby feels so deeply and is so wounded but as her story progresses and she begins to heal, we fall in love with Shelby and the human being cracking through the shell of her former self. Shelby is so lucky in that there are so many people who care for her, somehow she is able to take her broken life and make something wonderful out of it. I loved her continual dog-napping activities and I loved her relationship with Marvelle and her kids. Shelby may have been a damaged individual but she loved fiercely and was unceasingly loyal. The progression of her character through the story really was just astounding and Hoffman does such a great job of creating a well-rounded character who is nothing if not a survivor. Be warned, this will rip your heart out of your chest, chew it up, and give you back the pieces when its done. I cried the last 1/3 of the book, but it was such a powerful and wonderful story, it was so worth the read! I would definitely recommend this one.

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Shelby as a character was so engaging and it was great to see her character evolve through the story. This was an extremely moving story, definitely keep a box of tissues handy for this one!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #33 – Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo

516VRbAfTYL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Remember My Beauties
Author: Lynne Hugo
Date finished: 4/12/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Switchgrass Books
Publication Date: April 18, 2016
Pages in book: 194
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.
Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.
Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a book that takes place during Summer” since this book mostly takes place during the summer, though the last quarter of the book is in October. This book is about Jewel and her family, including her daughter Carley, her husband Eddie, his children Chassie and Rocky, and her parents Louetta and Hack. I don’t even know where to start really because there was just so much going on in this less than 200 page book. There are a lot of drug problems in this family. Jewel’s sister and brother are both drug addicts and so is her daughter Carley. Jewel tries to help Carley as much as she can but she can’t ever seem to find a way to pull her out of the hole that she’s in. Also, Louetta and Hack are invalids and Jewel takes care of them as well. Her parents aren’t especially affectionate people so they don’t really say things like “I love you” or even “thank you” very much. Jewel takes care of her father’s horses too plus holds a full time job so she’s got a lot on her plate right now. It all seems to start going downhill when her mother asks her brother Cal to come stay at the family home with them. From there things unravel in a family drama that is both intense and very dark at times.
Overall I thought this was an interesting book. It is hard for me to say with books like this that I liked/loved the book because it deals with difficult subject matter and what the characters go through is really just heart-breaking. I have to say that I am one of those readers that my emotions get linked up with what I’m reading so this book was a difficult one for me to get through, it was very dark and I found my mood blackening the more I read. The ending was a little more towards healing and heart-warming but still the story line of this book really affected me. It was definitely an interesting book though and was a quick, fast-paced read. I didn’t want to put it down even though it was creating such a riot of emotions within me. The author did a great job of capturing the reader and I think the story overall was wonderfully written. The story switched between character points of view but the transitions were smooth for the most part and it was the best way for the reader to see all the inner-workings of the character’s actions. I especially loved the pieces that were from the horses point of view, it was really a creative move for the author to give the horses a voice.

The bottom line: This was a short read (only 194 pages) and it was definitely not dull at all. I recommend it with a precaution that it does get a little dark so if you get drawn into books emotionally this will be a tough one. Also have a box of tissues handy. Really a powerful story though and very moving.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #25 – Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges

51cVMLcFPoLTitle: Dreaming of Antigone
Author: Robin Bridges
Date finished: 3/23/16
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: There was an excerpt for the next book with Natalie as the protagonist so it seems to be a sort of connected series.
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact–including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she–the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe–is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.
Heartwrenching, smart, and bold, Dreaming of Antigone is a story about the jagged pieces that lie beneath the surface of the most seemingly perfect life…and how they can fit together to make something wholly unexpected.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Andria, a junior in high school whose twin sister (Iris) died six months ago. Andria is still trying to cope with the loss of her sister and also the guilt she faces in not having done more to help her. Iris died of a drug overdose and Andria wishes that she had known her sister was falling down that particular rabbit hole before she died and that she could have done more to help Iris. Also Andria’s mother has become especially over protective since Iris’s death, though she has always been a bit over protective of Andria since she has epilepsy due to hypoxia. Alex Hammond returns to town from his stint at rehab (he was doing drugs with Iris the night she died) and Andria thinks that everything will work out just fine if she can avoid him. Unfortunately he seems to be there every time she turns around lately, and she doesn’t appreciate the butterflies she gets in her stomach when she sees him either.
Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot. I loved Andria’s character and, even though she wasn’t a big party goer because of her limitations due to epilepsy, I connected with her character a lot for feeling different from the rest of her friends and peers. I think that this books deals with a lot of hard issues too that face some teens today, as awful as that is. I also loved that this story intertwined poetry and astronomy into the story, I thought the poetry verses were beautiful and really added to the angst of young love within the story line. And Andria’s interest in astronomy was different and interesting and gave her character a quirky twist. I thought the relationships in this book were well-written, there was a ring of accuracy to the teen drama with the on and off romances and ebb and flow of friendships. The story really hooked me in too, I didn’t want to put it down. I’m looking forward to reading future books from this author!

The bottom line: I really liked this book a lot, I thought it covered a lot of hard topics that unfortunately teens today might face: drugs, abuse, illness, death, loss, and love. I loved Andria’s character and thought that the relationships between the characters was well written. I would definitely recommend this one.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #47 – Lethal by Sandra Brown

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Title: Lethal
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 5/21/15
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Pages in book: 472
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

When her four year old daughter informs her a sick man is in their yard, Honor Gillette rushes out to help him. But that “sick” man turns out to be Lee Coburn, the man accused of murdering seven people the night before. Dangerous, desperate, and armed, he promises Honor that she and her daughter won’t be hurt as long as she does everything he asks. She has no choice but to accept him at his word.
But Honor soon discovers that even those close to her can’t be trusted. Coburn claims that her beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn is there to retrieve it — at any cost. From FBI offices in Washington, D.C., to a rundown shrimp boat in coastal Louisiana, Coburn and Honor run for their lives from the very people sworn to protect them, and unravel a web of corruption and depravity that threatens not only them, but the fabric of our society.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Roof Beam Reader TBR Pile Reading Challenge, #6 on the list I set for myself at the beginning of this year. I discovered my great love for Sandra Brown’s romantic suspense when I read Deadline in 2013. She always seems to include just enough good plot twists to keep readers interested but not so many that you start to get confused (or whiplash). And Brown definitely did not disappoint with this novel. I was riveted from the beginning and I couldn’t put the book down.
I have to say I didn’t expect the bad guy to be who they were revealed to be at the end. Sandra Brown is a great story-teller and I always devour her books. I was drawn into this story and the characters. Honor specifically really became alive to me as a person and I thought it was really interesting that we see her grow as a person through the novel.
The only character that I actually had trouble delving into their psyche was the main villain of the story. I would have liked more insight into why they resorted to this extreme amount of violence to make their way in life. Other than that though, I loved the story and would definitely encourage everyone to read something by Sandra Brown!

The bottom line: I would definitely recommend this book, I didn’t want to put it down. It was great!

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #43 – Garden of Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Title: Garden of Lies
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date finished: 5/13/15
Genre: Historical romance, Romantic suspense
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Pages in book: 359
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.
Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes…
If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a mystery or thriller” check box because I thought the main point of the story was really the mystery they were solving. I thought that this was a good book. I haven’t been thrilled by a couple of Krentz’s recent releases because I found them too predictable but this novel was interesting throughout and actually took me by surprise at a couple points. I found the characters to be interesting and I admired Ursula’s courage at many points. The conversation did sometimes feel stilted or rehearsed but the relationship between Slater and Ursula in all its awkwardness felt genuine. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away but basically Slater and Ursula come together to solve a mystery. It was a good story and probably would have been a quick read if I hadn’t had the concentration of a gnat for the past week.

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was interesting and was a good read.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page