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The Silent Sister

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is TheSilentSisteralive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. 

My review..............5 stars

Oh my, what a wonderful read! I've read several books by Diane Chamberlain, but this is the best one yet! The story was riveting, there were several things that I never saw coming, the characters were really well done. I can't say enough good things about this book. I read it in two days, I couldn't put it down! If I had to try to come up with anything to pick on, it would be that I thought the ending was a little too tidy. But that is a small quibble, and honestly I liked the way it ended, so it worked for me.

I had the pleasure of attending the release event for this book. Diane lives near me, and is involved in doing author events at my local Indie bookstore. It was great to hear her speak about how this book came about (from a story her writer-brother had shown her). She also told a fun fact about the two police officers she interviewed for this book. After getting a ton of information from them, her editor told her to ditch the police officers and write more about the brother. We were all chuckling about the officers who thought they were going to be in a bestselling book........and then weren't 🙂 The real point of the story was of course, the amount of research an author sometimes does (that may not even be used), and the importance of an editor (to decide what works and what doesn't). She did talk briefly about her next book that she is currently working on. The only thing I remember is that it should be out next fall, and it has dancer (or dancing) in the title.

Here are a couple of pictures from the event. Thank you to fellow book blogger Tanya (Mom's Small Victories) for taking the one of me with Diane 🙂
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Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore for this one! Next fall seems like a long time to wait for the next Diane Chamberlain fix.

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I love Christmas/holiday/winter themed books so I'm going to be participating in my first ever read-a-thon! Anyone want to join me? You don't have to be a book blogger to join. Head on over here for the rules, and happy reading!!

 

To check my daily progress, and what I'm reading, please head over here to this post.

 

Back by popular demand, Jennifer @ The Book Shelfery  and Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer are once again hosting the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon. So break out the cocoa, the coffee, and cookies! Grab those holiday theme books and bring your holiday spirit. Prepare to enter challenges, win prizes, meet new friends and Twitter chat with us. You can join for a day or sit by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway.

 

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We love holiday themed reads from the covers to the warm & fuzzy tales on the inside. For this read-a-thon you must read holiday themed or winter setting reads. For bloggers, we have spoken to most of the main publishing houses and for ARCS of holiday books released in Sept/Oct, they are fine with you posting a review in November and December since that is when folks look to buy them. For our non-blogger friends you can join too. Just link your Goodreads, Tumblr or Facebook account.

 

 

 

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Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic #2)

The irresistible heroine of Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Ties the Knot is back! And this time Becky Bloomwood and her credit cards are headed across the Atlantic....
With her shopping excesses (somewhat) in check and her career as a TV financial guru thriving, Becky's biggest problem seems to be tearing her entrepreneur boyfriend, Luke, away from work for a romantic country weekend. And worse, figuring out how to pack light. But packing takes on a whole new meaning when Luke announces he's moving to New York for business--and he asks Becky to go with him! Before you can say "Prada sample sale," Becky has landed in the Big Apple, home of Park Avenue penthouses and luxury boutiques.
Surely it's only a matter of time until she becomes an American TV celebrity, and she and Luke are the toast of Gotham society. Nothing can stand in their way, especially with Becky's bills miles away in London. But then an unexpected disaster threatens her career prospects, her relationship with Luke, and her available credit line! Shopaholic Takes Manhattan--but will she have to return it?

My review...........4 stars

I finished this book a couple days ago, but decided to wait until today to post my review since this is the release day of book #7 in this series! I had read the first book (Confessions of a Shopaholic) a few years ago, but wanted to continue a bit with the series before the new one makes its way to my TBR pile. I had also recently read some rather intense books, and knew this one would be a light, fun escape. That is exactly what I got! I know these books are not for everyone (most reviewers seem to either love them or hate them), but I like that they can make me laugh out loud while reading! Other than the fact that I do enjoy shopping, I am nothing at ShopaholicTakesManhattan'all like the main character Becky Bloomwood. Her forays into debt, because of her shopping addiction, is probably what turns people off from these books, but I can separate that this is a fictional character! Her mounting debt from shopping, and the resulting ways she deals with it, are what makes the story work. In this book we also have the added benefit of her boyfriend Luke, a character I love because he ultimately accepts Becky for who she is, the bad and the good. I had fun with the setting of NYC, since I've been there several times, and know most of the places (and shops) she talks about.

My advice, if you're not sure about these books, would be to pick one up at the library or at a used book shop, and try them out. Even if you are not a fan of Becky Bloomwood, you really should try another book by this author (there are several that are stand alone books). I guarantee you will find yourself laughing wile reading, as well as enjoying a darn good story.

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The Same Sky: A Novel

In this heartrending and poignant novel, award-winning author Amanda Eyre Ward tells the story of Alice Conroe, a forty year old Texas barbecue owner who has the perfect life, except she and her husband long for a child. Unable to conceive, she’s trying desperately to adopt but her destiny is quickly altered by a young woman she’s never met.

Fearless thirteen-year-old Carla Trujilio is being raised by her grandmother in Honduras along with her four year old twin brothers. Her mother is sending money home from Texas where she’s trying to make a better life for her family, but she only has enough to bring one son to her. When Carla’s grandmother dies, Carla decides to take her fate into her own hands and embarks on a dangerous journey across the border with Junior, the twin left behind.

Two powerful journeys intersecting at a pivotal moment in time: Alice and Carla’s lives will be forever and profoundly changed. Heartbreaking, emotional, and arresting, this novel is about finding the courage to trail blaze your own path in life with faith, hope and love, no matter the struggle or the tragedy.

My review.........4.5 stars
Oh my goodness, what a gem of a novel! Wonderfully written, told in alternating chapters from the two main characters, Alice and Carla. While both stories were great, I absolutely fell in love with Carla! What an inspiring girl, Ward has written her perfectly. You do figure out how it's going to end before the actual ending, but the last entry from Carla had me bawling (I'm not going to reveal whether it was tears of sadness or joy, you have to read this to find out!). I would TheSameSkyLOVE a sequel to this book, and hope the author decides to make one. I couldn't get enough of these characters, and there were enough loose ends to warrant reading more of them.
This is my first novel by this author, and you can bet I'm going to go back and read some of her previous work! I got this book from netgalley for an advance review. The actual release date is January 27, 2015. I wish it was closer, many may forget about it by then, so go put it on your wish lists, tbr lists, whatever method you have. You don't want to miss this one.

Lost Lake

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?Sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again.

My review.........3 stars
I've been looking to read this book since it's release back in January. For some reason, I didn't purchase it when it came out, and by the time I got to the library for it, the waiting list was miles long! I was puttering around on book outlet the other day (a very dangerous place to be....lol) when I spotted it! At about 70% off, how could I resist?
LostLakeI thought this book was a pleasurable, pretty fast read. I think there were a lot of characters, so I didn't feel like any of them were given time to be fully developed. I also did not like the magic parts of the alligator, but that is just me. Anytime I read the words magic, dystopian, sci-fi, on a book synopsis, I'm usually not likely to pick it up (with a few exceptions). It was not distracting enough in this book to keep me from continuing to read it, but I kind of wish it had not been there at all.
This was my first book I've read from this author, and I know others have gotten great reviews, so it will definitely not be my last. She has a new one coming out in January, and the cover is to die for (yes, I'm a sucker for a beautiful book cover!).
Enjoyable read if you can pick it up on sale or at the library.

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Hello From the Gillespies

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways....

My Review............3.5 stars
The premise of this book was so clever, and something I felt had not been done before, which I really appreciate having read as many books as I do. I love reading the annual Christmas letters from friends (and I have sent them myself), but they almost always portray only the good things that have happened over the years (with the occasional reference to an elderly parent dying). This woman pours her heart out with what is really happening to her family, never intending for the letter to be sent.......but by mistake, it gets sent out! The book is pretty much the fallout of the reactions to the letter. I say pretty much, because it gets a bit lost from the topic during the second half. I loved the first half of the book, but it almost started to take on a soap opera-ish feel in the middle of the book. It did get back on track as far as the character study of the family. I particularly liked the way she wrote the young son Ig into the second half. I did like the writing style, and I did want to find out how all the characters made out at the end of the book.
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Overall, a good (but lengthy) read. Had it not been for the divergence from the original plot, I most likely would have given it another star.
This book is being released on November 4, 2014. I've seen other versions of the cover, so this may not be the US cover. I really like this cover, as it ties into something significant in the book, so I hope they keep it. Thanks to netgalley.com for the advance review.

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My husband and I are currently building a new beach house. This will likely be our main home once our two daughters are out of the house. When we looked at the house plans, I made it very clear that having bookshelves built around the fireplace was an absolute MUST HAVE! He could have anything he wanted in the way of kitchen stuff, I only had three things on my list: a walk-in closet with custom shelves (anyone see a pattern with me and shelving?), a pool (to relax and read by, of course), and bookshelves! We went to check on progress over the weekend, and while the house is about 3 weeks from completion, my shelves are up!! They are not finished yet, but I'm so excited about them. I can't wait to update my header photo, after I get them loaded up.  🙂

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Five Days Left

Destined to be a book club favorite, a heart-wrenching debut about two people who must decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice for love.
Mara Nichols, a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and adoptive mother, has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most. Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance, the power of relationships, and that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go.  

