I have been reading books my entire life, and I have gone through stages of extreme reviewing, and times where I reviewed nothing (two kids, out-of-state moves, etc). I started consistently reviewing again in 2019. I created a Bookstagram, then blog, then Facebook, and Twitter. I found that I loved it so much!
I started noticing that all these bloggers and bookstagrammers had advanced reader’s copies of books, and I wanted them too! So, I started googling, and I found some sites. I have continued to research and find new ways to get ARC’s. I continue to see posts where bookstagrammers are frustrated trying to figure out how to get books.
Wow! Winter of the Wolf was such an emotional read. I get so invested in a story that has a mystery element but also draws me in emotionally. It was beautiful to read!
Sam Hanes has died from suicide by hanging in his bedroom. His sister, Bean, is absolutely distraught over losing him. Everyone around her is saying that Sam committed suicide. As Bean relives the event through her memories, she just can’t believe that he would do that. She knows her brother in a way that others do not and is determined to uncover what really happened to him.
While Bean is working to figure out what has actually happened to her brother, she is also learning to manage her own grief as well as the grief of her family. Winter of the Wolf blends mystery, grief management, forgiveness, and spirituality, to create a beautiful, touching story.
How I Felt:
I just need to give a quick shout out to this fabulous cover! It caught my attention immediately and I knew I wanted to read it!
The Forgotten Home Child was about a historical event that I didn’t know much about. I really enjoy reading about people and situations that are new to me. The children brought from England to Canada have such heartbreaking stories, but I am so glad that I was able to read this beautifully written book.
How I Felt:
The story introduces us to Winnifred Ellis, our 98 year old main character in 2018. Her story is told through present day, 2018, as well as the historical view starting in 1936. Winnifred is moving in with her granddaughter and great-grandson and her granddaughter accidentally knocks a suitcase open, spilling some of its contents. This leads to questions about the suitcase and its contents, and Winny decides it is time to share her secrets with her family.
This is my first book by Megan Miranda and it WILL NOT be my last! I was blown away by her writing and story-telling. I found myself unable to put this book down!
How I Felt:
Olivia tries to keep her past a secret from everyone around her. As a young child, she was Arden Maynor. She suffered from sleepwalking and was swept away during a rainstorm and trapped for three days in a storm drain. Those three days are locked away in her brain and she cannot remember any of it. The media storm that followed her disappearance and eventual discovery and recovery followed her for years. Finally, she chose to move away and change her name.
Olivia is now an adult. She owns a home, a bit out of the way, but has a friendly neighbor that keeps her company. She’s happy until she receives a box filled with her mother’s belongings and the information that her mother has died. The sleepwalking returns and Olivia wakes one night to find a dead body at her feet.
There were a lot of secrets in this story. I really enjoyed all the unraveling that had to be done to get to what was really going on.
How I Felt:
The story starts with a murder. That’s always an exciting place to start with a thriller! The main character Eva is standing over her mother’s body holding a bloody knife… Eva wakes up in a hospital after being struck by lightning. A detective comes to her hospital room to inform her of her mother’s murder. Eva doesn’t remember or know anything. As the day progresses, she remembers standing over her mother holding the knife. What really happened? Can Eva trust her memory of events when they keep changing?
Behind Every Lie is told through alternating views. Eva’s story is told in present-day, but she is constantly thinking, analyzing, and reliving the past as she tries to figure out what is going on. The second POV is Eva’s mother, Kat. Kat’s view starts 25 years ago and gets closer to the present day as the story progresses. I really liked this storytelling choice. It offered secrets to the reader and I found the best reveals were told through Kat’s story.
I really enjoyed all of the secrets that this story held! It felt like peeling back an onion and layer upon layer created new views and new realizations.
How I Felt:
The writing was able to take the story and make it come to life. The world Nameless Queen resides in is a fantasy world, which means the author has to describe everything so that the reader understands the setting. I could really see the streets and alleys the nameless wander down, the vivid colors of the royals, and the vast corridors of the castle. It was well-done and created an interesting, different world for me to read about.
