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

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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COVER REVEAL – The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke

SPBR_COVER REVEAL

The Duke of Seduction, an all-new historical romance from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke is coming August 21nd!

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The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke
Publishing Date: August 21nd
Genre: Historical Romance
Cover Designer: Seductive Musings
Photographer: Passion Pages Photography

Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.

William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen, he doesn’t expect to feel the sting of Cupid’s bow a second time, and yet he’s able to woo the coldest of hearts with the anonymous words he publishes. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance. While Lavinia is pursued by several suitors, Beck is the one who is seduced when he learns that love can strike twice…

DUKE OF SEDUCTION_PRE-ORDER

Pre-order your copy today!
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ypnYPL
iBooks: https://apple.co/2tptdJo
Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/TheDukeofSeduction
Nook: https://bit.ly/2tntIDJ
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2tlGsLf

Add to GoodReads: https://bit.ly/2I8mUzh

About Darcy:

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

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Connect with Darcy:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans
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Stay up to date with Darcy by joining her Reader Club today:
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Website: http://www.darcyburke.com

 

2018 Book #58 – Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

51vWWmNEwqLTitle: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Date finished: 7/8/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
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:

She went missing. He moved on. A whole world of secrets remained—until now.

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

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.

I had read this author’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, a couple years ago and I really liked it, and that along with the really interesting cover influenced me to read this book. While there were some repetitive parts to the plot, overall I thought this was a really good books and the short chapters helped to move it along faster. This was definitely what I’d consider a creepy novel. I kind of guessed what direction we were moving in with the plot but still, leading up to the climax of the story I felt the terror and excitement of the characters in their race to discover the truth of what happened to Layla. I would say that the tension between the main characters felt just a tad stale just to me, there was almost a lack of emotion to some of the characters’ interactions. It didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the story though. I enjoyed this book a lot and I really liked the twist ending, I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #57 – Dating Disasters of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

41YWCUmbRRLTitle: Dating Disasters of Emma Nash
Author: Chloe Seager
Date finished: 7/6/18
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
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:

Online, you can choose who you want to be. If only real life were so easy…

Emma Nash may be down, but after months of wallowing, stalking her ex online and avoiding showering—because, really, who’s going to care?—Emma’s ready to own her newly single status, get out with her friends and chronicle her dating adventures on her private blog.

But life online doesn’t always run smoothly. Stumbling upon her mother’s Tinder dating profile, getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why her ex-boyfriend Leon’s not worth any girl’s…um…time… Okay, those were disasters.

But surely nothing else can go wrong?

My rating:  1.0 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’m going to try and be brief because I don’t want to start going into a rant. This will (hopefully) be a constructively critical little blurb about how I felt about this book. Emma as a character was very naive, but even more than that she was immature, self-centered, obsessive, and completely unsympathetic to those around her. She was also, as is mentioned in the novel, a complete doormat. The fact that she only finds out she’s been dumped by this Leon character when he starts dating another girl is, in one word, despicable. But the fact that Emma then spends month(s?) wallowing in her room and then obsesses about this same boy non-stop is really where the true crime is. This goes past even teen drama to the point of being unhealthy. The idea that young girls might read this and think this is normal behavior is awful. If a boy EVER treats a girl in the way that Leon treated Emma, he shouldn’t be allowed to date anyone. Same with how Emma treated Greg to be honest. Even teen romances should incorporate respect for the other person’s feelings as much as possible.

