General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so hungover….

And not from too much alcohol. From yet another story told by Kristin Hannah that tugs at my heartstrings.

Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. After loving The Nightingale and The Great Alone, one of my friends recommended that I read Night Road. But she did warn me that she felt like she needed a support group after she was done reading it. Yes, girl. Yes…

I almost don’t even want to give a synopsis of this book for fear of giving away some of the surprising elements that make the story so special and endearing. Suffice it to say that this is a story about friendship, first love, motherhood, loss, justice, redemption, forgiveness, guilt, shame, and letting go… all stuffed into 400 pages of literary magic.

Kristin Hannah took me back to my high school days with Night Road, to being carefree. When the most important things were getting asked to the prom, being nominated for homecoming queen, and what colleges you applied to/got into. But we all have to grow up. And the characters in this book had to grow up overnight, the result of a tragedy weeks before graduation. Their lives will never be the same.

I literally devoured this book in 36 hours. I couldn’t put it down. It took so many different directions as the story went on that I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. At one point, I wanted to throw my Nook across the room and scream. At other points I wanted to cry. And speckled in between where moments that made me smile. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that took me on a such a ride within a few hundred pages.

This would be a fabulous book for a book club. There are tons of topics to discuss and I’m sure there would be plenty to talk about. I’m honestly still not sure how I would have reacted in many of the situations the main characters found themselves in.

I may need to take a tiny Kristin Hannah break to sober up after this one, but then I’ll be back! Because there are still a pile of her books I cannot wait to read.

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Mystery, Thriller

Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Hunting AnnabelleHunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication December 18th!

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway! I always try my hardest to read and review my giveaway book, and if you don’t, you should! I discover a lot of books I wouldn’t otherwise through the giveaway process and it’s always fun to get new, unique reads on my shelf.

Hunting Annabelle was no exception. It was the perfect book for a spooky fall night.

Sean is kind of a loner. Sean might be a bit mentally unstable. Sean has killed before and spent years in an institution being rehabilitated. But, he’s done killing. In walks Annabelle, a beautiful ray of light in his world. Until Annabelle disappears. And Sean becomes the number one suspect. But, he’s certain something else is at play here and he won’t stop until he finds her.

This book was set in the 1980s which gave it a retro feel. There were no cell phones. The internet wasn’t really a thing. It makes the investigative elements much more difficult. I loved the 1980s angle.

Hunting Annabelle is jam packed full of twists and turns. Just when you think you know what’s going on, you don’t. And it was kind of messed up, with some gruesome elements that may be hard for some to stomach. It reminded me a little bit of You by Caroline Kepnes mixed with a little bit of Karin Slaughter.

Would recommend to anybody looking for a dark, gothic, twisty novel in the vein of Caroline Kepnes or Karin Slaughter.

-Thank you to Goodreads, Wendy Heard, and MIRA Books for hosting this giveaway and giving me the opportunity to read and review.-

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Romance

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in HavanaNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Havana, oh-na-na! Half of my heart is in Havana, oh-na-na.

Ok, I’ll stop.

But seriously, this book oozed Cuba! I could see the colorful building and old antique cars. But, I could also feel the heartbreak and struggle of the Cuban people at the hands of an oppressive government.

This book is about the past and the present. It’s 1958 and Elisa Perez, the daughter of a sugar baron, lives the life of a debutante. Her family has money and her father’s business is supported by Batista, the US-backed Cuban president who suspended the 1940 Constitution and turned the country into anything but a democracy. When Elisa falls in love with Pablo, a Castro supporter and rebel, her life is about to get very complicated. Meanwhile, Miami 2017. Elisa Perez passes away and her granddaughter, Marisol, is tasked with spreading her ashes in Cuba. It will be Marisol’s first trip to Cuba, the land of her ancestors and her heritage. But, will she dig up some skeletons from the past?

First of all, I feel like I didn’t get a thorough history lesson in Cuba and the Cold War in high school. This book was pretty eye opening. For a fictional book, I learned a ton about Fidel Castro’s rise to power, and the promises that were made the Cuban people that never materialized. Let me tell you something, if there is ever a time when you’re questioning your life in America, you need to read this book. The worst day in America sounds better than the best day in Cuba. Freedom is something that we take for granted.

Chanel Cleeton’s writing was beautiful. I loved the character development. I felt a connection to both the people and the place. There was good tension throughout the book that kept me engaged and wanting to know more. In fact, I can’t wait for the sequel, When We Left Cuba, which is expected to be out in April 2019.

It should also be mentioned that this book was one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks, which are always fantastic.

Finally, this audiobook was done extremely well. Loved the multiple narrators that were part of the story. They had a little hint of a Cuban accent that just took me there. Loved it.

Can’t recommend this book enough. I think it’s such an important piece of history to understand that isn’t talked about enough.

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Audiobook Review, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

GhostedGhosted by Rosie Walsh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you asked me to describe how I feel about this book in one word: meh.

This book was fine. The concept was fine. The story was fine. It didn’t blow my mind but it was fine.

What’s the premise? Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love in a matter of two weeks. Boy goes “ghost-mode” and falls off the face of the planet. Girl embarrassingly and desperately stalks boy to figure out why he’s not responding to herrrrrrrr……

I could NOT stand the main character in this book. I just wanted to say to her, “Girl, get a backbone. Have some self respect. Move on from this douche bag who won’t return your calls.” But no, she sits around and whines and mopes and cries about how the boy she has known for two weeks hasn’t call her back. Girl. Move on. He’s a jerk. Quit staring at your phone waiting for it to ding. Quit making excuses for him. Maybe “he’s just not that into you.” Don’t make me play the movie for you….

I digress.

Besides the embarrassment the main character bestowed on all independent women reading this book, the rest of the story was better. I think I liked the second half of the book much better than the first. It was kind of a mix between a thriller and a romance? Weird combination. The climax of the thriller portion happened around halfway through the book, and then it really turned into a romance from there on out.

There are more elements to the story that give it some depth which present themselves around the halfway point. And the characters have some difficult decisions to make and unique relationship dynamics are explored. This is where it got interesting for me.

Would I recommend this book to others? Probably not to be honest. Unless you enjoy listening to a tortured woman complain and pine over a man who leaves her high and dry. But who knows…. maybe I’m just crazy because I have lots of friends who really enjoyed it. Personally, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. Again…. meh.

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General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Southern Fiction, Thriller

Paper Gods by Goldie Taylor

Paper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and PoliticsPaper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and Politics by Goldie Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me just start with a thank you to St. Martin’s Press for this surprise I found on my doorstep recently. After opening the package (book mail is the best!), I immediately added it to my stack.

The first thing that intrigued me about this book was the gorgeous cover. The Atlanta skyline at night is the perfect backdrop for this political thriller set in Atlanta. And this book is very “Atlanta.”  From the geographic descriptions to the narration to the discussions of race, I could feel the Atlanta vibe from start to finish.

The book begins with a bang when a prominent Georgia congressman is murdered. What follows is a twisted web of corruption sprinkled with money, power, and more murder as Victoria Dobbs, the mayor of Atlanta, announces her plan to run for the now-open seat.

I haven’t read an overtly political book in a long time and I really enjoyed it. Goldie Taylor really hit the nail on the head with her descriptions of the election process and the stress and pressure of the campaign. I really enjoyed the look into the corrupt world of politics and the attitude that some will do anything in their power to win.

Goldie Taylor’s writing was wonderful. She was extremely descriptive and thorough in her prose, and I enjoyed the character dialogue as well. It is definitely one of those books that requires all of your attention though so wasn’t necessarily a quick read for me. I needed some time to process the complicated relationships and events throughout to make sure I really understood what was going on. If you zone out for just a minute, you will be lost.

I did feel in the beginning that there were maybe a tad too many characters and was having a hard time keeping everybody straight, but by the end it cleared up. And while the book itself was a page turner for me, I found the ending to be a tad underwhelming and perhaps even a bit predictable. While there were a few twists along the way, I still found myself waiting for a big, surprising reveal, and it just didn’t happen. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. I still found it entertaining overall and would recommend to anybody who enjoys political thrillers or wants to read a book solidly rooted in Atlanta.

-I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Goldie Taylor and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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