2017 Book #96 – Deja New by MaryJanice Davidson

517ZtT8pyKLTitle: Deja New
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 11/29/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Insighters 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:

Leah Nazir lives in a world where the past can and will come back to bite you in the ass. No, not teething ghosts—reincarnation! As an Insighter, it’s Leah’s job to delve into the murky and (often) deadly former lives of her patients. And she knows a thing or two about danger after killing her mother’s murderer with the help of new beau, Archer Drake.

Isn’t he the best?

Now, it’s time to take their relationship to the next level, but not in any way Leah could have predicted. She and Archer head to Chicago to meet his parents—and try to figure out why Archer’s dad killed his brother decades ago. When someone tries to sabotage their investigation, Leah must decide if the Drake family past is a deal breaker…

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. This book continues the story of Leah Nazir and Archer Drake, whose relationship began in the last book in the series, Deja Who. It’s hard to pin down exactly but it sounds like this book picks up a few months to a year after the last book left off. Leah and Archer are visiting Archer’s family, hoping that Leah’s Insighter ability will be  what makes the difference in solving a years old mystery: why Archer’s father (Dennis) killed his brother (Donald – Archer’s uncle). Angela Drake is Archer’s cousin and is thrilled that he’s bringing Leah home to meet the family. An Insighter herself (but with far less strength to her abilities than Leah’s) Angela is having a bit of celebrity shock over meeting one of her heroes. It’s this and the new detective on the case, Jason Chambers, that Angela hopes will finally help settle the family’s questions once and for all. But Dennis does not want to cooperate. He’s serving what he feels is a just sentence and has no interest in being freed. The family is quite convinced that he didn’t kill his brother though, so why is he so determined to stay in jail? And why is Angela’s mom been a ghost ever since that fateful day so many years ago?

Overall I liked this book a good amount. Similar to the last book in the series this book has a really creative plot, and this book has a great twist ending! Also similar to the last book, the conversations can get a bit confusing since they’re so fast paced and there’s usually multiple people involved. But that’s part of the charm of the book, I think, is that there is so much going on in it. And the characters are all really funny too, and the situations they all get into are pretty comical as well. I liked that we got to hear more about Leah and Archer, while also seeing a relationship develop between Angela and Jason in this book. I thought this was a great continuation of the story line and I love meeting the different members of the Drake family. I would be interested to see what happens with Leah and Archer’s situation in the future or to hear more about one of the brothers/cousins, I hope for the possibility of more books in the series! I’d recommend giving this one too try, it’s fun and light and I think very interesting.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was funny and fast-paced and has a very interesting plot. I would recommend giving this one a try!

Link to author website

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

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2017 Book #95 – Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson

51bXz8Oea-L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Deja Who
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 11/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Insighters series
Where I got the book from: I bought this book, I’m a huge fan of this author

Blurb from the cover:

You couldn’t arrest for murder someone who had killed in his last life. You couldn’t bring a civil suit against such people, either. They could only be legally penalized for what they did this time around—and what a dark circus the legal system had been before that legislation passed! (It was still a dark circus, but perhaps not as dark.)  But you could spot them, and watch them. You could set traps for them.
 
Leah Nazir is an Insighter. Reincarnation is her business. But while her clients’ pasts are a mess, Leah’s is nothing short of tragedy. She’s been murdered. A lot. If left to that bitch, destiny, it’ll happen again. Leah wants to know who’s been following her through time, and who’s been stalking her in the present…

P.I. Archer Drake has been hired by Leah’s mother to keep an eye on her. But the more time he spends watching, the more he finds himself infatuated. Before long, he even finds himself agreeing to help find the person who wants her dead. Over and over again.

Now going full-on “rewind,” Leah hopes it can stave off the inevitable. After all, she’s grown fond of this life—and even fonder of nerdy Archer. But changing her pattern means finding out who her killer is today. And as Leah fears, that could be anyone she has come to know and trust. Anyone.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was approved to read the second book in this series on NetGalley and I had (coincidentally since I really enjoy this author’s previous books) purchased the first book when it was released so I decided to read this so I’d know what was going on going into the second book. And I’m sure glad I did because the plot line in this book is so creative and different that I think I might have had a little more trouble just jumping into the second book, though I’m sure there is enough background info in the second book to get readers up to speed. This book is about Leah Nazir, an Insighter who is trying not to get murdered during this lifetime. An Insighter is a certified person, almost like a therapist but in this world they can also help the person discover who they were in past lives (using a specific medication) and hopefully help them figure out how to break the cycle of their wrongdoings in this lifetime. I thought this was a really creative and interesting plot.

