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Girl Well Read

Girl Well Read 

Published book reviewer, blogger of books & book lifestyle products, wine drinker and polka dot lover. I’d love to review your book next!  Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@girlwellread), Pintrest, Litsy, Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, and ReadFeed (Girl Well Read).

 

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest - Shari Lapena

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Lapena's debut The Couple Next Door was an instant hit and received rave reviews and I thought it was a solid effort.  Admittedly, I was underwhelmed by her second book, A Stranger in the House, and was unsure if I was going to give this one a go.  An Unwanted Guest is on par with The Couple Next Door and that was a 3 out of 5 stars.  It takes place at a secluded hotel and what unfolds is a thriller that is reminiscent of a classic mystery—think Agatha Christie.  

 

Mitchell's Inn, nestled in the Catskills, boasts a cozy atmosphere.  The stately rooms feature woodburning fireplaces and have just the right amount of nostalgia to be quaint, including no Wi-Fi or cell service.  

 

When a winter storm knocks out the power, all contact with the outside world is cut off.  The guests try to make the best of the situation until one of them turns up dead.  At first it appears to be an accident, but then a second guest dies and panic sets in.    

 

With everyone being a suspect, the guests have no choice but to weather the storm and each other.  

 

I liked how Lapena juxtaposed the violence of the storm against the violent acts of murder and thought the premise was very good.  The atmosphere and description saved the book because I was simply tired of the repetitious thoughts about who the killer is—the reader does not need to be reminded that each character needs to figure out which one of them is the killer.  Isn't that the whole point of the book?  

 

 

What baffles me is how removed Lapena is and this is the difference between 3 and 4 stars (to which she absolutely has the potential).  Given that it is told from multiple points of view, this should be a character-driven novel because the characters ought to have enough depth and ultimately are responsible for propelling the narrative.  But there is simply not enough distinction between their voices and for the most part, it feels like there is only one narrator.

 

I haven't given up on Lapena yet—she does has a way of engaging the reader right of the bat.  For the most part, her characters are well developed but their inner dialogues need work and she needs to ensure that they have a distinct voice if relying on their perspectives to tell the story.     

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Transcription: A Novel - Kate Atkinson

A special thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 she is enlisted to transcribe the conversations that take place in a bugged flat between Godfrey Toby, an MI5 agent, and a group of suspected fascist sympathizers.  At first the work seems dull, but then it becomes terrifying as Juliet is thrust into a world of secrets and code.  After the war ends, she thinks that her service is over that the event she transcribed are left in the past.

 

Fast forward ten years and Juliet is now a radio producer with the BBC.  Even though her past seems like a lifetime ago and Juliet has resigned herself to her more mundane life and work, she is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past.  Haunted by these relationships and her actions, Juliet cannot escape from the repercussions of her work.  Left with no choice, she is pulled back into a life of espionage.  

 

Atkinson is such a gifted writer.  I had the privilege of attending an event where she spoke at length about her research and writing process for Transcription.  Her writing is rare in that she brings humour to her narrative in such a subtle way.  Much of this is accomplished through Juliet trying to make sense of what she is listening to as well as through her naiveté.  Juliet is Atkinson's vehicle to make the events fictional.  She is "the girl".  Atkinson has described her as being "a smart character, but with an incredibly active imagination".  

 

In typical Atkinson fashion, the reader is treated to shifts in time and plot (things don't unfold sequentially).  You can certainly tell that she has done her research, the story that emerges is nothing short of original and extraordinary, and I encourage you to read the author's notes.  Transcription is a layered work of deception and consequences and a thrilling literary read.  

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Rain Watcher: A Novel - Tatiana de Rosnay

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Linden Malegarde has returned home to Paris from the United States where he lives with his partner.  It has been years since his family was all together.  They have reunited for the patriarch's birthday; Paul is celebrating a milestone and is turning 70.

 

The City of Lights is on the verge of a natural disaster when the Seine bursts and it floods the city.  Paris is as fragile as the Malegarde family's relationships—each member is trying to balance the delicate family dynamics.  Paul is a world-renowned arborist that only seems to have eyes for his grove of trees.  Lauren is his American wife who is determined to make the weekend a success.  Tilia, the blunt oldest child has an 18-year-old daughter Mistral who is adored by her uncle Linden.  Colin is Tilia's much older spouse, an elegant British art dealer that can no longer hid his drinking problem.  

 

And that leaves Linden.  He has never been comfortable in his own skin and never feels settled having grown up as an American in France, and a Frenchman in the US.  His relationship with his father has always been off.  Even though he is a successful and in demand photographer, he feels that he will always be a disappointment to his parents.

 

Bound by tragic events, the family must fight to remain united as secrets unfold and their greatest fears surface.

 

Set in Paris during a rainstorm, this gorgeous, haunting work was captivating from start to finish. 

de Rosnay's writing is elegant,  hypnotic, and incredibly moving.  The story is profound and intense, yet soft and beautiful.  I devoured this book in one sitting and would highly recommend.

 

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Although her grades were decent, and she had a boyfriend (albeit a not very attentive one), Penny Lee found high school to be incredibly mundane.  Penny wants to be a writer and is looking forward to going to college, even if it is only an hour away.  Maybe she can writer herself a new life, one that is not only more interesting, but one without an overbearing mother that dresses too young and tries too hard to be her friend.  

 

Sam is a mess.  He sleeps on a mattress on the floor of a spare room over the coffee shop where he works.  Sam is an aspiring filmmaker that can't afford to finish school and he is also struggling to get over a bad break up.    

 

When Sam and Penny meet through Jude who is Sam's ex-niece and Penny's new roommate, their first encounter is incredibly awkward.  In spite of that, the two exchange numbers and eventually text their way to a relationship where they share everything with each other.  It is much easier to type their fears, dreams, hopes, and anxieties than to say them face-to-face.  Sam and Penny become each other's "emergency contact".  

 

Choi pens some quirky, awkward, and angst ridden characters that at times seem too old in the way they conduct themselves, but it totally works.  She adds just the right element of conflict and the pace of the story is spot on.  This book is in the same vein as Eleanor & Park and I can see why fans of Rainbow Rowell also like this book so much.  Both authors have a flair for this genre and write complicated, yet endearing characters that stay with the reader long after the last page.  

 

My only criticism is with the timing, I'm a little confused.  Jude met Sam when she was seven.  She had an iPad.  iPads were introduced in 2010, so if she is seven in 2010, she would be 15 in 2018.  How is she old enough to go to college?  Did I miss something?   

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart  Turton

A special thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, HarperCollins and Sourcebooks Landmark for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  

 

"Nothing like a mask to reveal somebody's true nature."

 

Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden Bishop—one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party—can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again.

 

But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...

 

As far as any book goes, the concept is actually brilliant, especially for a debut.  The book is smart, (mostly) well-executed, and clever.  

 

Here's where my glowing review ends.  I was confused throughout and had to keep going back to reread parts which given the size of the book, was not ideal.  It was unclear at times as to which body Aidan was in and at what times.  There were also a lot of characters and it was challenging to keep them straight.  Having a character change their identity eight times is a gamble for Turton and he almost pulls it off.  Where he fails is that the reader questions how well they know and understand the characters—they are suspect because of all of the different identities inhabited.  

 

The premise, as mentioned, is fantastic.  When you read the synopsis, there is definite intrigue, but actually reading it was a whole other matter.  I was left disinterested around day six.  There was some unnecessary bulk at this point in the storyline and hopefully this will be resolved in the published product.  My final thought is that given the level of detail, the number of players, and the intricate plot, this should have been a series.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

 

Are you ready to sign up?  When Jessica Farris stumbles upon an opportunity to get paid to participate in a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she jumps at the chance to earn some much needed extra money.  All she has to do is answer a few questions, collect her payment, and be done with it.  But when the questions become more personal and intense, and Jess is placed in scenarios rather than just answering questions on a computer, she feels that Dr. Shields is playing a game with her—it appears the good doctor knows what she is thinking and what she is hiding.

 

Jess becomes increasingly paranoid, especially when she realizes she is caught in a trap of jealousy and deception.  Who can she really trust in this modern game of cat and mouse?

 

Can I tell you that I loved An Anonymous Girl just as much as The Wife Between Us?  Gah!  Greer and Pekkanen are incredible writers—they set the stage and then peel back the curtain to reveal some surprising twists.  This story is not as shocking as The Wife Between Us, instead what happens is that the plot blindsides the reader because they are so captivated by the fantastic writing.  These ladies could teach a master class for this genre, they're THAT good.  They manipulate you into believing their characters, but in fact, you can't trust any of them.  They also make you doubt your own conclusions.  Brilliant!    

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

A special thank you to Greer Hendricks for a copy of the audiobook.

 

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.  

