Tag: family

Book Review: A Family of Strangers, by Emilie Richards

 

A-Family-of-Strangers-Emilie-Richards-680x1024
Image belongs to MIRA Books/Harlequin.

Title:  A Family of Strangers
Author:  Emilie Richards
Genre:  Family drama
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Ryan Gracey is a true crime podcaster who nearly lost her life after a fatal error in judgment years before. She knows she can’t compete with her perfect older sister, Wendy, so she stopped trying years ago and went after a life that made her happy. And she is happy, despite some regrets, when her sister calls her out of the blue and begs for her help.

She won’t tell Ryan much, just that there’s been a murder and she’s afraid she’ll be wrongfully accused, so Ryan moves back home to care for Wendy’s two daughters—and to try to prove Wendy’s innocence. But the more Ryan digs, the more secrets she uncovers, and soon Ryan realizes everything she’s ever thought about her big sister is a lie.

This was not what I was expecting at all. It’s marketed as women’s fiction, but I’d say it falls more into the murder mystery/crime investigation genre. I was just as surprised as Ryan at some of her discoveries, and this read takes family drama to a whole new level! I found it hard to put the book down.

Emilie Richards lives and writes—across a multitude of genres—in Florida. A Family of Strangers is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Mira via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: The Voice in My Head, by Dana L. Davis

the voice in my head
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN.

Title:  The Voice in My Head
Author:  Dana L. Davis
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Indigo can’t take it anymore. Her twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill and choosing to end her life by medically assisted suicide. Indigo doesn’t want to live without her twin, and she’s sure her family would rather have Violet, everyone’s favorite, than her. Before she can jump from a building, she hears a voice claiming to be God, who says if the entire family takes Violet to hike The Wave in the desert, she will live.

As if hearing voices isn’t enough, Indigo also must convince her mom, who never thought Indigo was good enough, her brother, who’s keeping secrets, and her annoying, bossy, know-it-all older sister. Not to mention the New Age pastor who was going to help Violet pass. She’s not sure she can do this, even with the help of the voice.

This book covers some deep subjects with respect and empathy. Indigo is a vibrant yet troubled character, and her voice shows her mental conflict, as well as her struggles in her family. I found the book flippant about religion, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I didn’t like the ending, but it was very fitting for the story.

Dana L. Davis is an actor, a motivational speaker, a screenwriter, and a violist. The Voice in My Head is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Romanov, by Nadine Brandes

Romanov
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Romanov
Author:  Nadine Brandes
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

With Russia in revolution, the Romanov family are held as hostages by the Bolsheviks. For Nastya—Princess Anastasia—this new world is bewildering and frustrating. Her loving family is intact and together, but they are constantly guarded by soldiers. They are barely allowed to go outside. They are constantly under watch. She doesn’t understand why the world is so bloody and dangerous, she just knows it is.

There is an element of truth in what the people say about the Romanovs, but Nastya is not a spellcaster. If she was, she could heal her brother’s hemophilia and her mother’s illness. She could stop herself from falling in love and mend her sister’s broken heart. And she could keep her family from being executed.

But this isn’t the lies spoken about her family by the Bolsheviks. This is her life. And the truth is far stranger than the history books say.

I’ve probably seen the Disney movie Anastasia at some point, but I don’t remember it, and I’ve certainly read bits and pieces about the Romanovs, none of which I remembered before picking this book up. I had no problems understanding what was going on or starting the story after the Romanovs are taken hostage. The love in this family is remarkable and portrayed so well. All the characters are well-done, but Nastya herself is both struggling and strong, and her determination to help her family is something to behold. I enjoyed this read immensely.

Nadine Brandes is the author of the Out of Time series. Romanov is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Belly Up, by Eva Darrows

 

belly up
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Belly Up
Author:  Eva Darrows
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

It’s bad enough Sara’s boyfriend cheated on her and she found out when she saw sexting pics on his phone. But now he and the other girl are flaunting it around town, when all Sara wants is to get through the summer and spend senior year with her best friend, Devi, and get into an Ivy League school. Surely a drunken hook-up at a party will at least take Sara’s mind off her problems.

Or not.

She forgot to get the guy’s number, and when she finds out she’s pregnant, well, things change. She and her mom move in with her grandmother, and instead of starting senior year with Devi, Sara is the new girl at a new school. She meets some new friends and Leaf, a Romani boy who really gets her, and whose flirting makes her happy. Except she’s also the pregnant new girl. She should probably tell Leaf about that, but she wants to hold on to her happiness for just a little longer.

Belly Up wasn’t quite what I expected. Sara is an amazing character, and her voice is so much fun. This is an incredibly diverse book, and friendship is a main theme, as is love (and not romantic love, either). This was a fun read about serious subjects, and I recommend it.

Eva Darrows/Hillary Monahan is a New York Times-bestselling author. Belly Up is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Mother-in-law, by Sally Hepworth

the mother-in-law
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Mother-in-law
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Genre:  Domestic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Lucy married Ollie ten years ago, she couldn’t wait to become part of his family. But his mother, Diana, had other plans. She kept Lucy at arm’s length, always said exactly the wrong thing and made Lucy feel never-good-enough, and prioritized her job aiding refugees. Who could compete with that? Not stay-at-home mom Lucy.

Now Diana has been found dead of an apparent suicide, a note beside her blaming advanced cancer. But the police aren’t so sure. There are traces of poison in her system—and no trace of cancer. Things aren’t adding up, and every member of the family is under scrutiny—especially Lucy, whose tumultuous relationship with Diana is no secret from anyone.

