I’m super excited to do Erin and Dani’s Read My Books challenge in June. Sadly, the timing is a bit off for me since the books I do have in Chicago are currently packed up for our move (and I had to leave most of my books back in Texas), but I am excited to read some Kindle books I bought years ago and NetGalley books that have already been archived. I’m currently reading The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, which has been on my list forever.
Anyways, enough commentary and on to my reviews:
Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern
Clouds in My Coffee is the third book in the series, but it worked well as a stand alone novel. This might be a strange thing to say about a murder mystery novel, but I thought this book was fun! I really liked Ellison, her quirky family and the 1970s Kansas City setting. In this book, Ellison realizes after several near misses that someone is trying to kill her. On top of that, she must deal with two unwelcome house guests: Aunt Sis and her sister Marjorie. I liked this quick read so much, I'm going to go back and read the first two novels soon!
In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter
This book tells the story of two women set 80 years apart in Royal Sussex Hospital. In 1938, Grace Kemp becomes a nurse after being shamed by her family. In present day, Mina Morgan is brought into the hospital after a near-fatal accident and deals with severe memory loss as she tries to put her life back together. Told in alternating chapters, this story was engrossing, and I really liked both women and how their stories intertwined. I'm usually not a huge fan of the supernatural, but it was done really well in this novel. In the Light of What We See was one of my favorite reads so far this year.
That Darkness by Lisa Black
This book is the beginning of a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic investigator, and Jack Renner, a homicide detective...and a vigilante killer. The plot was interesting, but I didn't love Maggie's character (especially towards the end). Jack is a fascinating character, though, as he truly feels what he's doing is the right thing to do. I don't usually read detective series, but I am curious enough about this one that I will probably read the next book.
The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown
I read a lot of WWII literature, so I was sad to find out I had never heard of America's Schindler, Vivian Fry, who helped over 2,000 artists (and other people) escape France to the United States during the war. Although he is not the main character in this story, it was interesting to learn about him and his mission. The main plot of this book was about an investigative journalist named Sophie who is determined to find out the full extent of her great-aunt Vita's connection to the famous artist Gabriel Lambert. Gabriel's story was beautiful, interesting, and heartbreaking. After I finished this book, all I wanted to do was read it again and recommend it to everyone I know who loves WWII historical fiction.
The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love
(I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.)
This book was different than the description, but I still liked it. I think the romance part was weak, but it was interesting to learn about how England treated Italian immigrants before and during World War II. The character development could have been stronger, and the ending fell a little flat for me. Overall, I do not feel like I wasted my time reading it, but I think there are better World War II books out there.
Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky
Ellie finds out on her wedding day that her new husband Rob is a killer. Can she love him anyway...and help him escape his past? With a description like that, I was hoping for more from this book than I got. It was a decent thriller, but it took a while to get into because it alternated between the "now" and "then" chapters so quickly. It oddly felt more like a light read than a thriller at times. I also wasn't super impressed with the twists at the end. I still think it is worth a read if you don't go into it with high expectations.
Saving Abby by Steena Holmes
Claire and Josh have been hoping for a child for six years, but when Claire finally becomes pregnant, she receives a devastating diagnosis that forces her to choose between her life and that of her child. I'm conflicted about this book. I thought the conflict of Claire having to choose her life or her child's life would be a bigger part of the book than it was. I also expected this book to be a tearjerker, but the emotions fell flat for me, probably because of some of Claire's actions. That said, I read the book in a day, and it kept me interested. I was just hoping for a bit more than I got.
Exposure to a Billionare by Ann Menke
courtesy of the author
I don’t usually post about books I didn’t like at all, but I am making an exception for this one since it was a Literary Ladies book club read. There's no way to sugar coat it: this book is just not written well. It's extremely repetitive, full of awkward phrases, and lacked a real plot. I got so tired of hearing how Stuart was like family and the two pilots were like brothers to her.
The French really bothered me. If you don't speak French, please don't put a phrase into Google Translate and put it into your book! Plus, there is no way you would address someone you love with the "vous" tense all the time! Plus, there was no consistency, even with someone as simple as nicknames. Jean Michael randomly became Mitch and then JM, and the author would use all these nicknames interchangeably. Then, Anna randomly became Annabelle for a bit. It was really odd.
There was no real character development. All I can tell you is Anna was thankful for her job, Stuart Manning was apparently perfect, Vanessa was beautiful and kind, and Jean Michael was charming.
The only positive thing I can say is I did enjoy the descriptions of Anna's travels. That's the only thing that moved the book from one star to two stars for me.
Favorite reads in May: The House of Dreams, In the Light of What We See, and Clouds in My Coffee.