 

At first, the book alternates between the perspectives of Richard's ex-wife, Vanessa, and his new-and-improved younger fiancée, Nellie.  Vanessa was left humiliated and penniless with the break up and she has a drinking problem—is this what was responsible for the dissolution of the marriage?  Nellie can't shake the feeling that she is being followed and that there is something to the anonymous calls she has been receiving.  Vanessa is jealous and becomes obsessed with her replacement—she is determined to stop Richard from marrying again.  Just how far will she go?

 

That's about all I can safely synopsize.  But what I can tell you is that I'm speechless.  What a fantastic book.  

 

The writing is BRILLIANT!  You can tell that Pekkanen is a seasoned author and by extension, Hendricks' previous editing experience also makes her a great writer.  The attention to detail and pace is what really sets this book apart in this genre, especially with all the "girl" and "wife" titled books out there right now.  (Is it me, or does every other mystery/thriller book have "girl" or "wife" in the title?)  

 

And the plot is so layered—when you think the story is over, there is one final twist.  So.  Bloody.  Clever!  The difference between 4 and 5 stars was the subplot with Maggie and Jason.  I actually thought this was a bit of filler that wasn't necessary.  

Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Girls' Night Out - Lisa Steinke, Liz Fenton

A special thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

 

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

 

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

 

Liz and Lisa, what a ride!  This book was fantastic!  The writing is layered, dynamic, and oh so clever.  The character depictions are detailed and fierce and I was completely captivated by the timelines and narratives.    

 

What Fenton and Steinke do best is conversation.  Did you not feel like you were on this trip too?  Beyond the story are deeper themes of secrets, complicated relationships (at what point is a friendship obligatory?) and mystery.  The brilliant aspect of this book is the juxtaposition of complex friendships against a frantic search for a loved one.  Female relationships are complex, but three is never an ideal number and this ratchets the tension even further.  I would highly recommend this book.  

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica

A special thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, HarperCollins, and Park Row Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Jessie Sloane had been caring for her mother, Eden, and is now on her own for the first time in her life.  She takes out a lease on an apartment in an old carriage house and applies to college.  But when the college informs her that her social security number belongs to a deceased three-year-old girl, Jessie begins to doubt everything she's ever known.

 

For as long as Jessie can remember, it had only been just the two of them.  When she asked about her father, Eden never disclosed who he was.  The mystery of Jessie's life and who she is becomes further exacerbated by the grief surrounding the death of her mother as well as the lack of sleep—Jessie refuses to sleep because when she fell asleep at the hospital, her mother died, and she feels an incredible amount of guilt.  As the days go by and the insomnia gets worse, Jessie's mind starts to play tricks on her and she can't decipher what is real and what is actually happening.  

 

Twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, Eden appears to be happily married and dreams of having a child with her husband, Aaron.  The couple is struggling with infertility and Eden's desperation for a child becomes all-consuming.  Eden makes an impulsive decision that years later has Jessie questioning her whole life—has it been a lie, or have her delusions finally gotten the best of her?

 

Told in alternating perspectives and timelines, the sharp plot is blunted by Jessie's delusions and Eden's obsessive behaviour.  The reader is stuck inside both Jessie's twisted perceptions, not knowing what is real and what isn't, and Eden's emotional breakdown.  As unreliable narrators, Jessie and Eden are the perfect vehicles to execute this psychological thriller.  

 

Kubica is at the top of her game and she pens something totally fresh in When the Lights Go Out.  I would highly recommend this book, it was a fantastic read and I enjoyed the many twists in the plot.  

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie - Courtney Summers

A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sadie hasn't had it easy.  Her drug-addict mother is in and out of her life and Sadie is tasked with raising her little sister, Mattie.

Mattie goes missing and is subsequently found murdered.  This absolutely destroys Sadie and after a botched police investigation, Sadie makes it her mission to bring her sister's killer to justice.  Following what little information she has, Sadie strikes out on her own to find him.

West McCray is radio personality who is working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America.  When he overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, West becomes obsessed with finding Sadie.  He starts his own podcast that tracks her journey in the hopes of trying to figure out what happened and to find Sadie before it's too late.

Summers contemporary story is not pretty.  It's gritty, raw, and at times unimaginable.  But the sad fact is that what happens to Sadie is not unique and the world can be a dark and terrible place. 

I struggled with Sadie as a character—on one hand, she's a total badass and could be a strong female lead, but on the other, she's basically still a child that has faced some incredibly brutal situations that no one, let alone a child, should be subjected to.     

