Book Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets @MollyOKWrites @HarlequinBooks #FamilyDrama #Novel #MustRead #5stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Publishing for my advanced reader’s copy of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets. This book is set to be released next week and if you pre-order a copy now you’ll have it on release day! Spoiler alert: it was a 5 star read for me.

Family secrets are the main event in this book. We have two sisters who used to be close and now never speak to each other. A mother who keeps walking off to a house and yelling at everyone around her and a young teenage girl who looks a lot more like her aunt than her mother…intrigued?

I love the journey each character went on. Every woman in this book grows and finds herself. The teenage daughter is on a path of trouble. She thinks everyone is against her and no one will treat her like an adult and tell her the truth. When the truth unravels out…well…no true spoilers from me! Lindy, the trouble maker sister, comes back in to town when her old crush from high school (now town police officer) calls her at her mother’s request. The mother has had “brain events” and is not quite herself. Lindy comes to town and helps out. Enter Delia. The sister who stayed in town and took on the family business and cares for their ailing mother all while raising her own family.

Will the two sisters be able to mend their relationship? After being driven apart can the two sisters even stand to be in the same room together? Delia has a lot of years of pent up anger and depression. Lindy has a lot of years of failed relationships and dead end jobs. The mother is realizing that her bouts of confusion are occurring more frequently and that she is taking things out on the wrong people. Delia’s daughter ends up finding out that her mother isn’t so bad after all…but can she turn her attitude around in time before it’s too late?

This is a must read 5 star read, but I already told you that. Each character comes with their own personal conflicts AND resolutions. It was absolutely heart wrenching for me to read about the mother and watch her have her good days and her bad days. The mother ends up taking the fall for not teaching her girls how to cope with things that happen in life, and we find out the secrets they keep. I am shocked I did not cry while reading this, but I wanted to.

The thought that went in to each character is appreciated and well thought out. The book is told from the perspectives of the mother, Lindy, Delia, and the daughter. What I found most appealing is how DIFFERENT each character sounded. The daughter sounded as if a 16 year old mad at the world girl was talking. The mother really sounded like someone who was trying to have her wits about her, but just couldn’t quite do it. The strife in the sisters’ voices was remarkable. It was so easy to picture each character and the flow was great. Pick this book up once it’s on sale on July 16th!

Details

Title: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets

Author: Molly Fader

Genre(s): Family Drama, Fiction, Women’s Lit

Publisher: Graydon House

Release Date: July 16, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

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Book Review: The First Mistake @realsandiejones #TheFirstMistake #ARC #BookReview #4.5stars #BookBlog @panmacmillan @StMartinsPress @MinotaurBooks

I love getting book mail. As you may have seen awhile ago I received an advance copy of this book, The First Mistake, in the mail. Thank you St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for the opportunity to read this before it hits the shelves tomorrow.

This took me a few chapters to get into. Once I got into it, there was no putting this book down! It reminded me of the country song that goes like this…”Still you wonder who’s cheatin’ who and who’s bein’ true and who don’t even care anymore. Makes you wonder who’s doin’ right to someone tonight and who’s car is parked next door…” or something close to that.

The premise is Alice is (re)married to Nathan. Her first husband tragically died in a skiing accident. She has her best friend Beth by her side…although, they have an odd relationship and not one I would say meets the criteria of “best” friends…but, to each their own! Alice owns her own design company and they are getting ready to take on a HUGE new project. Alice starts to suspect that Nathan may be cheating on her and starts to vent to Beth…the irony is Beth always makes sure that when she comes around, Nathan isn’t there…hmmmmmmm. Let me tell you now, this story is NOTHING what you think it will be! You go on a wild ride.

The story is told in 3 parts; present day Alice, past day Beth, and then back to present day with Alice & Beth. How Sandie Jones ties this one all together was brilliant. I never saw it coming. I just held my breath the entire time while reading the book when one revelation was revealed after the other. I must have gasped out loud at least 5 times!

Personally, Sandie Jones outdid herself in her second novel. There. I said it. I would like to kind of go off track and leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book (my other favorite is within the featured image)…

“These people’s lives are fake,” says Alice, picking up the offending item. Sophia looks at it as if it’s a baby that her mother is about to throw into a road. “They’re not lives you can aspire to because they’re not real, and I think it’s putting you kids under an awful lot of pressure to be a certain way and look a certain way.”

#TRUTH PREACH ON SANDIE!!

