April 2015 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

All posts tagged April 2015 – Book Bridgr/NetGalley/Kindle/ARC Month

Mini Pin-It Reviews #3 – Four Books From NetGalley

Published October 13, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Hi everyone and welcome to my third edition of pin-it reviews where I’ll be focusing on four books that I got from the wonderful NetGalley.

1 – Divinity And The Python – Bonnie Randall

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What’s it all about?:

Divinity – Where desire and deception both hide in the dark

The Cards Forecast Work
Shaynie Gavin is so much more than the sexy siren who mixes cocktails at The Python. A carpenter with a business plan, Shaynie is trying to amass enough funds to launch her own dream – Divinity, a place where up-cycled furniture from the past is sold alongside Tarot readings forecasting the future – and all in a setting that could not be more perfect: a former funeral parlor. Shaynie’s belief that Divinity is attuned with the passions, the loves, and even the lies of its departed souls, allow her to feel satisfied when the cards she draws there reveal Wands, the Tarot’s symbol for work. And yet…Shaynie would be so grateful if the Tarot would also, just once, illuminate a Hellnight from her past. A lost evening whose scars still slither over her skin, Hellnight haunts Shaynie. Yet when she calls the question of that chilling evening into her deck…

The Cards Forecast Love
…and love appears in the form of pro hockey star Cameron Weste. Weste is haunted by scars and superstitions of his own, and he wants Shaynie’s Tarot to answer far deeper questions than she first guesses this sexy lothario to be capable of. Who knew Weste was this intense? The Tarot, apparently. And yet…

The Cards Forecast The Devil
When Cameron Weste lands in her life, a stalker surfaces too, dropping clues to a connection between Shaynie, Cameron, and her lost, brutal Hellnight. Suddenly every card warns of deception, and nowhere feels safe. Shaynie and Cameron have to fight for their love – and their lives – as The Devil, their stalker, is determined to turn the Death Card for them both.

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Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2- If You Could See What I See – Cathy Lamb

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What’s it all about?:

In this moving, insightful new novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb delves into the heart of going home again, the challenge of facing loss—and the freedom of finally letting go…

For decades, the women in Meggie O’Rourke’s family have run Lace, Satin, and Baubles, a lingerie business that specialises in creations as exquisitely pretty as they are practical. The dynamic in Meggie’s family, however, is perpetually dysfunctional. In fact, if Meggie weren’t being summoned back to Portland, Oregon, by her grandmother, she’d be inclined to stay away all together.

Since her husband’s death a year ago, Meggie’s emotions have been in constant flux, and so has her career as a documentary film maker. Finding ways to keep the family business afloat—and dealing with her squabbling sister and cousin—will at least give her a temporary focus. To draw customers to their website, Meggie decides to interview relatives and employees about their first bras and favorite lingerie. She envisions something flip and funny, but the confessions that emerge are unexpectedly poignant. There are stories of first loves and aching regrets, passionate mistakes and surprising rendezvous. And as the revelations illuminate her family’s past, Meggie begins to find her own way forward.

With warmth and unflinching humour, If You Could See What I See explores the tender truths we keep close—and what can happen when we find the courage to bare them to the world.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3 – Vatican Waltz – Roland Merullo

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What’s it all about?:

This book is for those who want a journey of the soul. What were your feelings about God, the Divine, your own soul when you were growing up? Did you go to the church of your parents? Being in that building, where your family said their prayers, did it inspire you also?

This book is about a young girl growing up with the gift of being a mystic. Sometimes, no words are needed to reach the heart of Divine love. Silence is the fare for admission to the land where you encounter the God/Goddess.
This young girl grows up with the gift of contemplative prayer. She shares her prayer life with her parish priest, who sees before him a future saint in the making. She receives messages from the Divine voice & visions that the Catholic Church in America is dying. Little or no vocations to the Priesthood. Her visions tell Her its time for Women to become Priests, like in the times of the Apostles. This voice is so strong that Her parish priest writes to an archbishop, who is willing to see Her. This archbishop doesn’t share Her vision for the catholic Church, for Women have been banned for centuries. But he sees that this young Woman is special. He can’t put his finger on it though.
So, He asks someone higher up, in the holy city of Rome, the Vatican, to see Her.

And off goes this young, innocent Woman, on a plane for the 1st time. But before She lands in Rome, a group of people knows She coming, and why. Would you have the faith, the trust in your soul, to obey the Divine voice & visions? This is an unexpected journey, full of excitement, danger & perhaps a change in the wind. Take this trip of the spirit. It could one day be yours to make also.

