2017 Book #67 – Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

512C5hRsk8LTitle: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Date finished: 8/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 333
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:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

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 Josie Buhrman and her family, and how their lives are all turned upside down (again) when a woman starts a podcast to reexamine the murder of Josie’s father, Chuck. Thirteen years ago, Chuck Buhrman was murdered in his home with his twin girls in the house. A man named Warren Cave was arrested, tried and convicted on scant evidence that he had killed Chuck, and now Poppy Parnell, an “investigative journalist,” is using the case as a subject matter for her true crime podcast. Josie and her twin sister Lanie were both affected in different ways by the murder of their father and their mother’s subsequent abandonment. And after all that happened too, Lanie did some very awful things to her sister that cause Josie to run away and basically abandon her whole life. After traveling abroad for 5 years, she returns to the States and settles in New York City with her boyfriend Caleb. The podcast though, is bringing a lot of truths to light and there will be unfortunate consequences.

Overall I liked this book. There were some pieces of it that I couldn’t buy into (Josie’s reaction and the running away to Europe seemed extreme and I thought Lanie should’ve actually like apologized without trying to also be manipulative) but overall I didn’t want to put this book down. I was dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen in the end. And maybe it was that build up of extreme tension throughout the book that made the ending kind of seem slightly anti-climactic but I think that’s how I ended up feeling. I was so intensely into the story but then at the end I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. And none of the characters in the book were particularly likable, they all had so many flaws and many of them were actually awful not nice people. Even with these draw backs though I still really liked the story and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I couldn’t wait to see how the ending turned out. That being said I was the slightest bit disappointed in the ending because I thought it was just a tad flat. I still really liked the book though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #53 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

51-EYAYN0oLTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Date finished: 6/26/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasty
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Pages in book: 512
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I bought this on vacation a couple summers ago!

Blurb from the cover:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My rating:  3.75 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 (June). This was actually my pick, I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile and I always hear so many great things about it! I’m glad that I picked it for discussion, it was a really interesting book with some great characters and an engaging plot line. I think my main issue was that there was a lot going on in my family life the last couple weeks and so I kept having to pick it up and put it down and I couldn’t concentrate well on the story, so I found it hard to get through. I think it was more of a personal issue though and less of an issue with the book itself. I still really liked the story though. The author did an amazing job of really transporting the reader into the story. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good. I liked a lot about the book but it was also pretty long and some parts were a tad dry for me. I would definitely recommend it though. There was great imagery and descriptive language and a good plot line.

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 #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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