About ondbookshelf

Blogging my way through my extensive to be read pile of books.

2

Every Last Lie Book Cover Every Last Lie
Mary Kubica
Fiction
Park Row Books
June 27, 2017
Advanced Reader Copy
336
Publisher via BookExpo

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow's pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. "The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us." Clara Solberg's world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident...until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon. Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick's death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out--and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit. Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara's investigation and Nick's last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date--one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

My review:

4.5 stars

I've been a huge fan of Mary Kubica ever since reading her debut novel The Good Girl. While that book will always hold a special place for me (I still remember exactly where I was when I read the shocking ending!), this one is right up there in my adoration. I've decided that the thing that I love most about Kubica's books is that while they all contain a mystery, there is the underlying element of people going about their real lives, complete with their mundane tasks and problems. Her characters are so well drawn, you can see yourself meeting them at the grocery store or living in your neighborhood.  In this case, we have a new mother who has just lost her husband. This poor woman has to hold it together on virtually no sleep, caring for a newborn and a 4 year old, while trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband, whose death may be under mysterious circumstances. My heart went out to her, and I could totally see why she did the sort of manic things she did. Concurrent with Clara's story, we have the last months of her husband Nick's life before the fateful accident that took his life. This was almost a 5 star for me, but I did have a couple small issues that I wanted resolved a bit more than they were before the book ended. I've heard a couple people questioning the ending, but for me it was perfectly fitting in the context of the story, and I loved it. I even shed a few tears over the last line!

Once again, this author does not disappoint. Kubica remains high on my list of go to reads when I want a well crafted story, with wonderfully written characters and a mystery to be solved.

1

Before Everything Book Cover Before Everything
Victoria Redel
Fiction
Viking
June 27, 2017
Advanced Reader Copy
288
Publisher via Penguin First to Read

Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of women who have known each another since they were girls. They've faced everything together, from youthful sprees and scrapes to mid-life turning points. Now, as Anna, the group's trailblazer and brightest spark, enters hospice, they gather to do what they've always done--talk and laugh and help each other make choices and plans, this time in Anna's rural Massachusetts home. Helen, Anna's best friend and a celebrated painter, is about to remarry. The others face their own challenges--Caroline with her sister's mental health crisis; Molly with a teenage daughter's rebellion; Ming with her law practice--dilemmas with kids and work and love. Before Everything is as funny as it is bittersweet, as the friends revel in the hilarious mistakes they've seen each another through, the secrets kept, and adventures shared. But now all sense of time has shifted, and the pattern of their lives together takes on new meaning. The novel offers a brilliant, emotionally charged portrait, deftly conveying the sweep of time over everyday lives, and showing how even in difficult endings, gifts can unfold. Above all it is an ode to friendship, and to how one person shapes the journeys of those around her.

My review:

3.5 stars

An enjoyable story (perhaps not the best use of words since it's about a woman choosing to die), all about friendships and respecting those bonds. The protagonist is foregoing any more treatments for her rare form of cancer, and has chosen to live out her days enjoying the company of those she loves most. Four of her friends, who met in elementary school, show up at her home to spend quality time with her before she passes. There is an ongoing issue between those who want her to continue with her treatment, and those who want to respect her wishes. There is also the interesting aspect of what makes a long time friend? Do those who have known you for twenty years not count, just because you have friends older than that? We do get some background into these people's lives, although had the book been a bit longer, I would have liked a bit more to really flesh out some of the characters. Each of the women was dealing with issues in her life that her life long  friends can discuss and advise on. I appreciated the fact that while this book deals with a heavy subject matter, it wasn't depressing, and I felt closure upon its ending. My minor issue with this book was that some of the writing was too choppy. There were small segments of just a few sentences interspersed in the story that I felt were supposed to have meaning, but I didn't get it (like, what was with the dog parts?). I ended up feeling like I was missing some point that the author was trying to convey.

Overall a good story about friends, and the act of letting go of the bonds of friendship created over time, and through the trials of each of their lives.

I received this courtesy of the Penguin First to Read program. Click this link to find out more about them. All opinions are my own.

