General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

The Husband HourThe Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I won this book in a giveaway many months ago and I absolutely try my hardest when I have time between ARCs (advanced reader copies) to read and review my giveaway books. The publishers and authors don’t just give them away for them to sit on your bookshelf unread. The hope is that you will read it, review it, and spread the word. So here I am (albeit a little late considering this was published in April 2018) but better late than never!

This was my first time reading Jamie Brenner. It won’t be my last.

Even though it is December, this is the perfect summer read. I was transported to the beaches of the Jersey Shore and loved living in that world for a bit.

The Husband Hour is the story of Lauren, the widow of an NHL star and American military hero, who moves to her family’s summer home to get out of the spotlight of being the “famous widow.” She needs to be alone to think, to recover, to grieve. But years later when twenty-something-year-old Lauren is still living the life of a hermit, her mother decides she will come to the beach house to spend the summer with her (along with her father and her estranged sister). Meanwhile, Matt Brio, a documentary filmmaker is looking to tell the story of Rory Kincaid and has been trying to track down his widow for years. When he finally finds her holed up at the Jersey Shore he descends upon the town on a mission for a story.

This book is truly a book about family dynamics, relationships, heartbreak, regret, guilt, redemption, grief, and forgiveness. It was really interesting and I enjoyed how Jamie Brenner weaved all the elements of the family together.

There were a few times throughout the book where I felt like it could have been 50 pages shorter. It didn’t feel that long, but there were several chapters where I knew where the book was headed and I was willing it to get there. The big “shocker” of the book in particular could be seen coming for about 50 pages before it was really divulged, which may have taken away a bit of its shock value. That being said, the twist was incredibly well thought out and was definitely the most integral and intriguing element of the story, so even though it took a little while to fully unfold, it was worth the wait.

I would definitely read Jamie Brenner’s work again. It reminded me of one of my favorites, Kristy Woodson Harvey, who writes the Peachtree Bluff series (Slightly South of Simple and The Secret to Southern Charm). So if you’re fans of Harvey’s work, The Husband Hour would be a good choice for you.

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General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The DreamersThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out January 15th!

Ok folks. Here is your first great read of 2019 so add it to your lists and hold onto your hats!

If you are at all interested in stories about pandemics/outbreaks/diseases taking over the planet, this book will be your new best friend. I have always had an interest in books, movies, and TV shows about pandemics. Think Contagion, The Walking Dead, The Crazies, World War Z. Ok… they don’t always have to be about zombies. But the idea that there is a patient zero and this sickness spreads like wildfire throughout a community has always amazed me. Because it could happen (and already has…. can you say Ebola? Zika? The list goes on). And the strategies we would have to take to contain the spread are also fascinating. I digress.

The Dreamers is a unique pandemic story that tells the tale of a sleep-inducing sickness that spreads throughout a small town in California. It starts quietly in a college dorm and slowly spreads throughout the whole town. The townspeople who are affected fall into an unwakeable sleep. Those who are lucky enough to be discovered will be tended to in the increasingly overcrowded hospital. Those who succumb to the sickness alone will die of dehydration. Nobody knows the cause of this sudden outbreak, but soon the residents of Santa Lora will find themselves in “quarantine,” forbidden from leaving the infected town.

The story follows several different townspeople as they try to weather the storm, fend to stay alive, and plan their next move. Their stories weave together beautifully.

My heart was thumping throughout this entire book. I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours because I just could not wait to see what happened next. There was the perfect amount of tension, expertly crafted by Karen Thompson Walker. Several of the individual stories paused at just the right cliffhanger to leave me wanting more.

The ending was quite beautiful, and I loved the philosophical messages it sent. I have a feeling the end will not be everybody’s cup of tea just because it is not black and white and doesn’t give concrete answers to some of the questions presented throughout the book. But I think that’s the beautiful part. Just enough was left up to interpretation, and every reader will take home a different message.

This book would be a really great read for anybody who enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It comes highly recommended from me with five big stars.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Thompson Walker, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watch out because Delia Owens is in the building! That’s the way to release a debut novel!

What a powerhouse of a book! Let me begin with a quote:

“Well, we better hide way out there where the crawdads sing. I pity any foster parents who take you on.” Tate’s whole face smiled.
“What d’ya mean, where the crawdads sing? Ma used to say that.” Kya remembered Ma always encouraging her to explore the marsh: “Go as far as you can—way out yonder where the crawdads sing.”
“Just means far in the bush where critters are wild, still behaving like critters.”
– Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

When a young girl is abandoned by her family to survive alone in the marsh of North Carolina, she must learn to live off the land. Cooking, making money, keeping a house, educating herself, learning how to interact with people. In the marsh she lives as an outcast from the local townspeople who refer to her as The Marsh Girl, and leave her to fend for herself. The story follows her life as she grows from a seven year old girl scared and abandoned into an intelligent and successful biologist.