OK I’m starting to rant, I’m just going to make a list on my observations:
1- Emma whined all the time
2- Emma couldn’t stop talking about the boy who treated her badly
3- Emma treated everyone else badly
4- There was underage drinking
5- Excessive talking about masturbation
6- I was glad Emma realized in the end she should pursue her own interests and just learn how to be happy just as herself but I hated the fact that it took over 300 pages to reach that conclusion

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Status Update: June

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June was the best. Well, the later part of the month was anyways. The first weekend was quilting retreat where I did get some good reading done. The following couple weeks I was crazy busy at work so I didn’t get any work done. But then! I went away to my family’s house in Maine for a week and I read non-stop and it was the best! I need to find a way to better balance my work and personal life so that I can fit in more reading time. Anyways, here are some highlights from June for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 12
# pages read this month: 3,818
# books read year-to-date: 54
# pages read year-to-date: 17,668

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – 4.5 stars
The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands – 4.25 stars

Other Posts this month:

Quilting Retreat 2018
Paperback Release – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Next Month TBR List:

Next month I only have a good number titles scheduled:

-90’s Bitch by Allison Yarrow
-Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood
-Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham

Short list for July but I’m hoping to use the extra time to get through some of the other 2018 scheduled reviews that I’ve missed so far this year.  Hopefully July will be a productive month! Happy reading everyone!

Quilting Retreat 2018

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For those of you that don’t know, I attend a couple different quilting retreats with my Mom every year. I’m not a quilter but I have found over the years that a quilting retreat is a great way to get some good reading done! So I tag along and while all the other ladies are quilting, I read! This year I was also determined that be creative as well so I brought a coloring book and a cross stitch project (unopened) with me to break up the routine and do something different. This year was another super productive and fun year, and I wanted to share with you readers a run-down of what happens at our mystical retreat weekends!

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Friday

Friday is a great day since its the first day of retreat! Mom and I leave in the morning, we stop somewhere on the way for breakfast (this year was Dunkin Donuts since it coincided with Free Donut Day!) and we try to arrive as close to (but not before) 10am as possible. Our retreat is hosted at the Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, CT. Retreat is held in The Lodge building, all the ladies stay in rooms on the wings and then there are tables set up in the center common room for the quilters. I lucked out and found a little nook right next to my Mom’s table that I use as my command center for the weekend. After we arrive Friday, we unload the car (which is a fantastic form of organized chaos), unpack our bags and get settled. Our rooms are private (there are some shared rooms if you wanted to share with people) and we each have a twin size bed. Bathrooms are shared in the hallway but the individual stalls have their own doors so it still ends up being very private. My mom and I always are in rooms at the very end of one of the hallways, which is right next to the building’s little library. Lunch is at 12:30pm so we spend the time before lunch getting stuff organized and catching up with the other lovely ladies at retreat. We’re also very lucky in that the dining area is right in our building, which is pretty convenient when its raining. So after lunch we have about a solid 5 hour stretch until dinner, then after dinner we have time to get things done until whenever we feel like going to bed. Also on Friday this year we were very lucky that a local store, Cate’s Sew Modern, came to our retreat center with items we could buy. Their store has such great fabrics, and though I’m not a quilter I am an avid fabric fan and I usually convince my Mom to buy something. They were so nice and we were very lucky to have them join us for an afternoon!

So that’s the basic rundown for Friday. I was able to finish a book, color a picture, and do a couple blog posts (my May wrap up blog post and a review of the book I finished, The Death of Mrs. Westaway). I also started a new book and got maybe 1/3 of the way done before bed. I was supposed to be working for a little bit but I couldn’t get my webcast to load so I skipped that. My mom also got one of her quilt tops done, I included a picture of it below!

 

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Saturday

Saturday is a wonderful, full day of retreating! Meals are at 8am, 12:30pm and 6pm. There is a snack table for snacks. Mom and I usually try to get to a local winery, Chamard Vineyards, before lunch but this year we decided to go after lunch. We stopped by the Clinton Outlets first and walked around, but we weren’t in a spending mood so we walked away empty handed. We didn’t walk away empty-handed from the winery though! We had a wonderful time at Chamard, and though we had a little trouble at first finding room at the bar, once we did we had great wines and great service. We went back to retreat after purchasing a few bottles.

