2018 Book #60 – The Obsession by Nora Roberts

61hhWGisimL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Obsession
Author: Nora Roberts
Date finished: 7/16/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Pages in book: 469
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My Grandma gave me this book to read when we were visiting her last weekend!

Blurb from the cover:

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.” 

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I am historically a fan of Nora Roberts, which is something that my Grandma and I have in common. When my parents and I were visiting her last weekend she said she had read this one so I could have it if I was interested in reading it. The synopsis of the book sounded really interesting so I worked it into my reading schedule so I could start reading it sooner rather than later. This was a great book, I really liked the plot and it was very interesting. It really grabs you right from the first chapter, and I didn’t want to put it down once I started it. The tension between the main characters was great. And while I loved how strong and brave Naomi was, Xander was the character that really captured me. He was just so rock-steady and completed devoted to Naomi and I loved that. Tag (the dog) was also really great, and a loving character for the story. Naomi was really lucky with her family base that resulted from all the tragedy. Her brother and two uncles and her formed a cohesive and loving family unit that was great to see. I think that was one of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was that while there was creepy and the killings and yes those parts were sad, there was also a lot of hope and love and friendship in the book and that was especially wonderful. Great book and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #59 – The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

51Xyv20J3RLTitle: The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Date finished: 7/13/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Pages in book: 362
Stand alone or series: 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:

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.

Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.

Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

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 requested to review this book because of the description. I hadn’t heard anything about this particular historical event before but as horrifying as it is there is some truth to it. The children that lived through this horrendous event are sometimes known as the Duplessis Orphans, as Duplessis was the premier of Quebec at the time these events occurred. Maggie and Elodie’s stories are heart-breaking but more than that, there is a string of hope that can be felt and seen throughout the book that uplifts the story. Elodie suffered tremendously but she still hopes for a better future. I loved that the book was told from both Maggie’s and Elodie’s points of view, this added a lot of important details that the reader would’ve missed otherwise but also allows us to grow attached to both characters. Both their journeys were amazing and inspiring, and although the story is fictional (but based on true events) I found many of the ideas in the book to be thought-provoking. To imagine these things would have happened to real people is baffling to me, that humanity could be that cruel to children for money incomprehensible. Underneath all the tragedy I found that this was also an important story of love, specifically Maggie’s love for Gabriel and also for Elodie. I really very much enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend reading it. It was an engaging and interesting read, and I hope to have a chance to read more by this author in the future.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #48 – The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

51dDfp8SvQL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Date finished: 6/19/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
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:

Three generations. Seven days. One big secret. The author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cakeunfolds a mother-daughter story told by three women whose time to reckon with a life-altering secret is running out.

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother, Lorraine, cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter, May, snubbing her. Too bad there’s no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G’s, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband.

But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine’s kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother’s failing health and her daughter’s rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go…

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.

I had read Simplicity of Cider by this author last year and I just loved it. And while this book wasn’t quite as much of a home run as that book was, I did still really enjoy it. This author has a way of really reaching in and grasping around your heart and squeezing. And while this book did have somewhat of a happy ending, I would classify it more as bittersweet than anything. There was such sadness in this novel and such struggle in each of the characters’ lives. I especially didn’t like the conflict between Gina and her daughter, May. While it was probably pretty accurate for human emotions that result from the situation they were going through, it was still so unbearably sad to see how May was continually lashing out at her already grief-stricken mother. I especially liked the descriptions of the different grilled cheese and brownie variations that Gina and May would come up with, they all sounded so good! This book, while sad, was still really good and I would recommend it.

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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2016 Book #109 – Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

51tmfgrj45l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Title: Sarah’s Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Date finished: 11/17/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 2008
Pages in book: 293
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

My rating:  4.0 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 (November). This book alternates between telling two stories, that of Sarah from her viewpoint in July of 1942 when she and her parents are arrested by the French police for being Jews, and that of Julia from her viewpoint in the same city in 2002 when she is assigned by her editor to write an article about the tragic events of July 1942. While we hear about Sarah’s story, we also learn of what Julia is uncovering in her research. Julia actually ends up having a fairly close connection in her life to Sarah and it was really interesting to see how the stories were interwoven. This was a tough read as it deals with some horrible subjects and delves deep into some very dark periods of time for humanity as a whole. It was terrible to read about what Sarah had experienced at “the camp” because even though she’s a fictional character, those kinds of things happened to real people. And not just a handful but so, so many. I think it is something that is important for people to realize truly happened though and I would encourage people to read it even if it is difficult. Event with the tough subject matter, I really liked this one and it was an engaging read. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: This was a tough book for me, subject matter like this is painful and really gets under your skin. I think that makes it doubly important though for us to experience it and realize that while this is a fiction novel, this actually happened to so many people. I think this is an important book for everyone to read, I would definitely recommend reading it.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #44 – Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

51jlGOk3p3L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Wilde Lake
Author: Laura Lippman
Date finished: 5/10/16
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed standalones After I’m Gone, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.
Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.
As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?
The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.

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 is my first book that I’ve finished during the Bout of Books 16 read-a-thon and was the first one on my goals list. I haven’t read anything by Lippman yet but I have heard good things about her books and they have sounded interesting as well, so when I saw her new release was available on Edelweiss I decided to give it a try! This book is about Luisa Brant, who followed in her father’s footsteps and became the state attorney for Howard County, Maryland. While settling into her new job, she is given reason to re-examine something that happened to her brother in his senior year of high school, when she was only ten. Since she was so young, her memories of the events have many holes and once she starts filling them in, she begins to realize that things may not have happened as she always had been told.
Overall I thought this was a good book. There were a number of good plot twists and the story line held my interest through the whole book. While I thought it was an interesting book, I wouldn’t say that it thrilled me but it did keep me in suspense. There are some questions that don’t get answered by the end of the book due to unforeseen circumstances, and while I would have been ok with getting the questions answered it didn’t detract from the book for me that they were left unanswered. Lu isn’t an easy character to connect with, but I think that was in line with her character to be honest. She was raised by a widower with her older brother, who was 8 years her senior. There wasn’t an over abundance of affection in their house, Lu as a character is slightly cold and calculation, but she loves her family fiercely and will do whatever it takes to protect them. This was a good book; I especially thought it was interesting to see the court process that was included as part of the story line. I would give this one a try!

The bottom line: I liked this book. It held my interest and had a number of good plot twists. I didn’t feel a real connection to the characters and the ending left some questions for the reader but other than that I enjoyed the book. I would recommend it, it was a good read.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #32 – You Can’t Always Get the Marquess You Want by Alexandra Hawkins

51WCj3jfKVL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: You Can’t Always Get the Marquess You Want
Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Date finished: 4/10/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: #2 in Masters of Seduction 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:

A MOST FORBIDDEN LOVE
They call him Chance, though in truth the Marquess of Fairlamb feels bitterly cursed: A long-ago family feud is standing in the way of his heart’s desire. Lady Tempest is the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy, the Marquess of Norgrave. She is beautiful, innocent, and utterly untouchable. But some seductions are just too good to resist…
Tempest is a woman of her own mind-and a true romantic who will overcome every obstacle to be with the man of her dreams. But the odds are against the handsome, wickedly charming Chance if he intends to win Tempest as his bride. Will he choose loyalty to his family-or risk everything he has for the woman he yearns for?

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. I read Hawkins’ Lords of Vice series during 2014 and really enjoyed it so when I saw that she had a book from her new series available on NetGalley I was excited! This book tells the story of Tempest Brant and Mathias (Chance) Rooke. A chance (ha) encounter brings these two together, not knowing yet that the other is their sworn enemy. For unknown reasons, the Rooke and Brant families have been feuding since before all the children (including Mathias and Tempest) were born. Well, I guess the reader might already have known if they read Book #1 in the series, it seems like this topic may have been discussed in that book. Norgrave and Blackbern’s families grew up learning of their family’s hatred for the other family and yet after Chance and Tempest meet they are drawn to each other again and again.
Overall I really liked this book. Tempest and Chance’s romance is honest, easy for the reader to connect to and the magnetism between the two characters is almost tangible. I loved Chance’s character, he was romantic and charming and everything you could want in a hero. One interesting thing I noted was the challenge that the couple must overcome is slightly similar to the one I recently encountered in The Winemakers, and the reason I thought this was interesting is because before that I hadn’t really ever seen this obstacle at all but now I’ve seen it twice in like two weeks. Just found that to be oddly coincidental, maybe it is becoming more commonly used? It isn’t my favorite obstacle so I hope it doesn’t start being used more often. I thought the author did a good job with creating tension and the pace of the book was great. I couldn’t put it down and I got hooked in the story easily. The only thing that put me off a tiny bit was that I thought Tempest’s brother should’ve been more contrite for being such a cad to his sisters and constantly abandoning them. And I thought someone should’ve punched the Marquess of Norgrave in the face (at the very least) for literally everything he does in the book. There were no redeeming qualities to him at all. Stories have to have a villain though! I do wish I had read the first book because (based on the description) I think it might have added some background information to the family feud between the Brants and the Rookes. This was an entertaining and romantic read though, great book!

The bottom line: Really liked this book! I haven’t read it but I think having read book 1 before I read book 2 would have added some context, just as a tip. Looking forward to reading more in this series though, I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

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