WWW Wednesday: August 16, 2017

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme 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 Reading
Still haven’t been actively reading Lola or BiteBut I have been focusing on The Dinnerwhich I am really enjoying. And I started reading The Scarred Woman.

 

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Recently Finished
I finished listening to The Lying Game during my commute on Monday. I enjoyed the book while listening to it, and during the listening it was my favorite book from Ware. I still think it was a good book and I thought the narrator did a lovely job. Would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys thrillers and books discussing friendships. [I’ll have a full review up soon.]

Reading Next
Next in line will be The Revenants once I finish one of my current reads. I also really want to start The Strays soon.

 

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Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

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Book: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti [Goodreads | Amazon]
Genre:
 Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery
Format: eBook via Kindle; ARC provided from NetGalley
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 
5 stars

The Synopsis
After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past—a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks. Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.

 

The Cover
I love this cover. It was one of the things that drew me to this story. The color combinations are gorgeous. Definitely a cover that would make me stop and check it out while browsing a book store.

The Review
This is a book that pulls you in and makes you part of it. I started this book at the beginning of the year, before I got into my reading slump. I was nervous when I decided to pick it back up that I would have to start over. As soon as I started reading it again, I was immediately pulled back in. I was immediately back with Hawley and his daughter, Loo.

First and foremost, this is a great piece of literary fiction. It delves into character development without losing the plot. The characters are believable, flawed, yet you still root for them.

This book covers a lot. The main story, if you will, is Hawley and his daughter finally setting roots in the hometown of Loo’s mother. Through backstory from Hawley’s past, you get to know Hawley and learn what choices led them to here. Not only do you get to see Loo grow up in the “main” part of the story, we get the chance to see some beautiful imagery of Hawley’s past.

The title references twelve scars Hawley has received from various bullet wounds. Each wound has a story and we get to be part of it. Hawley is a con man and has many encounters with various bad folk. There is something incredibly endearing about him and you’re constantly on his side and want to make sure he makes it.

I enjoyed the vast characters and even found the B/C/D characters to be interesting. I was immediately drawn to Loo’s grandmother, as a fiber artist myself, I loved the little touches discussing her dying, spinning, and weaving.

I cannot speak enough of this book. Have you ever read a book and found yourself wanting to cry, though it isn’t necessarily a sad part? This book made me feel more than any book I have recently read. This is one I will definitely be purchasing to put on my shelf soon.


 

Disclosure: I received this eBook from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the advanced copy!

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WWW Wednesday: August 09, 2017

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme 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 Reading
I haven’t picked up Lola or Bite in weeks, but they’re still on my currently reading shelf, so I’ll include them here. I have been listening to The Lying Game during my commute. I am a little over halfway done with it and really enjoying it. So far, it’s my favorite book from Ruth Ware and I hope it continues to stay on this path. I am also reading The Dinner still and it has been really interesting. I am not far into it yet, maybe a quarter of the way. But now that I finished one book this week, I can concentrate on it a bit more.

 

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Recently Finished
I cannot say enough about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. In fact, I am nervous to write a review for this because I am not sure I can give it enough praise. If you are a fan of literary fiction, character studies, literature about relationships (family and romantic) — this is the book for you! Beautifully written, completely captivating. Ugh. This book is…awesome. Simply awesome.

 

Reading Next
[Copy/paste from last Wednesday’s reading next plans, since that hasn’t changed yet.]
As soon as I get two of my current books done, I will be starting The Revenants, a book sent to me by the author, and The Scarred Woman, a book I just received an e-ARC for from the First to Read program.


 

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

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WWW Wednesday: August 02, 2017

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme 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 Reading
Though I haven’t finished a book since last week, I have been reading! Not as much as I would like, but it is what it is. I am continuing on with Lola and Bitethough I’ve really set them to the side to concentrate more on The Dinner and picking up The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley again. I’m completely enraptured with TTLOSH and do not want it to end. I’ve also started listening to The Lying Game by Ruth Ware during my commute. About an hour or so in, already a very interesting read.

