Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

review:

What in the everloving world did I just read and I mean this in the best possible way. Holy smokes, man, that was a firecracker of a book.

This is like nothing I’ve ever, ever read before, but I’m having a similar reaction as to when I read Caroline Kepnes’ YOU. It’s a little something like this: I don’t know if I liked it but I can appreciate it for being something completely unique and compelling, yet dark and disturbing. In fact, I would give it a full 5 stars for sheer originality, creativity and literary merit, but would I recommend this? Not so sure.

The character of Lavinia was hugely fascinating and once again, like nothing I’ve ever seen. I could read a whole book on her life story, and would love to see her portrayed on the silver screen in a film adaptation.

I honestly had to put this one down several times because it was giving me anxiety. Which is kind of a compliment to the strength of the writing. I don’t want to get into the plot here – do me a favor, skip the synopsis, don’t read any reviews and just check it out. If you have thick skin. And are in the mood for a little darkness.

And now I need to go read something light and fluffy.

Thank you to Doubleday books and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

Personal Update

Hi friends.

Things have been quieter than usual here – we went to Washington DC for the weekend which was lovely and wonderful, we even got a break from this never ending winter weather with a beautiful, sunny day in the 80’s. We accidentally stumbled upon a free White House garden tour (pictured above) which was absolutely the highlight of the weekend.

Unfortunately, when we returned home, I developed a sickness that just won’t go away. So while I’m stuck in bed, I have a plethora of reading time, but I haven’t had the brain power to write an articulate review to save my life.

I finished The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett which I absolutely loved (5 star review coming soon) and I’m currently reading Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton which will be out in June. It is a dark, disturbing tale, like I’ve never ever read before, and I’m getting Caroline Kepnes vibes like crazy.

I hope you’re all having a great week. What are you reading?

Review: Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

synopsis:

Angela is being held in a police interrogation room. Her ex’s wife has gone missing and Detective Novak is sure Angela knows something, despite her claim that she’s not involved.

At Novak’s prodding, Angela tells a story going back ten years, explaining how she met and fell in love with her high school friend HP. But as her past unfolds, she reveals a disconcerting love triangle and a dark, tangled web of betrayals. Is Angela a scorned ex-lover with criminal intent? Or a pawn in someone else’s revenge scheme? Who is she protecting? And why?

review:

A captivating and addictive mystery with a coming of age story at its heart.

I absolutely loved the structure of the narrative in this one – we have Angela who is being questioned by the police, and the story unfolds as she reveals her history to the detective. I thought this was super creative and really kept the pace moving for me.

There are some characters here who are a hot, hot mess which are sometimes my favorite to read about! – – What makes these people tick? Why are they the way they are? Nay has done a great job in a short amount of pages to develop these characters and to make us feel like we know them. And what a doozy of a conclusion – great up until the last sentence!

Speaking of a short amount of pages, coming in at 228 p., I loved the length of this book, I feel like it really helped move things along and keeps the reader engaged.

Thank you to Roz Nay and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

Review: The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin

synopsis:

The perfect place to fall in love this summer…

Tori Graham is in need of a holiday. Trying to piece her heart back together after losing the love of her life, she escapes to Blossom Cottage, with its picturesque views of the sea. And plans to spend the summer in gorgeous Sandcastle Bay, where her best friend Melody Rosewood lives.

Tori’s not expecting her summer by the beach to be eventful, until she meets handsome and mysterious Aidan Jackson…

Aidan looks after the holiday cottage Tori is staying in. Healing from past hurts, he wants to avoid any further chance of heartache. But could this newcomer be the breath of fresh air he needs?

Finding herself embracing life in the coastal community, Tori starts to fall in love with Sandcastle Bay and its welcoming cast of residents. But that’s not all she begins to fall for, as Tori is swept away by Aidan’s genuine heart and mischievous sense of humour. The attraction between them is undeniable, but will a simple holiday romance be enough?

As Tori’s stay in Sandcastle Bay comes to an end she has a tough decision to make…. Has her heart found a new place to call home?

review:

If you’re in a funk and need a little sunshine in your life, or need to be reminded that love can be beautiful, pick up a Holly Martin book.

So super romantic, fun and cozy – it’s no secret here that I’m an Anglophile, and I am bound and determined to move to Seashell Cove where everything is idyllic. Really, though, at least a vacation there would be nice!

There are likable characters and a lot of laugh out loud moments, but with a healthy dose of serious situations thrown in so that it’s not too sweet. Just the right amount of sweetness to make for a satisfying read.

There are also some very steamy scenes, so heads up whether that’s your thing or not!

Thank you to Holly Martin and Bookcouture for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

4 stars

Review: The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

synopsis:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

review:

This is a domestic/psychological thriller, heavier on the domestic side which kind of threw me for a loop.

I always love a dual perspective novel, and this one added another dimension – the first part of the story is told from journal entries and the conversational tone of the narrative was unique.

This one just went in a different direction than I was expecting, and I think that because my expectations weren’t met, I was a bit thrown. It is difficult, as an avid reader of this genre, to be surprised and it is truly because of my personal expectations that this one didn’t head where I thought it would go. I encourage readers to try this one for themselves!

Thank you to Netgalley, Berkley, and Simon Lelic for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: How To Raise Kind Kids by Thomas Lickona

synopsis:

Can you teach a child to be kind?

This vital question is taking on a new urgency as our culture grows ever more abrasive and divided.

We all want our kids to be kind. But that is not the same as knowing what to do when you catch your son being unkind. A world-renowned developmental psychologist, Dr. Thomas Lickona has led the character education movement in schools for forty years. Now he shares with parents the vital tools they need to bring peace and foster cooperation at home. Kindness doesn’t stand on its own. It needs a supporting cast of other essential virtues–like courage, self-control, respect, and gratitude.

With concrete examples drawn from the many families Dr. Lickona has worked with over the years and clear tips you can act on tonight, How to Raise Kind Kids will help you give and get respect, hold family meetings to tackle persistent problems, discipline in a way that builds character, and improve the dynamic of your relationship with your children while putting them on the path to a happier and more fulfilling life.

review:

If you ask me one thing I want my children to be when they grow up, it is to be kind. It’s something I work on diligently with them above all else, as I want to raise boys who are kind, respectful and loving. So far I think we’re doing a pretty good job, but when I saw this book I knew I had to read it to get more ideas!

This book gives very interesting anecdotes, studies and other information to discuss the issues of the decline in kindness in modern times, especially in American culture.

It’s not a major theme, but there are religious undertones so I thought I’d throw it out there in case it appeals to you or not.

Definitely recommend this one to parents!

Thank you to Penguin Books, Thomas Lickona and Netgalley for a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars

Review: Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully

synopsis:

When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.

Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.

Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

review:

3.5 rounded up stars because I definitely shed a tear!

This one had a slow start but really picked up pace at about the halfway point, and once it did, I was all in. A sad, touching love story in the midst of the atrocities of World War II and a mystery to discover what really happened all those years ago.

In the Acknowledgements, the author mentioned that she drew from a true family story pulled from letters and diaries passed along the years. And if this isn’t any historical fiction fan’s dream, I don’t know what is – oh how I would love to discover an old diary of my ancestors to learn about what life was really like back then!

This one will definitely pull at your heartstrings; it even has a Kate Morton feel in its structure – there is love and mystery and several timelines and fairy tales. Recommend to readers of historical fiction.

Thank you to Will at Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of this book!