This is a 4.5 star read. It grips you and won’t let go until you reach the end. The only reason I did not give it a 5 star read was BECAUSE of the end. I love my endings tied up nicely and this one…well…it ties it up and I can ASSUME what happens because of the careful word choice in the epilogue; however, we are not 100% certain and for that, it’s a 4.5 star read. Let me tell you if I ever meet Sandie the first question I’m asking is…well, I can’t tell you, it will give the book away. Shoo! Go get this book STAT and then come back and LET’S CHAT ABOUT THAT ENDING!!!!!!!!!

Details

Title: The First Mistake

Author: Sandie Jones

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Saving Meghan

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy of Saving Meghan.  I told you guys in my last post I am behind, behind, behind on writing and posting reviews!  I did actually read this BEFORE it’s release date and have spread it around to a few people at work.  The consensus?  Read this book!!

This story is told from 2 perspectives; the mother, Becky, and the daughter, Meghan.  Meghan is sick, but no doctor can figure out what is wrong with her.  Becky is convinced there is some underlying disease and no doctor can find it.  Her husband starts to get fed up and thinks she may be making everything up.

Meghan gets sick, but only for quick periods of time.  Anytime vitals are run on her after an episode (fainting, blacking out, etc) they come out fine.  The doctors start to suspect it may be a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and given Becky’s history with her mother, it may very well be the case.

Becky’s mother worked the system and faked illness in order to get money.  She taught Becky how to lie and what to do as a child so she could catch a free ride.  Maybe everyone is right and the mother is just making Meghan think she is sick…

A doctor listens to Becky and thinks that Meghan may actually have a serious rare illness.  It happens to be the same serious rare illness his son died of and the hospital feels he over diagnoses.  The testing to verify the illness is also difficult.  Essentially, no one can determine for certain if she has this crippling, life-threatening disease.

The tale keeps weaving and eventually Becky and her husband lose custody of Meghan.  Their relationship is tested as they try to get custody of her back.  The doctor that gave Meghan a diagnosis is fired from the hospital, but decides to help Becky out and win custody back!  He really feels he is right with his diagnosis.

Things get ugly.  You will question everyone involved in this case.  Ok, I am stopping here.  This book gets JUICY and has a twist where your jaw will drop.  Who saw it coming?  I didn’t!  It was a superbly told tale that will leave you not quite sure who to believe.  I doubted myself so much as I read this book, flip flopping between what I thought was happening.  For what it’s worth, I was way, way, WAY off with what was happening.

Originally I gave this a 4 star read, however, upon reflecting on this book, I feel it’s more of a 5 star in my eyes.  I doubted everyone at one point or another in this book and I wasn’t really sure what was going on.  I never liked, or was on one’s side long enough, because the author kept the pace that fast.  Truly this is a wonderful book if you are a fan of thrillers!  Have you read this one?  What do you think??

 

Details

Title: Saving Meghan

Author:  D.J. Palmer

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

 

 

Blog Tour: The Scent Keeper

ScentKeeper

 

What an interesting read.  The first thing I want to say is that if you are part of a book club, this is a MUST READ.  I promise you there is SO much to talk about throughout the book.  My thoughts?  I am very conflicted…

I could not get into this book until Part 2.  The entire first part of this book talks about scented paper and living on a deserted, desolate island where this little girl and her father forage for food.  Mermaids leave surprises in boxes every so often for supplies, but it all centered around a machine that made scents.  They left the paper in bottles and eventually the smells started to fade and it sent the father into a nose dive depression.   I just could not get into this book about scents.  I ended up speed reading most of this book as I really was having a hard time grasping the concept of it.  Toward the end of part 2 and for all of part 3 I did slow the pace of my reading down and really try to understand it.

We get past the scents and eventually the daughter, Emmeline (pronounced like on-the-line…don’t do what myself or her school teacher do and call her Emmelene haha), makes it to civilization and learns a whole new world (complete with a love interest).  Here is where my interest peaked and where she started to learn who she was and sought to seek out where she came from (remember, she was only raised by Dad and had no idea what her last name was or who her mother was).

I also enjoyed how the book ended.  I usually am only a fan of concrete endings, however, I know where Emmeline is going to end up and I really like how she leaves things off…the author did a good job.  For this book, it was the perfect ending.

People may wonder why I even bothered to continue to read this book if I was not enjoying it at first.  Here’s the thing.  Just because I personally do not like something, does not mean that someone else out there won’t.  Despite the fact that I was not into it, the author did a fantastic job at describing the surroundings and I was able to imagine such beautiful scenery.  The writing in this book was top notch, I just didn’t care for the content (at the beginning).  I also feel like this book needed that content at the beginning to create the book that it is.  Bauermeister is very talented, that is very obvious within her writing.

