Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: The Dress In The Window

The Dress In The Window
by Sofia Grant

Why I chose this book? I love 40s fashion
When I read this book? July 2017
Who should read this book? Fans of post WWII era fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:   ✰✰✰✰     4 Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Dress In The Window from TLC Book Tours

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 25, 2017)
A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have” and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly. In this richly patterned story of sisterhood, ambition, and reinvention Sofia Grant has created a story just right for fans of Vintage and The Dress Shop of Dreams.
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.
Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancĂ© she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town.  But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.
Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

My Review

I really enjoyed this one! I love looking at post-WWII fashion, so this book had a lot to interest me, from the descriptions of the various fabrics at the beginning of each chapter to the process of design of the different outfits. And I have to say; I love the cover and the dress with that detailed trim! I also really liked most of the characters in the novel, despite the fact that all of the characters were flawed. Thelma, the mother-in-law, was my favorite character. She was a strong woman who made it her business to survive and to protect those she loved.

The synopsis tells us that her daughter-in-law Peggy resented playing second fiddle to her sister Jeanne, but the truth is, there were times that Jeanne played second fiddle to Peggy and had resentments of her own. All three of the women, made their share of bad decisions. All three also had their share of misfortune.  I was never quite sure what was going to happen in this story, and that kept me reading!  

My only quibble with the book was the ending. The story ended rather abruptly. There is an epilogue that updates us a bit on the characters; what they are doing and where they are. But it is quite a jump, and we are not really sure how they got to where they are. I would have liked a bit more detail.

Book clubs will have some great discussions about this book. Discussion can center around the role of women in the post-war era and the ‘2nd-class’ status they held. There are also plenty of ‘what would you do’ situations to discuss bases on the actions and motivations of the different characters. Whether for your book club or for an individual read, I highly recommend this one!

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Sofia Grant

Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.

Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.
Tuesday, July 25th: Life By Kristen
Wednesday, July 26th: Book by Book
Thursday, July 27th: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, July 28th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, July 31st: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, August 1st: BookNAround
Wednesday, August 2nd: Based on a True Story
Thursday, August 3rd: Tina Says…
Friday, August 4th: Bibliotica
Monday, August 7th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, August 8th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, August 9th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Friday, August 11th: StephTheBookworm

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

On My Radar: July 2017

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, butI’ve come across several books that look interesting so it’s time for another ‘On My Radar’ post. ‘On My Radar’ highlights books I’ve come across that seem especially interesting. These may be just released books or they may be older books I was not previously aware of, but either way, there is something about them that caught my eye. I haven’t decided if I will actually read these yet, but I do want to follow the reviews to see what others think. That’s why they are ON MY RADAR!

If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you think. Link me up to your review if you have one. And if you do a similar post, be sure to link it up below. Maybe I’ll find something else that should be on my radar!
Here are just a few of the many books that are currently ON MY RADAR...

Before The Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio

After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers?about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

In Lifes Work an outspoken Christian reproductive justice advocate and abortion provider one of the few doctors to provide such services to women in Mississippi and Alabama pulls from his personal and professional journeys as well as the scientific training he received as a doctor to reveal how he came to believe unequivocally that helping women in need without judgment is precisely the Christian thing to do Dr Willie Parker grew up in the Deep South lived in a Christian household and converted to an even more fundamentalist form of Christianity as a young man But upon reading an interpretation of the Good Samaritan in a sermon by Dr Martin Luther King Jr he realized that in order to be a true Christian he must show compassion for all women regardless of their needs In 2009 he stopped practicing obstetrics to focus entirely on providing safe abortions for the women who need help the mostoften women in poverty and women of colorand in the hot bed of the pro-choice debate the South He soon thereafter traded in his private practice and his penthouse apartment in Hawaii for the life of an itinerant abortion provider focusing most recently on women in the Deep South In Lifes Work Dr Willie Parker tells a deeply personal and thought-provoking narrative that illuminates the complex societal political religious and personal realities of abortion in the United States from the unique perspective of someone who performs them and defends the right to do so every day He also looks at how a new wave of anti-abortion activism aimed at making incremental changes in laws and regulations state by state are slowly chipping away at the rights of women to control their own lives In revealing his daily battle against mandatory waiting periods and bogus rules governing the width of hallways Dr Parker uncovers the growing number of strings attached to the right to choose and makes a powerful Christian case for championing reproductive rights

Code Girls by Liza Mundy

In the tradition of Hidden Figures and The Girls of Atomic City, Code Girls is the astonishing, untold story of the young American women who cracked key Axis codes, helping to secure Allied victory and revolutionizing the field of cryptanalysis.

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.

The It Girls by Karen Harker

One sailed the Titanic and started a fashion empire . . .

The other overtook Hollywood and scandalized the world . . .

Together, they were unstoppable.

They rose from genteel poverty, two beautiful sisters, ambitious, witty, seductive. Elinor and Lucy Sutherland are at once each other’s fiercest supporters and most vicious critics.

Lucy transformed herself into Lucile, the daring fashion designer who revolutionized the industry with her flirtatious gowns and brazen self-promotion. And when she married Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon her life seemed to be a fairy tale. But success came at many costs—to her marriage and to her children . . . and then came the fateful night of April 14, 1912 and the scandal that followed.

Elinor’s novels titillate readers, and it’s even asked in polite drawing rooms if you would like to “sin with Elinor Glyn?” Her work pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable; her foray into the glittering new world of Hollywood turns her into a world-wide phenomenon. But although she writes of passion, the true love she longs for eludes her.

