Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cover Crush (Summertime Edition): The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

For the month of June I've decided to gear my Cover Crushes towards all things Summer. I just can't think of much else right now and each of the covers I'll share this month will make you long to dip your toes in the water as much as I do!

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
There isn't anything that I DON'T love about this cover! The view from that porch is obviously breathtaking and I can so picture myself sitting right there with a book and a glass of wine. I love the pop of color in the pin shirt/scarf (not sure what it is) and the overlapping palm tree in the corner. This cover just screams "Florida Beach Vacation!" and I'm all for it!
 
You might ask "What's going on at Mermaid Point", so.... 
 
 
Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once. . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom. . . .
 

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired




Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Pub. Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 336

Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Thriller


Synopsis



Vanity Fair calls it one of the most anticipated books of the summer. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Scandal's Kerry Washington.


An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.


They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.  


What Did I Think About the Story?



I started reading The Perfect Mother with reserved expectations. Whenever a book is touted as the "next big thing" (for god's sake it's already being made into a movie and it just came out!), I'm wary of getting too excited in case I end up feeling let down. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this story quite a bit, even if I didn't find the mystery of who took the baby that hard to figure out.

The story shifts back and forth between various "May Mothers", sometimes even within the same chapter. While I know this can sometimes be confusing or annoying, I actually didn't find that it hurt the narrative or flow at all, but actually gave a nice variety of perspectives on the same situations that were happening. As the story unfolds and the mothers get themselves further and further involved in the investigation into what happened to baby Midas their own secrets begin to be exposed and their lives are thrown into disarray during the ensuing media storm. As these secrets keep being revealed the reader can't help but wonder what else they might be hiding.

The best part of the story, in my opinion, was actually learning the backstories of each of the May Mothers as well as the various ways they are dealing with the ups and downs of pregnancy and motherhood - even when they don't fully admit these problems to each other. Collectively the mothers are dealing with issues as far ranging as infertility, surprise pregnancies, colic, breast feeding difficulties and shame, sleepless nights, not wanting sex, wanting a life of one's own, not wanting to go back to work or, on the flipside, wanting to go back to work and feeling guilty about it, and so much more. They are each, in their own way, trying to balance all of the aspects of life, marriage, and kids and feeling like they are failing miserably, as every single person who has gone through it does at one time or another. This made the story, and it's characters, feel very relatable and kept me turning the pages to see what else they'd face along their journey. On top of all this, the media throws the mothers into the spotlight, highlighting and vilifying all of those things that made them feel like bad mothers, including just going out for drinks and trying to unwind without the demands and expectation of husbands and children. It's a fascinating dynamic that so many people will be able to relate to, at least on some level.

The mystery aspect I didn't find quite as intriguing. I have to be honest that I figured out who had taken Midas long before it was revealed, although I will admit that I could not have guessed at the why's or how's. It wasn't that it was a particularly bad reveal - it actually firmed up some of the other aspects of the story that I loved - I just, for whatever reason, honed in on the clues dropped throughout the story and saw it coming a mile away. Now, for those that don't figure it out, it will be a pretty interesting discovery. However, I have a feeling I won't be alone in figuring it out pretty early on.

The Perfect Mother is, in fact, a pretty perfect story for any mother to read. It will not only be quite relatable to anyone who's doubted their abilities at one time or another, but it will also hit that core fear we all have when our children are small and helpless: what if I fail to keep my child safe? It's a quick, enjoyable read and I can see why it's getting so much buzz this summer.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



I think it's quite beautiful, even with all of it's chaos. It took me the longest time to realize that it was a bouquet of flowers that had been absolutely destroyed. This fits the story well as these mothers, with seemingly perfect lives, are thrown into such turmoil and upheaval by the kidnapping of one of their babies. I really like it!


My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I purchased a copy of The Perfect Mother for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Discovering reader preferences, habits and attitudes – Announcing the 2018 Reader Survey ~ by M.K. Tod, Heather Burch and Patricia Sands

 


Readers and writers – a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both reader and writer.

What then do readers want? What constitutes a compelling story? How do men and women differ in their preferences? Where do readers find recommendations? How do readers share their book experiences?


