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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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), Holiday, Romance

Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

Christmas at the ChaletChristmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Out today!

The first thing that drew me to this book was that gorgeous cover! I mean, look at it. Who wouldn’t want to be snuggled up in a little mountain chalet drinking hot chocolate in front of a warm fire while reading this book? Yes, please!

The second thing that drew me: Christmas! Yes, I know it’s not even Halloween yet and I’m all about the spooky reads right now but I’m preparing myself for the holidays, okay?

Anita Hughes gives us three stories in one with this book. A charming wedding dress designer whose long-term relationship is crumbling, a up-and-coming fashion model trying to get her divorced parents to cooperate for the sake of her wedding, and a glimpse into the past at those parents and their journey from love to disaster.

So… this book was essentially a Hallmark or made-for-Netflix holiday movie in book form. It was cute and enjoyable. It made me happy to read and I would totally love to curl up with it on a cold winter day. That being said, it was not the most well written and was kind of basic. Most of the character interactions were pretty cheesy and weren’t really believable. I don’t know if I can get on board with a character falling in love in a matter of days or with two divorced parents who hate each other magically reconciling overnight. Again, Hallmark. If you can see past all that though, it’s a great “feel good” story and at 288 pages it’s a breeze.

The other thing I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of Christmas spirit. While I totally got the Swiss Alp/ski lodge feel this book was going for, I didn’t really feel like it screamed “Christmas.” Yes, it took place over the Christmas holiday but otherwise was more of a “winter” read than a “Christmas” read.

All of that being said, if you’re just looking for a light hearted, quick read for winter, this is your book.

-I was gifted an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Anita Hughes, and St. Martin’s Press (faves!) for the opportunity to review.-

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Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker's DaughterThe Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first time reading a book by Kate Morton. My Lord is her writing good. Her vocabulary alone astonished me and the eloquence with which she strings thoughts together was impeccable.

One quick note before I review the content of the book. That cover! It’s stunning and I have no doubt it will be an eye catcher. In fact, it’s what struck my fancy when I was browsing through NetGalley looking for my next great read.

This book is hard to describe as it’s so complex, with layers upon layers. But essentially it is the story of how people are interconnected in both place and time. The story spans over a century from 1862 to 2017, with multiple “mini-stories” that weave their way into one. There is a “mystery” element but I didn’t feel that the mystery was what carried the book. Honestly, I would say the romantic elements were stronger and the mystery was a subplot.

I enjoyed each character’s individual journey and felt that all the characters stood on their own with appropriate complexity and differentiation. There were times when the story bounced back and forth through time that I found myself forgetting who somebody was or how they were connected to the overall story, but after a quick refresher I was able to right myself. I will say that it was probably 100 pages too long and could have benefited from some significant editing. Because of it’s length, it did take me a bit longer to read than normal which didn’t help my memory and retention with regards to the story.

This book truly does transport you to another place and time entirely. I felt as if I was sitting in the garden outside Birchwood Manor enjoying a summer day with the river babbling and butterflies floating amidst the breeze. Kate Morton has a true talent

Lastly, I will say the chapter formatting was unique and clever. The story told by the Clockmaker’s Daughter was numbered in Roman numerals I through XII, a nod to the overall theme of time engrained in this book, while the stories told from the other characters were simply numerical in nature. Chapter XII concluded the book like a clock striking midnight.

-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Kate Morton, and Atria Books for the opportunity to review.-

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