For this reason, I am not rating this book.  What I will do when I most my review to Goodreads and Netgalley, I’m not too sure, but I will figure something out.  This is a stop on The Scent Keeper blog tour and below please find more information about the author and the book.  Included is a sample of the first chapter so you can judge for yourself.  Again, this book turned in to an amazing read and I am happy I read it.  There is SO much to discuss about this book.  If you’ve read it, let’s chat!!

This book is released TOMORROW, May 21, 2019, so look for it at the links below or at your local bookstore!

Scent Keeper - Author Image_credit to Susan Doupé

About the Author:
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
About the Book:
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Chapter One Excerpt…

THE BEGINNING

Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air. Growing up in the midst of the rain and moss and ancient thick-barked trees, it was easy to forget that the vast majority of our island was underwater—descending down two, three, five hundred bone-chilling feet. Forever really, for you could never hold your breath long enough to get to the bottom.

Those islands were a place to run away, although I didn’t understand that at the time. I had nothing to run from and every reason to stay. My father was everything. I’ve heard people say that someone is their “whole world,” their eyes filled with stars. But my father was my world, in a way so literal it can still grab my thoughts, pick them up, and toss them around like driftwood in a storm.

Our cabin was set in a clearing at the center of the island. We were not the first to live there—those islands have a long history of runaways. Almost a century ago there were French fur trappers, with accents that lilted and danced. Loggers with mountainous shoulders, and fishermen who chased silver-backed salmon. Later came the draft dodgers, hiding from war. Hippies, dodging rules. The islands took them all in—the storms and the long, dark winters spat most out again. The beauty there was raw; it could kill as easily as it could astonish.

Our cabin had been built by the truest of runaways. He set up in a place where no one could find him and built his home from trees he felled himself. He spent forty years on the island, clearing space for a garden and planting an orchard. One autumn, however, he simply disappeared. Drowned, it was said. After that the cabin was empty for years until we arrived and found the apple trees, opened the door. Raised the population of the island to two.

I don’t remember arriving on the island myself; I was too young. I only remember living there. I remember the paths that wandered through those watchful trees, the odor of the dirt beneath our feet, as dark and complicated as fairy tales. I remember our one-room cabin, the big chair by the woodstove, and our collection of stories and science books. I remember the smell of wood smoke and pine pitch in my father’s beard as he read to me at night, and the ghostly aroma of the runaway’s pipe tobacco, an olfactory reminder that had sunk into the walls and never quite disappeared. I remember the way the rain seemed to talk to the roof as I fell asleep, and how the fire would snap and tell it to be quiet.

Most of all, I remember the drawers.

My father had begun building them when we moved into the cabin, and when he was done they lined our walls from floor to ceiling. The drawers were small things, their polished wooden fronts no bigger than my child-sized hands. They surrounded us like the forest and islands outside our door.

Each drawer contained a single small bottle, and inside each bottle was a piece of paper, rolled around itself like a secret. The glass stoppers of the bottles were sealed with different colored waxes—red in the top rows, green for those below. My father almost never opened the bottles.

“We need to keep them safe,” he said.

But I could hear the papers whispering inside the drawers.

Come find me.

“Please?” I’d ask, again and again.

Finally, he agreed. He took out a leather book filled with numbers and carefully added one to the list. Then he turned to the wall of drawers, pondering his choice.

“Up there,” I said, pointing up high to where the red-wax bottles lived. Stories always begin at the top of a page.

My father had built a ladder that slid along the wall, and I watched him climb it almost to the ceiling, reaching into a drawer and drawing out its bottle. When he was back on the ground, he carefully broke the seal. I could hear glass scritching against glass as he pulled out the stopper, then the rustle of the paper as he unrolled it into a plain, white square. He leaned in close, inhaling, then wrote another number in the book.

I meant to stay still, but I leaned forward, too. My father looked up and smiled, holding out the paper.

“Here,” he said. “Breathe in, but not too much. Let the smell introduce itself.”

I did as he said. I kept my chest tight and my breath shallow. I could feel the tendrils of a fragrance tickling the inside of my nose, slipping into the curls of my black hair. I could smell campfires made from a wood I didn’t recognize; dirt more parched than any I had ever known; moisture, ready to burst from clouds in a sky I’d never seen. It smelled like waiting.

“Now, breathe in deeply,” my father said.

I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.

 

– – –

 

Later, after the bottle had been stoppered and sealed and put back in its drawer, I turned to my father. I could still smell the last of the fragrance lingering in the air.

“Tell me its story,” I asked him. “Please.”

“All right, little lark,” he said. He sat in the big chair and I nestled in next to him. The fire crackled in the woodstove; the world outside was still.