The alternating points of view is the perfect vehicle for this story.  Sadie's first person voice is vulnerable as evident through her stutter, yet strong as apparent through her sheer determination and will.  She is lost and doesn't want to be found.  The only thing keeping her going is to find and kill the man responsible for Mattie's murder.  West's narrative is true to his occupation as a radio presenter in that he is factual and purposeful.  He frames his views into consumable content, albeit somewhat flippant, because he is reporting and investigating without any personal attachment.  I took this as a comment on the impact of media and how numb we are as a society to things that should be horrific and cause for reaction/action.

The two are on a similar trajectory—Sadie to find the man responsible for her sister's death and West to find Sadie.  With each turn of the page, the reader is hoping for them to collide and Summers capitalizes on this to propel her narrative.  Her pace is spot on.

This book is not for the faint of heart.  Summers preys on the reader's anxiety and ratchets this story to a whole other level.  I actually had to take reading breaks with this one, not only to catch my breath, but because I felt suffocated by Sadie's darkness.  This novel could be a trigger warning for some because of some of the subject matter and should come with a warning to call this out.  

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter: A Novel - Isabel Allende

A special thank you to NetGalley, Atria, and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Three different people are brought together in an interesting premise that travels from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to Chile and Brazil in the 1970s.

 

The story opens with a minor car accident which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected relationship between two people who thought they were living in the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster is a 60-year-old American human rights scholar that had lived for a time in Brazil.  During a snowstorm, Richard hits the car that Evelyn Ortega is driving.  She is a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala working as a nanny in the city.  At first it seems like a just a minor fender bender, but when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house needing help, the situation becomes serious.  Richard doesn't know what to do with the young woman so he calls on his tenant, Lucia Maraz for her advice.  Lucia is a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile who is attracted to Richard but has given up any hope of a more intimate relationship.  

 

These three very different people are brought together in a captivating story.  Allende's narrative moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil and sparks the beginning of a long overdue love story between the two older characters, Richard and Lucia.

 

Allende explores the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees.  It is a much needed novel in these regards.  However, having the story unfold the way it does is a disservice to the weighty topics that she depicts.  The structure is disjointed—the life stories are much more interesting than the modern day storyline that binds the characters together and I felt that Allende should have used another narrative style.  The backstories are beautifully written and incredibly moving in their harsh realities but again, the present day plot takes away from this.  Perhaps this was done on purpose, to juxtapose a love story against the darkness.  

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

The Husband Hour - Jamie Brenner

A special thank you to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Lauren Adelman marries her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, and they seem to have it all.  They are good looking, popular, and Rory has signed with an NHL team.  Rory shocks everyone—most notably, Lauren—when he enlists in the U.S. Army.  When Rory is killed in combat, Lauren is left devastated and alone.    

 

Lauren is thrust into the public eye and escapes to her family's old beach house when she can hide and be on her own.  However, this summer she's not alone—her domineering mother and contentious sister have also taken up residence at the house.  To top it all off, Matt Brio, a documentarian has tracked her down and convinces her to meet with him.  Lauren is not ready for all of this.  Matt's hour meeting sets in motion a summer of surprises, revelations, and disruption.  She is forced to deal with her grief head on, understand the past, and look toward her future.

 

This book was utterly captivating.  And being a Canadian hockey mom, can I just say that Jamie Brenner did her homework.  

 

Brenner pens characters that are rich and layered and certainly not without flaws.  There is almost a naive quality to the three main female characters in that they don't realize their worth, strength and resilience.  The supporting cast is just as integral to the story and propel the main characters to grow over the course of the narrative.  

 

Whether it be through death, or mourning the loss of a relationship, the theme of grief is an essential part of the story.  Brenner juxtaposes this grief against self-empowerment and this is particularly effective in the growth of her characters.    

 

This is a story of relationships, love, loss, and self-discovery.  It is beautifully written and paced—the story unfolds in stages much like grief and was a thoroughly satisfying read.  This book would make an excellent book club choice.  

After Nightfall by A. J. Banner

After Nightfall - A. J. Banner
A special thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Marissa Parlette and her former best friend, Lauren, have recently reconciled after not speaking for years.  Marissa had extended an olive branch and invited Lauren and her husband to her engagement party.  Only things aren't going so well, Lauren is blatantly hitting on her fiancé and doing so in front of her own husband.  After a tense and awful night, Marissa's body is found at the bottom of a cliff.  Did she fall?  Was she pushed?  Or did she willingly step off?

Desperate to make sense of the tragedy, Marissa digs in.  The party seems to have brought out the worst in her guests, even her fiancé is suspect.  The more Marissa questions, the more she is left confused.  Marissa ends up questioning everything she knows about her friends, the man she loves, and even questions herself.

