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Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect Family

 

Happy Thriller Thursday!   Sharon here, and this week’s theme is dysfunctional families LOL. Today I am reviewing Shari Lapena’s new book Not a Happy Family and Robyn Harding’s new book The Perfect Family and let me just say, I thought my family had some issues but compared to the families in these books, my family looks like The Brady Bunch 🙂

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect FamilyNot a Happy Family Goodreads

Author: Shari Lapena

Publication Date: July 27, 2021

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Shari Lapena’s newest novel Not a Happy Family follows the dysfunctional wealthy Merton family. Fred and Sheila Merton were brutally murdered in their home the night after a disastrous Easter dinner with their adult children, Catherine, Dan and Jenna. As the police begin their investigation, they obviously start with their children, who stand to inherit millions and who each had a motive for wanting their parents dead.

Catherine is the oldest and knew that she would be inheriting the family home one day, that is until their father announced at Easter dinner that he was selling the house.

Dan has never had a good relationship with his father. Dan expected to take over the family business one day, that is until Fred sold it because he didn’t think Dan would be able to handle running it. So now after a few bad investments Dan needs money and asks his father for a loan on the night of Easter only to have his father tell him in no uncertain terms No!

Jenna is an artist; she likes to sculpt images of women’s anatomy, much to her parents’ dismay. She gets a monthly allowance from her parents. But they have decided it is time to cut her off.

Fred was not the best father. He got great joy in causing emotional pain to his children. And Sheila was not a very comforting mother; she left that job to their housekeeper Irene. So, it was not very surprising that the children were not overly devastated by their parents’ death.  They all have alibis for the night their parents died, well according to each of their spouses they did.  But those alibis are soon unraveled.

The siblings are not extremely close, but when the police start narrowing their suspicions onto them, they do rally around each other. Even though they figured one of them was the killer and they could have easily thrown each other under the bus, they stuck together. They figured which ever one of them was the killer did them a favor by getting rid of their toxic parents and made them all rich at the same time. Okay it was a bit of a twisted way of thinking, but hey they are family and are sticking together.

I liked the perspectives we got from each of them and watching them sweat when the investigation got to close to one of them.

As the police keep hitting walls as they try and figure out which of the siblings is the killer, they get some help from Fred’s sister Audrey. She has never really liked Catherine, Dan and Jenna, so she is more than happy to spill all the family secrets. And the Merton’s have a lot of secrets.

I really cannot say much more because I don’t want to spoil anything, I will say this book was full of twists and turns that had me all over the place on who I thought did it. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a twist would happen to point me in a different direction. I was completely clueless when the killer was finally revealed.  And without giving anything away, I love how Shari Lapena ended this book.

If you like stories that center around dysfunctional families and that keep you guessing throughout, I recommend Shari Lapena’s Not a Happy Family.   4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Not A Happy Family & The Perfect FamilyThe Perfect Family Goodreads

Author: Robyn Harding

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Gallery Books

Robyn Harding’s newest novel The Perfect Family, is full of unlikeable characters and a train wreck of a family, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The Perfect Family follows the Adler family, Thomas, a real estate agent; his wife Viv, an interior designer; their twenty year old Son, Eli; and seventeen year old daughter, Tarryn. Thomas and Viv have tried to create the image of a perfect family, from their jobs, their cars, their home, and their children. But their perfect world is about to come crashing down. One morning when they wake up, they find their house has been egged. Thomas insists that it is just teenagers. But then a smoke bomb is thrown at their house, their car tires are slashed, and someone has set fire to their hedges. The police cannot help them since they don’t know who is doing this and even the surveillance cameras they installed only show a shadowy figure in a hoodie. Why is someone targeting the Adlers? Well, the answer to that question lies in the secrets they each have.

I don’t want to give much away about what secrets they each have. Even though they are not real spoilers, I think it is still best to figure them out on your own because as each family member’s secret is revealed to the reader it adds more to the mystery to who is behind the attacks on the Adler family.  As each secret was revealed, I would switch my thinking on what I thought was going on and why.

The Adlers are such a dysfunctional family and none of them came across as sympathetic, even after their secrets were revealed. They are all so sure that their secret cannot be the reason the attacks are happening, that they are all quick to point the finger at each other. Tarryn had the finger pointed at her the most. Her parents were so sure that these pranks were the act of teenagers, so it had to be someone that she made mad at some point. When I learned each of their secrets all I could think of was “You are blaming Tarryn when you are hiding that?” They were all such hypocrites.