I was kind of on the fence about this one. I know every mother-in-law isn’t evil—they’re just typecast that way—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to read something predictable. This was not a predictable read. It’s told in alternating viewpoints—Lucy and Diana—then and now, gradually revealing the truth of the relationship between the two—and what drove someone to kill Diana.

Sally Hepworth is a bestselling author who lives in Australia. The Mother-in-law is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green, by Erica Boyce

15 wonders
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green
Author:  Erica Boyce
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Daniel Green is a member of a secret organization. He travels the country making crop circles. He loves making art in secret, art that leaves people talking and wondering what if. Daniel is no stranger to being alone, but when a Vermont farmer’s dying wish brings him to a small farming town, Daniel finds himself involved in much more than making crop circles, as the lives of the farmer’s family erupt in struggles.

I know basically nothing about crop circles. Is this secret organization who makes them at people’s covert request based on the truth? No idea. But it’s a very cool concept, so I bought into it for this novel. The setting was so well-done that I could see this small farming town—unsettling, considering towns that small make me want to break out into hives—and its residents clearly. I enjoyed this book very much!

Erica Boyce is a member of the Massachusetts bar and an editor. The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Little Lovely Things, by Maureen Joyce Connolly

little lovely things
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  Little Lovely Things
Author:  Maureen Joyce Connolly
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Claire Rawlings can’t afford to get sick. Her two little girls are asleep in the back seat. She’s a medical resident. And she’s speeding down the highway. She doesn’t have time to get sick. But nausea and dizziness wait for no woman, so she exits the freeway to find a gas station, runs to the bathroom, and passes out.

When she wakes up a short while later, her car—and her two little girls—are gone. There are no witnesses, and the police struggle to find any leads. As the days pass, Claire struggles against her own guilt as her marriage crumbles under the strain.

The only lead they have—a witness who’s unreliable at best—only leads them to more devastation, but Claire is convinced there is still hope…if only she can hold things together and hang on.

Little Lovely Things is about a mother’s worst nightmare and is at turns horrific. The mystery over who took the girls haunts Claire’s every moment and even when it seems all hope is lost; she clings to the remnant. There’s some interesting—and depressing—bits about Traveler society, and overall, the book is dark with glimmers of hope and light.

Maureen Joyce Connolly is a poet, a foodie, and a dragon boat racer. Little Lovely Things is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Cliff House, by RaeAnne Thayne

 

the cliff house
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  The Cliff House
Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

After the death of their mother, Daisy and Beatriz were raised by their aunt Stella, barely 10 years older than Daisy. Stella gave up all her dreams to raise the girls, but now she’s hoping for a chance to realize her deepest dream—and maybe get a chance to correct a mistake she made long ago.

Bea made a happy life for herself after her marriage ended. Her beautiful daughter keeps her on her toes, and her art keeps her fulfilled. She’s even wondering if there’s something more between her and her best friend when her ex-husband shows back up, eager for reconciliation. It would make their daughter happy, but what about Bea?

Daisy works hard, gets thing done, and never, ever takes risks. That’s the way to get hurt, and Daisy has had quite enough of that, thank you. Until she meets a handsome stranger who makes her question everything she thought was true.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cliff House. The characters are so distinct yet make such a perfect family. I could relate to all of them and their struggles—poor Stella—and I wanted them to find happiness. An enjoyable read!

RaeAnne Thayne was a journalist before she started writing fiction. The Cliff House is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In Another Life, by C.C. Hunter

in another life
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Another Life
Author:  C.C. Hunter
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Chloe was three years old when she was adopted and became Chloe Holden. She wishes her biological mom had wanted to keep her, but she’s had a good, happy life. Until her parents’ divorce, when her mom moves her to Joyful, Texas—where joy is in short supply for Chloe’s mom, still bitter and angry from her dad’s betrayal.

Chloe runs into Cash—a hot guy from her new school—but his suspicion makes her wary. Who does Cash think she is? Chloe’s trying to parent her mother, and she could really use someone to rely on, but when Cash tells her he thinks she’s the kidnapped daughter of his foster parents, Chloe can’t deal with the questions this possibility raises.

In Another Life is a quick, read. It’s billed as a suspense novel, but I’d just say it has a little suspense in it. The focus is on the relationship between Chloe and Cash, but also on Chloe’s mom and her issues. I enjoyed reading it, but there weren’t any “I didn’t see that coming!” moments. Chloe and Cash both have some growing-up to do, and this novel explores the beginnings of that.

C.C. Hunter is a NY Times-bestselling author. In Another Life is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Woman 99, by Greer Macallister

woman 99
Image belongs to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark.

Title:  Woman 99
Author:  Greer Macallister
Genre:  historical fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Charlotte Smith’s family is wealthy, and she is expected to marry well and improve the family’s fortunes. She and her sister are to never do anything to embarrass the family. So, when Charlotte’ sister, Phoebe does embarrass the family with her behavior, she’s sent to the notorious Goldengrove Asylum.

Charlotte knows it’s her fault Phoebe was sent away, but she’s determined to make it right, so she disguises herself as a destitute woman with mental health issues and becomes Woman 99 at the asylum.

It’s not what she expected. Some of the women desperately need the help the asylum could provide—if it weren’t twisted by greed and power—but some of the women are there because they are merely inconvenient to their families. As Charlotte searches for Phoebe in the asylum, she realizes there are deeper wrongs to be righted.

I found Woman 99 engrossing from the first page. I love a good historical, and I thought this one was extremely well-done. Charlotte’s growth through the book is wonderful to see:  from a compliant, agreeable young woman to a strong and forthright woman who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. Definitely worth reading!

Greer Macallister is a USA Today-bestselling author. Woman 99 is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of SOURCEBOOKS Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)