 

2

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Cover The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fiction
Simon and Schuster
June 13, 2017
Hardcover
400
Publisher via BookExpo

“The epic adventures Evelyn creates over the course of a lifetime will leave every reader mesmerized. This wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet and her tumultuous Tinseltown journey comes with unexpected twists and the most satisfying of drama.” —PopSugar From Taylor Jenkins Reid, “a genius when it comes to stories about life and love” (Redbook), comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine. Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. Written with Reid’s signature talent for “creating complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

My review:

I feel like most of those people who are in the blog community (unless you are living under a rock!) have read, or at least know of, this book. But for those of my friends and family (and those rock dwellers :)) who read my blog, I have to tell you about the fabulousness (not a word, but I'm using it for her anyway) of Taylor Jenkins Reid, and specifically of this book! I've read all of Ms. Reid's prior novels, and really enjoyed them all, but I think she has hit it out of the park with this one! I don't want to give too much away, because I just want you to read it, but Evelyn Hugo is one of those written characters that just comes to life and jumps off the page. For me, the most interesting part about her, is that she's not particularly the most likeable person, yet I could not get enough of her and her life story! The premise of the book is that Evelyn, an aging star of the screen in old Hollywood, has decided that she wants to tell her life story, to get the facts out there. She brings in a young, unknown magazine journalist to take down her story. How did she end up with seven husbands? How did she rise to fame and fortune? Who was her one true love? As a side story, we see glimpses of the journalist's life as she spends more and more time penning Evelyn's story. The paths of their two lives do collide in a most surprising way toward the end of the book.

This is a fascinating glimpse into the glitz and glamour of the times, and a woman who made a name for herself, but at what costs? Trust me on this when I say, just read it!

1

My ongoing series to see if I can stay ahead of my tbr piles! I was doing pretty well this month until I attended Book Expo in NYC. I attended the Editor's buzz panel on May 31st, so I may as well count them this month ('cause you already know what kind of a disaster next month is going to be!). So, let's get to it........

Total Incoming books purchased by me = 13

Total from Penguin First to Read = 2 (The Sunshine Sisters and Touch)

Total sent from publishers = 5 (plus 5 from BookExpo) = 10

Total books read = 20 (12 books, 8 audiobooks)

Total Incoming = 25
Total Outgoing = 20

Final = minus 5
April final = plus 2
New total = minus 3

Looks like I'm in MAJOR trouble next month when the BookExpo (plus my birthday) books kick in!! But I'm going to keep on with the record keeping, and not let numbers get me down.

How was your month?

 

 

2

The Summer House Book Cover The Summer House
Hannah McKinnon
Fiction
Atria
June 6, 2017
Advanced Reader Copy
336
Publisher

Flossy Merrill has managed to—somewhat begrudgingly—gather her three ungrateful grown children from their dysfunctional lives for a summer reunion at the family’s Rhode Island beach house. Clementine, her youngest child and a young mother of two small children, has caused Flossy the most worry after enduring a tragically life-altering year. But Samuel and his partner Evan are not far behind in their ability to alarm: their prospective adoption search has just taken a heart-wrenching turn. Only Paige, the eldest of the headstrong Merrill clan, is her usual self: arriving precisely on time with her well-adapted teens. Little does her family know that she, too, is facing personal struggles of her own.

No matter. With her family finally congregated under one seaside roof, Flossy is determined to steer her family back on course even as she prepares to reveal the fate of the summer house that everyone has thus far taken for granted: she’s selling it. The Merrill children are both shocked and outraged and each returns to memories of their childhoods at their once beloved summer house—the house where they have not only grown up, but from which they have grown away. With each lost in their respective heartaches, Clementine, Samuel, and Paige will be forced to reconsider what really matters before they all say goodbye to a house that not only defined their summers, but, ultimately, the ways in which they define themselves.