Overall I liked this book. As I’ve said I thought it was a creative and interesting plot. The characters tended to babble a little though, which I didn’t love all the time. And the way their conversations jump around can sometimes be confusing and hard to keep up with. For the most part I stayed engaged throughout the whole story, although in a couple points it did get a little dry. One of the parts that I found particularly interesting was that the author used a lot of real historical references for people’s past lives, including Westley Allan Dodd and Gilles de Rais. I always like when a book can tie in a historical aspect. This was a pretty good book, though dark at times. I would recommend it though, it was very interesting.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, the story line was creative and interesting. I always love seeing an author’s out of the box idea about life and how they can create a whole new reality. There were a few drawbacks but overall it was in interesting read and I would recommend!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #93 – The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

51tiXx5s2yLTitle: The Second Mrs. Hockaday
Author: Susan Rivers
Date finished: 11/10/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 254
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

Inspired by a true incident, this saga conjures the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation–and the next–began to see their world anew.

My rating:  4.75 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. I was provided with this copy from BookBrowse and will be participating in an online book discussion, feel free to join us and participate in the discussion! This book tells the story of a courageous woman named Placidia. Placidia was still so young when she married, and after 2 days of marriage her new husband (Gryffth) is called back to the front lines of the Civil War. Placidia is then left with a massive homestead and farm to oversee as well as a young stepson. Barely able to keep her head above water, the corruption inherent in human nature becomes evident in the pillaging and thefts that Placidia must endure. And then after two years apart, Gryffth returns home to rumors that his wife bore a child while he was away. Only the timing doesn’t add up, as the baby was born over a year and a half after he saw his wife last. And the baby is now buried, having died in an unexplained accident. Gryffth charges his wife and persecutes her to the full extent of the law, wanting to bring justice for her crimes both against him and the defenseless baby. But things aren’t always as simple as they appear.

Overall I loved this book. It was heart-wrenching and an engaging read. I loved the author’s language and writing style, it was beautifully written and very touching. This was a perfect example of a haunting love story, the ending really created a tumult of emotions within me that I find hard to describe. There are definitely some tough parts to the book, Placidia was one of the bravest character’s I’ve ever encountered and endured so much for the sake of her family and some pieces of the book were traumatic to get through. But it really was so touching to see such a deep love exist between her and her husband Gryffth. The book is set up as journal entries and letters, and as I’ve mentioned on this blog before the epistolary style really appeals to me as a reader. I didn’t want to put this one down and each time I picked it up I was sucked right back into the story. I would definitely recommend this one!

The bottom line: I loved this book, this book was haunting and touching and great and I loved it! Definitely a super engaging read, I would recommend!

Favorite Quotes from the book: 

“Our enemy is (a bad guy, don’t want to give it away) and all the people like him, who never question their motives or doubt their desires. They are put on this earth to cause misery, because what they take so freely for themselves comes always at great cost to others.”

“That was the first time I felt pity for Father. He showed me what a fine line divides love from misery. Sometimes, in fact, there’s no line at all.”

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #90 – The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

51aoPrUgPHLTitle: The Dirty Book Club
Author: Lisi Harrison
Date finished: 10/26/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 321
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:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series comes a novel about the importance of friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of a dirty book.

M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up.

One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.

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 M.J. Stark, a woman still recovering from the tragic death of her family three years earlier. M.J. works for The City as an editor and is looking forward to an upcoming promotion. When she finds out that she will have to share her position with another employee though, she runs off to be with her boyfriend while she figures out what to do. Her boyfriend is a doctor opening a practice in California and is happy to have her there, but their up til now long-distance relationship is tested when they start living together. M.J. befriends their neighbor, an older woman named Gloria, who soon after meeting M.J. moves away and leaves a legacy behind. The Dirty Book Club, where they gather to read scandalous books. M.J. doesn’t have girlfriends and welcomes this chance to be a part of a group. But with such different women, can they really come together as friends and survive the drama that is life?

