Four Stars

Review: Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

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Book: Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Format: eBook, provided by NetGalley free for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past.

Cover Review
What an amazing, simple cover this is! I love the tones of the colors, the covered face, the rain. It really evokes the perfect mood and setting for this story.

Book Review
I never reviewed it last year, but I read The Party by Robyn Harding in less than two days. It was one of the best thrillers I read in 2017, definitely, and I cannot wait to read it again. While not as good, Her Pretty Face was still a wonderful read and I am excited for future releases from Harding.

This book is told from three different perspectives: Frances, Daisy (Kate’s daughter) and DJ, though his importance to the story isn’t immediately known. Each perspective is its own thing, very distinct. I really enjoyed that Harding chose to not do a perspective from Kate and chose a different member of her family to help keep the story going. DJ’s perspective was probably my favorite, surprisingly enough. His is in the past and talks a lot about a murder and the trial. Making the connection to the present isn’t too far-fetched, but it can still be a fun guessing game.

Harding does an amazing job at making characters that you feel something toward — whether that be positive or negative. These are not flat, boring characters: These characters jump off the page.

Good plot? Check! Interesting characters? Check! Well written? Check!

Overall, I found this to be an interesting novel and would definitely recommend it to fans of the domestic thriller genre.


 

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Book Talk

Spookathon 2018

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I used to be pretty into BookTube, but I was having a hard time finding people whose content I enjoyed that also read books I enjoyed. BookTube is full of YA, which is a genre I don’t particularly gravitate toward. I have read a few I greatly enjoyed, but my current reads tend to stick in either thriller/mystery or literary fiction.

Thanks to a girl I follow on Instagram I was introduced to BooksAndLala this past weekend. She had just reached 50K subscribers and I thought “hey, why not check her out?”. I immediately enjoyed the first video I watched of hers and was excited to check out more. I learned about Spookathon from her.

Spookathon is an annual Read-a-Thon that Lala cohosts with friends and fellow booktubers. The dates are October 15 to 21st. The point is to read a book/books that fit into the 5 challenges:

1. Read a thriller
2. Read a book with purple on the cover
3. Read a book not set in the current time period
4. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
5. Read a book with pictures

I thought that it sounded super fun! I had no intentions on doing it, though, as I had other books I needed to read.

Yesterday, a friend of mine and I were chatting about booktube and she was giving me some recommendations (that I still need to check out!) and she mentioned the Spookathon. I told her that I had just heard about it and it sounded interesting. Confession: I have never done a bookathon. I know me and time constraints + a hobby (whether it be reading, writing, knitting, etc) do not usually go well together.

Last night, however, I was annoyed that I had not planned a spooky book to read for October. I decided to pick up Practical Magic, as I figure it will be a quick read and I have really wanted to read it. I noticed the cover was purple, which reminded me of the Spookathon challenge, which became a downward spiral where I was combing through my shelves of books I want to read this year, messaging my friend to confirm some of the challenges.

Needless to say, at 8:30 the night of the first day of this challenge, I decided to join in.

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The first book I plan to read (and have just barely started) is Practical Magic. This book meets two of the challenges: Read a book with purple on the cover + Read a book with a spooky word in the title. This is also a book on my 18 in 2018 list, so I feel like it is a MUST!

 

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Next, I want to read Cemetery Girl. This book, also on my 18 in 2018 list, knocks off two challenges: Read a thriller + Read a book with pictures. The pictures challenge was really throwing me off, as I didn’t have anything on my main TBR shelf that had pictures. This one has images of trees on the chapter pages, which is apparently good enough!

 

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Last, I would like to read The Broken Girls. I had initially started this when I first got it from BOTM but wasn’t in the mood for it. I had meant to pick it up again in October, anyway, so I think it will be a perfect way to end out the week. This meets the challenge: Read a book not set in the current time period (since part of the book happened in the 1950s). Feel like I’m reaching a little on that one, but none of the books I had that were entirely set in a different time period were spooky. And I wanted to keep these spooky.

 

Now, I know me. I don’t really think I can finish all three of these in one week. But I think the challenge could be a fun one!

 

Are any of you partaking in this challenge? What spooky books are you reading this month?

Monthly Recap, monthly TBR, Uncategorized

Overview: September and October TBR

I disappeared…again. I have been trying to get some posts out but didn’t feel I was ready to get back into writing. I think I’m finally ready to get back into routine, though! I thought, for my first post in over a month, I would do something a little easier. My last post was about the books I wanted to read during September and October. Since we are quickly coming to an end of that period, let’s see where I am currently at!

 

I did finish three of the books on my list: Pretty Ugly LiesThe Perfect MotherHe Said/She Said. All three were very good thrillers and I hope to have reviews for them up in the next couple of weeks. It wasn’t on the list, but I also finished reading Our House which I really wanted to like, but just found it lacking.

 

 

Currently, I am reading Lies. I am not super far into it, and though I do want to find out what happens, I’m not digging the writing style just yet. I always say, that sometimes when you start a new book (especially if it’s different from the last book(s) you have read), it can take a little longer to get the story. I know this book has a lot of hype, so I’m curious to see where it will go. I am also listening to Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, which was not on my TBR. However, the next book in the series, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, is, so I need to get the rest of the books finished. I also finished listening to Lady Cop Makes Trouble, the second in the series, but I wasn’t too excited about it. Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is much, much better so far!

Looking at the list of books that I still have left from that list, I am going to pick a few more that I really want to finish this month:

 

 

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
  2. Still Lives
  3. Before I Let You Go

Finishing my two current reads, plus 3 more within these last couple of weeks of October seems a little much for what I can usually do, but I’m gonna try!

monthly TBR

September and October TBR

I realized the other day that I never put together a TBR for August. So, with August almost over, I thought it would be a good time to put together one for the next couple of months.

First, I would like to finish the books I am already reading: He Said/She Said,  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Interview with the Vampire.

 

ARCs I would like to read are:  The Ballet Lover, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, LiesStolen BeautyPretty Ugly Lies

 

Some physical books I’d like to read: The Perfect MotherStill LivesBefore I Let You GoKillers of the Flower Moon.

 

I think that is a good variety! I have been getting back into audiobooks, so some may sneak in over the next little bit. But I am excited to get this chunk of books off my TBR!

Have you read any of these? What books do you plan to read over the next few months?

Four Stars

Review: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

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Book: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, art historical fiction
Format: eBook, provided by NetGalley free for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

 

Cover Review
As with her other books, Davis has another winner in the cover department. All of her covers have the same vibe and are immediately attractive to the eye. The coloring of this one, with the golden background and lovely pop of blue just make this an outstanding cover for me.

Book Review
As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I am in love with Fiona Davis. She is one of the Must Buy authors for me. She is able to spin a tale so glorious that you never want it to end. I tend to leave her books, missing the characters as they have become my new best friends.

The Masterpiece does not disappoint. Written in similar fashion to The Dollhouse and The Address, this wonderful historical fiction piece is told in two perspectives. We have Clara — an illustrator in the 1920s trying to catch a break in the art world — to weave the backdrop for Virginia in the 1970s, recently divorced and trying to find her new place in the world. Both women are equally interesting, with their plots both being equally fascinating to read. However, Clara was someone who I just adored. This entire book could have been about Clara’s life and I would have been just as happy. However, Virginia’s spunk and tenacity is something that cannot be overlooked.

I loved the small mystery part of this story. I love how Davis is able to give you hints to what’s to come in Virginia’s story when you’re reading about Clara, all while discovering more about Clara’s story when Virginia is center stage.

The characters, of course, are just wonderful, as is the plot. There is never a slow part in this story. Davis breaks up the sections and switches perspectives so beautifully, just like the pro she is. And the writing! I cannot get enough of her.

I give this book a very happy 4 stars. Beautiful cover, story and characters. This is definitely a story I can see myself jumping into again.

Book Talk

WWW Wednesday: August 22, 2018

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This tag asks us to post about three books:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.


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Currently, I am reading The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. I am loving this book. I was a huge fan of her other books (The Dollhouse and The Address) and this one may actually be my favorite from her. I cannot wait to see what happens! If you are a fan of historical fiction, Davis is a must read author for you!

 

Recently, I finished listening to The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. I am not sure what I think about this one. The narrator was amazing; I will definitely check out other books that she has read.

I also finished the second Kopp Sisters book,  Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart. I liked it but not as much as the first book, Girl Waits With Gun. Another good historical fiction series with an amazing narrator. I would definitely recommend the audiobook version of this one.

 

Next, I will be reading the third book in the Kopp Sisters series, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions and I think I’ll pick up Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent. And I still want to start Pretty Ugly Lies, as well as  Still Lives.