My review:

This was the first book I've read by Hannah McKinnon, although I've certainly seen her previous novels around, especially on most beach read lists. I went into it expecting a light, fluffy, chic-litish read, which I am totally game for during the summer. What I got was that, but a whole lot more! This was a well written family saga revolving around three children, all of whom have varying degrees of turmoil in their lives. They all gather at their childhood summer house, summoned by their mother for a week spent together (just like when they were kids), culminating in the birthday celebration for their father. It's an interesting study in how our childhood personalities grow with us, and are even more on display when extended families get together. Lest you be concerned that there isn't anything to this book but family drama, there is some great descriptions of summer beach life involving sand, surf, and food! I must admit to rolling my eyes at the obligatory love interest, but I was relieved by the way it pans out. This had light moments, funny moments (Flossie trying to get her mother's oyster recipe from the stubborn book club member!), serious drama, and the usual family squabbles all wrapped up in one package. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that Merrill is my maiden name, so I thought it was pretty cool to see it in print.

A fantastic addition to your summer beach bag. This one incorporates family drama with family love, all in an idyllic beach setting. I was happy that I got the chance to read this one at my own summer house!

 

 

3

Before We Were Yours Book Cover Before We Were Yours
Lisa Wingate
Fiction
Ballantine Books
June 6, 2017
Advanced Reader Copy
352
Publisher via She Reads

"Memphis, Tennessee, 1936. The five Foss children find their lives changed forever when their parents leave them alone on the family shantyboat one stormy night. Rill Foss, just twelve years old, must protect her four younger siblings as they are wrenched from their home on the Mississippi and thrown into the care of the infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society. South Carolina, Present Day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. Loving daughter to her father, a U.S. Senator, she has a promising career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore and is engaged to her best friend. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery's decision to learn more about the woman's life will take her on a journey through her family's long-hidden history"--

My review:

I have read a few of Lisa Wingate's early books, but for some reason it has been a while since I've picked one up. This was a reminder that I need to keep Ms. Wingate on my radar. I really enjoyed this book. From the historical perspective of the horrible workings of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, to the present day tale of one of its survivors, and the woman who tries to tie all the loose ends together. Definitely not a tale for the faint of heart, this novel packs a punch with regards to the treatment of children, but it's an important glimpse into history. The writing was fluid, and even though the books does go back and forth between characters and time, it was not confusing or hard to follow. I was definitely invested in the characters, particularly May, who I so wanted to find closure for. The ending did find that closure partially, but I was impressed that Wingate did not go to the extreme of tying everything up with a big bow, which I think would have made the story less believable.

This is a wonderful slice of American history not normally written about, with well developed characters and a smooth writing style. I'll be on the lookout for more upcoming reads by Lisa Wingate, and perhaps delving into that backlist of books already published.

This book was a summer reads pick of the She Reads blog network. Click this link to find out more about them and to see the other books and follow along with upcoming reviews.

Touch Book Cover Touch
Courtney Maum
Fiction
G. P. Putnam's Sons
May 30, 2017
E-book
320
Publisher via Penguin First to Read

Sloane Jacobsen is the most powerful trend forecaster in the world (she was the foreseer of the swipe ), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.

So it s no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and in-personism again. She s struggling with the fact that her predictions are hopelessly out of sync with her employer's mission and that her closest personal relationship is with her self-driving car when her partner, the French neo-sensualist Roman Bellard, reveals that he is about to publish an op-ed on the death of penetrative sex a post-sexual treatise that instantly goes viral. Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and goes on a quest to defend real life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she's long been denying herself.

My review:

This is one of those books that I fear is going to be abandoned by some readers before getting to the good parts. I had to get to about page 70 (pretty far for a lot of people) before I started really tuning into the story. I love the premise for this, with the author taking a good look at the impact technology has in consuming our lives, and the main protagonist (a trend forecaster) pulling for a time where humans revert back to interactions involving touch. There was an interesting flip side to the argument, given by none other than her long time boyfriend (who walks around everywhere in a fully enclosed Zentai suit!). And then there was my favorite character in the entire book....the personality behind Sloane's driverless car! The book is well written, although some of the characters could have been a bit more fleshed out to make the story more interesting, particularly at the beginning. I really liked the dynamics with Sloane's family, which are sort of inserted when needed, but then left dangling. In the end, I felt that all the characters remained true to who they were, and I was satisfied with the conclusion.

A good book once you get into the meat of the story, but for me that took about a quarter of the way in. And.....I need an Anastasia in my life!

This book was given to me to read and review through the Penguin First to Read program. Click this link to learn more about the program.

