Monday, July 17, 2017

The Address by Fiona Davis

What They Say.....After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.

What I Say.....I enjoyed The Dollhouse so I was really excited to get an advanced copy of The Address.  I always like historical fiction, and although it started a little bit slow, I was engrossed pretty quickly.

Bailey is desperate for money and a place to live, so she takes up residence at The Dakota, a historic apartment building - at the beck and call of her party girl "cousin, Melinda.  Although they aren't technically related, they have a family bond, and right now Melinda is the only one who will give her the time of day.  

Even though Bailey does't agree with the design style Melinda is leaning towards (could anyone's taste really be that bad?), she knows she is in no position to argue - and kowtowing to Melinda has been a constant in Bailey's life since they were children.

When Bailey finds some belongings in an old trunk, she realizes that there might be more to her family story than she knew.....

There was the time hop story between the past and the present, and if I had one complaint - it would be that the present story wasn't nearly as compelling as the past.  Part of the was that i didn't really find Bailey to be that likable, and the romantic storyline was almost sterile in tone.  

I cared much more about Sara and her story, and wanted to know how she ended up in an asylum and known through history as a murderess.

All in all, another winner by Fiona Davis

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin

What They Say.....Welcome to beautiful Hope Island where the sea sparkles, the daffodils are blooming and a blossoming romance is just around the corner…

Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman. 

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

What I Say.....If you have a stressful week, or the kids are driving you crazy, Spring at Blueberry Bay is the perfect book to get lost in.  

Bella is out of a job and almost completely out of money.  But when she sees a homeless man, she can't stop herself from helping him.  She invites him into her house to sleep for the night, and they find themselves instantly attracted to each other.

As Bella learns more about Isaac, her life continues to change for the better.  So why can't she trust it?

This book is full of good people, doing the right thing, and getting rewarded for it. Why can't life be like this every day?  It's totally unrealistic, unabashedly chick lit, and completely enjoyable.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.34

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wilding Sisters by Eve Chase

  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399174133
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (July 25, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017

What They Say....An evocative novel in the vein of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier, in which the thrill of first love clashes with the bonds of sisterhood, and all will be tested by the dark secret at the heart of Applecote Manor.

Four sisters. One summer. A lifetime of secrets.
When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.

Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.

Rich with the heat and angst of love both young and old, The Wildling Sisters is a gorgeous and breathtaking journey into the bonds that unite a family and the darkest secrets of the human heart.

What I Say....I usually don't see the comparisons to other authors as being especially valuable - too often I don't see it, or it causes me to have different expectations of a book.  However, in this one, I do see the comparison to Kate Morton as being accurate.

I was just talking to a friend the other day about authors that publish 2-3 books per year vs the ones who publish a book every 2-3 year (I'm looking at you, Kate Morton) and if it really makes you more anxious for the next book or if you actually start to forget about them.   Kate Morton is a bit of both for me - I forget about her, but then if I see she's published something new,  I'll read it and remember why I liked her so much.  

But there's really been no one else like her for me, especially since I love period pieces where they go back and forth in time.  

The Wilding Sisters follows this formula.  You bounce between the story of the four Wilde girls who are sent to the country to stay with a grieving aunt and creepy uncle.  As they find excitement with the local boys, their relationships start to change as love and jealousy intrude on their close bond.

Margot is obsessed with her cousin's disappearance and cannot stop focusing on what happened to Audrey.  The village folk seem to already have convicted her Uncle even though there was no evidence that he had anything to do with it, and her Aunt seems to be mistaking Margot for her missing daughter, all of which make for an awkward summer.

Meanwhile in present day, Jesse has moved into Applecote Manor with her daughter, stepdaughter and weekend visiting husband.  Her stepdaughter is focused on the missing girl from the past, and seems to hate both Jesse and her baby girl.   

I never like to give spoilers, and there were mysteries in both storylines.  But (spoiler alert), one part that I didn't care for was why would Audrey's killer first offer one story of how she died, then give a totally different one to the same person the next day?  I kind of understood in the first story it was presented as an accident, but really in the second story, it could have been an accident too, it's never determined that it was purposeful.  Or I missed something.

The one problem with the time jump novels is that just when you get into one section, you get pulled into the next time without much warning.  It can be a little jarring at times, and I was definitely more interested in the past than the present.   But overall, it was really good, and I'll watch for Eve Chase's next book.  I wonder if it will be 2-3 years away. 

Current Goodreads Rating 4.11

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Weekly Book Haul....July 9, 2017

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

I was super excited to get a copy of This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker from Booksparks.  I started reading it in the pool yesterday and it is so good!  It's based around Resurrecting - and every person gets one a lifetime to resurrect one person (can't be suicide, which is a detail I wouldn't have though of).  I'm halfway through it already.  

It's been so hot out here that the pool hasn't even felt cool enough - but I feel like a chump ever complaining about that.  

I went and saw The Beguiled last weekend - and was sadly disappointed.  I love Nicole Kidman, and I especially love her in period movies, but this movie had incredible actors in it, and it seemed like they were all holding back, it was so restrained that it felt unemotional.  I read a review that there was "sexual tension", and I was like - where was that?  The story said there was, but you didn't feel it at all, and as a result, you didn't care about the characters.  The same thing is so true in a book - if you don't care about the characters, you don't care about the story.

This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker.....If you could choose one person to
bring back tolife, who would it be? Seventeen-year-old Lake Deveraux is the survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend and boyfriend. Now she faces an impossible choice. Resurrection technology changed the world, but strict laws allow just one resurrection per citizen, to be used on your eighteenth birthday or lost forever. You only have days to decide. For each grieving family, Lake is the best chance to bring back their child. For Lake, it's the only way to reclaim a piece of happiness after her own family fell apart. And Lake must also grapple with a secret--and illegal--vow she made years ago to resurrect someone else. Someone who's not even dead yet. Who do you need most? As Lake's eighteenth birthday nears, secrets and betrayals new and old threaten to eclipse her cherished memories. Lake has one chance to save a life...but can she live with her choice?

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

What They Say....Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.

In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.

What I Say....Sunshine is the result of our social media engineered life.  She has become a food and lifestyle guru via all the platforms, she's "internet famous".  She's about to get her own TV show, ala Rachael Ray, and everything seems to be going well - except her personal life.  She can barely be bothered to go to her own birthday party - or to look up from her phone at her husband.

But she does go to her own birthday party and the anonymous texts begin - threatening to expose her for the fraud that she is.  Sunshine doesn't know how to cook, her recipes all come from her partner's wife and she's been lying to the world.

That night her life falls apart as the anonymous source begins to spill all of her secrets on Twitter.  It's a bitter downfall via the medium that built her up.

Thus begins Sunshine's fall from grace, ending with her living on her sister's couch, a sister who doesn't like her very much, friendless, husbandless and jobless.  

At this point there's nowhere to go but up, but even that isn't easy for her.  She is face to face with the fact that people don't seem to like her very much in person, a hard pill to swallow for someone who thought she was loved by so many strangers.  And through her story, we find out she hasn't really been someone to love, disloyal to her husband and family and drinking her own koolaid.  

At times this made it hard to root for her - she kind of got what she deserved.  It was a somewhat melancholy read because there was no storybook ending, but definitely worth reading.