I love how Robin Harding slowly revealed bits of information, it wasn’t all just a big data dump. She had my attention fully as I couldn’t wait to find out more about each of the Adler’s secrets and what else was going to happen to them. And even though I don’t think any of the characters were very likeable, I love how Harding gave them each a voice. The book is told from each of their POV’s and I really liked getting into their thoughts and couldn’t wait to find out what they were hiding.

The Perfect Family was a suspenseful read, with many twists that will keep you guessing until the end. If you are a fan of Robin Harding, I think you will enjoy this as much as I did.  3 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Review: Billy Summers

 

Hi Everyone! It’s Sharon, back with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Stephen King’s new book, Billy Summers. I know I normally have two reviews to share, but I loved this book so much and I had so much to say about it, that I didn’t think it would be fair to another author to only give a short blurb for their book. But don’t worry, next Thriller Thursday I will be back to two reviews. I even know which books they will be and I am almost finished with the first one. 🙂

 

Thriller Thursday Review: Billy SummersBilly Summers Goodreads

Author: Stephen King

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Scribner

Stephen King’s latest book Billy Summers is now in my top ten favorite King books. This was not a scary read. It’s more of a crime/suspenseful mystery. As always with Stephen King’s books, I was fully invested in the characters and cared about them so much. I had butterflies in my stomach almost the entire time I was reading because I had no idea where this book was going and was afraid for their safety with every turn of the page.

The book centers around Billy Summers, who is an Iraq war vet whose specialty is being one of the best snipers in the world. When Billy leaves the Marines, he puts that specialty to use and becomes a killer for hire. But Billy will only kill men who he deems are bad. So yeah, he is a killer with scruples. Billy is ready to retire but has decided to do one last job, for two million dollars. He does this job and he is set for life. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, that’s what.

I fell in love with Billy from the very beginning. Yes, he is a killer, but beneath all that there is a very nice and caring man. And we get to see this man while Billy is waiting for his mark to arrive. The man Billy has been hired to kill is currently in L.A. fighting extradition to be returned to a southern town called Riverdale to face murder charges. While waiting, Billy has been set up with a false identity and cover story. He is a writer that is working on a novel. He is living in a house in a family neighborhood and it is here that we get to see the man Billy really is as he gets to know and become friends with his neighbors. I really enjoyed watching him interact with his neighbors. They would go to each other’s house for dinners, and he would play with their children. He was just an all-around great guy (I know, I know he is a killer for hire lol).  When it got closer to the time the kill would take place, Billy started to feel bad at how upset his neighbors, especially the children, would be when they learned who he really was.

I don’t want to say what went wrong with the hit, but I will say that all does not go as planned and Billy has to go into hiding. It is while he is in hiding that we meet another great character, Alice. Alice was the victim of a rape and she was left on the side of the road across the street from the apartment that Billy was hiding out in.  When Billy saw a van drive down the street and dump her out, he assumed she was dead but when he went out to check and found that she was alive he brought her back to the apartment. See he is really a nice guy. I really liked Alice, she was one tough and smart cookie. She joins Billy on his trip across the country to right the wrongs that were done against him. I loved watching the relationship between Billy and Alice grow. It wasn’t instant trust between the two of them, which made it feel all the more realistic. Billy and Alice brought out the best in each other.

While Billy was waiting for the hit to occur, he actually did do some writing and then continued with the writing after, and it is through his writing that we learn more about him. When Billy was 11 years old his stepfather killed his little sister and then came after Billy, but Billy shot and killed him. After spending a few years in a foster home Billy joined the Marines. We get a good look as to what it was like to be on the ground in Iraq through Billy’s writings. The writing of being in Iraq was so authentic that I could visualize everything. I really liked having the chapters of the actual story broken up with pages from Billy’s writing. As much as I loved Billy from the beginning of the book, reading the words he wrote about his life made him all the more loveable and also sympathetic.