ANNOUNCING A 2018 READER SURVEY designed to solicit input on these topics and others.

Please take the survey and share the link - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/68HL6F2 -
with friends and family via email or your favourite social media. Robust participation across age groups, genders, and countries will make this year’s survey – the 4th – even more significant.

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


M.K. (Mary) Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel,
Time and Regret was published by Lake Union. Fellow authors Patricia Sands and Heather Burch helped design and plan the survey. Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her blog A Writer of History.



 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Cover Crush (Summertime Edition): The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.
 
For the month of June I've decided to gear my Cover Crushes towards all things Summer. I just can't think of  much else right now and each of the covers I'll share this  month will make you long to dip your toes in the water as much as I do!

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
In edition to the lovely sand and sea this cover adds a little bit of drama, with these two beach beauties gossiping close together. What could they be whispering about with such a pristine view? I'm not sure but I'd love to be on that beach with them hearing for myself!
 
What rumor could they be spreading, hmm....
 

Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor.

And rumor has it...

...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;

...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely than necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.


Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired




Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Pub. Date: December 14th, 2017
Publisher: Arrow 
Pages: 448

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense


Synopsis



THEN

She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW

It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?


What Did I Think About the Story? 



It's now been weeks since I finished Then She Was Gone and I'm still thinking about this touching and heartbreaking mystery. It is actually somewhat hard to describe as it's this strange amalgamation of family drama, psychological suspense and thrilling mystery, a story that combines a woman's unending search for the truth of what happened to her daughter and that same woman's heartfelt mission to put her family back together again and move on from her grief.

My absolute favorite part of this story was the dynamic and very real-feeling characters. Lisa Jewell has a remarkable way of writing both the narrative and the dialogue so it feels like the reader is seeing these fully formed, real people living their lives and having conversations. They react like you would anticipate reacting - which is both good at times and bad at times - and have relatable feelings and flaws that drew me into their world as if they were people I really knew. This is great in that it glued me to the story but heartbreaking as well when I discovered some very hard to read truths about what had actually happened to some of these characters. I was upset and angry and sickened, but then calmed and left with a bittersweet appreciation for how other characters reacted to the same discoveries and how they chose to move forward from there. I'm being particularly vague as you need to read the book to experience it yourself, but I will warn you that it is quite the emotional rollercoaster and there are parts of it that might be hard for some readers to read. So "trigger warnings" for those that need it.

The other aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was how uniquely it was presented. The story is broken up into different parts, with various characters adding to the narrative and even presenting their parts to different characters. We've got Laurel in the present, bringing the reader along as she tackles a myriad of issues: trying to keep the memory of her missing daughter, Ellie, alive, while also trying to discover what happened to her; trying to piece back together her fractured relationships with her other daughter and son, her ex-husband, and her dying mother; trying to build back up that piece of herself that seemed to die when her daughter disappeared, that part of herself that allowed her to have love and give love, not only to those already in her life but to a new man. We also get to hear from Ellie, telling the reader what happens and leading them all the way through to a shocking revelation. We hear from Noelle Donnelly, a woman who once tutored Ellie and who also had a relationship with Laurel's new man, Floyd (these parts are particularly interesting as she is presenting her narrative directly to Floyd), and we even get to hear from Floyd's point of view a few times. It all comes together to show the many sides of these complicated characters as well as this complicated mystery, leaving the reader with a fully formed view of this touching and poignant story.

I absolutely loved Then She Was Gone for all of its contradictions and complications. It's both down-to-earth and incredibly complicated; it's heart-warming and heartbreaking; it's a twisty and terrifying mystery but also a family-centered story of loss and rediscovery. It's got so much to appreciate about it and I know that I've not done it justice here explaining why. It just really touched me more than I expected it to and I hope more people read and experience it. If you enjoy a multifaceted story and are not too turned off or aggrieved by severe mental illness that results in bouts of abuse then I highly recommend Then She Was Gone. I now plan on working my way through all of Lisa Jewell's novels (I've already read and really enjoyed both I Found You and The House We Grew Up In but I want to devour them all!).     