But despite quarrels and misunderstandings, distance and destiny, there is no bond stronger than that of the two sisters—confidants, friends, rivals and the two “It Girls” of their day.

That’s it for now Check these out and let me know what you think. Are you planning to add these to your list? Which one do you think I should read first? And if you’ve got anything interesting on your radar, let me know!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: The Address

The Address
by Fiona Davis

Why did you choose this book? The synopsis was intriguing and so was the cover
When did you read this book? Jul 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of historical fiction; particularly those who love novels set in NYC
Source: Penguin First To Read
Here is a synopsis of The Address from Penguin First To Read
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆ -  4 Stars

Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota—New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else...and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives—and lies—of the beating hearts within.

My Review

I was attracted to this one because I’ve heard good things about the author’s previous work and both the cover and the synopsis pulled me in. When I had the chance to get an advance copy through the Penguin First To Read program, I grabbed it!

The story is set in The Dakota, the building famous for being the residence of John Lennon at the time of his murder outside the building. The main characters are young women living in the building 100 years apart, and the story alternates between these time periods. Sara Smythe is a young English woman who immigrates to the US to become ‘managerette’ of the building when it opens and hoping for a better life than she could have in England. Her life gets messy as she gets closer to Theodore Camden, the architect who resides in the building as he oversees the opening.

Bailey Camden is a young woman who is indirectly related to the Camden family. Her grandfather was a ward of Theodore Camden, but he wanted nothing to do with the family that left him out of the family legacy. Bailey’s best friend is her cousin Melinda Camden, who, along with her twin brother, is an heir to the Camden legacy. In subtle ways, she always manages to remind Bailey of the family legacy that Bailey is not part of. Bailey has just come out of rehab for an addiction problem, but Melinda ignores that problem and encourages Bailey to party with her and her boyfriend. The girls grew up together playing in the apartment that Melinda now occupies, learning the story of how Melinda’s great-grandfather, Theodore Camden, was murdered by the Sara Smythe, the insane managerette. The mystery is that no one know what drove Sara to murder.

The story drew me right in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened — until about the middle of the book. Then it slowed down for me tremendously, to the point that I almost put the book aside. Both Sara and Bailey were making some very bad choices, even while telling themselves they were making bad choices, and that was difficult for me to read about! Luckily that only lasted for a short time, and the story picked right up again! The story of Sara and Theodore was much more compelling for me than that of Bailey. I understand that the Bailey story was necessary to give us some of the details, but I really wanted to rush through her parts of the story and get back to the Sara story!

I think this will be a great book for book clubs! There are so many things I would like to discuss right now, but I can’t because it would give spoilers! I can say that many of them have to do with motivation of the characters for the actions they took, and the consequences of their decisions.

Visit the publisher’s website to read and excerpt. Visit the author’s website to learn more about the book and a conversation with the author about her inspiration for the book.

I received an advanced review copy of this book through the Penguin First To Read program.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: The Almost Sisters

The Almost Sisters
by Joshilyn Jackson

Why I chose this book? I enjoyed Someone Else's Love Story by the same author
When I read this book? July 2017
Who should read this book? Fans of southern fiction, mystery, Joshilyn Jackson and more!
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:   ✰✰✰✰½     4½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Almost Sisters from TLC Book Tours

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (July 11, 2017)
With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.
Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.
It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.
Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

My Review

Wow! This book was not what I expected! And I mean that in the best possible way! I’d read and enjoyed previous books by Joshilyn Jackson, so as soon as I saw she had a new one, I was interested. And I expected to be entertained, so that wasn’t a surprise. What DID surprise me was how much depth the story had! I mean, if you only want to read it as a quick summer read, you can do that and enjoy it, and it won’t take you more than a couple of sittings to finish it!

But there is so much more going on in this book if you want to dig deeper. There is the story of 2 little old ladies who are best friends and protective of one another. There is the mystery of the bones in the long hidden trunk in the attic. There is the broken marriage and the teenage girl dealing with paternal abandonement. There is an unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand complete with biracial child. And the story even has Batman! Book clubs are going to love this one!

I really connected with the characters and cared what happened to them, especially Wattie and Birchie, the two little old ladies, and Leia and Batman. I also love the cover! It kept me guessing awhile though about the sisters on the cover. Are they the little old ladies in the youth, or Leia and her step-sister Rachel?

This will be a fun summer selection for books clubs with a plot that you can move through quickly to finish in a sitting or two, but enough depth to lead to interesting discussions!

Visit the publisher’s website to read an excerpt or download a reader’s guide. You can view a book trailer below.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Josilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.

Joshilyn’s Tour Stops

  • Tuesday, July 11th: Book by Book
  • Wednesday, July 12th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
  • Thursday, July 13th: bookchickdi
  • Friday, July 14th: Time 2 Read
  • Monday, July 17th: Tina Says…
  • Tuesday, July 18th: StephTheBookworm
  • Wednesday, July 19th: BookNAround
  • Thursday, July 20th: The Book Diva’s Reads
  • Friday, July 21st: Bibliotica
  • Monday, July 24th: A Chick Who Reads
  • Tuesday, July 25th: Leigh Kramer
  • Wednesday, July 26th: Always With a Book
  • Thursday, July 27th: Ms. Nose in a Book
  • Thursday, July 27th: Wining Wife
  • Friday, July 28th: SJ2B House Of Books
  • Monday, July 31st: she treads softly

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