Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Review: Bright Stars by Sophie Duffy

Blurb from Goodreads:
Four students are involved in a tragedy that rips their friendship apart. What happens when they are reunited 25 years later? 

Cameron Spark’s life is falling apart. He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada. It is from Christie. 

Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the feminist activist who has his heart. In a whirlwind of alcohol, music, and late night protests, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living; until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever. Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years. But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt, and the mistakes made on that tragic night? Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?
My Review:
I hate to say it but although this book was (mostly) beautifully written, it was so, so depressing.  That is, this book is ultimately about looking back on your life 30 years later and realizing how horrible it is to get old and to have regrets.  Ostensibly, the characters' regrets stem from one night and a whole lot of lies but there was just this overarching sadness in the book concerning aging and death.  The beginning of the book really dragged on but it did get better as the event and secrets were revealed.  Ultimately, I couldn't help but feel sad at the end of the book since everything that happened was so heartbreaking.

I would recommend this to fans of contemporary British literature written by women -- it definitely had a similar voice as  other authors such as Susan Lewis Bright Stars was just released last week, and you can purchase HERE!  

By the end of the song, I'd slid down the wall, was slumped on the dirty fag-strewn floor, cross-legged, head in my hands trying to stop the small monkey pogoing around inside it.  I was back in the class room, the boy on the edge, listening to the popular kid reading out his work.  I didn't know why, but I was on the verge of tears.  
If only I drank like the other students.  If only I drank like a true Scot.  If only I drank properly, idiotically, paralytically, so I could reach that haven of oblivion. But I couldn't even do that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

From Goodreads:
From the acclaimed author of The Girls from Corona del Mar, a sprawling, ambitious new novel about a young father who takes his teenage daughter to Europe, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.

Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after years of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a wildly accomplished, stunningly emotional book. 
I recently read and loved The Girls From Corona del Mar, the debut from this author.  Dear Fang, With Love is scheduled for release on May 24, 2016, and you can pre-order here!!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: Say Yes to the Death (Debutante Dropout #6) by Susan McBride

Blurb from Goodreads:
Someone old, someone cruel

Debutante dropout Andrea Kendricks is beyond done with big hair, big gowns, and big egos—so being dragged to a high-society Texas wedding by her socialite mama, Cissy, gives her a bad case of déjà vu. As does running into her old prep-school bully, Olivia La Belle, the wedding planner, who's graduated to berating people for a living on her reality TV show. But for all the times Andy wished her dead, nobody deserves Olivia's fate: lying in a pool of blood, a cake knife in her throat—but did the angry baker do it?

Millicent Draper, the grandmotherly owner of Millie's Cakes, swears she's innocent, and Andy believes her. Unfortunately, the cops don't. Though Andy's fiancé, lawyer Brian Malone, is handling Millie's case, she's determined to spring Millie herself. But where to start? "La Belle from Hell" had enemies galore. Good thing Andy has a BFF who's a reporter— and a blue-blood mother who likes to pull strings.
My Review:
I love this series!  I was very excited when I heard that a sixth book was going to come out after the cliffhangers from book 5 and it didn't disappoint!  I love the progression of the relationship between Andy and her mother, Cissy, throughout this series, too.  This book not only progresses all the characters in the series but was fast-faced, fun, and included a great mystery.  Everything is always bigger in Texas, including the weddings!

I definitely recommend this for anyone that likes murder mysteries with a comedic twist.  This series and the Dead-End Job series by Elaine Viets are my two favorites -- they never disappoint!!

Say Yes to the Death came out today, September 29, 2015, and you can purchase HERE!
Dusk had fallen, and the fairy lights winked around me like lightning bugs.  Candelabra centerpieces had been lit upon the tables, and there was a soft golden glow all around.  I found myself wishing Malone were with me instead of my mother.  The atmosphere was rather romantic, and I got a flutter in my chest, imagining what my big day would be like.  I wasn't a girl who'd spent her life cutting pictures of frothy white gowns or floral arrangements out of magazines.  I didn't know what I wanted in terms of guest, food, or flowers.  I wasn't my mother.  I didn't have a detailed plan for everything.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Vintage by David Baker

Blurb from Goodreads:
A humorous and evocative debut novel about a food journalist's desperate attempt to save his career--and possibly, his marriage--by tracking an extremely valuable bottle of wine stolen by the Nazis over half a century ago.

Ten years ago, Bruno Tannenbaum was a passionate food journalist with a respected newspaper column, a popular segment on the evening news, and a bestselling guide to relationships through food. These days, Bruno is a passionate 'has-been' living on his mother's couch, separated from his wife and daughters, eating his way through an ever-dwindling bank account, faced with the gnawing doubt that he'll never be the writer he once was.

Then Bruno stumbles on the secret to a 'lost vintage' of wine, stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War and presumed lost to the world for good. Recognizing his one chance at reviving his career, he scrapes together his last resources and sets off on an exciting food-filled quest that leads him from the rolling hills of Burgundy to a raucous wedding in Moldova, to a Beaune Bacchanal, and the greying walls of a Russian prison, as he attempts to find this extremely valuable wine and prove himself as the writer, father, and husband he knows he can be.

Vintage is an exhilarating debut that reads like a delectable food memoir combined with a comic travelogue, including mouthwatering recipes and wine pairings. It is a deliciously scintillating story. 
My Review:
The concept of this book is great and I do not even have many qualms with its execution -- it was a truly culinary adventure.  Each chapter was tied into a specific ingredient and/or recipe from the MC's other books and/or columns and the descriptions of food and wine were exciting.  I also loved the travel and the mystery of the book.  All of this being said, you are probably looking at my rating and thinking WHY?!  Unfortunately, despite the great parts of this book, the entire thing was weighed down (and dare I say, ruined?) by Bruno, the MC.   Bruno was the type of guy that traipsed around the world, being a glutton and a total lush on other people's dime, while managing to cheat on his wife numerous times.  Despite the fact that he had seemingly no redeeming qualities, every woman in the book fell in love with him and he skated by on his "charm" while everyone else was hard at work. My dislike of Bruno ultimately made this book not work for me -- he was so selfish, hedonistic, chauvinistic and unlikable.  If you could get over Bruno, and love food and/or wine, you will really like this book.

I would recommend this to fans of the film Bottle Shock or other culinary books such as Julie and Julia or The Coincidence of Coconut Cake Vintage was released today, and you can purchase HERE!  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: The Girl in the Maze by R.K. Jackson

Blurb from Goodreads:
Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, R. K. Jackson's lyrical, twisty psychological thriller debut follows an aspiring journalist as she uncovers dark truths in a seaswept Southern town—aided by a mysterious outcast and pursued by a ruthless killer.

When Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia, after her release from a psychiatric ward, she thinks her breakdown is behind her. A small town with a rich history, Amberleen feels like a fresh start. Taking a summer internship with the local historical society, Martha is tasked with gathering the stories of the Geechee residents of nearby Shell Heap Island, the descendants of slaves who have lived by their own traditions for the last three hundred years.

As Martha delves into her work, the voices she thought she left behind start whispering again, and she begins to doubt her recovery. When a grisly murder occurs, Martha finds herself at the center of a perfect storm—and she's the perfect suspect. Without a soul to vouch for her innocence or her sanity, Martha disappears into the wilderness, battling the pull of madness and struggling to piece together a supernatural puzzle of age-old resentments, broken promises, and cold-blooded murder. She finds an unexpected ally in a handsome young man fighting his own battles. With his help, Martha journeys through a terrifying labyrinth—to find the truth and clear her name, if she can survive to tell the tale. 
My Review:
The Girl in the Maze is not the best title for this book but it is about a girl, trapped only by her own mind.  The one thing that kept me from being fully immersed was the voices that Martha heard -- I wasn't sure what was related to her mental illness or her "gift" or even the supernatural nature of the town.  I wanted to believe her but something was so off when she had her episodes that I wasn't sure what was real.  The descriptions were good, however, and I got a true sense of the tiny coastal town in Georgia -- I wanted to travel to Shell Heap Island and meet the Geechee.

I would recommend this to anyone that likes thriller mysteries with a bit of supernatural -- I was definitely reminded of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt while reading this one!  The Girl in the Maze was just released  today, September 8, 2015, and you can purchase HERE!  
Martha walked past a trio of brick archways, blocked with padlocked metalwork, some of it dented inward, and reached a peeling wooden door marked with the number sixteen.  Lady Albertha's.  no sign identified the place.  Next to the door was a window covered by wrought-iron bars.  Martha squinted into the dusty panes.  Discolored Venetian blinds hung lopsided in the window.  A cardboard sign on the will said:  Lady Albertha.  Advisor.  Readings, Root Work.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Thank you for tagging me, 

Lisa & Becca @ Lost In Literature!


I could not get into this one -- I was bored to tears and DNF'd!


I adore this series !!!!!!


I hate Miles and Tate together.  There I said it.


Historical Fantasy


I'm sorry but I will never trust Snape!


Alice Clayton -- I hated both of these books and I know so many people that love them!!




I just don't want to!



Thanks Lisa and Becca!  I tag Megan @ Reading Books Like A Boss

 Do you agree or strongly disagree?  Let’s chat!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

Blurb from Goodreads:
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run. 

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend? 
My Review:
Drowning Is Inevitable was not for me.  I hate it when that happens to a book I've been as a WoW!  The most honest and first thing I can say about this book is that it was lacking a purpose, a message and a plot.  The beginning of the book was interesting but then it just felt like it went nowhere and everything, EVERYTHING in the book was so depressing.  It ended up with these naive teenagers just wandering around New Orleans to evade the police and getting caught up in drug deals.  I was waiting for some mystery or thriller aspect but everything happened in slow motion and I just felt bereft.  The only likable character for me was Jamie, Olivia's (the MC) best friend and without telling you what happens -- things did not end well for him.

Drowning Is Inevitable was just released this week, and you can purchase HERE!  
Driving through the French Quarter was like entering a new dimension.  Everything had been restored to its pre-apocalyptic-hurricane state.  It was only noon, but people were already in the streets, wearing smiles and beads and carrying ridiculously tall drink cups.  It didn't feel real.  Somehow we had wandered into some play intended to convince the tourists that everything was back to normal.  The shop owners were in on it, with their too-wide smiles, pointing and directing everyone's attention away from anything real.
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