General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1) by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1)Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First book review of 2019! And it’s a good one!!

How could I NOT love a Kristin Hannah book? Honestly.

After reading The Nightingale, The Great Alone, Home Front, and Night Road (so much goodness), I figured Firefly Lane was the next logical choice. And my girl Kristin Hannah did not disappoint yet again.

Firefly Lane was something entirely different from the heaviness of the aforementioned titles. It (for the most part) was a coming of age story about friendship above all else. Beginning in the 1970’s and spanning into present day, Kristin Hannah tells the tale of fourteen-year-old quiet, reserved Kate who meets her new neighbor… life-of-the-party, “it girl” Tully. In time, Kate and Tully become best friends, seeing each other through important life events, supporting each other through obstacles, and sometimes fighting as friends often do. As time goes on, Kate and Tully’s lives split along two separate paths but they always seem to come back to each other. I hate to give more of the plot away because that’s the brilliance of the story so I’ll leave it at that.

To be honest, when I started reading this book I thought to myself, “This is not a typical Kristin Hannah. I don’t have this deep, emotional feeling that I’ve come to love from her writing.” But, boy was I wrong. Wait for it. Wait for it. BAM! It just hits you in the face like a runaway train. And I thought to myself, “There it is!” The magic. The thing that keeps me coming back for more. And of course, the tears. All the tears.

This review would not be complete without mentioning the nostalgic elements that Hannah so perfectly placed throughout the prose. There were tiny glimpses into 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop culture that weren’t too in your face, but caught me reminiscing about my own childhood in the 90’s and stories my mother told me about her childhood in the 70’s. I loved those little touches.

This is the first in a series of two books, the second titled Fly Away. Trust me, it is in line to be read very soon so I can continue experiencing this magnificent story.

If you haven’t read Kristin Hannah before, this is a great first choice. Or any of the books I’ve already mentioned. Or all of them. I won’t judge.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I absolutely loved Celeste Ng’s recent book Little Fires Everywhere and couldn’t wait to read one of her earlier works. I saw Everything I Never Told You was available at the library and snatched it up.

The story begins with a young Chinese American girl turning up dead, found face down in a local lake. Was her death suicide, homicide, or accidental? The rest of the book tells the story of her and her Chinese American family leading up to her death. They all carry their own secrets, and carry their own burdens. And the question remains… How did Lydia die?

This book was kind of just… Meh. It was good enough and I listened to the entire thing. The narrator was engaging and held my interest. And while I was really invested in the beginning, the pace was so slow that I just found my interest tapering off toward the end.

There were some good cultural and racial elements that were explored, particularly interracial relationships in the 1960s and 70s. This was one of the book’s strengths in my opinion.

I don’t know that I would recommend this book to everybody. It’s a good enough story, but just sort of fell flat for me.

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Audiobook Review, Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The ImmortalistsThe Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, can we talk about the cover? This book kept popping up on social media everywhere, and every time, it stuck in my head because of that gorgeous cover. It is so simple, but beautiful and eye catching.

So what is The Immortalists about? In the 1960’s the Gold children hear about a woman who can tell fortunes. She’s said to be able to tell you the date you will die. So when all four of them pay the woman a visit, they get the answers they came looking for, but will they like what they hear? The story that unfolds is about each of the children’s journeys through life, leading up to their deaths. At times perhaps a bit depressing, it explores the line between our decisions and our fate. And challenges the way we live our lives. Would we live differently if we knew when we were going to die? Would we play it safe or make the most of our days?

I thought the idea behind this book was extraordinary. I enjoyed the philosophical elements and the overall message Chloe Benjamin was trying to portray. I loved the character development as well and really connected with several of the characters as the book went on.

I did struggle slightly with the format. It is really four separate stories that end up tying together. But, they are told in succession. So I would get really invested in one character or story, it would end, and I would have to get my brain back in gear to connect with the next character in line. It ended up working for me, but that is my one slightly gripe.

All in all, this was a fantastic novel and explored a lot of really interesting content. I found it thought provoking, but not at the expense of entertainment.

I would recommend it one to anybody looking for something with deeper and perhaps a little darker subject matter. It’s a quick read but you may find it somewhat emotionally draining.

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I’ve heard about everywhere but never got around to reading…. until now. With the upcoming release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s next book, Daily Jones and the Six (which I can’t wait to review), I figured I would read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo first.

Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood icon. Now in old age, she is a symbol of “Old Hollywood.” Over the years she has starred in countless movies, has been tagged the party girl, and has been married seven times. An easy target, the press has loved to write about her life over the years. But now Evelyn Hugo contacts young Monique, a pretty junior reporter at a magazine, and invites her to do a “tell all” of her life. The catch. It won’t be published until her death. But she will spill every detail that the public doesn’t know about her life.

I am hesitant to give away any more than that because a huge part of the story involves a couple plot twists that I absolutely didn’t see coming. Suffice it to say, Evelyn Hugo has a secret or two, and she’s ready to tell the world who she really is.

I loved the old Hollywood vibe of this book. I felt like I was transported back to the elegant 1950s and walked this journey with Evelyn. I will say I was very invested in the story of Evelyn’s past. When the story flipped back to the present, I wasn’t as excited (until the end of course… then the present story line all comes together). There were times when I felt like the story dragged a bit or became slow in the middle, and I had to push through to garner a little excitement. But Reid always delivered. Just when there was a lull in the action, something exciting happened to draw me back in.

The ending was completely unexpected with a true plot twist. Not that I’m the resident expert in plot twists, but nowadays you can see most of them coming. The twist in this book was expertly executed and I think it would be difficult for anybody to really unearth it before its reveal.

The audiobook was done very well, flipping between the voices of Evelyn (present), Evelyn (past) and Monique. The narrator definitely held my attention.

For those of you looking for something unexpected, this book is for you. It breaks boundaries and tells a bold story. If I could tell you more without ruining the surprise I would, but you will just have to read it for yourself to see!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club

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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