I love historical fiction. I appreciate that an author took the time to research some event or timeframe in history and then spent countless weeks, months, or years to create a story about it. It’s especially exciting for me when I find a historical fiction book that surrounds an event or person that I didn’t know anything about previously.
I got everything that I wanted out of Sin Eater. I loved that this story was about a working position in history that I knew nothing about. I was fascinated by what the Sin Eater must do and the long list of things they must not do.
How I Felt:
I found Sin Eater as I was wandering the virtual shelves of NetGalley. I saw the cover, which has changed since I originally found it, but it just called to me. I KNEW it was a book I needed to read, and then Atria Books was kind enough to send me a copy! I am SO glad that I had the chance to read this book. It was just wonderful.
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written a story that weaves between multiple characters and timelines. It was done beautifully and seamlessly. I loved the way the story unfolded. We learned little tidbits of info, but only when it was time. Such a great plot!
A Bookshop in Berlin is not your normal memoir. Françoise Frenkel wrote her experiences down and they were published in 1945. They were then re-discovered in an attic in 2010. I loved Françoise’s descriptions of her experiences. I felt delighted when she was, horrified when she was; all of her feelings were placed on the pages and as the reader, I felt a bit like I was drawing back a curtain to someone’s secrets and memories. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be there, but there I was, reading her work, and it was a beautiful and horrifying view of her experiences.
How I Felt:
A Bookshop in Berlin was a beautiful account of Françoise Frenkel’s early life and then entrapment and escape from the Nazi’s. The writing style was a bit jumpy at times. I felt like we would jump from memory to memory and I kind of wanted to go back and learn a bit more about the previous thing. However, the overall story is written from start to finish, making her experiences easy to follow, I just wanted more details sometimes.
For the book lover: If you are a lover of books, which I suspect you might be, as you are taking the time to read this, you will appreciate this book just because of Françoise’s very clear love of literature. When she was younger, she had a bookcase made of all glass so that she could place it in the middle of her room to admire the books from all sides. I mean, who doesn’t want that now!?!? I really enjoyed her descriptions of books and her passion for them. When she is closing the bookstore to leave Germany, she walks the aisles saying goodbye to her books. That part of the story made me so sad for her.
Her Escape: Her story follows her escape from Germany and the Nazi’s. It is filled with stops and starts as she is blocked by soldiers, red tape, train issues, and so many other problems. She finds and loses family members and friends. She witnesses destruction and violence, but also heartwarming moments of kindness. It is a very interesting story and I really enjoyed reading about it.
The Preface: Patrick Modiano has written the preface in A Bookshop in Berlin. I enjoyed this insight into the story. He gives background on Françoise Frenkel with some extra information that she didn’t share in her memoir. He mentions that Françoise had a husband and gives some information on him. I would have loved for her to have shared some details about their life together, but she chose to exclude him from her story.
Overall:A Bookshop in Berlin is a wonderful memoir and a powerful story.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend A Bookshop in Berlin for readers that enjoy historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and memoirs.
Where to Find This Book:
A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel, Patrick Modiano (Preface) is available at these sites.
“A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe.
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel–a Jewish woman from Poland–fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.
Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.
Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.
Just the Facts:
A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel
Subtitle: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis
The Look-Alike takes the reader on so many twists and turns, I was constantly pointing blame at a different character in the book! I loved the way the story unraveled a little at a time, giving me one piece here and another there. It made the suspense wonderful and the ending fantastic!
How I Felt:
The Writing: Erica Spindler’s ability to tell a story is wonderful. She gave the book a well-rounded story with backstory and history to each character.
The Characters: There are quite a few characters in this story that were pivotal to the overall plot. I felt like I was given the chance to know each of them without being confused or overwhelmed. The main character is Sienna though, and overall, I liked her.
The Plot: The overall plot was awesome. I spent so much time thinking about what was happening in this story. Looking back at my notes, I pointed to no less than 7 different people as the killer, and in the end, one of my theories was right, but I couldn’t be sure until we got to just that right reveal point in the story.
