Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

Summer Secrets

Finished Summer Secrets by Jane Green.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.”

I started this novel expecting a pretty light, fun experience.  (Yes, it looks pretty clear from the synopsis that there are some weighty topics, but it’s a Jane Green book!)  Instead, I got the fun I was expecting, but something that was a lot better.

I don’t have a problem with alcohol, but I have friends who did and have been in a few AA meetings.  I feel like the potential to get a little snarky about it was there (as Cat points out at her first meeting, the rooms can get a little cult-like) but instead, Jane Green dealt with everything with respect.

The story is straightforward but incredibly well-told.  The fact that many of the events can easily be guessed didn’t take away from my enjoyment (and there were still a few surprises on top of that).

Jane Green’s come a long way.  I can’t wait to read her next book and meanwhile, I am excited to catch up on the couple of books from her backlist I’ve missed.

Recommended.

The Lives Between Us

Finished The Lives Between Us by Theresa Rizzo.  I received a copy of the book for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Reporter Skylar Kendall has run from commitment all her life, pushing people away before they leave her, until her niece worms her way into Skye’s heart and settles in tight. Skye relaxes into a career she enjoys and relishes being a doting aunt.

Then her niece becomes gravely ill. Unable to bear yet another loss, Skye is determined to find a cure, but the girl’s only hope lies in the embryonic stem cell therapy Michigan Senator Edward Hastings repeatedly opposes. When Skye fails to find alternative treatment in time, she vows to end the senator’s political career.

Curious about the woman behind the scathing articles on his best friend, Mark Dutton pursues Skye. Dating Mark gives her access to Hastings’s life and secrets that would launch Skye’s career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?”

I love books like this.  I am definitely Team Skye when it comes to stem cell research so I found her to be an incredibly sympathetic character.  (One thing I do appreciate, though, is the fact that no one here is evil.  The senator is someone I disagree with politically, but he is acting in accordance with his own beliefs, but he is actually a good guy.)

I’m not sure that this book could change anyone’s minds, but if nothing else, it will show that people on the other side just have different opinions (as opposed to being bad people).

I loved Skye immediately but also came to care for every character in the book.  This is the kind of book you fall in love with. :)

Recommended.

Disclaimer

Finished Disclaimer by Renee Knight.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her.”

The second I heard about this book, I knew it was something I would want to read.  I mean, how awesome is this concept?  And how terrifying would that be, starting to read this book that randomly shows up in your house and realizing that it is about YOU, and that the story it tells is something that literally no one else knows?

Not surprisingly, Catherine starts to go off the rails a little bit (and even more, once copies of the book start showing up other places, too—to her office, for example, and to her adult son) and also not surprisingly, people start to think that she’s lost her mind.

(And how do you manage to convince people that you aren’t crazy when you’ve been acting that way for days and weeks?)

This book is a little bit of a slow burn but the tension keeps ramping up an inch at a time until finally it’s completely impossible to put it down.  (For what it’s worth, though, I read this in one evening and didn’t do anything else.  It’s a fun, creepy book.)

Recommended.

Eight Hundred Grapes

Finished Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A breakout novel from an author who “positively shines with wisdom and intelligence” (Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I leave You). “Laura Dave writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she’s describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life’s work” (J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine).

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.”

I absolutely loved this!  I love books about family and this is one of the best examples of that I’ve read in years.

This is just an incredibly sweet, perfect novel.  I thought I knew where it was going multiple times; I couldn’t have been more wrong at any of those times.

While the relationship between Georgia and her fiance is the center of the novel, I was much more interested in her relationship with her parents and brothers.  (I don’t have brothers, but this novel makes me wish I did.)

I can’t say enough good things about this book; I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

Recommended.

Finding Audrey

Finished Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.”

I’m a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella’s, although I am a little behind on her backlist.  I was really excited when this showed up in my mail because it seemed like a perfect summer read.

Spoiler: it is.

It’s sweet and fun, but there’s a lot of depth here.  We don’t know exactly what happened to Audrey (although we can guess), but she went from a normal teen girl with normal teen girl issues to all of a sudden having a major anxiety disorder that has left her essentially housebound and unable to make eye contact with anyone, even family members.  (Well, almost anyone; she can look at her younger brother but that’s about it.)  So now Audrey wears sunglasses all the time.

We join the action as Audrey is starting to make progress but there’s obviously such a long way to go.  And then she meets Linus.  They immediately connect, and they are so freaking adorable.

But I really love Audrey’s family.  Her mom is completely obsessed with the Daily Mail, to the point that you can actually completely avoid an argument by distracting her with the paper.  Her dad tries to keep up but his guesses are generally wrong which is a running joke.  And her older brother is an avid gamer.  This is generally something I don’t really understand, but it is his entire life.