This book was a slow but steady build up to a tension filled ending that had me in tears. If you are a fan of Stephen King I think you will enjoy Billy Summers. If you have been looking for a Stephen King book to read, but don’t want the pants scared off you (lol), I recommend Billy Summers.  4 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning Kind

 

Happy Thriller Thursday!  It’s Sharon, and my reviews this week are for B.A. Paris’ new book, The Therapist and Jennifer McMahon’s new book, The Drowning Kind. I loved both of these books and I am excited to share my thoughts on them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning KindThe Therapist Goodreads

Author: B.A. Paris

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

I have been a fan of B.A. Paris ever since I read her debut thriller Behind Closed Doors a few years ago. Seriously, if you want to read an amazing book, I highly recommend that one. As soon as I see she has a new book coming out I immediately add it to my To Read list and buy it as soon as it is released. This was the case with The Therapist, and it did not disappoint.

Alice and her partner Leo move into a house in The Circle, a gated community in London.  As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she finds out that Leo never told her that the former owner, Nina Maxwell who was a therapist, was murdered in the house and her husband, Oliver, who ended up killing himself, was accused of killing her.  About twenty years ago Alice’s parents and her sister, Nina, were killed in a car accident and ever since then, whenever Alice meets another Nina, she becomes obsessed with them. This is the case with Nina Maxwell, and as she digs into Nina’s life, she discovers that Oliver may not have killed her. Alice’s neighbors, however, don’t want to talk about it. Even though they do not think Oliver killed Nina, they are willing to believe it since he killed himself once he was accused of the murder. It is a lot better to believe Oliver did it than someone else in their community. The more Alice digs and the more questions she asks, Alice finds that all of her neighbors are keeping secrets and this community is not as perfect as it seems.

I loved how Paris kept me guessing throughout this book.  Just when I thought I may know what was going on and who killed Nina, a curveball would be thrown in to point me in another direction. I love when an author keeps me on my toes and makes me suspect everyone in the book. No one in this community was above suspicion, not even Alice’s partner Leo.  Once Alice found out that Leo knew about the murder and did not tell her, she started questioning if she could ever trust him again. And she started looking into him and found that he was not all he said he was. On top of all the secrets and lies, strange things start to happen to Alice in the house. Sorry, I cannot say what they are because that would spoil things.  But add all of this together and you have a read that will have your brain all over the place.

We also get chapters from the past that are the POV of a therapist as they are having sessions with a client.  We do not know who the therapist or client is and that adds to the mystery and suspicion of Alice’s investigation. As with Alice, I was all over the place and suspected everyone. At one point I thought I had things figured out, but boy oh boy, was I wrong. By the end of the book when all was revealed, I was on the edge of my seat.

If you are a fan of B.A. Paris or if you like books that keep you guessing I highly recommend The Therapist, I don’t think you will be disappointed.    4 stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Therapist & The Drowning KindThe Drowning Kind Goodreads

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

I have not read anything by Jennifer McMahon in a few years, but the synopsis for The Drowning Kind jumped out at me and I had to read it. I borrowed this from the library, but this was so good that as soon as I was finished reading it, I bought a copy because I needed to have this book in my collection.

The Drowning Kind alternates in dual timelines. The first timeline is in the present and follows Jax. Jax and her sister Lexie used to visit their grandmother every summer at her estate in Brandenburg Vermont called Sparrow Crest. Jax and her sister were very close when they were younger. They would spend their summers exploring around the estate, riding their bikes into town and swimming in the pool. The pool at the estate is said to have magical powers, it is fed from underground springs that bubble up to fill the pool. When Lexie was diagnosed with bipolar Jax tried to be there for her but when it got too much for her Jax moved across the country. When their grandmother died and left Sparrow Crest to Lexie, it was too much for Jax to handle so she cut off all ties with Lexi. When Jax came home one night and she had nine missed calls with frantic voice mails from Lexi she assumed that Lexi was off her meds again. The next morning Jax gets a call from her aunt telling her Lexie has drowned in the pool. When Jax gets to the estate she finds that Lexi had been researching their family and the land the estate was built on. When Jax continues the research, she discovers that the land had a very dark and deadly history.

The second timeline starts in 1929 and follows Ethel Monroe, who married late in life and desperately wants a baby. When she and her husband take a trip to a new hotel that had opened in Brandenburg Vermont, Ethel learns of the springs that is able to cure any ailment by either drinking it or swimming in it. The springs can also grant wishes. But nothing in life is free and while the springs does give it also takes. Through this timeline we get the history of the Springs and how Sparrow Crest came to be. I don’t really want to say too much and spoil anything. But I did figure out a couple things from this timeline.