What Did I Think About the Cover?



This cover is pretty perfect given the story it represents. The fact that the cover is dark and blue makes you think of sadness and nefarious things happening, as does the shadow of a girl we can't fully see. I love it for this story!


My Rating: 5.0/5.0


I bought a copy of Then She Was Gone for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase your own copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 


Friday, June 8, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Pub. Date: June 19th, 2014
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Length: 17 hours, 22 minutes

Series: Cormoran Strike #2

Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Crime Drama


Synopsis



Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling.


When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before...


What Did I Think About the Story? 



Book Two in the Cormoran Strike series begins with Strike flush with clients and slightly famous after solving the Lula Landry case in the Cuckoo's Calling. Robin Ellacott is still working as his secretary, enjoying her job even while getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that he won't trust her with more detective work and with her fiancée's continued snobbery about the job and jealousy of Cormoran. Into this busy madness walks Mrs. Quine, a woman without much money or standing who simply wants Strike to find her wayward husband so he can come home and take care of her and their mentally disabled daughter. But, as the facts begin to fall into place and Owen Quine's mutilated body is found in the exact same manner as he describes in his not yet published book, Strike has to follow the bizarre clues and use his excellent deduction skills to find the murderer before the wrong person goes down for the crime.

I found this case to be particularly interesting as it's a real literary whodunit, with a limited number of possible suspects but each with their own, very deep-seated reasons for wanting Quine dead. Watching Strike gather together this list of suspects and interpreting how they figured into Mr. Quine's forthcoming book (and which salacious character they each represented) kept my attention, especially as there were certain aspects of the characters that ended up being clues to what actually happened, clues that I completely overlooked! I won't say who ended up being the killer but I will say I didn't figure it out before the fast-paced and thrilling ending.

I think what I love more than the actual mystery at the heart of the story are the characters themselves. I find Cormoran to be such a complicated character: ex-military police, annoyed by the limits his disability causes (he lost one of his legs), caring - if standoffish - with those in his limited inner circle, yet always willing to put in the time needed to help the underdog and make sure that the truth, whatever it is, always comes out in the end. Seeing Robin next to him is almost comical as she's vivacious, whip-smart, and far more capable than he - or her fiancée - give her credit for. It was great watching her finally voice to Strike her need to be considered as more than just his secretary, as a partner who can put in the time and energy as well to solve their various cases. This obviously causes issues with her fiancée, and that dynamic added another interesting layer to not only her character but the overall story.

I should also mention that the audiobook version of The Silkworm is narrated by the same person as The Cuckoo's Calling (Robert Glenister) who did just as exceptional a job of bringing these characters to life and keeping me glued to my car's stereo during my commutes as he did before. He really is a great audiobook narrator and I'm excited to see he'll be doing the narration for the third book in the series - Career of Evil - as well.    

The Silkworm reaffirmed by love of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott and has me excited to see what they will get up to next, both at work and in their personal lives.  If you like good mystery with interesting and sometimes dryly comical characters, you will find much to enjoy with this series.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's okay. It doesn't really represent the story at all - or anything specific to this particular story - and I'm not even sure who the man on the cover is meant to be (is it Cormoran? Or Quine? Someone else?). However, it does give off a feeling of mystery and I enjoy that aspect of it.


My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I borrowed a copy of the audiobook version of The Silkworm from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.  
 
 


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cover Crush (Summertime Edition): The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.

For the month of June I've decided to gear my Cover Crushes towards all things Summer. I just can't think of  much else right now and each of the covers I'll share this  month will make you long to dip your toes in the water as much as I do!

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
I'm pretty sure I have a tote bag (or five!) that look very similar to this one and I know for sure I've got sunglasses that I'd like to hang off the end of any of them! This cover just screams warmth and wind and sea gulls calling to you from above, doesn't it?! I love the little crab at the bottom as well. All in all a very inviting picture!
 
Let's read the synopsis to see what beach-side fun readers can expect from this read....
 
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders comes a delightful new novel about new love, old secrets, and the kind of friendship that transcends generations.

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found.
 

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired




Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede