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

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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

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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

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2017 Book #43 – The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

51MUPopm41LTitle: The Perfect Stranger
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 5/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 353
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:

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.
Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.
Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

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. This book tells the story of Leah Stevens, a journalist who has recently relocated from Boston to rural western Pennsylvania to escape the mess she’s made of her life. Starting over with a teaching position, she hopes to leave her failure behind her. Leah moves in with a friend that she’s recently reconnected with, Emmy. She and Emmy lived together for a few months right after Leah graduated from college, when she became a new person and began to form the structure of her adult life. After not seeing Emmy for eight years, she suddenly reappears just when Leah seemingly needs her most. But then a dead body is found by the lake and this small rural town in western Pennsylvania starts to feel a little less safe. And as the bodies, and the secrets, start piling up, with Emmy missing and Leah left to connect the dots, the truth unravels and Leah learns that the danger really is everywhere.
AHH Overall, my gosh, I loved this book. I was addicted, on the edge of my seat, didn’t want to put it down. I found myself continually looking around trying to “find the danger” when I wasn’t reading. Leah as a character was great. She’s on the edge of losing it and she gets so deep into this that the reader even starts to question if Emmy is real or not. I loved the mind-games that this book plays with the reader, the danger really is everywhere and Leah is in much more trouble than she could have ever imagined. The way that the author presents the different relationships within this book I found to be really interesting too. Leah realizes later on in the book and its true but relationships are all about perspective. Your specific perspective of that person and what they present to your relationship could only be one facet of them as a person and of their lives, which I found to be a thought-provoking aspect to this story. This was a great and interesting book with great plot twists and a constant threat of danger. This is going to be a must read for this summer, I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: I loved this book, I was on the edge of my seat and I just loved the twists and turns in the plot. This one is a must read for the summer, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #40 – White Sand, Blue Sea by Anita Hughes

5180-8M3tPLTitle: White Sand, Blue Sea
Author: Anita Hughes
Date finished: 5/2/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Pages in book: 289
Stand alone or series: Stand alone I think, its hard to tell from the website if the other books are connected
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:

Olivia Miller is standing on the porch of her mother and stepfather’s plantation style villa in St. Barts. They have been coming here every April for years but she is always thrilled to see the horseshoe shaped bay of Gustavia and white sand of Gouverneur’s Beach. This trip should be particularly exciting because she is celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday and hoping that Finn, her boyfriend of four years, will propose.
The only person who won’t be here is her father, Sebastian, whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He’s a well-known artist and crisscrosses the globe, painting and living in exotic locations like Kenya and China. When Sebastian unexpectedly walks through the door and floats back into Olivia’s life like a piece of bad driftwood she never knew she wanted, she starts to wonder if her world is too narrow. She questions the dreams and the relationship she’s always thought she wanted. But there seems to be more to the story than an innocent fatherly visit, and Olivia must decide if love is more important than truth.
Set on St. Barts, the jewel of the Caribbean, Anita Hughes’s WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA is a heartwarming story about romance and adventure, and most important, about knowing yourself, and what makes you happy.

My rating:  1.25 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 Olivia Miller and her family during Olivia’s birthday week vacation at her step-father’s home on St. Bart’s. Olivia is soon to turn 25 and she has been waiting for 20 years for her biological father to come to one of her birthday parties. So when he turns up at the door about 4 days before her birthday, she is ecstatic. Sebastian is a charmer and in no time has everyone eating out of the pal, of his hand. But is there really room in Olivia’s life for someone like Sebastian after all these years?
Overall I didn’t care for this book. I found the characters to be flat and emotionless and unrealistic. After 20 years of not seeing her father, Olivia is overjoyed to have him show up? I find it hard to believe that she wouldn’t have been a little more angry at him. And the “arguments” in the book as well as most of the conversation felt forced and unbelievable. The narratives would jump from flashbacks to present tense with almost no transitions, which made it really confusing to read. I didn’t really like or connect with any of the characters. There didn’t seem to really be a particular plot and most of the narratives about flashbacks didn’t add any value to the story line and seemed irrelevant.

The bottom line: I really didn’t care for this book.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #39 – Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

511YXgsLkWLTitle: Almost Missed You
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 4/26/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Pages in book: 319
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:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

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 Violet, her husband Finn, and their 3 year old son Bear. Violet and Finn had a short courtship compared to most, but Violet has never doubted that fate brought them together. Their story seems like a real life fairy tale and she is beyond happy with their family and their life together. And so she is blindsided when Finn disappears from their Florida vacation without a word, taking Bear with him. And after the FBI gets involved with trying to find Bear, Violet learns about the secrets that Finn has kept from her about his past and begins to wonder how well she really knew her husband. Meanwhile, Finn and Violet’s best friends Caitlin and George each have secrets of their own in their marriage and the most recent one added to the list is that Caitlin is allowing Finn and Bear to hide out in their family cabin at the lake. When Caitlin decides enough is enough though and that Bear must be returned to his mother, the secrets start to unravel with explosive consequences. And once everything is out in the open, we’ll see who’s left standing at the end.
Overall I liked this book a lot. To be honest the main topic (a mother having her son ripped away from her without a word or a clue) made me a bit sick to my stomach. I can’t even imagine the hopelessness and the pain that must have been unbearable for Violet’s character. The author did a great job of capturing this I thought but that piece of it is difficult for the reader to live through Violet’s eyes but necessary to the story. This was an incredibly intense novel that had my heart pounding for most of the novel. The author did an amazing job of building tension and creating drama, revealing secrets at just the right time and adding in perfect plot twists. At the end I still felt so bad for everyone involved but man it was a wild ride. I would definitely recommend this book, this one is going to be a must read for the summer!

The bottom line: Wow this was definitely an intense book. I liked it a lot but at the same time I hated how sad it was. This one is definitely a must-read though!!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #37 – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

515qNGaUTcLTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 4/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Book #1 of trilogy
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:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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 Vasilisa Vladimirovich, a girl born with the second sight, whose mother dies right after childbirth. Her father, Pyotr, loved her mother, Marina, fiercely and was devastated when she died. And it made him angry that Marina knew this child would most likely kill her and she chose to have it anyways. Vasya is a sweet and generous child though, and it is almost impossible not to love her. As she grows she learns the ways of her land and learns from the different magical creatures that haunt the stables and the house. As she grows older though she is in danger from a shadow in the forest, and as the old ways are forgotten for fear of God, the whole village is in danger of the Bear devil in the forest.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. The Russian terms made the story a little harder to get into at first but once I was engaged with the story line I didn’t want to put it down. It was a beautifully woven fairy tale with just enough of the fantastical to make it feel perfectly magical. Vasya was fierce and brave, I loved her character. The plot line was thrilling and filled with danger and excitement. I’m excited to see where the story will take us in the next installment of the trilogy.

The bottom line: I loved this book. While it took a little time to get into the story, it turned out to be an utterly captivating story and I can’t wait to read more.

Link to author website

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