2017 Book #47 – Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

51ALEmLEhRLTitle: Cocoa Beach
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 5/27/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 374
Stand alone or series: Related to her other Prohibition novel, The Wicked City, but each can be read as a stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Library Thing 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 A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.
Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.
Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.

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 Virginia Fortescue, a young woman who decides to go to Europe during World War I to assist as an ambulance driver.While overseas she meets Simon Fitzwilliam, a young man who is seemingly infatuated with her but who also unfortunately has other responsibilities in life. Virginia can’t resist her infatuation with him though, and given her extremely sheltered upbringing she doesn’t know how to defend against his charm and endearing personality. However, its only after the wedding that Virginia finds out Simon may have had some ulterior motives. Alternating between explaining their past and how their relationship began and the present day, Virginia and Simon’s story unfolds in a way that you would never expect.
Overall I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected to. The first half of the book really was hard for me to get into, the story line ended up being really interesting but at first did not reach out to me at all. I thin part of my problem was that I couldn’t figure out how the last book connected to this book. And really her book A Certain Age has more of a connection since Virginia is actually mentioned in that book (the book is about her sister, Sophie). Once we got about halfway through the book though, the pace of the story line really picked up and the two timelines kind of merged together enough that things started making a lot more sense. The first half of the book I didn’t really think I’d like the book but the plot twists in the second half of the book were great and really grabbed at the reader. I would recommend this one but be warned it might be hard to get through the first half.

The bottom line: This book was a little hard for me to get into but about halfway into the book I didn’t want to put it down. It was hard at first to see the connection to The Wicked City but I think I figured it out in the end. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #46 – According to a Source by Abby Stern

519mxmgjKNLTitle: According to a Source
Author: Abby Stern
Date finished: 5/21/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
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:

Ella Warren loves her job working for celebrity news magazine, The Life, as an undercover reporter. Her evenings are spent using her alias to discreetly attend red carpet events, nightclubs, and Hollywood hotspots like the fabulous Chateau Marmont, where her eyes are always peeled for the next big celebrity story.
When Ella’s new Devil Wears Prada-type boss starts a not-so-friendly competition among the reporters to find an exclusive story or be fired, the stakes are higher than ever. But is being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle worth jeopardizing her friendship with budding actress Holiday Hall and her relationships with her boyfriend and her family? As the competition grows fiercer, her life becomes intertwined in a public scandal that may cost her everything.
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

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. This book tells the story of Ella Warren, an undercover freelance reporter for The Life, a gossip magazine. Ella’s job involves her going to the hottest clubs and restaurants in Hollywood to search for a new scoop each night. This unfortunately takes her away from her boyfriend of seven years, Ethan. And then one night all of a sudden Ethan decides he’s had enough. He moves out the next day and Ella is left adrift. But between her heiress best friend Holiday and her college best friend Jessica, Ella manages to pull the pieces together and actually even finds a new boyfriend. Her new editor at the magazine though has started using a points system to decide who gets fired or not, and so Ella is under more pressure than ever to get the biggest and best scoop, no matter the cost.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a lot of the Gossip Girl books, which I loved as a teenager. The gossip about all the celebrities included code names instead of real names, which made sense because I think otherwise it would have been too hard to keep track of who was who with the celebrities. The pace of this book was great and there was a good amount of scandal and intrigue. There was also betrayal and romance and family drama. I can’t imagine how anyone could have fit anything else into this book, it was bursting with interesting events. And while I liked it, there were pieces of it that I didn’t love. I thought Ella was just too self-absorbed for my tastes. Even after she turned things around at the end she still seemed a little too all about her. Other than that though I really liked the book and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: This was a funny and entertaining book. It reminded me a bit of Gossip Girl with the code names. I didn’t love the way the ending was set up but I liked the book overall. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #45 – The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

51RzRwlEwRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Mediterranean Caper
Author: Clive Cussler
Date finished: 5/14/17
Genre: Fiction, military
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: July 16, 2013 (40th Anniversary reprint)
Pages in book: 220
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dirk Pitt Adventure series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

On a quiet Greek island, a U.S. air force base has come under attack—by a World War I fighter plane . . . a famous yellow Albatros supposedly lost at sea in 1918.
Now it is up to Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, and the rest of the NUMA team to root out the elusive truth behind the incident—and find out how it’s connected to mysterious acts of sabotage against a scientific expedition, an international smuggling ring, and a dark-haired beauty with some dangerous secrets.  The search for answers will lead Pitt from a lavish island villa, to a moving freighter eerily empty of crew, to a massive underwater cavern housing the heart of a criminal operation that is larger and more elaborate than he ever could have imagined . . . a lucrative operation that its mastermind would kill to protect.
With its fearless and dashing hero, high-stakes action, and non-stop excitement, The Mediterranean Caper is classic Dirk Pitt . . . and classic Cussler.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (May). This was a military adventure type novel, supposedly in the same vein as an Indiana Jones type novel. Dirk Pitt is called out to a Greek island with his friend Giordino to help with a problem that’s come up. Along the way, through a series of events that could only be arranged by fate, Pitt gets involved in a larger issue: major drug deals and a dastardly villain who is the very definition of evil.
Overall this was not my favorite book. The hero was so cocky and arrogant, I hated it. And it didn’t make any sense how he kept figuring out the scheme/story behind every twist and turn, I couldn’t understand how Pitt seemed to be this all-knowing character. I mean yes he was smart but it was ridiculous how much he knew about each facet of other people’s plans just by guessing. And I think part of the reason I didn’t love this book was because it was written so long ago there were certain things that just were cringe-worthy. In the first 40 pages of the book, Pitt meets a beautiful but sad woman on the beach, backhands her, and then has sex with her all within like a page and it was just so ridiculously unrealistic. So overall not my favorite but I can where it would appeal to certain readers.

The bottom line: This book was not my favorite, it just didn’t capture my interest. The hero’s character didn’t appeal to me personally but I am sure this book would appeal to some.

Link to author website

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

Bout of Books 19 Update & WRAP UP

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Day 7 was mostly spent with family and I also spent the morning volunteering but I managed to read about 2 hours at night before bed. My Sunday’s progress is below followed by my wrap up of my overall Bout of Books accomplishments:

Updates

Sunday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 110
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,076
Books read today: I finished Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler, review will be up tonight!
Challenges: Sunday was a free day so there was no challenge

Time Devoted to Reading

My goal was to devote at least 2 hours a day to reading and I unfortunately did not reach that goal every day! I read about 17 hours over the course of the 7 days which was good, but last year for this challenge I read 27 hours so there was a definite decline. And I only read just over 1,000 pages compared to over 1,700 pages so while I accomplished a lot in one week I wish it had gone a little better!

My Goals

My goal for this read-a-thon was to do the daily challenges, read about two hours a day and have fun! I posted a update every day on how the previous day went and I also did Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday‘s “challenge” post.  I really had a lot of fun with Thursday’s “Character Dating profile” post!

Books to Read

Overall I think it was a pretty successful week considering how many other engagements / work projects I had going on. I had a great time participating and I will definitely want to participate in another Bout of Books in the future!

Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 6

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Day 6 was not my most productive reading day. I had planned to get up early and read before the plans we had with our family but I ended up sleeping in so I only really ended up reading for like an hour before bed. So anyways, my Saturday’s progress is below:

Updates

Saturday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 70
Total number of pages I’ve read: 966
Books read today: I continued reading Mediterranean Caper
Challenges: I did not participate in the Saturday challenge, there just isn’t enough time in the day, and also similar to Friday I didn’t feel like digging through my boxes of books

Today (Sunday) is the last day of the read-a-thon and I spent time volunteering this morning and then spent the afternoon at my little cousin’s First Communion and then having brunch with my family! I am going to try and do some reading now but seeing as how its already almost bedtime I’m not sure how much I’ll get to read. That’s ok though, Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 5

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Day 5 of Bout of Books 19 and I have to say I thought things would move a little faster for me. I tried to schedule a bunch of time for reading this week but other plans got in the way! I read probably about 5-6 hours yesterday though so that I think I’ll count as a good day. So anyways, my Friday’s progress is below:

Updates

Friday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 316
Total number of pages I’ve read: 896
Books read today: I finished The Simplicity of Cider (I loved it, you can see my review here) and started Mediterranean Caper
Challenges: I did not participate in the Friday challenge, the challenge was to make a book spine rainbow and all my books are currently packed up in boxes until the library is done. I didn’t feel like digging around in the boxes.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the last day of the read-a-thon and between family plans today and tomorrow (Mother’s Day and my little cousin’s First Communion) and a Lions event that I’ll be helping with, I’m not sure how much reading I will get done, but I will try my best! Happy reading everyone!

2017 Book #44 – The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

61EYgKWCiDLTitle: The Simplicity of Cider
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Date finished: 5/12/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Pages in book: 336
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:

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.
Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.
Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.
Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.

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 tells the story of Sanna Lund, who lives with her father at their family orchard. The orchard has been their family’s land for generations, with their normally large family all living together in the large farm house. It’s narrowed down to just Sanna and her father, Einars, now though and they rattle around the house and the land, trying to keep their orchard afloat. Sanna has a talent for making cider and her father decided to invest in a great renovation of their barn to install more cider machinery. Unfortunately neither of them know how to get the word out though so the orchard is now pretty deep in debt. Despite that, when father and son Isaac and Sebastian roll into town Einars decides to hire them to help out. Isaac feels an immediate attraction to Sanna, but his life is complicated enough with what he’s running from. With all their complications, is there really any chance for them to have a happy ending?
Overall I really just loved this book. There was just a touch of magic in the book and it really made it come alive for me. I loved Sanna’s character, she was strong and proud but also so loving and generous. And the cidery and orchard added such an interesting aspect to the story. The author really did such a wonderful job too of weaving this romantic and touching love story, Sanna and Isaac’s story really reached into my chest and just squeezed my heart tight. And I loved the ending and how creatively the author made a happy ending not only for Sanna but also for so many of the other characters in the story as well. This was such a great read and I would really recommend it!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, this was a beautifully woven love story with just a touch of magic to it. This one is a must read for the summer, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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