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Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4- Beloved Strangers: A Memoir – Maria Chaudhuri

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What’s it all about?:

On and on we dream, we wish, we love – no matter that the dreams come to an end, the wishes evolve or that love dissipates like dust in the wind. Perhaps, what matters only is that we have lived long enough to dream, hard enough to wish and indisputably enough to love. One of Maria’s early memories growing up in Dhaka is of planning to run away with her friend Nadia. Even then, Maria couldn’t quite figure out why she longed to escape. It is not that home is an unhappy place. It’s just that in her family, joy is ephemeral. With a mother who yearns for the mountains, the solitude and freedom to pursue her own dreams and career, and a charismatic but distant father who finds it difficult to expresses emotion, they are never able to hold on to happiness for very long. Maria studies the Holy Book, says her daily prayers and wonders if God is watching her. She dreams, like her mother, of unstitching the seam of her life.

It is her neighbour, Bablu, the Imitator of Frogs, who both excites and repulses Maria by showing her a yellowing pornographic magazine, but it is Mala, a girl her own age who comes to work in their house, whose wise eyes and wicked smile makes her dizzy with longing. When she moves to New England for university at eighteen Maria meets Yameen, a man who lives in a desperately squalid apartment in Jersey City, woos her with phone calls and a marathon night of drinking in New York bars, and is not what he seems… From Dhaka to New York, this is a candid and moving account of growing up and growing away, a meditation on why people leave their homes and why they sometimes find it difficult to return. “Beloved Strangers” is an unforgettable memoir marking the arrival of a brilliant new voice from Bangladesh.

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Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP SOON ON MY PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Books That Fall Into My “Random” Category!

The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry #2) – Rachel Joyce

Published August 21, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

From the author of the 2 million+ copy, worldwide bestseller,The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, an exquisite, funny and heartrending parallel story.

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.

Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novel about the journey we all must take to learn who we are; it is about loving and letting go. And most of all it is about finding joy in unexpected places and at times we least expect.

What did I think?:

Rachel Joyce’s debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry makes its way onto my favourite books of all-time list so it was simply a no-brainer that I was going to read this one, a companion novel to the Harold Fry story, when it came out. The Love Song Of Queenie Hennessy can be read as a stand alone, but to be honest, I think its best if you read Harold Fry first, to get a real flavour of the characters and understand why Harold decides to walk all those miles to visit Queenie in the hospice when he receives her letter that tells him she is dying.

From the very beginning of Harold Fry, I started to fall in love with the character of Queenie and was ecstatic beyond words when I heard that she was going to get her very own voice and we would hear her side of the story. When Queenie hears what Harold is doing, she is both shocked and very excited but feels there are some things that Harold needs to know, things that she has been keeping hidden all these years and a tragedy that she feels responsible for. The kindly nuns suggest that Queenie writes Harold another letter to explain all of this as due to the cancer, Queenie can sadly no longer talk so Queenie does just that.

One letter turns into a epic mountain of a task, with the nuns having to tape the pen to Queenie’s hand so she can carry on writing near the end – she is determined to finish and adamant that she will stay alive until he arrives. Through Queenie’s words we learn about her early life, when she was a young woman and first met Harold, her trials and tribulations through her life, especially with Harold’s son, David, and her beloved sea garden that she constructs and people come from miles around to see.  Not only do we learn more about the sweetness that is Queenie with her unrequited love and admiration for Harold but a whole host of whimsical characters in the hospice like Pearly King and the fiesty, foul-mouthed (but ever so loveable) Finty who also find their own determination to live to see Harold Fry arrive.

This novel ticked all the right boxes for me in terms of an amazing plot and stupendous characterisation, which I already knew about from Harold Fry but it was lovely to hear the secrets and drama behind Queenie’s life. Oh my gosh, the sadness though….I remember wanting to cry at the end of Harold Fry but at the end of Queenie Hennessy, Rachel Joyce actually succeeded in making me a sobbing mess – in a good way of course! The prose again was flawless and truly beautiful and the moments of humour combined with the tragedy of it all floored me on many occasions. One of my friends on GoodReads has suggested that there could be a third book, told from the perspective of Harold’s wife, Maureen and I have to admit, I’d love her to give it a shot. Please Rachel Joyce, please?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

Published May 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

EVERYDAY THE SAME

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

What did I think?:

The Girl On The Train is the debut novel from author Paula Hawkins and when it first came out early last year there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Of course, I’m a bit of a sucker for hype and I knew I had to read it to check out what the fuss was all about. I do get a teensy bit annoyed (like some other bloggers I’m sure) when a book is declared “the next *insert name of very popular book here,* in this case it was “The next Gone Girl,” because I didn’t really feel it had too many similarities with Gone Girl to be honest! The book stands on its own as a great psychological thriller, a story with an edge and multiple twists that is exciting to read and intricately plotted leaving me in glorious anticipation over what the author may do next.

