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 #48 – Beyond Reason by Kat Martin

51rgLPburgLTitle: Beyond Reason
Author: Kat Martin
Date finished: 5/31/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: #1 in new Texas 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:

Five weeks ago Carly Drake stood at her grandfather’s grave. Now she’s burying Drake Trucking’s top driver, and the cops have no leads on the hijacking or murder. Faced with bankruptcy, phone threats and the fear of failure, Carly has to team up with the last man she wants to owe—Lincoln Cain.
Cain is magnetic, powerful, controlling—and hiding more than one secret. He promised Carly’s granddad he’d protect her. The old man took a chance on him when he was nothing but a kid with a record, and now he’s the multi-millionaire owner of a rival firm.
But Linc’s money can’t protect Carly from the men who’ll do anything to shut her down, or the secrets behind Drake Trucking. If she won’t sell out, the only way to keep her safe is to keep her close . . . and fight like hell.

My rating:  2.75 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 Carly Drake and Lincoln Cain.  Carly has recently inherited Drake Trucking Company from her grandfather, and she returns to Iron Springs, Texas to settle down and build her business.  After being a flight attendant for years, she’s had plenty of adventures and now wants to settle into somewhere she can call home.  Little does she know though that she is walking right into the path of a vicious drug lord. Linc promised Carly’s grandfather that he would look out for her after Joe’s death, and so he too finds himself drawn into a dangerous world of criminal activity.  And as Linc fights to protect Carly at all costs, they both discover a connection they never expected.
Overall this wasn’t my favorite book. Carly as a character was just way too insecure for me, I found it hard to connect with her character because she was so contradictory. She supposedly had such great backbone and that’s why Linc loved her, but I feel like someone with that much backbone would recognize their own self worth and not constantly feel that Linc couldn’t possibly actually care for her.  She spent most of the book convinced that Linc was way out of her league just because he was a millionaire and that they would never end up together. I get that she had been burned by men in the past but it just got a bit repetitive for me. And she kept trying to leave when she got scared of the depth of the feelings involved in their new relationship, completely ignoring the fact that a drug lord was trying to hunt her down. That part made me frustrated, like worry about your life first, feelings second. Other than that, the interactions between all of the characters felt somewhat stilted and forced, dramatic scenes that should have been full of tension fell flat and sometimes felt awkward. The plot was really busy too, it felt like there were so many different things going on all squished into one plot it felt like to much sometimes. The story line wasn’t awful it just didn’t grab at me. I wouldn’t say that I would recommend or not recommend it, give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

The bottom line: This was not my favorite book. The plot line had potential but there was just a lot going on within the plot. And I couldn’t get connected to the characters at all, the plot and characters both fell a little flat for me.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #32 – Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

51bRO8XaIOLTitle: Hannah’s Moon
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 4/12/17
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #5 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

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 Claire Rasmussen, who along with her husband, Ron, and brother, David, travel back in time to 1945 in order to adopt a baby. Claire and David’s uncle, Geoffrey Bell, guides them through the process and then, with his wife Jeanette, leaves them to their mission in 1945 while they go off to South America. Ron and Claire easily find a daughter available for adoption but they have to wait 3 months for the adoption to be final. During that time they befriend the woman living across the street, Margaret. David develops a particular attachment to her even though she is engaged to a Navy man. The plan is for Claire, Ron, their daughter Hannah, and David to head back through the portal as soon as the adoption goes through. But unfortunately fate is not that kind and there are not one but three major kinks thrown into their plans, all of which could keep them from returning at all.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was really interesting for this one and had multiple things going on at once, which I liked. There were many points in this book that were moving and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the characters’ strength of emotions in those moments. Especially the pieces about Ron towards the end, there was a lot of tension and emotion in those moments that jumped out at me. The ending was interesting too because although it is the “finale” of the series I feel like it opens the door for a related series for future time travelers.

The bottom line: Overall I have enjoyed this series, and the time travel aspect in general is very interesting. There was some really good tension in this plot line, and there were some very emotionally touching parts as well. I would recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the other books in the series.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #11 – The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

51tjxzmou3l-_sx320_bo1204203200_Title: The Devil Crept In
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Date finished: 2/12/17
Genre: Fiction, horror
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Pages in book: 384
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:

An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.
That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