I had the pleasure of reviewing The Twilight Wife and was impressed, but unfortunately this story fell a little flat for me, but Banner redeemed it at the end.

The plot is interesting with enough twists to keep the reader vested in the story.  When looking at the synopsis, this appears to be a clever book with an interesting cast of characters that are connected enough to add another layer of mystery.  However, the characters were not developed enough and neither was the backstory.  For me this was the difference between 3 and 4 stars.  
 
 

 

Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

The Summer Wives - Beatriz Williams

A special thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Beatriz Williams' latest novel is mesmerizing.  Set in the 1950s and '60s, it is a tempestuous story of romance, class, power, secrets, and murder set on picturesque Winthrop Island.

It is the the summer of 1951 and Miranda Schuyler arrives on the elite, yet secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound.  She is a naive eighteen year old who is still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War.

Miranda is a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia and has always been on the cusp of high society. When her beautiful mother marries the dashing Hugh Fisher at his family summer home, Miranda is thrust deeper into the world of the elite with their pedigrees and cocktail hours.

Isobel Fisher is Miranda’s new stepsister and she takes Miranda under her wing to educate her on the clandestine ways of the Winthrop upper crust.  She is long-legged, blonde, a bit brash, and adored by her fiancé, Clayton Monk.

The other residents of the island are not wealthy summer families; they are the working class made up of Portuguese fisherman and domestic service people who earn an honest days work from the seasonal inhabitants.  Miranda finds herself attracted to  the lighthouse keeper's son, Joseph Vargas, a lobster fisherman.  He is also a childhood friend of Isobel's and attends Brown's in the hopes of bettering himself.

Almost two decades later, Miranda, now a famous actress, finally returns to the Island.  She is nursing a heartbreak and secrets of her own.  On the surface, the Island appears to be the same, but Miranda quickly realizes that things are not as they appear.  For one, the Fisher family no longer wields the same power and prestige it once did and Greyfriars, the Fisher family summer home, is in complete disrepair.  Also, Joseph has escaped from Sing Sing where he has been serving a sentence for the murder of her stepfather eighteen years earlier.  Miranda makes it her quest to bring justice to the man she once loved and still loves.

This was my first Beatriz Williams' book and I was utterly enchanted!  Williams is extremely seasoned with her character development—she lets the plot unfold through these rich, complex characters and her execution of this tumultuous story was flawless.  The setting was gorgeous as is her writing.  Speaking of gorgeous, can we take a moment to appreciate the beautiful cover?  I love the whole vintage aesthetic and it also comes through in Williams' writing.  The story was perfectly paced and just as visually stunning as the cover.  This book will be THE book of the summer.  

Things To Do When It's Raining by Marissa Stapley

Things To Do When It's Raining - Marissa Stapley

A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Mae Summers and Gabriel Broadbent were childhood friends.  They grew up together at the Summers' Inn which is owned by Mae's grandparents, Lilly and George.  Mae and Gabriel were raised together—Mae was orphaned at a young age, and Gabriel needed protection from his abusive alcoholic father.  Their relationship progressed into their first loves, and the young couple were torn apart when Gabe abruptly left Alexandria Bay.

Fast forward and Mae and Gabe are grown.  Both end up back in Alexandria Bay—Mae after a romantic setback, and Gabe because of his father.  Mae returns to her grandparents Inn and finds that her grandparents relationship is suffering because of past secrets that also impact her.  Are these relationships worth salvaging and the past worth reclaiming?

Stapley's latest offering is a story about love, loss, forgiveness, and truth.  Families are complicated, and this book doesn't shy away from family drama and complex relationships.

I enjoyed the character development, setting, and premise for this story.  Sometimes when a narrative incorporates both the past and the present, it can be cumbersome for the reader particularly if they have connected with one storyline over the other.  In this case, this type of narrative worked because of well-written characters with solid development.  My only criticisms were that I wanted more of Gabe's present story, and that the ending felt rushed.  Given the pace throughout the book, the ending should not have unfolded as abruptly as it did.      

My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan

My Purple Scented Novel  - Ian McEwan

A special thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

McEwan pens a wonderful short story about the perfect literary crime to celebrate his 70th birthday!

Written as a confession from Parker Sparrow about his friendship and betrayal of celebrated novelist, Jocelyn Tarbet, this short is riveting from the first word. He is so clever, McEwan actually makes you root for the narrator even though he has plagiarized his best friend. Gah! So brilliant.