My favourite thing about this book (and where I think it is most comparable to Gone Girl) is the number of unreliable narrators. We mainly hear from Rachel who is divorced, a bit overweight and incredibly unhappy. She has a very shaky relationship with her ex-husband, relies a smidge too much on alcohol to see her through each day – to the point where she has actually lost her job. Too ashamed to tell anyone, which might actually lead to her having to face her problems she continues to get the same train into work each day, manages to fill each day randomly which usually involves drinking then gets the train home again when her working day should have officially ended.

Her train route passes by her old house which her ex-husband now shares with his new wife, Anna and their baby girl, tellingly something that Rachel herself was unable to give him. However, it is a house close to her old homestead that catches her eye whilst on the train. Every morning she watches a couple break-fasting together on their terrace and soon begins to fantasise about their fairy-tale life together, even naming them “Jess and Jason.” One particular day, when looking for her favourite couple, she witnesses something that shocks her to her core.

Unable to rest until she gets to the bottom of what has occurred, Rachel drags herself into the couple’s life which leads to her forming a separate link to her ex-husband and his wife again. Prone to black-outs from her drinking benders, can Rachel’s accounts ever be trusted? And what of our other unreliable narrators Anna and Megan (the female half of the couple Rachel views from the train)? I’m not going to spoil why they’re unreliable, I think the less you know going into this novel, the better but believe me, you’ll be scratching your head to unravel the convoluted plot that Paula Hawkins has magically woven. This is a truly thrilling story for fans of the genre, is certainly one I’ll be re-visiting in the future and I’m already eagerly awaiting the author’s next novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Noah’s Rainy Day – Sandra Brannan

Published March 18, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

From birth, Noah Hogarty has lived with severe cerebral palsy. He is nearly blind, unable to speak, and cannot run, walk, or crawl. Yet his mind works just as well as any other twelve-year-old’s—maybe even better. And Noah holds a secret dream: to become a great spy, following in the footsteps of his aunt, Liv “Boots” Bergen.

Now, freshly returned from training at Quantico, FBI agent Liv Bergen is thrown into her first professional case. Working side by side with veteran agent Streeter Pierce, enigmatic agent and lover Jack Linwood, and her bloodhound Beulah, Liv must race to find five-year-old Max—last seen at the Denver International Airport—before this Christmastime abduction turns deadly. Meanwhile Noah, housebound, becomes wrapped up in identifying the young face he sees watching him from his neighbor’s bedroom window, but he can neither describe nor inscribe what he knows.

And his investigation may lead to Noah paying the ultimate price in fulfilling his dream.

Noah’s Rainy Day (the fourth novel in Brannan’s mystery series) combines classic Liv Bergen irreverence and brainpower with an unflinching look at the darkest of human motivations, all while a whirlpool of increasingly terrifying events threatens to engulf Liv and Noah both in one final rainy day.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to both NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group Press for allowing me to read a copy of Noah’s Rainy Day in exchange for an honest review. I really love being part of NetGalley, it has thrown very few “bloopers” my way and often, you can find a real gem of a book, which is what I felt about this novel. It is the fourth in the author’s Liv Bergen series and I always worry about reading a middle-of-the-series book (purely a personal thing, I’m very particular to the point of obsessive compulsive about reading things in order!). I needn’t have worried though, this novel stands on its own as a great mystery with some fantastic characters that I’m now very much looking forward to reading more about in the previous and future releases in this series.

Liv Bergen has just qualified as an FBI agent after quitting a job she didn’t particularly enjoy but it looks like her first official case as a Special Agent will affect her in ways she could have never predicted. A five year old boy Max, seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth after his multi-millionaire father packed him onto a flight so that he could spend Christmas with his supermodel mother (the couple are divorced). The flight had a stop-over in Denver and as an unaccompanied minor, Max was being looked after by an airport employee however when he becomes distracted, Max is whisked away and is now officially missing, presumed kidnapped. A ton of pressure is being placed on Liv and her team’s shoulders, particularly as the parents are minor celebrities and the case is getting a lot of press. Liv is fully aware that there often a crucial time limit on missing children before the situation escalates and the child in question is at high risk of being killed.

