2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
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 Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #51 – The Party by Robyn Harding

51kYyM+RHmLTitle: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 6/10/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
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:

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.
One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.
Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?
But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.
Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Hannah Sanders, a young girl whose life is altered forever on her sixteenth birthday. Chafing under the heavy thumb of her mother’s control, Hannah is determined that her sixteenth birthday will be one for the books. Her recent rise in popularity at school means that the two most popular girls in her class are coming to the party tonight, so it can not be lame, which unfortunately means breaking some of her mom’s rules. Tragedy strikes though and Ronni, one of the popular girls at the party, ends up literally losing an eye. Which is crazy and gross and sad. The fallout that comes afterwards will expose every dirty little secret of Hannah’s family, changing her family forever.
Overall I liked this book. I thought it was interesting and it kept you on the edge of your seat. The whole thing was overwhelmingly sad. After the incident the kids at school treat Ronni like crap, which sounds accurate for high school but really was just so unfortunate. There didn’t seem to be a decent person anywhere in the book. Every character in this story had flaws and selfish motivations. I didn’t really like the ending, I thought more justice should have been dealt out and I thought there was a sense of hopelessness instilled at the end. Even though I didn’t love the ending though I still really did like the book and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was really interesting and full of great tension. I didn’t love the way the book ended but I still really liked the book overall.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #50 – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

517zceaBMWLTitle: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Date finished: 6/6/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
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:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

This book tells the story of two women, separated by many decades but both affected by one same event in history. Avery Stafford is the daughter of a prominent politician, and she is being groom to take his place should the need arise due to his health. While at an event, Avery meats May Weathers, an elderly woman who just began her stay at a residential care facility. When Avery sees an old photograph of May’s with a woman who looks really similar to her grandmother, she can’t help but be curious. And when she asks her grandmother about it, her reaction is odd. Decades ago, when May Weathers was a young girl, something awful happened to her. At a dark time in Tennessee’s history, poor parents with young children had their families torn apart; their children kidnapped and sold off to the highest bidder like cattle. Organized by a woman who could only be described as truly evil, these “adoptions” were never overturned and these poor children were ripped from their families. Based on true events, this heart wrenching story is a fictionalized version of what most likely happened to many families in Tennessee’s history. And from Avery’s point of view the author depicts the ripple effect over the generations.

Overall I ended up really liking this book. Towards the middle it was starting to get hard to get through for me because the subject matter is just so overwhelmingly traumatic. Reading about how this young girl was ripped from a family, that while poor still loved her, to be placed in a home where she was abused and tormented and separated from her younger brothers and sisters was awful. I was starting to think that the book was going to be too emotionally traumatic for me. However I persevered and I am so glad that I did. While this was still an extremely difficult subject matter, I think it is definitely worth the read. Hearing about how May did everything she could do to protect her family, and the heartache and struggles that she went through in her young life was so inspiring. This is definitely a book that you should keep a box of Kleenex handy for because while May’s young life was overwhelmingly sad, her life didn’t end there. The author was able to turn the trauma into a hopeful and touching story that I just loved. And generations later as Avery finds out things she never knew about her family, the reader can see through both her struggles and May’s that there is still goodness in the world. Told between alternating chapters set in 1939 and the present day, this is a story that will truly reach in and twist you up inside, but you your heart real will feel full in the end. I would highly recommend reading this one.

The bottom line: This was a great book! It was so moving and while sad also somehow hopeful, I loved it. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #49 – The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

41RTFNre+VLTitle: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Date finished: 6/4/17
Genre: Thriller, horror
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 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:

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

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 Eleanor Harper, a journalist who has recently fallen on hard times. Overcome at many points of the day with an overwhelming fear (of what she’s not sure), her career as a crime reporter has come to a screeching halt when she’s fired. And then Eleanor (Norrie) sees an advertisement for a replacement director of Cliffside Manor, an artistic retreat. Norrie has thought of Cliffside many times over the years, having first been there to report on the death of Chester Dare and his daughter, Chamomile, after their car accident twenty years ago. She can hardly believe her luck when she is hired as the director, but when weird things start happening, Norrie starts to wonder if maybe she and the new guests of Cliffside are in danger.
Overall I really liked this book a lot! It was so creepy, the whole book I had goosebumps and I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck was going on. I had an inkling on some of the plot twists at the end but a couple of them I didn’t see coming at all, the plot was really great. The mystery took a while to figure out but every piece ended up making sense in the end. I thought this was a really well written thriller and I would recommend reading it!

The bottom line: This was a great book! I loved how creepy it was and the plot was fast paced and scary. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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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

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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 #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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