I didn’t really enjoy the romance in this plot. I understand the overall need for it in the story-line, but I felt like it seemed very abrupt at how quickly Sienna just fell in love with this man. I would have liked just a bit more time before she was head-over-heels for him. That however, did not detract from my overall love of the story.
Overall: I really enjoyed The Look-Alike. The story was mysterious and suspenseful. The writing was good and I loved the story. I look forward to reading more from Erica Spindler!
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend The Look-Alike for readers that enjoy thrillers with a psychological aspect and a mystery to solve.
Where to Find This Book:
The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler is available at these sites.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?
Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.
In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?
As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?
Just the Facts:
The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
Genre: Thriller / Mystery / Suspense
Page Count: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: January 28, 2020
I was provided an advanced readers copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest, unbiased review voluntarily.
Learning to Stay Calm When Your Buttons Get Pushed
Rating: 5 out of 5.
What I Loved and How I Felt:
I am always looking for ways to help my children handle their emotions, and let’s face it, I can always use help with that as well. Pause Power was such a unique way to show children how their “buttons get pushed” by others and then how they reaction.
I loved the visual use of the buttons popping up on the boy in the story. It really helped my daughter to understand what the author was saying. Taking a moment to breathe and calm down is not a new concept, but this was a new way to explain it and I loved it!
To Read or Not To Read:
I feel that Pause Powershould be read to every child, and it should be read more than once so that the concept sticks for them when they are in an emotionally situation! This is perfect for every home, library, and school.
Gabe gets angry and then he lashes out. He can’t help it, people push his buttons. One day, after his buttons were pushed, a new button appears and helps him to understand that if Gabe takes time to breathe and ask for a few minutes to calm down, his anger will reduce and he’ll be able to handle his feelings.
The author did an excellent job of explaining this in terms that a child could understand. We have started using this idea in our household and so far, I’ve managed to avoid two meltdowns…so a HUGE FIVE STAR from me!
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
What I Loved:The Better Liar had me all over the place! The story was just crazy enough that I would think I knew what was going on, and then I would second guess it because “That would be crazy…”
How I Felt:
The first chapter of this book had me hooked. Robin’s discussion of being dead and how it made her feel, had me so intrigued! From there, the book just took off and never slowed down.
The Better Liar is told from three point of views: Robin, Leslie, and Mary. The mixture of these three told the story so well, giving insight to the history of the two sisters, Robin and Leslie as well as telling the story in present day.
The character building was done well. I found that I connected with the characters about different things. One of my favorites was actually Nancy, a secondary character. Her story was built so well, I really enjoyed the portions of the story that she was a part of. I found Leslie to be my least-liked character. There wasn’t anything wrong with her and I believe that the author meant for me to feel that way about her. She was just more distant and harder to know.
Overall, the suspense in this book had me reading late into the night. There were so many questions to answer and I had so many theories. I needed to know which was right, if any!
Content Warnings: Discussion and reference to suicide and murder.
To Read or Not To Read: I would recommend this book for any reader that enjoyed books like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. The Better Liar is filled with suspense and mystery and is a definite page-tuner.
Leslie is in trouble. She needs money. Her father has just passed away and left his two daughters $50,000 each. This is great news for Leslie, except that she hasn’t spoken to her sister is over 10 years.
She tracks her sister, Robin, to Las Vegas and finds her, but unfortunately Robin has just died of an overdose. Leslie is at a loss. She can’t get the money she needs, and her sister has just died.
Through chance, she meets Mary, a waitress looking for a way to make it big in Hollywood. Leslie convinces Mary to pretend to be Robin. Mary can have Robin’s $50,000 and head off to California. She must spend a few days in Leslie and Robin’s hometown pretending to be Robin.
Their quick and easy plan begins to become complicated as both realize the other woman may be hiding some secrets. With lots of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat, you’ll be wondering who’s the better liar?
The Better Liar by Tanen Jones will publish on January 14, 2020. It is available now for pre-order.
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy from NetGalley for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.