The star of this story for me however was not our fiesty, caring FBI Agent Liv, but her nephew, Noah Hogarty, whose personality and resilience shine right through the pages to make this a fantastic, unputdownable read. Noah was born with Cerebral Palsy and is confined most days to his wheelchair unable to talk, move around a great deal, is partially blind and prone to terrible seizures. His Aunt Liv is one of the most important people in his life and unlike many who come into contact with him, treats and talks to him like an adult. She has the strength of mind to see past his disability and is aware of his high intelligence and compassion for others, often bringing him little gifts and gadgets so that he can learn to be a “spy” like her – one of his dreams.

Liv and her team are having a tough time coming up with any leads to explain little Max’s disappearance and his current whereabouts, even after scouring through hours of CCTV footage from the airport. We as the reader on the other hand know exactly what has happened to Max and terrifyingly, so too does Noah for reasons I will not disclose. Noah is desperate to try and make the adults in his life, namely Liv and his mother understand that he has vital information that could lead to the recovery of Max but being unable to talk/write/etc is proving quite an impenetrable barrier. Then the tables turn and Noah’s life too becomes in very real danger – can Liv put all the clues together to save her beloved nephew before it is too late?

I was really pleasantly surprised with this book. I didn’t have any expectations going in as I hadn’t read the other books in the series or the author before but I was delighted to get a novel that was full of excitement and drama yet also full of heart. As I mentioned, Noah was the stand-out character in the book but I also loved his relationship with his sister Emma and how they learned to communicate with each other using “the five finger method,” where each finger and knuckle of a hand represented a number or letter of the alphabet. At times, this was also quite a frustrating read but only in a good way as I was well aware of what was going on, it was just waiting for every other character to catch up! Anyone who enjoys a good mystery and a tense, thrilling read will really enjoy this story and I must also applaud the author for writing about a character with a disability who, like anyone, is just a normal person that deserves love and understanding.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Strange Girls And Ordinary Women – Morgan McCarthy

Published March 10, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

They say you know instinctively who to trust.

Alice is normal; she’d never do anything rash. But when she sees her husband one day with a younger girl, she knows at once that he’s having an affair. And it must be stopped.

Vic loves her friend Michael, more than he knows. He wants happiness, and thinks he’s found it with the magnetic Estella. But Vic feels sure she can’t be trusted – and she needs to make Michael see that too.

They don’t know Kaya; her life is tougher than they can imagine. But Kaya’s a survivor, and she’s determined to find a way out of her miserable world.

Three women, three lives that come crashing together in this dark, lyrical and utterly enthralling story of warped perceptions, female intuition and ‘the other woman’.

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to Book Bridgr (the fantastic site which provides books to eager book bloggers like myself) and to Tinder Press for allowing me to read a copy of this intriguing novel in return for an honest review. I’ve never read anything by the author, Morgan McCarthy before and I’m always keen to try new authors especially those that capture my attention with an eye-catching title and a tag-line that states: “We all see what we want to see.”

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women is a story told in three separate parts from three very different and independent women, the style of which took a little while to get used to but once I got each character established in my head I really enjoyed reading about each one individually. We have Alice, a “normal” housewife who is married to Jasper but her world is about to change forever when suspecting him of having an affair, she follows him and sees him meeting a younger woman. Then there is Vic, British born but living in Madeira where she manages a hotel that was formerly owned by her parents. Vic has had quite an interesting life and flirted quite seriously with Catholicism when she was younger, led into it by her childhood friend Kate who then passed away. When Vic’s oldest and very good friend Michael moves back to the island, Vic is ecstatic but less so about his girlfriend Estella as she has strong suspicions that there is something not right about her. Finally, my favourite character of the book – Kaya who has had a tough childhood trying to look after her alcoholic mother, Louise. Attempting to sever some ties and reclaim control over her life, Kaya moves in with a friend and makes money by stripping in an exclusive club. This is merely a short-term measure however as Kaya has many plans and ambitions for her future, things that may come to fruition when one of her rich (and married) client takes a fancy to her.

When you first begin this book, you wonder how there could be a connection between three such different women but there is a definite link that once discovered will have you quickly thumbing through the pages to determine how it will all be resolved! Each woman has something about them that kept me wanting to read and those that seem predictable turn out to be quite the opposite in the end. I probably enjoyed Kaya’s story more than the other two women but they all managed to surprise me in some shape or form. The author also cleverly mixes in an open ending for the grand finale so the reader is left to make up their own mind about the direction some of the characters may have taken. Anyone who finds this particular style frustrating will probably not enjoy this but I personally found it quite refreshing and I enjoyed making up alternate futures for them all! For my first book from this particular author, it was a good solid read with some lovely prose and interesting ideas and I shall certainly be checking out more books in her back catalogue.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars