2017 Book #97 – The Duke of Ice by Darcy Burke

51u6sa8zp+LTitle: The Duke of Ice
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 12/27/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Pages in book: 262
Stand alone or series: The Untouchables series Book #7
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR 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:

Everyone Nicholas Bateman ever loved has died. Except Violet Caulfield, which must mean he never loved her. Eight years after she threw him over to marry a viscount, Nick is a widowed duke who prefers isolation. When a friend convinces him to leave his lair of self-imposed solitude, he considers taking another wife, provided she agrees to his terms: no emotional attachment of any kind.

Now widowed, Lady Violet Pendleton hopes for a second chance with the man she’s always loved. But she isn’t prepared for the desolation in his soul or the animosity he still bears toward her. Despite those obstacles, it’s clear their passion hasn’t dimmed. However, the heat between them isn’t enough to melt the Duke of Ice, and this time Violet may find herself the jilted party. Can love, once so tragically lost, finally be found?

My rating:  4.0 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. Be sure to check out my BLOG TOUR post on this book as well! This book is about Violet Pendleton and Nicholas Bateman, sweethearts from eight years ago torn apart by fate and circumstances. Now older and wiser, both having experienced their own sets of tragedy, they are thrown together during a house party and find themselves drawn to each other once again. But can they really overcome the mistakes of their past and find their way back to each other?

Overall I really liked this book. I thought it was interesting and it was a quick and heart-warming read. I liked the character development especially in this one compared to the other books in the series, I especially liked Violet’s character and her unending patience and loyalty. This was my favorite book in the series so far and it was a great lead in to the next book in the series, which I’m really looking forward to. I would recommend this one, it was a quick and entertaining read!

The bottom line: I liked this book a good amount, it was a sweet story and had interesting characters. I’m interested to read the next story in the series. I would recommend this one.

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

2016 Book #3 – The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

51JtJTnelULTitle: The Things We Keep
Author: Sally Hepworth
Date finished: 1/9/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Pages in book: 352
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:

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.
When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

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 will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “White cover” square, since this book has a white cover (duh). This book tells the story of Anna Forster, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s at only thirty-eight years old. While this would upset anyone, Anna is determined to live her life as best she can for the time she has left. After she almost ends up hurting someone important to her though, she decides that it might be best to go live in an assisted-living facility so that there will be less of a risk that she forgets something and burns down the house.Through research she ends up at one of the only other assisted living facilities that has another person like her, a man with early-onset Alzheimers, Luke.
It is at Rosalind House that Anna finds happiness with Luke. The book alternates between the period when their relationship is developing (as far back as fourteen months ago) and present day, when a woman named Eve Bennett comes to Rosalind House as the new chef. Eve has come upon some tough times herself recently, and she really needs this job to take care of herself and her seven year old daughter, Clementine. Anna’s and Eve’s stories intertwine and they both end up helping the other in unexpected ways.
Overall I really very much enjoyed this book. It was moving and had both light and heavy pieces to it. I thought there were some really interesting thoughts woven into the book on love. Is love really only based in memories? If you lose your memories are you also unable to love? Even if you don’t remember your nephew when he’s standing right in front of you I’d hope there is some piece of you that remembers that you love him. As Eve said in the book, that maybe “love is more like a river – it wants to flow, and if one path is blocked off it simply finds another.” What a tough concept though, that if you were to lose your memories you might also lose the love you have for your family. Anyways I liked all the characters in this book and that the focus of the book was Alzheimer’s, which up until now I hadn’t read much about. I would definitely recommend that people read this book, I thought it was great.

The bottom line: I would definitely definitely recommend this book. I thought it was an immensely touching story and gave a true look into the mind of someone living with Alzheimer’s. Plus it was a fairly quick read!

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #103 – Surviving Valencia by Holly Tierney-Bedord


Title: Surviving Valencia
Author: Holly Tierney-Bedord
Date finished: 9/29/15
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Unknown
Publication Date: June 30, 2012
Pages in book: 335
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

A car accident robs the Loden Family of twins Van and Valencia shortly after they start college. Charmed, bright, and beautiful, they held their family together and elevated the Lodens to greatness. In their loss, a shadow is cast upon the family, particularly on the remaining child, who lacks the easy grace and popularity her older siblings took for granted.
As an adult, her life begins to turn from mediocre to amazing when she is saved by cool, artistic Adrian. The kind of happiness once reserved only for others is finally hers, until pieces of the past begin ruining what seems to be a perfect life.

My rating: 3.75 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 tells the story of our narrator, a 30-ish year old woman who is married to a well-known and wealthy Savannah artist. Now an adult, she is still haunted by the death of her siblings (who were twins and 7ish years older than her) when she was young, and her upbringing has made her feel significantly inadequate as a person. The book alternates between chapters from the past and the present, starting when the narrator is a child and her siblings were still alive. As the book goes along, the chapters about the past eventually catches up to close to where the story began in the present so we luckily end up covering the span of the narrator’s entire life. As the story evolves, we learn a lot more about the narrator’s husband and how he hasn’t been as honest as expected.
Overall I liked this book, it kept me interested from the very beginning and honestly I didn’t want to put it down. I was a little let down with the ending, only because it happened pretty abruptly and I found it to be a tad confusing plus there were some unanswered that as a reader I probably would’ve like to know the answers to. The story switched to a different narrator for the last chapter (not saying who but be prepared for a twist) and the second narrator mentions a baby with green eyes but you really have to pay attention to small details during the rest of the story to grasp the significance of this and even then its entirely possible that there is another villain out there with green eyes. And there is a reference to the second narrator escaping but what were they escaping from and how long did they have to wait before they escaped? And there is a mention of an old and a young guy but who the heck is the old guy? Just a lot of questions. Which really, I mean the story is very engrossing, i just wish we found out what happened to the second narrator! Other than that though the story is interesting and mysterious and a bit thrilling. Honestly while I was reading it reminded me of a cross of both Luckiest Girl Alive and The Space Between Heartbeats in certain parts of the plot line. It was a great read!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot but the ending left something to be desired for me personally. Story really draws you in though, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #102 – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author: Nina George
Date finished: 9/26/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Pages in book: 400
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:

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

My rating: 2.0 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’ve seen this book around a lot the past couple months, it was a very popular summer read and I have seen many positive reviews on it so I thought I should give it a try. To be honest I probably could have passed on by and been perfectly. While this book has been widely praised, I just could not get into the story myself. I found the book to be extremely wordy and the main character is a 50 year old man who has lived in self-induce purgatory for the past twenty years. I could not connect with him at all, I just found his character to be so martyr-ish. And the story line was hard to follow for me in some way. There were just a lot fo random things that happened that didn’t necessarily seem connected at all and in some cases didn’t even really make sense to me. There were some parts of the book that made me tear up, there were many emotions that came alive in the story and the reader can sense love in each page of the book, love between friends, that first love that is ever-consuming, and even love that lives only in one’s imagination. The books speaks eloquently of France along Jean Perdu’s journey south, of the food, the scenery, and the people. For anyone who would like to experience the beauty of France, this would be a great book to read!

The bottom line: I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to hear of the beauty of France. This book wasn’t a great one for me but is very popular with the general population.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #97 – The Show by John A. Heldt


Title: The Show
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 9/13/15
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: John A. Heldt (Self-published)
Publication Date: February 17, 2013
Pages in book: 293
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Northwest Passage series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

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. This book tells the story of Grace Vandenberg. This book picks up a little before where The Mine left off since we here about Grace’s decision to travel to the year 2000 to be with Joel. After that everything goes smoothly for awhile, Grace and Joel marry and start a family. Unfortunately on their second wedding anniversary Grace is somehow transported from the year 2002 to 1918. Luckily she’s still in Seattle so she looks up her Uncle Alistair Green who takes her in but still Grace is lost in another time with no idea how to get back to her two young children and her husband.
Grace’s uncle takes her home to live with her and try to help her start over in this new world. Along the way Grace meets the Green’s neighbor John Walker, an injured war veteran who also has the look of loss about him. Grace finds herself drawn to John as she mourns the loss of her husband and her two daughters. And then when Grace’s mother Lucy comes to America as an 18-year old girl to begin her college education, Grace is presented with an opportunity that she never even thought to hope for.
**SPOILER ALERT**  There were a few issues that I had with this book. Grace ends up bringing her mother and father back to the future with her at the end so that they don’t end up dying in 1939, but she brings them to the future before they’re ever married. So how does she even still exist? At the end of this book her parents never actually had her so how is it possible that she exists?! I mean I know there are some complications involved in time travel and its consequences but its just too confusing. And honestly my big issue with this book was Grace. I understand that at some point she would have to stop mourning the loss of her husband and move on but after 4 months she’s already engaged to someone else? That seems just a little too quick for me. I mean I understand that continuing to hope that she would make it back to her own time would probably make her miserable and being miserable is no way to live but I can’t imagine giving up that easily over seeing my daughters again. For those reasons I just had a lot of trouble connecting to the story and I could not enjoy the plot line much at all. The story was interesting as was the first book but I enjoyed the first book a lot more than I enjoyed this one.

The bottom line: I did not end up liking this book as much as I liked The Mine. I am hoping that I like the third book (The Mirror) better but this book just was not one that I could get into.

Link to author website

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

2015 Book #81 – The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield


Title: The Guilty One
Author: Sophie Littlefield
Date finished: 8/5/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Pages in book: 304
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:

A man stands on the Golden Gate Bridge, poised to jump…if a woman on the other end of the phone tells him to.
Maris’s safe suburban world was shattered the day her daughter was found murdered, presumably at the hands of the young woman’s boyfriend. Her marriage crumbling, her routine shattered, Maris walks away from her pampered life as a Bay Area mom the day she receives a call from Ron, father of her daughter’s killer. Wracked with guilt over his son’s actions (and his own possible contribution to them), he asks Maris a single question: should he jump?
With a man’s life in her hands, Maris must decide, perhaps for the first time, what she truly wants. Retribution? Forgiveness? Or something more? Having lost everything, she’s finally free to recreate herself without the confining labels of “wife,” “mother,” or “mourner.” But will this shocking offer free her, or destroy her?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #3 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Maris Parker, whose daughter was murdered a year ago. As if trying to wake up each day and live with that isn’t difficult enough, her daughter’s killer’s father (Ron Isherwood) then calls her and basically offers to kill himself in a very “eye for an eye” situation where he gives up his life since his son took her daughter’s life. Plus her husband is leaving her.
Maris’ reaction to this phone call sets her (unknowingly) on a new life course. While she had planned to leave for her sister’s condo that afternoon, Ron’s call leaves her feeling unsettled and not quite ready to face the outside world. The next day she goes to Oakland to pick up a gift for her sister and its there that she meets Petra, who will help her quite a lot in the coming days actually. She ends up tagging along with Petra’s group of friends and hides herself away in a rundown apartment building in Oakland. It is there she learns that there are other people in the world who are hurting as well, if maybe in different ways. It is also in Oakland that Maris begins to find out who she is now, without the husband she’s been married to for 20 years or the child she’s raised for the past seventeen years. Maris discovers who she is as her own person again, and makes a few good friends along the way.
Overall I really did enjoy this book. There were a couple really good plot twists, both of which I actually never saw coming, and I liked Maris and Ron as main characters, they both had a lot of layers to dig through. I felt that Maris really grew as a character throughout the story. We really learned with her how to cope with the grief of losing a child, how to pick yourself up off the ground and push yourself to keep living life each and every day.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it had a couple good shocker moments thrown in there and I thought the story line was well-paced. I was interested throughout the story and both grieved for and felt compassion for Maris’ loss. Good book, would recommend other readers to give it a try!

Favorite Quotes:
“You don’t do all of those things without building up a reserve for moments like this. Moments when the weak ones fail, the battered ones give up, the broken ones cry out for someone to take their hand.”
“How do you go back up the family tree, scrambling up the doomed bloodline, and make things right?”
“Her daughter was with her in the morning, when she stepped out of her apartment as the sun was just beginning to rise up above the distant hills.”

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

2015 Book #66 – The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor


Title: The Daylight Marriage
Author: Heidi Pitlor
Date finished: 6/30/15
Genre:  Fiction, Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Pages in book: 245
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

She still had time before work. She could go food shopping. She could fold the kids’ laundry and get the car washed and return some library books. Or Hannah could do something else. She could do something that she had never done–drive to a part of town where she had never been, pretend to be someone that she was not.
Hannah was tall and graceful, naturally pretty, spirited and impulsive, the upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell–the introverted climate scientist who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon, they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.
But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She has become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes.
For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife–and to their life together–readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.
With haunting intensity, a seamless balance of wit and heartbreak, and the emotional acuity that author Heidi Pitlor brings to every page, The Daylight Marriage mines the dark and delicate nature of a marriage.

My rating: 2.75 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 book with bad reviews” check box since there are a number of bad reviews on Amazon, 17% of reviews were for 2 stars and 15% of the reviews were only for 1 star. The one I think I agreed with the most is this one, which touched on many issues I had with the book. I think that the Amazon reviewer hit the nail on the head when they said that it felt “like an unfinished manuscript.” There were just so many holes in the story and so many things that did not make sense and could not be pieced together. It felt like the story had started to develop and then it was over and the reader is left feeling as if there are so many questions left unanswered or even unasked.
Lovell’s relationship with his daughter in the book really bothered me. She was afraid of him the whole book pretty much and the whole time Lovell is trying to convince her that he wasn’t really acting that badly the last night that Hannah was home and then all of a sudden at the end of the book he remembers things the way Janine has been describing them? That didn’t make any sense. And what caused his sudden revelation? And honestly that girl needed a lot more discipline. She was fifteen and she offered to be a surrogate for her gay next door neighbors. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is an unhealthy relationship, and they let her get drunk at their party and Lovell is having Ethan stay at a party where two dudes are making out and grinding on a dance floor. Ethan is NINE. TAKE HIM HOME.
That’s really all I want to say about the book. I could go on for awhile I think but I will just leave it here at “this book was not my cup of tea.”
The bottom line: I wasn’t a fan of this book. There just wasn’t much about it that appealed to me, it left me fieeling both unfinished and unsettled.