 

Reading Next
As soon as I get two of my current books done, I will be starting The Revenants, a book sent to me by the author, and The Scarred Woman, a book I just received an e-ARC for from the First to Read program.


 

What book(s) are you getting ready to start?

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Monthly TBR: August and September 2017

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Normally, I plan too many books to read in one month and don’t touch them. I decided, especially since I’ve been incredibly busy this past couple of months and haven’t always had luck finding time for reading, to instead switch to multiple-month-TBRs. I think I will continue to do this in the future, breaking up the year into quarters and making TBRs for every three months. For this one, though, my plan will be to continue my July TBR with a couple of extras in case I am able to get to them.

So, by the end of September, I hope to read:

  1. Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love
  2. Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
  3. Bite by K.S. Merbeth
  4. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
  5. The Dinner by Herman Koch
  6. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  7. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
  8. Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman
  9. Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

So, most of those came over from July’s TBR that I barely touched, as well as two new ones, The Lying Game (which I am listening to now) and The Dinner (which I started this past weekend).

The plan will be to come back at the end of August and see how I am doing with this list, then reflect on if I need to add more in September. But I think, going by my current reading track, this will be doable within the next two months. It also features a decent genre variety, which is something I need right now.


 

What are your reading plans for the month? Have you read any of these?

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Monthly Recap: July 2017

Didn’t I just write the June recap? Didn’t I have a lot of reading plans to do this month that I barely touched? How are we almost into August? Hooooow?

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Books Read

  1. What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
  2. The Address by Fiona Davis [review here]

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Books Purchased

Physical books:

  1. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
  2. The Doll’s House by M. J. Arlidge
  3. Cemetery Girl by David Bell

eBooks:

  1. A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

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Favorite Book Read

Considering I only completed two books, this is an easy choice to make: The Address. Though not as good as The Dollhouse, I still found it to be incredibly captivating and intriguing. I look forward to Fiona Davis’s future works.

 

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Book I Most Want to Read

Out of these books, I am really intrigued by The Passenger. I have heard lots of good things about it and can’t wait to check it out..eventually.


 

What was your favorite book from July? What are you excited to read this upcoming August?

Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

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Book: The Address by Fiona Davis [Goodreads | Amazon]
Genre:
 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: 
Penguin Random House
Format: eBook via Kindle; ARC provided from Penguin’s First to Read program 
Publishing Date: August 01, 2017
Rating:
 4 stars
Cover Rating: 
4 stars

The Cover
I enjoy the grey-wash style of the background with the lady having the pop of color, reminiscent of Davis’s cover for The Dollhouse. I enjoy that this style was used for her second book, I don’t love it as much as her debut’s cover.

The Synopsis

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives—and lies—of the beating hearts within.

 

The Review
A beautiful story that brings you in and makes you want to know more. Told in the similar style of her debut novel (review can be found here), The Address really sucks you into the story from the first page.

Both stories are good on their own. I feel like Sarah’s part is much more developed and is what really keeps the story going; I could have had a full novel just based on her life and been happy. That is not to say I did not enjoy Bailey’s part – I found her to be intriguing, and with her past, I had a lot of sympathy for her. However, I felt her part, specifically the end, to be rushed.

I enjoyed Davis’s attempt to weave in accurate parts of the history of the Dakota into the story she developed for Sarah Smythe. I also appreciated the note she left at the end discussing what liberties she took with history.

I found the overall plot to be very interesting and kept me coming back. I found myself thinking about these characters while at work and looked forward to getting home to cuddle up on the couch and catch up with them.

The writing style was wonderful. I find Davis to have a beautiful writing style. She does a great job with the two perspectives, though I feel like the part of Sarah was her main focus in this one. I did find that, while I sympathized with Bailey, I never felt a connection with her. I think she had an interesting story but it did not unravel in the way I would have preferred. I also am not sure of how I feel about the ending for her, though I found Sarah’s to have everything tied up nicely.

I preferred The Dollhouse out of the two, but I definitely recommend The Address to any reader who enjoys historical fiction, family relationships, and a little bit of mystery. I look forward to seeing what Davis has to offer the book world in the future.