Have you read any of these? What did you finish recently?

Book Talk

WWW Wednesday: August 8, 2018

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This tag asks us to post about three books:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.


 

Currently, I am still reading The Child and started listening to Lady Cop Makes Trouble. I am really enjoying both and am excited to get back into my audiobooks. I have some sewing I need to get done and I think it will be perfect to have on in the background while I’m working.

No finished books since the last post.

Next, I plan to start Pretty Ugly Lies, as well as Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions on audiobook. I also really want to start Still Lives.

Have you read any of these? Any on your radar?

monthly TBR

June and July 2018 TBR Overview

I greatly enjoy making TBR posts but oh so rarely stick to them. I think making them for more than one month may be what I need to do in the future. I think the reason I don’t “succeed” at completing TBRs is that I write about the books I need to read and am excited about reading at the beginning of the month, but partway through, my excitement has switched to different books. Or my mojo has lessened. Or my want to read a certain genre is no more. Making a TBR list is still tricky…. Maybe I’ll get it right one day.

Now, reading that, I’m sure you think I must have failed my June and July plan. No…not completely. I did read a few books on the list and even more that never graced the list. First, let’s talk about the ones I did read.

 

 

The only other book I made some progress on was I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Others on the list I intended to read, but I was distracted by other books. I’m sure you understand how that can occur.

 

Aside from those books, I also finished some not on the list:

 

Out of the 14 books originally on my list, I completed 5, as well as 3 others. I’m not upset at all at 8 finished books over the past two months.

I will continue to group months together in the future. I am going to do some thinking on what I want to read over the next two months, as well as what books I really need to read. I’m going to push for 10 books by end of September. We’ll see how it goes!

 

How are you about sticking to monthly/semi-monthly TBR lists? Do you make them at all?

Monthly Recap

Monthly Recap: July 2018

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How in the world is it August already? I feel like this year is just…flying by. This has been a tough year for me with lots of down parts, though just even more up parts, and I hope the rest of the year is just a continuation of going up-up-up!

 

Finished Books
I feel like I really got a good groove for reading in July. I finished A Stranger in the HouseThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoHer Pretty Face, Bring Me Back, and Harmless Like You. Reviews for these will be up in the next couple of weeks. For the most part, they were all fantastic books! Bring Me Back was pretty disappointing, as was A Stranger in the House — not necessarily bad books, just not what I was expecting. [Her Pretty FaceBring Me Back, and Harmless Like You were all ARCs provided to me from NetGalley for review.]

 

In Progress Books
Still making my way through I’ll Be Gone in the Dark — I don’t have anything negative to say about this book. I just need something that flows better and nonfiction books (even ones that are as well written as this) don’t have the flow that I’m currently wanting. Also started and am working through The Child. Interesting book so far, though I’m not super far into it. Will be curious to see if I end up liking it more than The Widow or not.

 

Purchased Books
I actually didn’t buy too many books this month! I grabbed a physical copy of The Dollhouse (which was one of my favorite reads of 2017) because I couldn’t pass up the $6 deal. I know I will be reading it again. My husband also found this book called The Nest. It was on sale for $5 so I thought I’d grab it. It sounds interesting!

 

Kindle deals didn’t even get me that hard this month! I only picked up The Marriage Pact and In The Vines, which I CANNOT wait to start! I remember reading reviews for that one and being so excited to read it.

 

I was approved for some great sounding books on NetGalley, though!

Hmm. There’s an interesting theme there….

Goodreads Challenge
As of now, I have completed 20 out of 40 books. I am 50% to my goal. I am 3 books behind schedule.

 

Blog Posts

 

Book Talk

WWW Wednesday: August 1, 2018

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This tag asks us to post about three books:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.


 

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Currently, I am reading The Child. I really enjoyed The Widow and was excited to read another book by Fiona Barton. I do find The Child to be a bit of a slow burn, but I found the same with The Widow, really. I enjoy the progression Barton included of Kate Waters from the first book to the second; completely believable without seeming too much.

 

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Recently, I finished Harmless Like You which was a beautiful piece of literary fiction. I am so happy I completed this one and I really do recommend it!

 

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Next, I plan to start Pretty Ugly Lies. Hoping this one will be a quick read!

What are you currently reading? Any opinions on these books I’ve mentioned?