Take this to the beach this year; you’ll thank me.

A Book of Spirits and Thieves

Finished A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her father’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspeare Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.

This was incredibly fun. I loved all the aspects/plotlines of this novel and am excited for further installments. 

This is a spinoff from her Falling Kingdoms series (which I love and am behind in) but you don’t need to have read that to enjoy this. 

Highly recommended.

Daughter of Deep Silence

Finished Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.”

This book should come with a warning label: absolutely do not start this book until and unless you have time to read the whole thing.  It was the last thing I did before heading to work for my last shift before BEA vacation, and I had a lot of plans for that shift: pack, laundry, get stuff together for my dog, who is also on vacation.

Here is what actually happened: I read Daughter of Deep Silence.

(Worth it.)

I don’t want to ruin anything, so that the book can unfold as it should.  But suffice to say that if you like revenge stories, this is for you.

I love Frances (who turns into Libby).  Yes, she is very, VERY focused on revenge, but she absolutely deserves it.  Horrible things happened to her, and I think if I went through even a tenth of what she did, I would be revenge-minded, too.

This book definitely functions as a standalone, but a door is left open for a sequel. (This is probably just wishful thinking on my part.)

Highly recommended.

Local Girls

Finished Local Girls by Caroline Zancan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The first person to break your heart isn’t always your boyfriend. Sometimes it’s your best friend.

Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been friends for most of their lives. The girls grew up together in a dead-end Florida town on the outskirts of Orlando, and the love and loyalty they have for one another have been their only constants. Now nineteen and restless, the girls spend empty summer days bouncing between unfulfilling jobs, the beach, and their favorite local bar, The Shamrock. It’s there that a chance encounter with a movie star on the last night of his life changes everything.

Passing through Orlando, Sam Decker comes to The Shamrock seeking anonymity, but finds Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina instead. Obsessed with celebrity magazines that allow them a taste of the better lives they might have had, the girls revel in his company. But the appearance of Lila, the estranged former member of the girls’ group, turns the focus to their shared history, bringing all their old antagonisms to the surface—Lila’s defection to Orlando’s country club school when her father came into some money, and the strange, enchanting boy she brought into their circle, who fundamentally altered dynamics that had been in play for years. By the night’s end, the escalation of these long-buried issues forces them to see one another as the women they are now instead of the girls they used to be.

With an uncanny eye for the raw edges of what it means to be a girl and a heartfelt sense of the intensity of early friendship, Local Girls is a look at both the profound role celebrity plays in our culture, and how the people we know as girls end up changing the course of our lives.”

This book is a bit of a slow burn.  We know something bad happens and that something bad HAS happened, but a lot of those things—as well as why—are kept secret from the reader for most of the book.

The book goes back and forth between the girls’ night with movie star Sam Decker and to sometime in the past, explaining why there are only three friends now instead of four.  (Note: most of the book is in the past.)

The pacing is very deliberate (some would stay slow) and readers should stay patient.  Once I got the answers, I actually gasped; it felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

This is a book that will stay with me for a while, but I didn’t really connect with the characters.  I felt like if the book had been longer, that would’ve helped.  Even so, the plot carries the day here and patient readers will be rewarded.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Finished The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow By is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself. ”

I absolutely love this book.  I have this weird fondness for cult stories (which this definitely is) but I also love stories about weird, damaged girls (which this definitely is) and stories of resilience (which this definitely is).  So this is basically perfect for me.

I loved Minnow.  Minnow is definitely prickly (which she should be, given all the horrible things she’s had to deal with) but she’s still eager to connect with people, even though she doesn’t really like to show it.

This book absolutely caught me off guard.  I expected to enjoy it, obviously, but I ended up absolutely loving everything about it.  (Especially the fact that Minnow’s cellmate, Angel, is huge into science and so Minnow—who has never had any sort of education—becomes really knowledgeable about astronomy.  Also, just in general, I LOVE ANGEL.)

Highly recommended.

Funny Girl

Finished Funny Girl by Nick Hornby.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the bestselling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down comes a highly anticipated new novel.

Set in 1960’s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby’s latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.”

I’ve been a fan of Nick Hornby’s for something like 20 years, since I read High Fidelity and About a Boy.

Rebecca has known for almost her whole life that she wants to be famous and, more specifically, she wants to be a comedienne like her idol, Lucille Ball.  After she wins a beauty pageant in her home town, she knows that now is her time.

Shortly after (and now christened Sophie Straw), she starts auditioning.  It doesn’t go well—until it does, and she ends up on a hit BBC comedy.  Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, both for Sophie and for her coworkers.

All the once-a-year releases have spoiled me, but new Nick Hornby novels are an event.  (Even though now I probably have to wait at least four years for a new one.)

Highly recommended.