Saturday I got a lot done, I finished the book I started on Friday, Rainwater, and had time to do a post on it, plus I read a whole other book before bed. I also colored another picture and started a cross-stitch project. Our friend at retreat also showed us a quilt she was working on and the fabric had characters from a book series I was a huge fan of as a kid, I included that picture and a couple other quilter pictures of Mom below.

 

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Sunday

Sunday is a short day and is a little sad because we are getting ready to leave. Mom and I pack the car a little bit every hour so that by the time lunch is over we can just drive away. After posting about the book I finished before bed Saturday (The Opposite of Here), packing up all my junk, and working on my cross stitch project for awhile, there wasn’t much time left for reading. I did start a new book but didn’t get very far on it yet. That’s ok though! My mom did end up having time to finish putting a quilt top together, and I thought it looked awesome! Overall I felt super productive this past weekend and I was able to really do a lot of the things that I love doing. Plus the weather Sunday was GORGEOUS! The other two days were pretty humid and hot but Sunday was crisp and clear. Beautiful weather and a beautiful day.

Lunch is at 12:30pm and then Mom and I wrap things up pretty quickly after that. We always stop for a (good) coffee on our way home. I was very happy to see my husband and kitties once I got home Sunday, and after my very productive weekend, I spent the rest of the day Sunday relaxing on the couch. 🙂

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That’s a wrap! 

And that’s retreat! The other ladies do A LOT of quilting, and there are fun quilting related grab bags and door prizes and what not but since I’m not a quilter I kind of end up doing my own thing. I always have a lot of fun though and I can’t wait for next year!

2018 Book #44 – Rainwater by Sandra Brown

51e7-ojnKiL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Rainwater
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Historical fiction, romance, suspense
Publisher: Gallery/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 3, 2009
Pages in book: 245
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased from Book Outlet!

Blurb from the cover:

Ella Baron runs her Texas boarding house with the efficiency of a ship’s captain and the grace of a gentlewoman. She cooks, cleans, launders, and cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose busy behavior and failure to speak elicits undesired advice from others in town. Ella’s plate is full from sunup to sundown. When a room in her boarding house opens up, the respected town doctor brings Ella a new boarder―the handsome and gallant Mr. David Rainwater—but Ella is immediately resistant to opening up her home to this mysterious stranger.

Even with assurances that Mr. Rainwater is a man of impeccable character, a former cotton broker and a victim of the Great Depression, Ella stiffens at the thought of taking him in. Dr. Kincaid tells Ella in confidence that Mr. Rainwater won’t require the room for long: he is dying. Begrudgingly, Ella accepts Mr. Rainwater’s application to board, but she knows that something is happening; she is being swept along by an unusual series of events. Soon, this strong-minded, independent woman will realize that the living that she has eked out for herself in the small bubble of her town is about to change, whether she likes it or not…

Racial tensions, the financial strain of livelihoods in cotton drying up into dust, and the threat of political instability swirl together into a tornado on the horizon. One thing is certain: the winds of change are blowing all over Texas—and through the cracks in the life that Ella Barron has painstakingly built. This is the story of a woman who takes her life’s circumstances in both hands, but who will be forced to reckon with the chaos of her circumstances…

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I am a huge fan of Sandra Brown so I thought it would be fun while on my Retreat this weekend to fit in a book by her. I am way behind on my schedule but this one was a quick read and I hadn’t read anything historical from Brown in a long time so it seemed like a perfect pick. This one turned out ok, it was interesting and honestly it had such a great plot twist at the end. The writing overall was just a little rough and it was hard to connect with the characters a little. And it was just so freaking sad. Plus there was some weird stuff in there, with the heroine wishing she had milk in her breasts so she could nurture the guy she’s having sex with, just weird stuff. Other than that though, the plot was very good and interesting, there were many different issues included that could appeal to different readers. There was bullying, racism, cancer, autism, action, romance, etc. Something for everyone! And it was a quick read. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a quick read with something more than the usual fluff. Good read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page