 

Many thanks to the First to Read program from Penguin Books for the advanced copy of this book. 

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Review: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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Book: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis [Goodreads | Amazon]
Genre:
 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: 
Penguin Random House
Format: Audiobook by Audible
Rating:
 5 stars
Cover Rating:
5 stars

The Cover
This cover is lovely. The muted, grey-wash background with the pop of red is definitely eye catching. In fact, the cover was what made me interested in this book. I was intrigued by the color juxtaposition and I loved the girl’s style.

The Synopsis
From Goodreads:

Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where in the 1950s a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side by side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

 

The Review
I love a fantastic debut novel and Davis hit it out of the park with this one! This story was a fantastic combination of historical fiction, mystery, and interesting characters.

Davis did an amazing job at developing both stories both separately and as a whole. You feel for both girls and are equally invested in both story lines (though I had a preference for Darby’s story, overall).

The characters are enjoyable, believable, and you are really rooting for both Rose and Darby. There is small love story within Rose’s story that I do not feel was necessary, but I’m not mad about it. I appreciated that Davis took the time to make such vastly different characters for Darby’s story. Davis did a great job at giving even small characters a good background.

The overall plot was great. Interesting story and a captivating progression. Davis did a great job switching back and forth from perspectives to keep you on your toes, but without being a jerk about it. I also was a fan of how the story progression happened: Rose would discover something new in the present, then we’d go back to Darby and find out what really happened.

The writing was fabulous. Descriptive, but not too wordy. Good conversations between characters, but not unnecessary ones. As stated above, I feel like some of the wording didn’t necessarily suit the POV, but that may be more of a quirk on my end.

I did listen to this book on Audible and found the narrator, Tavia Gilbert, did a fantastic job. Distinct voices, not rushed, really felt like she, too, was part of the story.

When I initially finished this book, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. After thinking on it some more since finishing, I decided to up it to 5 stars. I rarely find myself listening to audiobooks when not commuting. This one, though, I was finding times to listen while knitting or cleaning or just sitting. And I cannot wait to listen to this again. Beautifully done story!

WWW Wednesday: July 25, 2017

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What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme 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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Recently Finished
I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of The Address by Fiona Davis, author of the fantastic The Dollhouse. This was her second novel and I will have a review up within the next week. SPOILER: loooooooved!

 

Currently Reading
Still working on finishing Lola and Bite. I really don’t know what happened this month. I thought I would get more reading done, especially since I was out for a week with a hurt back. But while out, I was so annoyed with having hurt my back that I didn’t even want to read. I realize how ridiculous this is. But I have a weekend of nothing coming up and I look forward to sitting on my couch and finishing at least one, if not both of these.

 

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Reading Next
I got a lovely email from Audible that my preorder of Ruth Ware’s new book, The Lying Game, was out. I have been super focused on podcasts while commuting this month, so I look forward to picking up a book I am excited to check out during my drive tomorrow.

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Unintended Hiatus

Man. July is almost over and…I pretty much disappeared from the blogging world for the month of.

I took the first week of July off and had the intention to write write and write some more. However, I, unfortunately, hurt my back the Friday before my vacation. I spent the majority of my time off laid out, unable to move. The Wednesday of, I was able to move a little bit more. Thursday, I was feeling a lot better, so we went out of town so I could do something during my vacation. We actually did end up at a used bookstore and grabbed a few books, which made the quick trip more than worth it.

While on my vacation, even though I did not do any actual writing, I did a lot of thinking and have decided on some changes I want to make on this blog. I wanted to wait until I was able to get the changes completed before writing again. However, after coming back to work, I got a little — uh very, really — busy. Next thing I know, we’re a week away from August!

I am returning now, though! I am going to get back into blogging this week. The changes I want to make will definitely be happening, but it may still be another couple of weeks before I get the chance to really sit down and get it all completed. And I look forward to getting back into the groove and having some awesome book conversations with you all!

Since I’ve been gone and haven’t been keeping up with reading blogs either, how has July treated you guys?