Sunday, May 21, 2017

On My Radar: May 2017

I’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...

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

What’s real in a marriage built on sand and how do you abandon a man you’ve loved since the age of fifteen?

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers in Brooklyn. Eventually he creates a financial dynasty and she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their family and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

From Brooklyn to Greenwich to Manhattan, from penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, The Widow of Wall Street exposes a woman struggling to redefine her life and marriage as everything she thought she knew crumbles around her.

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Former Bolshoi ballerina Nina Revskaya auctions off her jewelry collection and becomes overwhelmed by memories of her homeland, the friends she left behind amidst Stalinist aggression, and the dark secret that brought her to a new life in Boston.

Young and Damned and Fair by Gareth Russell

Written with an exciting combination of narrative flair and historical authority, this interpretation of the tragic life of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, breaks new ground in our understanding of the very young woman who became queen at a time of unprecedented social and political tension and whose terrible errors in judgment quickly led her to the executioner’s block.

On the morning of July 28, 1540, as King Henry’s VIII’s former confidante Thomas Cromwell was being led to his execution, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of a country simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later, the king’s fifth wife would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.

The broad outlines of Catherine’s career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous accounts of her life, which portray her as a na├»ve victim of an ambitious family, this compelling and authoritative biography will shed new light on Catherine Howard’s rise and downfall by reexamining her motives and showing her in her context, a milieu that goes beyond her family and the influential men of the court to include the aristocrats and, most critically, the servants who surrounded her and who, in the end, conspired against her. By illuminating Catherine's entwined upstairs/downstairs worlds as well as societal tensions beyond the palace walls, the author offers a fascinating portrayal of court life in the sixteenth century and a fresh analysis of the forces beyond Catherine’s control that led to her execution—from diplomatic pressure and international politics to the long-festering resentments against the queen’s household at court.

Including a forgotten text of Catherine’s confession in her own words, color illustrations, family tree, map, and extensive notes, Young and Damned and Fair changes our understanding of one of history’s most famous women while telling the compelling and very human story of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous age..

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother's overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother's fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

Purple Hearts by Tess Wakefield

When a soldier with a troubled past and a struggling songwriter agree to a marriage of convenience for the military benefits, neither expects much after saying “I do.” Then tragedy strikes, and the line between what’s real and what’s pretend begins to blur in this smart and surprising romance perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes.

Cassie Salazar and Luke Morrow couldn’t be more different. Sharp-witted Cassie works nights at a bar in Austin, Texas to make ends meet while pursuing her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter. Luke is an Army trainee, about to ship out for duty, who finds comfort in the unswerving discipline of service. But a chance encounter at Cassie’s bar changes the course of both their lives

Cassie is drowning in medical bills after being diagnosed with diabetes. When she runs into her old friend Frankie, now enlisted in the Army, she proposes a deal: she’ll marry him in exchange for better medical insurance and they can split the increased paycheck that comes with having a “family.” When Frankie declines, his attractive but frustratingly intense friend Luke volunteers to marry Cassie instead. What she doesn’t know is that he has desperate reasons of his own to get married. In this unforgettable love story, Cassie and Luke must set aside their differences to make it look like a real marriage...unless, somewhere along the way, it becomes one...

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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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: The Beach House: Coming Home

The Beach House: Coming Home
by Georgia Bockoven

Why I chose this book? I’ve enjoyed the author in the past
When I read this book? May 2017
Who should read this book? readers of women’s fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating:   ✰✰✰½     3½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Beach House: Coming Home from TLC Book Tours

About The Beach House: Coming Home

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 16, 2017)

Bestselling author Georgia Bockoven is at her powerful and emotional peak in this novel perfect for fans of Nancy Thayer and Elin Hilderbrand.

Unlock the door to the beach house…a place where life slows down, people come together, and love is the strongest force of all.

After you’ve given your baby to strangers, what do you say when someone asks if you have children?

Fourteen years ago, Melinda Campbell was fifteen and a half, pregnant and terrified. Desperate to protect her baby from a malicious grandfather and needed at home to take care of her own critically ill father, Melinda makes the most generous, heart-wrenching choice of all: adoption. Now she’s living the successful life her father struggled to give her, but missing her daughter with a longing that shadows every joy.

Jeremy Richmond knows the beach house the way a painter knows his canvas, intimately and focused on detail. His life revolves around his adopted daughter, Shiloh, the girl who’s owned his heart from the moment he first held her as an infant. They were a picture-perfect family until Shiloh was diagnosed with pediatric lupus and Jeremy’s wife walked away.

When Shiloh tells her father she’s tired of fighting her illness and wants to meet her biological mother before it’s too late, Jeremy agrees to find a woman he has no desire to meet.

From the moment Melinda and Jeremy come face-to-face, they realize their worlds will never be the same. Will the beach house that has harbored troubled hearts for decades prove to be the balm they need to heal…?

My Review

I picked up this book because I’ve had an excellent experience with Georgia Bockoven in the past. I loved Carly’s Gift! (If you’ve not read that one, you should!) I’m happy to say this book did not disappoint! I particularly enjoyed the descriptive writing in the book. The way the author painted pictures with her words made me feel like I was on the beach watching sunsets alongside Melinda!

While if you read the synopsis, the end of this book was a little predictable, the path to the end was fun and full of twists. I enjoyed getting to know the characters. My favorite character though, was not one of the main characters, but was kind and caring Cheryl, neighbor and advisor to Jeremy and mother of Shiloh’s best friend. At times while reading the story, I wondered why some details were included. While interesting, they didn’t seem relevant to the story, but rather seemed to be minor bits of information with no real reason to be in the story — right until the relevance became apparent! No spoilers here, but let me just say — the cat is important!