1

A Bridge Across the Ocean Book Cover A Bridge Across the Ocean
Susan Meissner
Fiction
Penguin
March 14, 2017
Paperback
384
Own copy, and publisher via SheReads

Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women--past and present--in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life. February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French R�sistance spy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark... Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides--and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

My review:

Susan Meissner is one of my go to authors. I will purchase and read any book she writes because I adore her writing style! And it doesn't hurt that the covers of her books are always gorgeous! I anxiously awaited this new book, knowing nothing about it except that it had to do with the Queen Mary and some war brides crossing on the ship. It didn't matter to me, I was going to read it anyway, because it was a Meissner book. Imagine my surprise when I hunkered down to read it and discovered part of the plot involved ghosts. WHAT? I have a complete aversion to books having to do with anything not real (as in, in the flesh real). No vampires, fairies, extra-terrestrial, ghosts, etc. I even think long and hard if the word magical realism exists anywhere in the synopsis! With that long intro, suffice it to say that it is a HUGE credit to Meissner that not only did I finish this book, but I actually enjoyed it! There is something so mesmerizing about the back and forth stories in her writing, and the way the words flow off the page. I always feel like I am completely immersed in the story. Her characters are well developed, her historical information is well researched, and I always learn new things while reading. Even though I wasn't enamored with the ghost story part, I loved the story of the war brides making their way to America to be reunited with their soldiers they met and married during WWII.

A wonderful novel (even if you have an aversion to ghosts). Beautiful writing, memorable characters, and interesting history, are what make Susan Meisnner one of my favorites! I can't wait for what she comes up with next......but please don't have it involve aliens ok? 🙂

This book was picked by She Reads as one of their summer reads. To learn more about them click the link.

 

1

The Book of Summer Book Cover The Book of Summer
Michelle Gable
Fiction
Thomas Dunne Books
May 9, 2017
Hardcover
416
Publisher

Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family's Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.

The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home's definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess's grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother s words in ways she never contemplated.

My review:

3.5 stars

First off I would be remiss if I didn't comment on this gorgeous cover! Simple, yet beautiful. As for the inner contents of the book, I generally enjoyed it. I was much more invested in the current time story of Bess trying to get her mother to move out of their 99 year old Nantucket cottage before it plummets into the sea. Since I visit the beaches in SC frequently, I am well aware of the effects of beach erosion. It's a real thing all along the eastern coastline, and I was fascinated with the geo-tube idea. I thought the character of Cissy was very well written, and I enjoyed her drama of saving her house. And her whopper of a secret comes out of nowhere, and is quite surprising! The relationship between mother and daughter was very typical, and I totally got on board with Bess' frustrations. Along with dealing with her mother's woes, Bess herself is at a crossroads in her life, with an old beau showing up to complicate things. Some of the story also revolves around journal type entries into a "Book of Summer" that has been at the Cliff House residence for the entirety of its existence. From here we are taken back to the stories of the past, and learn about some of the secrets the old house has kept. What I wasn't as enamored of were the chapters taking us back to Cissy's mother during and after WWII. It may have been that I've read several books lately having WWII as a subject, so I'm possibly just a bit burned out. The story was interesting, I just found myself wanting to get back to the fate of the house on the dunes.

A totally satisfying read that will make a perfect beach book. Wonderful mother-daughter story with a peek back at Nantucket life in the 1940's, and some romance thrown in to sweeten the read.

This book has been chosen by the She Reads blog network as one of its summer reads. Check the link for more info on She Reads. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for a copy of this book. As always, my opinions are my own.

I'm starting a new monthly feature to keep track of my incoming vs. outgoing reads. I'd like to start decreasing my to be read pile of books, and I think this may help me be a bit more accountable to the actual numbers. I'm not trying to drastically reduce the numbers, but I'm hoping to at least read more each month than I acquire.

Here is how I fared in my debut month. If you want to see my ratings and links to those books that I reviewed, please visit my goodreads page here.

Incoming books: 18 (16 purchased, 2 sent via publisher)

Outgoing: 20 (12 books, 8 audiobooks)

Final result +2 (I had two more books coming off the tbr than I put on). I'm totally happy with that.......baby steps 🙂

Hope you had a good reading month, now on to May!