My rating:  3.25 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 Stevie, a 10 year old boy with some very serious mental health issues. He has episodes where he sees things that aren’t really there, resulting in manic episodes and full blown violent tantrums. One such example mentioned early on in the book was when Stevie was over at his cousin Jude’s house and thought his own fingers were snakes so he stuck them in the garbage disposal and chopped them off. But when Jude disappears, Stevie is sure he sees a monster lurking and he’s sure that the monster has taken Jude. Only problem is no one believes him. So he sets out to rescue Jude on his own. But is 10-year-old schizophrenic Stevie really any match for the danger lurking in the shadows? And when Jude suddenly reappears on his own, can Stevie believe that the danger is really passed? Or are Jude’s worsening anger issues a sign that the real danger is yet to come?
Overall I liked this book. There were some dry parts to it but I thought it was extremely scary and a great tension-filled novel. Reading this for me was very much like watching a horror-movie, where you’re screaming at the TV “Don’t go into that abandoned house!!” I liked reading from the two different characters points of view, and I loved how well the author portrayed Stevie’s mind-set. The reader begins to doubt (as Stevie does) how reliable these things are that happen to Stevie. And as the horrors unfold, what is real and what isn’t? And the reader so accurately can feel Stevie’s frustrations over not being believed, it really is a novel that will dig into your mind. There were some slow parts as I already mentioned but if you’re looking for a scary read I would give this one a try!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good, and it was definitely scary/creepy! There were a few slow points but other than that it was really good. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #120 – The Trouble With Dukes by Grace Burrowes

51xfvjslerl-_sx305_bo1204203200_Title: The Trouble with Dukes
Author: Grace Burrowes
Date finished: 12/21/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: December 20, 2016
Pages in book: 339
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Windham Brides series
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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:

THEY CALL HIM THE DUKE OF MURDER…
The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse–a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he’ll take on any challenge–even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own. For her, he’ll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.

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. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post for this book, you can find it here! This book tells the story of Megan Windham, niece to the Duke of Moreland. Her cousins featured in books in a related series by this author (Windham series) but I hadn’t read any of them. So although this book can be read as a stand alone, there are other books connected to this novel and many of the characters from those other books are mentioned in this one. So Megan is being courted by the despicable Sir Fletcher, who is basically blackmailing her into marrying him because he needs more money. Megan has come to accept this awful fate, that is until she meets Hamish MacHugh, the newly titled Duke of Murdoch. A Scottish soldier who recently served in the war, he has been nicknamed the “Duke of Murder” for his sheer size and alleged brutality on the battlefield. Despite the rumors though, Megan gets to know Hamish better and all she can see is the kind and generous heart that lies underneath his intimidating size. But is there really any way that Megan and Hamish can fix their situation and overcome all the obstacles in their way so that they can be together forever?
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was an emotionally romantic read with poetic language and some nice sentiments about the healing powers of love. I loved how well the hero and heroine communicated with each other and how comfortable they were with one another while also being obviously attracted to each other. Megan’s family was also a great cast of characters and I’d be very interested to read some of their stories, especially the next book in this series about Anwen (Megan’s sister) and Colin (Hamish’s brother). This was a sweet and touching read and I would recommend reading it for those who enjoy historical romance.

The bottom line: This was a sweet read. Lots of poetic/flowery language so if you’re looking for swoon-worthy romance I would definitely recommend this one.

Link to author website

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2016 Book # 118 – Love Connection by Camilla Isley

51hgvyeybll-_sx326_bo1204203200_Title: Love Connection
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 12/15/16
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: September 23, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: #1 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.
Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?
Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks–will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet?
In concurrent storylines, Gemma lives out the consequences of each journey. Different stories unravel with unpredictable outcomes for Gemma and her loved ones. As the alternative realities run their course, humor and romance intertwine raising questions about fate and chance. Will these parallel universes converge? Is true love meant to be? Is everyone destined to have a soul mate? Or are one’s cards just a choice away from reshuffling?
Love Connection is a romantic comedy about one woman, life’s infinite possibilities, and the destiny that lies beyond two different choices. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

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 Gemma Dawson, who we first meet at the airport when she’s trying to decide whether she should fly home for her best friend’s wedding, in which she’s supposed to be the maid of honor, or crash her ex-boyfriends wedding to tell him that she still loves him. It is from this first decision that the story forks into two different paths, each one following Gemma after that first choice. In each life Gemma is faced with crises and both love and heart break. The two story lines overlap in some interesting ways and we meet up with many of the same characters in both lives, just at different times. Through it all though, can Gemma find her happily ever after in both worlds?
Overall I just loved this book. The idea behind the plot line was so interesting and while it reminded me a lot of another book I read last year (Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid) I actually liked the way that this one ended better. And I loved all the characters in this book. I have to say I especially loved the fortune teller detail in the story (I’m not going to spoil it for you readers) it was so creative to add that piece and I thought it really did a great job of tying both stories together. I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, I think I finished it in less than 24 hours. It was a great read and I would most definitely recommend! And I can’t wait to see what else the next book in the series will bring!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, the story line was so different and unique. And I loved the way the story lines intertwined and how much fate ended up being involved. And what a great ending!! Just loved this book, I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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