The Beach House: Coming Home is a perfect summer read! It was a light, quick read; perfect for a day at the beach! But this will also be an excellent selection for a variety of book clubs, whether your group prefers to keep things light, or whether you like an in-depth discussion of character analysis and motivation, symbolism, or more!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in Northern California with her husband, John.

Find out more about Georgia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

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

Georgia Bockoven’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, May 16th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, May 16th: The Book Bag
Wednesday, May 17th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, May 18th: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, May 19th: Bibliotica
Monday, May 22nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, May 23rd: Back Porchervations
Wednesday, May 24th: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, May 25th: Library of Clean Reads
Monday, May 29th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, May 30th: Dreams, Etc.
Wednesday, May 31st: alyssarossblog
Thursday, June 1st: Tina Says…
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: The Marriage Pact

The Marriage Pact
by Michelle Richmond

Why did you choose this book? The synopsis intrigued me  
When did you read this book? March 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of psychological thriller/suspense
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: ✰✰✰ ½    3½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of Marriage Pact from Goodreads

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare."

My Review

I requested this one from NetGalley because the synopsis was intriguing. I read it a few weeks ago but am just now writing my review, because it’s taken me this long to decide what I think of the book.

The story starts off well enough. Jake and Alice are about to be married and, through a chance meeting, Alice invites a client who is something of a celebrity to attend their wedding. Surprisingly he does and he sends an intriguing gift. The result is that Alice and Jake decide to join an exclusive group whose mission is to act as a support group to ensure that all marriages of members of the group remain strong — no divorce allowed! Sounds intriguing, right? Still, Alice is an attorney and when she was rushed into signing the paper to commit the couple to the ‘Marriage Pact’ you would think that would be a red flag to slow down. However, the prospect of hobnobbing with the rich and famous also had its intrigue for Alice and Jake, and they willingly committed to follow all rules.

As they become more enmeshed with the group and it’s rules, they learn this little group is not really a support group at all, but a cult, and when seemingly minor rules are broken, the consequences are severe...and sometimes a little weird. They look for a way out, but unlike social groups, this commitment is for life! Because the group is ‘secret’ so they can not  discuss it with anyone outside the group or ask for help. Suspense builds as they try to make their escape. I have to say that this book kept me reading, and while some of the scenes were a little creepy, I realize what a creative mind it took to write this book! Eventually the couple meets the the founder of the group. Though she was misguided, I found myself drawn to her and can understand why others may have been. Things come to a head and the couple are given a choice, with consequences.

I enjoyed the book even though at many times I was asking myself why the people involved stayed involved. It was creative and I never knew what would happen next, or who was calling the shots. I do wish there had been a bit more at the end, letting me know the results of the decision Alice and Jake made.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book for review purposes.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation - May 2017

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme that was started by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. It is currently hosted by Kate on her booksaremyfavouriteandbest blog, and normally runs on the first Saturday of the month. The main idea of this meme is to form a chain of books by linking something they have in common, kind of like forming a word ladder with common letters, and everyone begins their chains with the same book. Other than that, there are no set rules. You get to make your own!

This month, we are starting with The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I haven’t read this book, and really know nothing about it other than what I read in the synopsis at Goodreads. Here are the first couple of sentences.

“At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the slap.”

That immediately calls to mind a book I have read, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, where something bad also happens when a group of friends are gathered at a barbeque. Both stories unfold as the characters give their different points of view.

As you may have figured out if you read my SIx Degrees of Separation post last month, Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors. Around the same time she released Truly Madly Guilty another of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, also released a book with a catchy three-word title, Small Great Things. This is a book with themes exploring racism and privilege, and is centered around a fictional nurse, Ruth Jefferson, a strong African-American woman who cares deeply about her teenage son.

Another book in which a main character is a strong African-American woman who cares deeply about her son is Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. Elizabeth Keckley is — no surprise here — the dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln during her years in the White House. But more than that, she is Mrs. Lincoln’s best friend and strongest supporter during those years.

Another book which features the word ‘dressmaker’ in the title is The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. This is the story of a young European woman who is a talented seamstress. She catches the eye of an important designer of the day, Lucille Duff Gordon, and is hired to accompany her to America aboard the Titanic. Obviously there is much more to the story, including testimony at hearings on the sinking of the Titanic, but the important point here is that she eventually becomes a dressmaker!

A book I read around the same time, and chose because it evoked the sinking of the Titanic when I saw the cover, is The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. This is a completely different story having nothing to do with the Titanic, but it does have hearings as part of the aftermath of the sinking of a ship! The main character is Grace, a young woman who has very recently wed a wealthy young husband. The newlyweds were aboard the ship and Grace quickly finds herself widowed as a result of the sinking. She gives testimony at the hearings, and I was never sure how reliable that testimony was.

I’m ending my chain with another book featuring an unreliable narrator, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. This story is set about ten years later, during prohibition. Rose is in the typing pool for the local police department, typing up confessions of murderers and gangsters. As a young woman of this time, Rose eventually finds herself involved with some of the illicit happenings of the day, and things spin out of control. As she tells the story, we are never quite sure exactly what happened and when.

And there’s my chain; from The Slap to The Other Typist in six moves! Visit the current Six Degrees post on Kate’s blog to link up your chain and see what others have done with Room. Next month we will start with Shopgirl by Steve Martin. Be sure to come back next month to see what I do with it!

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