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

2015 Book #57 – The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman


Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Date finished: 6/14/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Pages in book: 343
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group. I have been thinking about joining the group for awhile but even though it is only one night a month, I always find it hard trying to add one more thing into my schedule. I realized a couple months ago though that I have such a passion for reading and that I get such joy out of discussing good books with other people that I really should be making this group more of a priority. I had planned to start going with the May meeting (the book was one of the Liane Moriarty books and she’s been on my to read list for awhile) but we were on vacation when they were meeting in May so I decided to wait for the June meeting. And when I saw what the book for the June meeting was, I was excited since this book is on my to read list as well. And thank goodness I was able to finish the book since the meeting is tomorrow! (I’m writing this on Sunday 6/14 and waiting to post it until after the meeting tomorrow so I don’t give away my thoughts!)
I was hooked on this story from the very beginning. And though it was a tiny bit slow to start up in the beginning, the last half of the book just flew by for me, I couldn’t put it down. I could barely convince myself to look away from the pages long enough to eat my dinner. The characters of the story will completely draw you in and you’ll feel as if you’re there living on Janus with the Sherbournes and you’ll be a witness to everything that happens through the story. The emotions that are woven into the story will take your breath away. When you’ve raised a baby its whole life, even if that baby isn’t biologically yours, is it right to have that baby taken away? What is really right and wrong in a situation like that? What is fair? The contents of this book and the questions it brings up in the reader’s mind are just so thought provoking. What would you do if you were in this exact situation? Though for much of the book I was mad at Isabella for some of the choices she made, once she fell in love with that baby, I can’t say that I can know whether I would have done anything differently.
For those of you who would like to have your own book discussion with this book, here is a site with some reading discussion questions you can use.

The bottom line: I loved this book so so much. It was amazingly touching and moving and just so great. Everyone should read this as soon as possible, be ready though it’s going to tug hard at your heart strings.

Favorite quotes:

“He struggles to make sense of it- all this love, so bent out of shape, refracted, like light through the lens.”

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

“I’ve learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing your past”

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

2015 Book #42 – Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng


Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Date finished: 5/5/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: June 26, 2014
Pages in book: 292
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

My rating: 4.25 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 book that made you cry” check box because, well, it made me cry. I found this book to be quite moving. The story alternates between the views and memories of all 5 people in the Lee family, transitioning without causing too much confusion which was appreciated. We find out right from the first line of the book that “Lydia is dead,” Lydia being the older of the 2 daughters. As we delve deeper and deeper into the psyche of each member of the family before and after her death, including Lydia for the before, we come to our own conclusions about what may have happened to poor Lydia. Each member of the family has their own idea of what happened, but none of them ever find out what actually happened. And what actually happened is one of the biggest tragedies in the book, I think. Through the book we learn the reason why Lydia’s mom (Marilyn) is so hard on her and pushes her to do so well in school. Even more than that, we learn the reason why Lydia stomachs it. Every member of this family has a complicated and slightly twisted relationship with one another. Their fears drive them to do reckless and ultimately destructive things that cause the relationships within the family to crack long before Lydia’s death. The extreme sense of loss resulting from Lydia’s death causes the family structure to crumble.
There are a lot of relevant issues discussed in this novel, most importantly is that of ethnicity and how different someone can feel even if their just as American as the person standing next to them just because of their ethnicity. James (the dad) is Chinese and Marilyn is white. And actually, their marriage was apparently illegal during the time period at which the book was set (they would’ve been married in the mid to late 50’s I think). James has never felt like he fit it through his entire life. He knows how heart-wrenching it is to have no friends, just because your face looks a little different. The weird stares, the whispers, the giggles. The one thing he wants for his children is for them to fit in and be normal. Unfortunately he becomes a professor in a small college town in Ohio, where they are the only Oriental family.
And poor Hannah! (Who I will call Hanna Banana because she just desperately needs a nick name) She is forgotten about by her parents for most of the book, relegated to the lonely attic, removed from the rest of her family. All she wants is love and to feel like she’s a part of her family but no one ever pays attention to her. It was just heart breaking.
So obviously I liked this book. I thought it really dealt well with a large variety of issues: ethnicity, family pressures, death, loss, love, and life itself. It was moving and thoughful and I really enjoyed it.

The bottom line: I would recommend this book, it was full of tension and discussed some relevant issues

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