Wednesday, February 27, 2019

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Detroit, Michigan.  Elizabeth Balsam is a reporter aiming for her big scoop.  However, life has other plans.  A man who has pictures from the historic Detroit riots approaches Elizabeth saying he wants to get them back to the original owner, Nora.  Nora is actually Elizabeth's great aunt that she doesn't know. After Elizabeth's big story falls apart, she ventures out to the countryside to Nora's home and begins to learn about the past as well as her own history. But, in addition to THAT, the story goes back even further to Nora's ancestor, Mary Balsam who is struggling keeping her homestead going while her husband off fighting a war that eventually frees the slaves. So, really this is kind of three stories in one: Elizabeth's, Nora and William's and Mary and Nathaniel's. 

I can honestly say I was riveted by all three of these women's stories and thought the author really did an excellent job of tying them all together. Some of the descriptions of the riots and the times about the slavery were disturbing and some of the struggles with Mary and Nora were heartbreaking,  but in a way that made me think. 

This was a very different type of story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I am looking forward to the author's next book. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

This was a very good story about Sally, Kate and Gisela and their families. They all live in a new development and life seems good. After all, it always is on Facebook and Instagram, right? Kate is holding onto a long time secret, Gisela is struggling with her family dynamics and Sally and her husband, Chris can't agree on major decisions in life. You would never know it from their social media posts. Actually in Kate's situation, her LACK of social media presence raises flags and as the story progressed, the reader is shown that she is hiding from something. 

The book was very creative in how it would describe Gisela's and Sally's photos on social media. It also shows how people try to show a happy,  perfect life online. It made me wonder is it because we feel we have to, or are we jealous of the other posts we see?  Next time you may feel bad about someone's perfect looking life, just remember things aren't always as they seem. Everyone has issues. 

I finished the book very quickly as I really wanted to know what was happening with each woman and how their respective situations would turn out. I thought the book was very well written and creative in the way it was told. However, I wish publishers would stop using the word "twist." I  get excited thinking something is going to jump out at me - something I didn't expect.  Did the women have secrets? Yep. Was it interesting? Absolutely. But, there was no "twist." 

I have read one of the author's other books and I enjoyed that a lot as well. In my opinion , she writes in a very engaging manner. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this book! I enjoyed it! Releases in March 2019!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

WHAT THE WHAT!?! Okay, I'm sorry. Let me calm down (lol). I mean this in a good way, so bear with me. 

There is a book on my list of books I have read in this life that "scared" me and that was a book I read many, many years ago called Hellfire by John Saul. I remember reading that and glancing around me while reading as if something was going to jump out at me. 

Well, here is book number two on my list. I don't even know where to begin. First, I have to admit that this is usually not my typical genre, but I read Tudor's first book, The Chalk Man and really enjoyed that. So, I was excited to see she had another book coming out. Secondly, I enjoy a LOT of books but only a few stick with me. I have mentioned in my other blogs that when I read I am automatically imagining what I am reading. I've always done it. I don't do it on purpose, it just happens, and while reading this, I felt like I was "seeing" a well done horror movie. Also, once again, a few times, I glanced around the room in unease while reading. 

This story centers around the disappearance of Joe's sister Annie when they were young. The slogan on the book says, "The worst day of his life wasn't when his sister went missing. It was the day she came back." WELL, to me that didn't mean what I thought it was going to. Plus, the book is about a lot more. Childhood memories, regrets, secrets, addictions, trying to make amends and more! 

Come on, now! What more can you want in a book? It was a lot of fun being creeped out and also flipping pages to find out what in the world was happening. I highly recommend this read even if this isn't usually your thing. It usually isn't mine and I had a great time reading it. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy. Get yours February 5, 2019! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Thrive in Retirement by Eric Thurman

Let me start by saying I rarely, if ever read a non-fiction or self help book. However, I am glad I read this one. 

I am an "odd" retiree. Whereas most people retire in their 60's and 70's, I semi retired at 42. I worked for local government where there was a 20 year service retirement. It was not required to retire, but conditions were bad and I got out as soon as I could. Today I am 4 years into that retirement at 46 years old. I became an independent contractor and work part time. 

I was greatly surprised at some of the information in this book. There are a lot of things that I haven't even THOUGHT about. 

The author discusses how important staying active in retirement is. He mainly focuses on three P words: purpose, pleasure and peace. 

He also addresses finances, spiritual life, working later in life, the importance of maintaining relationships and finding what works for each individual person.  Then, he shows how to apply the three p words to each area. 

Even though it might be depressing, there is even important information about end of life preparations. There are even helpful links and documents in the book to use as a guideline on what needs to be done. 

This was a good read and written in a way that is easy to understand. I highly recommend it. It is full of information that people need to know. Thank you to WaterBrook for this opportunity. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Calling all historical fiction fans! You're going to love this one! Unfortunately, unless you have an advance copy, you're going to have to wait until July.  

This is also a "time slip" novel, going back and forth between generations and their trials and tribulations. 

Joanna marries into the prestigious Parrish family and has problems adapting to her new opulent surroundings after having a more humble upbringing.  She spends most of her time with her two children, her mother in law, Susannah and husband's grandmother, Helen. Joanna's husband, Frank, spends endless hours working at Bethlehem Steel.

The story switches from Joanna's new life, to Susannah's history and her life with her brother, Kit, sister India and family friends Wyatt and Chap. Wyatt and Chap are from the Collier family. Their father, Charles, Sr., works closely with Susannah's father, Hollins and the two families are forever connected both in love and in tragedy. 

 While Joanna has issues living in grandeur, and at first believes she will never connect with her mother in law or her husband's grandmother, but sometimes the people who we relate to are the ones we least expect. And,  Susannah also finds that forging a relationship with Joanna might be her saving grace. 

I loved this story. For one reason, I like historical books, especially when there are things in there that interest me enough to do a little more research. For example, there is a reference to an old time band in the book and I found out they were, in fact, a real band back in the times of Susannah's youth. 

Also, (and bear with this personal tidbit) last year, I went to a concert at the Sands Resort in Bethlehem, PA. It is situated directly next to the now defunct Bethlehem Steel Plant, mentioned numerous times in this book. While there, I found looking at the plant fascinating, but also kind of sad. It's sad seeing such a once powerful factory closed. 

When I read, I automatically imagine what I am reading. This book made it really easy to do. Also, sometimes, when I am reading something I don't enjoy so much, I look at the remainder left and I am sometimes discouraged when I see so much left when I don't think there's all that much left to say. 

However, with this one, I was shocked when I would look down at the remainder of this one and was upset when I saw I was almost finished (lol)! I wanted this story to go on longer! 

This was one of my favorites in awhile! Thank you so much to the publisher for this opportunity.  I really enjoyed it and think it will do very well! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I totally loved the authors' book The Wife Between Us, so I was thrilled to get an ARC from Netgalley.

Jess sneaks into a psychological study and is befriended by the doctor giving the study, Dr. Lydia Shields. Dr. Shields makes Jess feel special and then "extends" the study for Jess' cooperation in other tasks for which she is paid handsomely. Jess has problems so this seems like a dream come true at just the right time. However, what cost will Jess have to pay the more she trusts Dr. Shields? And, who IS Dr. Shields, really?

I wanted to read this automatically without even reading the description on Goodreads because I so enjoyed the authors' first book, I figured this would be just as good. However, I thought it lagged in some places and quite a few times, I found myself thinking, "Who would actually THINK like this?" I just found a lot of parts to be unbelievable and while The Wife Between Us, delivered a twist to me at least, I felt this one did not. Nothing really surprised me, even though I see people on Goodreads praising the twists and turns.

I am actually giving it 2.5 stars because it did keep me interested enough to finish it pretty quickly, however, while this may not have been what I was hoping for, I would still recommend it because I think people will really enjoy it! Releases TODAY January 8, 2019!  Thank you very much, to the publisher and to NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Couple on Cedar Close by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Laurie and Robert are beautiful couple, but when they move to Cedar Close (which I believe is a dead end street in British speak), it is evident something is off with Laurie. 

The story opens with a neighborhood barbecue and Laurie finds out something that she didn't want to about her husband. The whole neighborhood is then privy to their fight and what has occurred. 

Three months later, Laurie is in a grocery store planning a dinner for Robert. However, later that same day, Robert is found brutally murdered in the house. Laurie has no recollection of what happened, but she is immediately the main suspect, especially when information about their volatile relationship surfaces.

Laurie's best friend, who lives across from her, jumps into action to help her friend and we're off and thrown into a story filled with lies, deceit, affairs, psychological abuse and pathological behavior.  I won't give too much away here. 

The detective in the case, Riley, is a good character and I learned while reading this, this is his second appearance in a book by this author. He's definitely one of the good guys and you want him to get a win that he is so desperately due for. 

My two cents: 
I was very excited to read this advance copy I requested from NetGalley. I thought it sounded like it had great promise. The story was well written, fast paced and I read it very quickly. Now, there were some aspects in backstories of certain characters that unsettled me, but to each their own. Also, while this was a crime/domestic abuse story, for me (and again this is just me) there really was no big mystery.  I just felt that it was made very obvious what was going on very early, when it seemed like that wasn't the author's original intention. 

This was an entertaining enough story and I appreciate the copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Releases January this year!