My review.............4 stars
Let me preface this review by suggesting that you have some tissues handy at all times. I cried (the first time) at 75 pages in! Do not let that influence you in thinking this is some sappy novel. The subject matter surrounding the two main characters is just the sort of thing that makes me weepy. Ask my family and you will know that this is not hard to do, I can be seen blubbering over the Hallmark commercials on tv 🙂
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The story involves two people who are very indirectly related through a web site chat room. I absolutely loved the character of Mara, and had the book been just her story, I would have easily given it five stars. The story of Scott, while still good, left me feeling a bit ho-hum. I thought it was too predictable, and something that I've read before. I would give his part of the story three stars, hence my overall 4 star rating.
You must read this for Mara's story! Try out the Scott parts, and if you like them, by all means read the entire book. If you are left feeling that you are reading his parts to get back to Mara, just read the Mara parts. It is not the kind of book where you need to read both characters or you will be left confused at the end. I'm still thinking about Mara several days after finishing the story........always the sign of a great read!! Don't miss this one!

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All the Light We Cannot See

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

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My review...........2 stars
I've had this book on my tbr pile for awhile, and when I saw that it is nominated for the national book award, I decided it was time to pick it up. I so wanted to love this book, it's getting glowing reviews. As is often the case, I don't very often like the books that get nominated for prestigious book awards 🙁  I thought this book was dull, and drawn out, and honestly, not much happens. Sure, it takes place during WWII, so there is that, but the story just didn't grab me like several other books I've read that take place during this time. It also bounces around, not only from one main character to the other (which I didn't mind), but from the present to the past. It just made for confusion, and could have been told in chronological order without destroying anything in my opinion. I did stay engaged enough in Marie Laure's story to keep reading, but I really couldn't get into Werner's character at all. I also felt that the description of the plot was rather deceiving. It makes it sound like the characters interact way more than is the case. Perhaps I would have liked them better if they had been together for more of the book.
I'm giving this one star for not disliking it so much that I couldn't finish, and adding another star for the fact that there is some beautiful writing involved. The descriptions are lovely, and I thought the author did an excellent job writing about Marie Laure (who is blind). I wouldn't recommend this, but as I've stated above, I am not in the majority, lots of 5 stars for this book.

Christmas on Chestnut Street: A Novel

In this enchanting holiday novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer, family and friends gather on Nantucket for a gorgeous winter wedding with plenty of merry surprises in store.

As Christmas draws near, Felicia returns to her family’s home on the island to marry her adventurous, rugged boyfriend, Archie. Every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding: the snow-dusted streets, twinkling lights in the windows, a gorgeous red and white satin dress. Except a lavish ceremony is not Felicia’s dream at all; it’s what her mother, Jilly, wants. Jilly’s also worried that her daughter’s life with daredevil Archie will be all hiking and skydiving. Wondering if their handsome neighbor Steven Hardy might be a more suitable son-in-law, Jilly embarks on a secret matchmaking campaign for Felicia and the dashing stockbroker.

As the big day approaches and Jilly’s older daughter, Lauren, appears with rambunctious kids in tow, tensions in the household are high. With the family careening toward a Yuletide wedding disaster, an unexpected twist in Nancy Thayer’s heartwarming tale reminds everyone about the true meaning of the season.

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My Review...........3.5 stars
Cute, fast, fun read that even had me (who hates snow) longing to spend a Christmas season on Nantucket 🙂 I loved the fact that when I started reading, I thought I knew how it was going to end, and was sort of groaning inside, that it would be so typical of a lot of other books in this genre. Without giving anything away, it did not end this way, and for that I was grateful, and liked it even more. The writing style is pretty simplistic, so don't go into this thinking you are going to have anything more than a light, pleasurable read. For me, that is often enough, especially if I'm reading something kind of heavy at the same time. There are several characters in the book that you change your initial attitude about as the story progresses, or at least I did.
This is the perfect book to pick up before the holiday season. I was given a copy to preview by netgalley, so I am reading/reviewing it before it's release date of October 28th. I think if I had waited until November to read it, I probably would have bumped up my review to 4 stars.