“Once upon a time, Emmeline . . .” he began, and his voice rolled around the rhyme of it as if the words were made of chocolate.

Once upon a time, Emmeline, there was a beautiful queen who was trapped in a great white castle. None of the big, bold knights could save her. “Bring me a smell that will break the walls,” she asked a brave young boy named Jack . . .

I listened, while the scents found their hiding places in the cracks in the floorboards, and the words of the story, and the rest of my life.

Book Review: Little Lovely Things

Thank you to Maureen Joyce Connolly for the advance copy of Lovely Little Things…I know…this book was released April 2, 2019 and here we are in May.  I am behind on posting and writing reviews, I told you, that class sucked up all my time!  Yikes!  Better late than never, right?

TRIGGER WARNING.  This book was difficult for me to read.  I usually don’t find books a challenge to read because of their content, but this one hit. me. hard.  If you cannot handle a child’s death or kidnapping, do not read any further.

This story is about a married couple with a woman who may be a little off her rocker.  We aren’t really sure what is going on with her.  One day she drives into the city and has a sudden attack.  She gets gravely ill and pulls her car (barely) over to a gas station and makes it into the bathroom.  She leaves her car running with her two small children in the back as it’s in the midst of summer.

She comes out of the bathroom and her car is gone.

A tale of a family on the brink of disaster, a Lakota Indian man with a strong intuition, and gypsies is what this story is based around.  The mother, Claire, ends up befriending Jay, the Lakota Indian, and he ends up being the one who is able to give the police the only clues/leads they are able to get.

The story is told between the perspective of Claire (the mother), Jay (the Lakota Indian), and Moira (one of the gypsies who took the car with the girls inside).  It offers a unique perspective on a mother’s worst nightmare and the reasoning behind stealing a child.

Once I got past my own reservations, it was a quick, fast paced read.  The kidnapping takes place in 1991 and goes through to present day.  Trust me when I say it is worth reading.  I had tears in my eyes throughout the book.  For a debut novel, Connolly did a wonderful job telling this tale.

I am going to give this book 4 stars.   It was gripping with a great plot.  The ending…you guys know how picky I am with my endings…it melted my heart, I loved it.  The last half of the book I couldn’t put it down, I just had to know what happened, because as the reader, you know what is going on more than the characters.  I found myself yelling at the book!  Eventually they listened to me, haha.  If you come across this book, grab it!  If you’re in a book club, this would be a great read for your group!

 

Details

Title: Little Lovely Things

Author:  Maureen Joyce Connolly

Publisher: Sourcebook Landmarks

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Find it here on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl

This review was previous published over at Book In The Bag Blog where I guest write a review every Thursday!  I wanted to start 2019 off with a bang and what better way than with my review of An Anonymous Girl??

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this advance copy in exchange for my honest review!  This book officially comes out on January 8, 2019, pre-order it today!

As soon as I heard Hendricks and Pekkanen were penning another novel I could not wait to get my hands on it.  The Wife Between Us blew me away (by the way, go get that book NOW if you haven’t read it) and I could not wait to see what else could come out of their 2 minds.  I was not let down.

The story is about a young woman who ends up in a research study to make some extra money.  The research is all about morals and ethics and is put together by a professor at a local, well known university, who should probably have her own morals and ethics checked out.

This psychological thriller is told by Jessica, the young woman, and Dr. Shields, the professor.  They alternate chapters so it gives us a unique perspective and keeps up guessing throughout the novel.  Just when you think this is going to be a predictable read, it’s not.  There are not many twists and turns but enough to keep you interested.  As we get further in to the book the characters grow and show us sides to them you just cannot predict to see.  The book really picks up in the second half after the stage has been fully set.

I will say I was a little let down with the ending.  I expected it to end with some big bang and it just fell flat for me.  It felt rushed at the end and it just, ended.  I did not get the closure I would have liked; however, it does let you know what happens with the relationship Jessica and Dr. Shields have.  I would have like just a little bit more at the end to satisfy myself.

I am giving this book 4 stars.  It keeps you going and guessing.  I did think I had the book figured out before I got to the halfway point.  That’s where the book really picks up and has left you with enough little pieces you have to read to see how they all fit together.  I will say, Greer and Pekkanen sure do have some twisted minds!  I hope they collaborate yet again, these ladies know how to throw you for a loop!  Have you read either of their books??  Let me know if you’ve read either book or if you’re looking forward to this one!

Details

Title: An Anonymous Girl

Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: January 8, 2019

ISBN: 1250133734

Quick Link To Amazon Here