While I like the timeline in 1929, the present-day timeline with Jax was my favorite. I had so much sympathy for Jax. She felt so guilty about not taking her sister’s calls and then being back at the estate brought up so many of her childhood memories. It is from these memories that we get to know Lexie. I think Jennifer McMahon did a great job of bringing a dead character to life. Lexie’s energy just jumped off the pages. I cannot say to much about what Jax and Lexie uncovered in their research on the land, but I will say it involves drownings and ghosts.

This book was so creepy and eerie, there were a few nights that I dreamt of the book and would jolt awake and have to turn on my bedroom light to make sure no one was in my room. LOL!  The Drowning Kind was also about family, grief, and forgiveness. I actually had tears in my eyes a few times while reading.  And the ending literally had my mouth drop open and me saying out loud “What?!”   4 ½ stars

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May I

 

Hi everyone!  It’s Sharon, back with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Riley Sager’s new book, Survive The Night and Joshilyn Jackson’s new book, Mother May I. Riley Sager is a favorite author of mine, and Joshilyn Jackson is a new author for me. I loved both of these books and I am excited to share my thoughts on them.

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May ISurvive the Night Goodreads

Author: Riley Sager

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Publisher: Dutton Books

I have been a fan of Riley Sager since I read his first thriller Final Girls so I was very excited to read his latest book Survive the Night, and I am happy to report this book did not disappoint.

When Charlie Jordan was sixteen she lost both of her parents in a car accident. It was at their funeral that something snapped in Charlie’s brain and she started seeing movies in her mind. Not movies that have been on the big screen, but the real life situations that are happening, only Charlie’s brain makes it into a movie. Everything is more vivid and the people she sees or the actions that she sees happening are not what is actually going on. These movies come when Charlie is afraid or stressed. Fast forward four years and Charlie is now in college. But a couple months ago her roommate was murdered by a serial killer called “The Campus Killer” and Charlie feels responsible because she left her alone that night. Unable to deal with all that is going on Charlie decides to go home to visit her grandmother. At the campus ride-share board she meets Josh and agrees to ride with him. But it doesn’t take long for Charlie to start doubting Josh and suspects he could be the campus killer. And so begins the game of cat and mouse as Charlie tries to figure out if Josh really is dangerous or is it just her movie filled mind.

The story takes place during the 6 hour drive, and I really liked how Sager titled each chapter almost script like, “Ext- Grand Am 10:00pm, Int- Grand Am 11:00pm, Int- Rest stop 12:00 am etc.” And even though the book is only told through a few hours, Sager also does a great job of fleshing out the characters and scenery.  We got a lot of backstories on both Charlie and Josh in the short time we know them and I really liked both characters. Okay I kept going back and forth on Josh lol.

I loved how Charlie was such an unreliable character. I didn’t know if things were really happening or if they were just movies in her mind. I also had a lot of sympathy for her, she has been through a lot between her parents dying and then her roommate’s murder, so she was a very vulnerable character. But I also loved how when push came to shove she became one badass woman.

I cannot say much about what transpired during Charlie and Josh’s drive to make Charlie suspect that Josh was a killer, but I will say I did not see a couple of the twists that took place. I was all over the place on what I thought was going to happen, on whether Josh was a good guy or a bad guy and if what I was reading was true or Charlie’s movies.

If you are a fan of Riley Sager or if you like books that keep you guessing, I definitely recommend checking out Survive the Night.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.   4 ½ stars

 

Thriller Thursday Reviews: Survive the Night & Mother May IMother May I Goodreads

Author: Joshilyn Jackson

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: William Morrow

I have come across other books by Joshilyn Jackson that looked interesting but have never picked any of them up to read. Well I am glad I did not let Mother May I pass by because this book was awesome. I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was beating so fast the whole time I was reading.

Bree Cabbat has the perfect life. She is happily married to Trey, a corporate lawyer, and they have 2 teenage daughters and a 10 week old son, Robert. But Bree’s perfect life is about to come crashing down.  One morning she wakes up and is startled to see a gray haired old lady, all dressed in black looking in her bedroom window. She shakes it off as a trick of the light, but then she sees this lady again in the parking lot of her daughters’ school. When she was watching her oldest daughter’s school play rehearsal with her son Robert in his car seat, she turned her back on him for just a few minutes and when she looked back he was gone. Next to his bottle was a note saying “If you ever want to see your baby again, go home. Tell no one. Do not call the police. Be at your house by 5:15PM or he is gone for good.” Bree assumes Robert was abducted for a ransom, but when the old woman who took Robert calls, Bree learns his abduction is for revenge and this woman needs Bree to perform a task.