Overall I did like this book a lot, it was really interesting and I really connected with M.J.’s character with all her odd quirks. I loved the author’s dive into women’s relationships and how they’re formed and how they struggle. All the characters in this story were flawed but the reader still ends up liking them (for the most part). I loved how brave M.J. was and how much she was willing to risk for her friendships and her relationship. The story line was not too graphic despite the title and it was actually heart-warming and very sweet, but there were some holes and things that didn’t quite add up. By the time we get to the end especially there were a couple scenes that I found somewhat anti-climactic, like when Jules “finds out” Britt’s secret. Other than these few things though it was a good book and I enjoyed it a lot.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, although there were some holes to it. I thought it was an interesting book about female friendships and I found parts of it laugh out loud funny. I would recommend giving this one a try!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #88 – Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

51kCQ5EhneLTitle: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Date finished: 10/17/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Pages in book: 231
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:

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

My rating:  1.5 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 Darcy Fitzwilliam, of Pemberley, Ohio. This information may sound familiar but that’s only because of the Darcy from Pride and Prejudice (who **spoiler** doesn’t live in Ohio). The Darcy in this story though is a woman, currently residing in New York City, but is currently home to visit her mother, who recently had a heart attack. While home she keeps running into Luke Bennet, a guy who made her life hell in high school. Add in some ups and downs, some misunderstandings, and a best friend named Bingley Charles and we’ve got a story!

Overall I didn’t like this book. I wanted to so very badly because the idea for the story line was such a great one. And I loved how creatively the author started out and how the story came together as its own story while also having so many fun parallels to the classic Pride and Prejudice story. I just had so much trouble with the character development in this novel, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. The conversations were awkward and I thought that Darcy was wildly immature for such a successful 29-year old woman. I couldn’t picture a woman like that obsessing over whether a guy liked her or not. Overall the book felt more teen angst-y to me than I would have expected for an adult novel, but this may work for some readers. It wasn’t for me but it was a creative story and I can see how it would appeal to many.

The bottom line: I didn’t particularly care for this book. The premise behind the story I thought was really creative and I liked how the story line went overall. I just didn’t like the character development much and I thought the characters were all really unrealistic and in many areas immature. Interesting story but overall this wasn’t my favorite.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #87 – First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

51ssKKGyVGLTitle: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Date finished: 10/15/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Pages in book: 291
Stand alone or series: Seems to be a sequel to Garden Spells
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Two magical sisters.
One cranky apple tree.

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree…and the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections — rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds — are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby — a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My rating:  4.25 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 (October). This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time, one of the girl sin my Mom’s quilt guild has been recommending this author to me for years and with my reading schedule in recent years I haven’t had time to pick it up. I’m so glad that someone picked it for book club though and I got to read it this month! This book tells the story of the Waverly women, each of whom have some sort of special ability. Sydney is really good with hair, Claire is good with food and Bay knows where things belong. But knowing where things belong doesn’t help a teenage girl trying to find her way through high school. Nor does it help Bay navigate her suddenly emotional relationship with her mother. This book tells the story of the Waverly women leading up to the First Frost, when the apple tree in the back suddenly blooms. There was so much interesting about this book and I loved the magical realism and how seamlessly the author tied it into the story and made it seem real. This book reminded me a lot of The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert and The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. I would definitely read more by this author in the future!

The bottom line: This book was very good, I love magical realism and this author did a great job of it. I can’t wait to read more by this author and I would recommend giving this one a read!

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #85 – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

61KeAE7JDlLTitle: The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/8/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Prequel to Practical Magic
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:

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

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. This book tells the story of Sally and Gillian’s aunts, Bridget (Jet) and Frances (Franny). We first met these two when Sally and Gillian were newly orphaned and went to live with their aunts they’ve never met after the death of their parents. In this book though we get to hear about the lives of Jet and Franny before we meet them in Practical Magic, when they were still young and full of hope. They also were affected by a curse that caused anyone the Owen’s women love to die, and it changed they’re lives in a dramatic way. We also learn about their brother Vincent, who we don’t really hear about in Practical Magic. We learn about these three as they grow from adolescence into adulthood and beyond. As they learn about their powers and the curse, and as they fall in love and as they learn about loss and grief. We learn about their family’s history and all the things that led up to where Practical Magic begins.

Overall I really liked this book. I loved returning to this magical world where anything is possible. I loved hearing Franny and Jet and especially Vincent’s story. I loved hearing about the history that brought us to Sally and Gillian and all the magic that was to come. And I really liked that some of my long burning questions (about how Gillian and Sally were related to Franny and Jet) were answered. This book was heart-wrenchingly sad and honestly I sobbed for like the last 5% of the book at least.  There were also some pretty dry parts to the story and some of it was a little hard to get through. I still really enjoyed it though and I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who was in love with the Practical Magic story already.

The bottom line: I liked this book a LOT. Although it was slow in parts, it was so wonderful to return to the world of Practical Magic and also it was so heart-wrenchingly sad/beautiful. I loved hearing the back story to Sally & Gillian. I would recommend this to fans of Practical Magic.

Link to author website

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