There is a love story component. There is a murder. There is a trial. This book has it all.

And that ending! It blew me away.

I felt so bad for Kya while I was reading this book. It was like the poor girl couldn’t catch a break. I just wanted to be her friend and tell her it was going to be okay.

Delia Owens’ writing reminded me of Kristin Hannah is a big way, and considering Hannah is my favorite author, that is a huge compliment. She was able to capture the same essence that makes Hannah’s writing impeccable. I felt like I was reading a movie. The scenery and characters were so vivid, and the story flowed elegantly. It was wonderful.

I usually devour books, reading most books in a day or two. However, there was something special about this one. I didn’t want it to end and forced myself to read it slowly so that I could savor it. I’m so glad I took my time because it was magnificent. I cannot wait to see what Delia Owens has up her sleeve next.

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with Liane Moriarty. Some of her books I absolutely love and some of them are not my favorite. But nonetheless, when I had the opportunity to read her newest book I jumped at the chance.

And yet again, I find myself torn. Did I like it? Yes. Did a not like it? Yes. This review is so hard for me to write because sometimes when I think about this book I say, “That was actually really good.” And other times, I think about it and say, “Hmm… maybe I didn’t really like that?” It’s all very confusing.

The book is about nine people who come together at a health resort for a 10 day “cleanse.” The leader of the resort promises that in ten days they will not be the same people they are today. That’s for sure. They all have their issues and are coming to Tranquillum House in search of something different. Some are looking to find themselves, some to reestablish relationships, some to alter themselves physically. But one thing is for sure… the ten days spent at Tranquillum House will be unlike anything any of them expected.

Genre? Hmm…. Unclear. Thriller? Women’s Fiction? Contemporary? It’s kind of just a story…

Liane Moriarty was masterful in her development of the characters. As this book is primarily focused on the nine strangers and their journey to self discovery, a LOT of time was spent developing the characters (to the tune of 200+ pages). About half of the book was introducing characters and getting the reader invested in their individual stories. Not a bad thing, but if you’re expecting something fast paced, this isn’t the book for you.

Liane Moriarty made me crack up a couple of times. One of the characters is an author, and multiple times throughout the story it felt like she was making fun of herself. At one point she made a jab at authors who take half the book to develop their characters (which is exactly what she was doing) and I thought it was hilarious. I appreciated her ability to see the humor in things as the story went along. There is also a hysterical chapter at the end of the book about “Helen.” O.M.G. I almost fell of my chair I was laughing so hard. What a tiny moment of genius, particularly from the perspective of a book reviewer (you will see why).

Finally, I don’t often compliment Acknowledgements, but this was one book where I really enjoyed the Acknowledgements. They were super personable and authentic with dashes of humor. I found them extremely well written. Such a weird thing to comment on in a review, but it’s true.

Overall, I find myself torn but I think overall I’m leaning in the “I like it” direction. It is rather long and slow, but the story has a lot of meaning and the characters are very well developed. Their relationships with each other and their self discovery are the meat of the story. There aren’t very many ups and downs. It’s kind of just a flat line in the excitement department, which is why I think I’m struggling. But, just because it’s a flat line doesn’t mean it wasn’t a meaningful story or very well written. See for yourself!

Also check out my review for The Husband’s Secret!

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Mystery, Thriller

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens, #1)She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Out January 8th!

Looking for a good detective mystery novel? Here you go!

Gytha Lodge’s debut novel was a wonderful surprise. I was expecting it to just be okay, but I actually thought it was really good as far as detective novels go. This book was very much character driven and Gytha Lodge did a great job developing her characters.

The story flip flops between 1983 and present day. In 1983 fourteen-year-old Aurora goes missing while camping with 6 friends. 30 years later her body is discovered mere feet from the campsite where she was last seen. And all 6 of her friends instantly become suspects. Who had motive? Who could have wanted Aurora dead? What follows is the investigative work of DCI Jonah Sheens and his team, interviewing suspects and following old leads in the hopes of solving this cold case.

What I loved about this book was the tension. I kept trying to figure out who made the best suspect and who had motive. I constantly changed my mind, becoming suspicious of each character along the way. And honestly, I didn’t figure out the ending until it was revealed which is always a win in my book.

The only negative aspect of this book was that the ending was a tad anticlimactic. Once the “killer” was revealed, the ending seemed a little bit abrupt, particularly given how long and drawn out the rest of the story was. I would have liked to have seen the ending play out a little bit differently. But, all in all I still found it satisfying and appreciated the “solution” to the crime.

I would liken this to a Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) novel with a detective that is central to the story, and lots of character development that dominates the stories of the remaining characters. Would recommend to my detective-driven mystery novel lovers.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Gytha Lodge, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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