I cannot say anything about what the revenge was for or what task Bree had to perform as that is the whole plot of the story and would spoil things. But I will say once Bree performs this task it becomes a race against time to find baby Robert. And Bree and the old lady who took him play a game of cat and mouse.

Bree enlists the help of Marshall, the widow of Bree’s best friend who is an ex police officer, to help her work to try and figure out who this lady is and where she may have taken Robert and why. And it is the why that is about to make Bree’s perfect marriage and life come crumbling down. I will say the more we learn of this old lady and the reasons for her actions, I did find myself having some sympathy for her. That is not to say I thought what she was doing was right. There is no reason to put a child in jeopardy and if she wanted revenge then go to the source and leave the child alone.

I really liked how  Bree went into massive mama bear mode and would do anything to get her son back. She was an incredibly strong woman who just wanted to make sure her children were safe at any cost.

Mother May I is an adrenaline rush book that does not let up until the very end.  I am glad I chose this as my first Joshilyn Jackson read and I look forward to reading more of her books.  4 stars

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark Lies

 

Hi everyone!  Sharon here with another edition of Thriller Thursday. This week I am sharing my thoughts on Sally Hepworth’s domestic thriller, The Good Sister and J.T. Ellison’s mystery/thriller, Her Dark Lies. I am a fan of both of these authors and happy to say I loved both of these books.

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesThe Good Sister Goodreads

Author: Sally Hepworth

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

I have loved all of the books I have read by Sally Hepworth, so I was very excited to read her latest book The Good Sister and it did not disappoint. This book exceeded all of my expectations and is my favorite so far.

Fern and Rose are fraternal twins who are very different from each other. Rose is the responsible one and has always taken care of Fern and protected her from their mother. Fern is on the autism spectrum, she is very sensitive to loud noises and light, she doesn’t like to be touched too much or crowds. Fern and Rose are very close and will do anything for each other. Years ago Fern did something very bad and Rose has kept that secret. Now Fern has learned that Rose cannot have children and has decided that she is going to get pregnant and give the baby to Rose. But Fern starts to realize that Rose is not the good sister she thought she was and is now rethinking about giving her baby to Rose. And that decision will have dire consequences.

This book is told from the POV of Rose through her journal pages which give us a look into what their childhood was like and also from the POV of Fern in present day, as she goes about her life and mission to give Rose a baby.

I really felt for Rose reading her journal entries. The things she endured at the hands of her mother made my heart break for her.  But my impression of Rose changed as more things were revealed and it started to become clear that Rose may not really be that much of a protector of Fern as was first thought.

Fern was my favorite, I loved her. She works in a library, so right there she is high up on my list lol. She just warmed my heart and made me laugh. Fern saw the good in everyone. Even when she started to suspect Rose did not have her best intentions in mind, she still wanted to believe that everything Rose did was for Fern’s protection. Fern loved working in the library, the one job she hated though was when someone needed help with the photocopier. If someone came to her for help she would pretend like she heard someone call her or act like she was on the phone. It was when she did quirky things like this that would make me laugh.

It was in the library that Fern meets another character that I loved, Wally. Though his real name was Rocco, Fern called him Wally because the clothes he wore reminded her of the character from the book ‘Where’s Wally”.  He is also socially awkward like Fern and understood her sensitivity to light and sound so when they went out he would give her noise cancelling headphones and swimming goggles to wear. I loved watching their relationship grow and from the moment they met I was hoping that Fern would get a happily ever after with him.

I really cannot say much about this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that The Good Sister is a domestic thriller that was very beautifully written, full of characters that I loved, and had me turning the pages wanting to know more about them and what was going to happen.   4 ½ stars

 

Reviews: The Good Sister & Her Dark LiesHer Dark Lies Goodreads

Author: J.T. Ellison

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

Publisher: Mira

J.T. Ellison’s new book Her Dark Lies was everything that I was hoping for.  From the amazing Italian setting to the secrets and lies and the dead body count, this book had everything that makes a great mystery thriller.

Claire Hunter is set to marry the wealthy Jack Compton on the Compton family’s remote island, Isle Isola, off the Italian coast. The night before they were to set off for the island someone broke into Claire and Jack’s home and Claire ended up shooting and killing the intruder. And then once they reach the island, skeleton remains have been found, Claire’s wedding dress was ruined by someone writing ‘whore’ in blood on the back of it, and more deaths occurred. It is safe to say that someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. But who? Claire and Jack both have secrets. When Claire was a teenager, her father died in a car accident that was Claire’s fault. And Jack’s first wife mysteriously died 10 years ago while they were on their honeymoon.

I loved the setting of this book and Ellison does an amazing job of describing the island and the Villa. I could picture it so vividly that it felt like I was actually there. I could imagine myself walking up the stone stairs to get to the Villa from the beach. And I could picture myself in the rooms. At times if felt like I was watching the book, rather than reading it.

We figure out early on who is behind all that is happening and to me that just added to the suspense. What are they going to do next? Why are they doing this? And the answers to those questions made this an edge of my seat read.  There was also so many twists and turns in this book that I didn’t want to put it down. Especially when the closer it got to the end, the more the body count was rising. All I could think of was “Damn! Who is going to make it off this island alive?”

The only issue I had was I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I think they were well written, but I was so caught up in the setting of the book and all that was going on that they didn’t really pop for me. The only one that I can say had any growth was Claire. At the beginning of the book she annoyed me. Whenever something happened and she would get upset, Jack would tell her not to worry, that he and his family had everything under control, and she just went along with it and let him take care of things. But by the end of the book Claire turned into one bad ass woman. She had enough and was going to take down the person that was behind everything that was happening on the island. I actually found myself cheering for her at the end. You go Claire!   4 Stars

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction Edition

 

It’s time for another roundup of the ARCs I read in January.  This time I want to focus on a couple of lovely historical fiction novels that I read, one set in WWII and the other set during WWI.

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Whispers of War Goodreads

Author: Julia Kelly

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Publisher:  Gallery Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Julia Kelly’s The Whispers of War is an engaging work of historical fiction that focuses on three friends, Marie, Nora, and Hazel, and the challenges they face when World War II reaches the shores of England.  The author deftly uses a dual timeline to both ground her readers in the present and take us back in time. She begins in the present with Marie’s granddaughter, Samantha, who has travelled to London after Marie’s death to present Nora with a keepsake Marie wanted her dear friend to have.  Samantha has also been charged with writing a eulogy for her grandmother so she takes the opportunity of meeting Nora to pick her brain about Marie’s early life.  Although Nora is the gateway to the past, the author presents the WWII timeline from the perspectives of Nora, Marie, and their other good friend, Hazel.

As much as WWII historical fiction has always fascinated me, the friendship of these three women was what really sold me on this book.  Marie is German-born, and although she has lived in England nearly all of her life, the threat of war with the Nazis has her on edge, especially as rumors abound that those with German blood could be placed in internment camps.  Nora, on the other hand, is English by birth and actually works for the British government at the Home Office.  She takes advantage of her position to keep Marie apprised of what’s really going on with respect to possible internment camps.  In sharp contrast to both Nora and Marie is Hazel, who works for a matchmaking company. Ever the optimist and even in the face of war, she’s in the business of helping people find love.  These three women are such an unlikely trio, but the bond of friendship they share is just beautiful to see, especially when contrasted with the ugliness of war as more and more people turn on Marie because of her German background.

Using WWII and Marie’s experiences as its backdrop, The Whispers of War explores some pretty big themes – friendship, sisterhood, what happens when loyalties are tested, politics, women’s rights issues, and even a little romance.  Marie’s story is pretty incredible and I loved learning more about her alongside her granddaughter.  If you’re into WWII historical fiction and/or stories that feature strong female characters, you’ll want to check out The Whispers of War4 STARS

 

 

MIni Reviews: The Historical Fiction EditionThe Vineyards of Champagne Goodreads

Author: Juliet Blackwell

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Set in the beautiful Champagne region of France, Juliet Blackwell’s latest novel The Vineyards of Champagne follows Rosalyn, an American woman who is traveling to France to find new wines for her company to distribute in America.  Rosalyn, still reeling from the loss of her husband, isn’t excited about the trip but her boss thinks it will be good for her.  On the plane, Rosalyn meets Emma, an Australian woman with a larger-than-life personality and who is working on a project that piques Rosalyn’s interest.

Emma has a packet of letters that belonged to her grandmother, who was corresponding with a young French soldier named Emile LeGrand during WWI.  The letters were written by Emile, and Emma is heading to France in hopes of finding out more about the French soldier and hopefully finding her grandmother’s side of the correspondence.  Rosalyn is drawn in by Emma’s enthusiasm for the project, and so what started as a business trip for Rosalyn slowly becomes a trip about healing and moving forward, as she and Emma dive deeper into the letters and learn more about Emile and about what life was like in the Champagne region during WWI.

This was such an easy book to fall in love with.  I adored both Emma and Rosalyn from the moment they met.  I felt tremendous sympathy for Rosalyn because of her loss and how much she was struggling to cope but could tell right away that Emma was going to be good for her with that live-out-loud personality of hers.  I also loved the quaint little town that Rosalyn stays in while she’s there, as well as the array of wonderful secondary characters, especially Jerome, a champagne maker who catches Rosalyn’s eye.

The biggest draw for me in The Vineyards of Champagne though was what I learned about WWI.  The history that unfolded through the letters just made for such a fascinating read. I had no idea that the citizens of this region in France had taken shelter during the war in underground caves beneath the champagne houses. The women and children basically lived in underground cities, educated the children there, and periodically came up to harvest the grapes to keep champagne production going.  How amazing is that?

The Vineyards of Champagne is a story of love and loss, resilience and survival, and above all else, friendship and hope.  4 STARS

 

Weekly Recap # 6: Week of 6/18-6/24

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week.  Mine was interesting, mainly because my son was at his grandmother’s house all week and my husband was out of town for work, so I was home alone the entire week.  I thought for sure that meant I would get a ton of reading done, but somehow that didn’t happen. I finished The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, which I really enjoyed, and got a pretty good start on A Conjuring of Light, which is absolutely fantastic so far, but that was pretty much it.  I don’t even know where the rest of my week went, haha!  I did watch Moana on Netflix and finished Season 5 of Orange is the New Black, which I have very mixed feelings about.  Oh and I’ve been having issues with some people not being able to comment on my blog posts so I’ve been trying to resolve that.  It’s times like that when I wish I was a lot more computer savvy than I am.  I feel a little helpless right now waiting for someone else to help me.  A huge thanks though to those who have contacted me and let me know there was a problem.  Otherwise, I would have just assumed it was a light traffic week on the blog and been oblivious that there was a problem.

This week I’m hoping to finish A Conjuring of Light and then move on to a couple of ARCs that I need to review soon.  ACOL is over 600 pages long though so we’ll see how that goes.

Last week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic really got me thinking about how many series I’ve started but not yet completed, so my big goal for the summer is to finish up a couple of lingering series so that I can move on to the ones I’ve been meaning to read for ages.  Once I finish ACOL, which wraps up the Shades of Magic series, I plan to move on to A Court of Wings and Ruin to finish out that series, and then move on to The Illuminae Files.  Somewhere in there or maybe in August, I also need to finish up The Lunar Chronicles.  So yeah, probably ambitious goals for me but I feel pretty good about making them happen.

Well, that’s pretty much it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

    

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

      
 

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

Weekly Recap # 5: Week of 6/11-6/17

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

First, let me take a minute to wish all of the Dads out there, mine included, a very Happy Father’s Day!  I took my dad out to lunch yesterday to celebrate and we had a lovely time.  Today I’ll be celebrating with my husband, son, and Father-in-Law so it has been a full weekend of Father’s Day festivities.

Off the blog, this week was all about my son.  This week he finished up the fourth grade so we were busy with awards ceremonies and other end-of-year activities.  He finished the year with straight A’s so that was definitely a proud mom moment for me.  I took him to the library yesterday to pick up a few books for summer reading. Right now he’s really into the Henry Huggins series from Beverly Cleary, which were some of my favorites growing up so it’s fun to watch him enjoy the same series I did.

Let’s see, on the blog I had a pretty good week, although I came down with a head cold on Thursday and so have had such a case of medicine head since then that I haven’t read much.  I did start The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and it’s fabulous. Great pick for Father’s Day weekend because it features a wonderful father/son relationship between the main character and his adoptive Dad.  As you’ll see from my Stacking The Shelves section below, I also had several books on reserve at the library that became available this week so I need to get moving on those and I also got approved for a couple more ARCS so I have plenty of books to keep me busy for a while. 🙂

That’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

 

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

   

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     

   

 

TOTALLY RANDOM