Just a book blog

Just a book blog

I'm Jenn.

I like to read then blog about it :-)

Review
5 Stars
The Stolen Marriage
The Stolen Marriage - Diane Chamberlain

Twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello is engaged to the love of her life. Their wedding day is getting close. So it doesn't make sense to her fiancé when she abruptly ends their engagement and runs off to marry a stranger. Tess leaves Baltimore and moves to Hickory, North Carolina. Her husband, Henry Kraft, is secretive and distant and he often stays out late or doesn't bother to come home at all. She doesn't fit in with the people of Hickory. They all love and respect the Kraft's and view Tess as an outsider, someone who's after his money. Unhappy in Hickory and trapped inside a loveless marriage, Tess is desperate to get her old self back which happens when a sudden polio epidemic erupts and their small town is selected as the perfect spot for a hospital. Everyone in Hickory helps build this hospital in just over two days. Against her husband's wishes Tess begins helping out as a nurse and soon finds herself very happy to be of help to the young victims. But her husband's behaviour is taking its toll on Tess who wants some answers and wants out of their marriage.

 

Another five star read by Diane Chamberlain. A solid, interesting story with three-dimensional characters. I liked the setting and the fact that the people of Hickory really did build, staff and get a hospital up and running in fifty-four hours. Wow! That's impressive. I really liked Tess and was rooting for her to find happiness after everything she'd been through. Chamberlain has a way of making you feel part of instead of simply reading a book. I loved it!

 

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC.

Review
4 Stars
Unreliable
Unreliable - Lee Irby

Edwin Stith lives in Ithica, New York, where he is a college professor. He has returned home to Richmond, Virginia, for his mother's wedding to a man who's slightly older than Edwin himself. Edwin is an enigma. He has an ex-wife and he may or may not have killed her. He may or may not be sleeping with one of his students. He's about to have a stepsister and he may or may not have killed her. 

I found this hard to get into and I think it's because Edwin actually talks to us, the readers, throughout the book. I did not like that. But once the story gets going it was hard for me to put the book down. Edwin's trip home lasts three days and those days are jam-packed with drama. There's a diverse bunch of characters and I enjoyed them all. I had no clue how it would end and I couldn't wait to find out. I was really surprised! Looking back on the book now that I've finished it I would say it's actually quite clever. I feel as though I've known Edwin forever and I'm sad we had to say goodbye. 

I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Doubleday Books.

Review
4 Stars
Kiss Me in New York
Kiss Me in New York - Catherine Rider

Charlotte is waiting for her flight back home to England after spending a semester in New York. Her boyfriend has just ended their relationship and now her flight is cancelled due to a blizzard. To make matters worse it's Christmas Eve. But she's not the only one having a bad day - Anthony, a native New Yorker, is surprising his girlfriend at the airport after spending three months apart. But it's him who's surprised when he gets dumped in the middle of the crowded airport. Anthony doesn't want to go home, and Charlotte isn't able to go home, so together they end up following the steps in a book found in the airport gift shop - Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex - in the hopes that their broken hearts will be mended.

 

This is a cute, short read. The story is predictable, of course, and I'm taking it for what it is which is just a fluffy, feel good read. But these two met not even 24 hours ago and they already love each other! Anthony was in a relationship for just over a year! But overall I did enjoy this book. I felt as though I was there with them on their journey through New York as they crossed the steps off the list. My favourite character would have to be Mistake (even though it's a horrible name!)

 

I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Kids Can Press for an ARC.

Review
1 Stars
The Marsh King's Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter - Karen Dionne

A notorious child abductor, known as the Marsh King, has just escaped from a maximum security prison and Helena immediately knows that she and her two young daughters are in danger. Helena is the Marsh King's daughter. She was born into captivity and didn't leave the cabin or the surrounding area until she was twelve.

 

I won this through a Goodreads giveaway and was so looking forward to reading it once I got my hands on it. But after reading about SO MANY dead animals and every excruciating detail about every little thing, especially the chapters about when she was a kid growing up in the wilderness, I had to set it aside. I would pick it up every now and then but it wasn't holding my attention and at a third of the way through I didn't care anymore. It was too tedious so I skimmed. While skimming I came across more dead animals and decided to just skip to the end, which came as no surprise to me.

Review
4 Stars
Sinful Pleasures
Sinful Pleasures - Janine Ashbless, Ella Scandal, Sonni de Soto, Jo Henny Wolf, Lily Harlem, Lady Divine, Gail Williams, Samantha MacLeod, Tony Fyler, Ellie Barker, Lisa McCarthy

Sinful Pleasures consists of eleven steamy short stories. The good thing about short stories about sex is that things don't get stale and repetitious. Of course there's probably going to be at least one you don't like but all in all it's fun to read something different and get a glimpse inside someone else's imagination. I really enjoyed The Dream Feeder - I thought it was well-written. The story was weird but in a good way; it was creative. I also enjoyed On The Line - I thought the writing was really good and I liked the two young characters who were inexperienced with each other but were a little bit bolder through the phone. And I also enjoyed Lazy Sunday - there was a lot of depth to their relationship. They don't take what they have for granted, and they're spontaneous and fun even after fifteen years together. And I love that cover! 

Thank you to Sinful Press and LibraryThing.

Review
3 Stars
Watching Edie
Watching Edie - Camilla Way

Heather was immediately drawn to Edie. Edie was new in town, she was beautiful and creative, and she didn't know Heather was an outcast. But their friendship gradually starts to deteriorate when Edie falls in love with a handsome bad boy named Connor. All that is in the past now. They're no longer teenagers and they're no longer friends. Edie works as a waitress. She's pregnant and alone. When the baby arrives she becomes overwhelmed and sinks into a depression. There's no one she can turn to for help. Until Heather suddenly shows up at her door and begins to take care of the baby with no questions asked. But there's so much that has been left unspoken, too much has happened when they were teenagers for their friendship to ever go back to the way it was when they first met all those years ago.

This book goes back and forth between before the incident and after. Edie's perspective is told in the present and Heather's is told in the past. I couldn't wait to find out what tore their friendship apart, and when I finally found out, well, it just wasn't what I thought would happen. I think there are so many layers to both characters that ultimately we can see how things shaped them into who they were as teenagers and as adults. I thought Edie really grew as an adult and I did enjoy the very end.

Review
4 Stars
The Address
The Address: A Novel - Fiona Davis

Sara Smyth is working her way up to head housekeeper in a posh London hotel when she's offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Theodore Camden, one of the architects of The Dakota - a new apartment house in New York - offers her a job. This is a big deal for a woman in 1884. It also gives her the chance to see more of Theo as he lives in The Dakota with his wife and three children.

It's 1985 and Bailey Camden is fresh out of rehab and struggling to stay sober. The former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless and has no money. Her cousin Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her Dakota apartment as well as stay there for a while. Bailey doesn't agree with Melinda's vision for the old apartment that was once owned by Melinda's own great-grandfather Theodore Camden, the same apartment where he was stabbed to death by a madwoman and former Dakota employee named Sara Smyth. 

Even though one hundred years separate Sara and Bailey, they both take refuge within the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a famous building rich with both history and tragedy can't hold its secrets forever and when Bailey goes looking through old trunks once belonging to Theo, his wife Minnie and Sara she discovers something unbelievable.

I liked Sara's story more than Bailey's because there's just something about that time period - a big monstrosity of an apartment house outside of the city proper which is actually something really beautiful even to this day! The author makes The Dakota come alive with rich details. Many famous people made their home there with its charm and character. I thought both women were kind, strong, hard workers. I liked the twists and turns. I liked that the author used real places and events and even a real (and very interesting) person makes an appearance! Overall two very interesting and readable stories that weave their way into one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Dutton for a copy of this book.

Review
2 Stars
The Night Child
The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn

Nora Brown lives a quiet life with her husband and six-year-old daughter in Seattle. She's an English teacher at a high school. It's the last day before Thanksgiving break and she'll be going away with her family, but before she leaves her classroom she sees a girls face floating on top of the drapes. She's terrified - does this mean she's going crazy or is she just tired? Over Thanksgiving vacation she sees the face again, and this time the girl whispers "remember the Valentine's dress." Nora eventually talks to a psychiatrist where a secret that was hidden deep within is revealed.

 

The best part of this book, to me, is that it's short. I feel bad for saying all this but the characters weren't really fleshed out, the writing was just okay and I couldn't really get into the story. I figured when I read in the blurb about Nora seeing a face there would be a little bit of a thrill, some tension, SOMETHING! But what happened in the book wasn't what I was expecting. But kudos to the author for writing about a serious subject, something that some people can relate to and maybe even make them feel like they're not alone and that it's not their fault.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for a copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
The Visitors
The Visitors - Catherine Burns

Marion Zetland is a shy spinster who still lives in her childhood home. It's a crumbling, filthy old mansion set on the edge of a seaside resort. Her domineering older brother, John, still lives there as well. It's easier to live by her brother's rules and so she remains blissfully ignorant to the sounds she hears deep down in the cellar. But when John can no longer look after the women downstairs, Marion has no choice but to go down there and see the extent of John's secret life.

I love the cover. I did enjoy this book and thought it was very well-written but it's not quite what I was expecting. I figured the book would be a little darker than it was, but instead it's more character driven. Sometimes we travel back in time to Marion's childhood, and we see that she was picked on, had no friends, and that her parents didn't pay a whole lot of attention to her and if they did they weren't supportive of her. We can kind of understand how Marion turned out the way she did - a shy, middle-aged woman who just craves some company. It was somewhat suspenseful but overall I'm a little disappointed because it just wasn't what I thought it would be.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for a copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach: A Novel - Beatriz Williams

Headstrong Virginia Fortescue leaves her home and what's left of her family behind in New York City and begins driving an ambulance in France during World War I. While there she falls in love with a charismatic British army surgeon and as they begin a passionate love affair, she learns that Captain Simon Fitzwilliam is hiding secrets of his own.

Five years later and newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam has just arrived in Cocoa Beach, Florida to settle her husband's estate. There was a house fire, and while his brother confirmed it was indeed Simon inside the house, Virginia has her doubts that he's really dead. After all, Simon was cunning and kept his share of secrets from her - secrets that ruined their marriage and had Virginia fleeing back to New York very early on. But now she needs to uncover the truth, not for herself, but for the sake of their daughter.

I didn't find this one as good as her others. It goes back and forth between when Virginia met and fell in love with Simon and afterwards where we learn they are married but not together and they have a daughter Simon doesn't even know about. At first I didn't like that this was only about one character. Usually we have two different people from two different time periods. I also found that it was a bit overly descriptive; too wordy and repetitious at times. I do love Williams' writing - she paints a vivid picture with real characters. There was no shortage of secrets, lies, and manipulation. The story really picked up towards the end. But the actual ending - I do not understand what happened. I did not enjoy reading this book as much as I like it looking back on it now that it's over.

Review
5 Stars
Murder on the Toy Town Express
Murder on the Toy Town Express: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery - Barbara Early

Liz McCall loves running her father's vintage toy shop. They're getting ready for the big Train and Toy Show but things don't go as Liz envisioned when she learns that her childhood bully and now local business rival, Craig McFadden, has set up a booth right next to hers. And things only get more complicated as Craig plummets from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong. What was thought of as an accident turns out to be murder. Liz's father is a retired police chief who still can't resist getting in on the action. Combine that with her feelings for Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother has been in jail before and is one of the prime suspects, Liz can't help but getting drawn into the investigation herself.

 

This is the second book in the Vintage Toyshop series. I haven't read the first one yet, but didn't really have any problems reading this one first. We're introduced to lots of characters and almost any one of them could have a reason to want Craig dead, so who did it?! I loved the vintage toy shop with all those old toys and games! They even hold game nights there! This was a quick and easy read with an ending that did not disappoint.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for a copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
The Strawberry Hearts Diner
The Strawberry Hearts Diner - Carolyn Brown

Jancy Wilson is broke, unemployed and now she's without a car. Her plans of going to stay with her cousin in Louisiana go up in smoke when her car catches fire in the tiny town of Pick, Texas. She notices a Help Wanted sign in the window of the quaint Strawberry Hearts Diner. She used to live in Pick when she was a teenager and her memories, along with the diner's famous strawberry tarts, draw her in to the diner and into a job. She only wants to save enough money to get a decent car and continue on her way. Her parents moved from place to place, so Jancy doesn't know what it's like to settle in one place. But as the close-knit community, and an old crush, welcome her with open arms, she's beginning to feel as though this little place in Texas could be home.

The cover caught my eye, it's gorgeous. And though this isn't the typical type of book I go for, it sounded cute and mushy and I thought I'd give it a try. The writing is good. The setting, the characters and the food are all brought to life. Of course it's predictable but that doesn't take away from anything. I do like how Pick is a place where everyone knows everyone and they're supportive of one another and kind, but (and I hate to say this) it also got on my nerves at times.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Montlake Romance for a copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is what society would deem "weird" - she is socially inept and tends to say exactly what she is thinking. She has a scarred cheek and wears the same practical clothes year after year. She is a creature of habit. She eats pizza and drinks vodka on the weekends. She has no friends. She's had the same (and only) job since she graduated college. She likes being average. But her world is turned upside down when the new IT guy, Raymond, walks out of work with her one day and they save an elderly mans life. Raymond and the old man, Sammy, teach Eleanor what it's like to have friends. They show her kindness and include her in their plans. They save her from a life of isolation.

This was a good book from start to finish. Eleanor has been through a lot and we see how her childhood has made her into the woman she is today. It gives us a reminder to not be so quick to judge someone; everyone has their own story. I enjoyed reading about her life and seeing her transform into someone capable of opening up and letting people in. I'm happy she found the courage and support to begin digging into her past so that her future could be bright and full of possibility.

Review
5 Stars
No Exit
NO EXIT a gripping thriller full of heart-stopping twists - TAYLOR ADAMS

Darby Thorne is an art student at CU-Boulder. It's almost Christmas. She's on her way to visit her sick mother but a blizzard has stranded her at a desolate highway rest stop. While outside looking for a signal, Darby happens to notice a little girl locked up in the back of a van. Now she has to go back into the building and try to figure out which one of the strangers could be the kidnapper. And she has to figure out how she's going to save the little girl when there is no cell phone reception, no working telephone and nowhere else to go.

This book was intense. It gripped me from page one and did not let go until the very last page. I could not get enough. There was no shortage of twists and turns. There were characters written to make you either love or hate them and it was all very well done. I loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Joffe Books for a copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Watch Me Disappear
Watch Me Disappear: A Novel - Janelle Brown

Billie Flanagan is a beautiful, charismatic wife and mother. One day while hiking alone in a place called Desolation Wilderness Billie vanishes. It's coming up on the one year anniversary since the incident and her body has still never been found. But her teenage daughter Olive begins seeing her. She takes this as a sign that her mother is still alive and that she wants her to find her. Jonathan is worried about his daughter but as he uncovers secrets about Billie's past he thinks that just maybe Billie is alive out there somewhere. And they're going to find out once and for all what happened.

This book was really good! It has lots of layers - the characters are complex, Billie especially - she was a completely different person before she met Jonathan and she only allows him to have a glimpse of who she was and who she is even well into their marriage. The story flowed well. There was never a dull moment. We'd be trying to figure out what happened to Billie and then we'd be hit with secrets of hers that I did not see coming. I couldn't stand not knowing if she was dead or alive. I thought I had the ending figured out but I was wrong. I loved it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
Black Light Express
Black Light Express (Switch Press:) - Philip Reeve

Zen Starling and Nova have travelled all over the Network Empire, but they've never passed through a new gate - one that should not exist at all. They've been through a lot and can't go back so their only option is to go through.

 

There is a new Empress of the Great Network who has just chosen to take a criminal named Chandni Hansa out of the freezer and into her world to help find Zen Starling. But railwar erupts and they're running for their lives.

 

Everyone ends up at the mysterious Black Light Zone - a world no longer in use with secrets to uncover.

 

This is the sequel to Railhead and it picks up where book one left off. The creativity is still strong and we have some of the same characters we saw in the first book. This is action-packed as Zen and Nova race through new worlds, avoiding bad trains and bad people, and hoping to make it home alive. I found this book just a teensy bit long, but overall it was really good. And like the first book there is a glossary in the back to help us understand what's what.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Capstone for a copy of this book.