Tag Archive | Goodreads Wins

Review: House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

House of Silence Book Cover House of Silence
Sarah Barthel
Historical
Kensington
December 27, 2016
Paperback
261
Goodreads First Read
August 6 - October 6, 2023

For fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age, explore the dazzling world of America’s 19th century elite in this lush, page-turning saga…

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin's future--like that of every young woman--hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle's visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancé commit a horrific crime--and no one believes her.

Gregory denies all, and Isabelle's mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband's assassination. 

In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.

Weaving together a thread of finely tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel's debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling.

House of Silence

Review

2.5 Stars

After witnessing her fiancé, Gregory, murder a woman, and having nobody believe her, Isabelle Larkin stops speaking. This is a conscious decision, because why speak if nobody believes you? And when she refuses to speak for a period of time, her mother and her doctor feel there is no other choice than to send her off to Bellevue sanitarium. Isabelle is glad to get away, it means she won’t see Gregory; however, if anyone were to find out, Isabelle’s reputation would be ruined. 

While at Bellevue, Isabelle acquaints herself with the other patients who have various issues, and befriends the staff. And then the former first lady of the USA, Mary Todd Lincoln takes up residence. It is Mrs. Lincoln to whom Isabelle confides.

This book was well written, and the characters fleshed out, however I don’t feel like there was enough substance in the middle of the book. After Isabella witnessed the murder, the book seemed to drag as she did her day to day tasks at Bellevue, and went on carriage rides with Mrs. Lincoln, until we finally reached the climax, which I did enjoy. I would have been more invested had anything happened to Isabelle throughout the middle of the book. As it was, there was one small incident that was barely a blip. It happened so fast, I wasn’t even sure if it was real or Isabelle’s imagination.

I did enjoy learning a little more about Mary Todd Lincoln though. I had no clue that after the assassination of her husband President Abraham Lincoln, she was sent to a sanitarium due to her behaviors that her son found troubling. 

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you’re a big fan of historical novels. 

Review: A Cowboy’s Wish Upon a Star by Caro Carson

A Cowboy’s Wish Upon a Star Book Cover A Cowboy’s Wish Upon a Star
Texas Rescue #5
Caro Carson
Contemporary / Western / Hollywood Romance
Harlequin
November 21, 2016
Paperback
224
Goodreads First Reads
June 7 - 17, 2023

From Hollywood… 

A cattle ranch is the perfect place for movie star Sophia Jackson to escape her scandalous past and the paparazzi hot on her trail. But foreman Travis Chalmers makes it clear who's running the ranch. When their constant clashing ignites unexpected attraction, Sophia takes on her greatest acting role: pretending she isn't falling for the sexy, domineering cowboy.

…to Motherhood 

Once Travis sweeps her into his arms at her sister's wedding, she knows the feeling's mutual. But a precious secret followed Sophia to Texas. And now a Hollywood hurricane is about to blow through Travis's peaceful Texas town. Is the mother-to-be ready to fight for her future and see her most passionate Christmas wish granted—she and Travis vowing to love each other forever?

Review

I’ll be real with you, I 100% thought this was going to be a quick romance with zero depth that made me roll my eyes every other page. 

I was wrong.

Sophia is a Hollywood A-List actress who fell in with a bad boy rockstar who’s trashed her reputation. In order to avoid more scandal, she’s agreed to lock herself up at a Texas cattle ranch.

Enter Travis, the ranch’s foreman, who wants nothing less than to “babysit” this city girl. Except, from the moment he lay eyes on her, he’s enchanted. He sees below the facade she wears, but knows nothing can happen between them.

What Travis doesn’t know, and Sophia won’t admit even to herself, is that she’s pregnant, and her isolation is also to keep her pregnancy a secret until she gives birth and gives the baby up for adoption. 

Despite a rocky start, these two find a connection. But can it last with Sophia’s big secret looming between them? 

This was such a charming story. It wasn’t too country/cowboy western, and it wasn’t too Hollywood. It was really just the story of two people. Absolutely recommend this one to fans of the romance genre.  

Review: Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

Mastering the Art of French Murder Book Cover Mastering the Art of French Murder
An American in Paris #1
Colleen Cambridge
Mystery
Kensington
April 25, 2023
Print ARC
304
Goodreads Giveaway
January 29 - March 5, 2023

Set in the City of Light and starring Julia Child’s (fictional) best friend, confidant, and fellow American, this Magnifique new historical mystery series from the acclaimed author of Murder at Mallowan Hall combines a fresh perspective on the iconic chef’s years in post-WWII Paris with a delicious mystery and a unique culinary twist. Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Marie Benedict, and of course, Julia Child alike! As Paris rediscovers its joie de vivre, Tabitha Knight, who recently arrived from Detroit for an extended stay with her French grandfather, is on her own journey of discovery. Paris isn’t just the City of Light; it’s the city of history, romance, stunning architecture . . . and food. Thanks to her neighbour and friend Julia Child, another ex-pat who’s fallen head over heels for Paris, Tabitha is learning how to cook for her Grandpère and Oncle Rafe. Between tutoring Americans in French, visiting the market, and eagerly sampling the results of Julia’s studies at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, Tabitha’s sojourn is proving thoroughly delightful. That is, until the cold December day they return to Julia’s building and learn that a body has been found in the cellar. Tabitha recognizes the victim as a woman she’d met only the night before, at a party given by Julia’s sister, Dort. The murder weapon found nearby is recognizable too—a knife from Julia’s kitchen. Tabitha is eager to help the investigation but is shocked when Inspector Merveille reveals that a note, in Tabitha’s handwriting, was found in the dead woman’s pocket. Is this murder a case of international intrigue, or something far more personal? From the shadows of the Tour Eiffel at midnight to the tiny third-floor Child kitchen to the grungy streets of Montmartre, Tabitha navigates through the city hoping to find the real killer before she or one of her friends ends up in prison . . . or worse.

Review

Mastering the Art of French Murder was an uneven book for me. The introduction in the beginning was cute, but things quickly slowed down, before the book ended with a satisfying bang.

Historical fiction is hit or miss for me, and this one leans toward a miss due to the very stilted narrative. It felt as though the author knew she was writing to a modern audience and felt the need to over-explain things that didn’t need to be over-explained. Mind you, I was not alive in the 1950s when this book takes place, but I have a hard time believing anybody communicated in the way these characters often communicated.

I also felt like the author mentioned the fact that the heroine, Tabitha, was a “Rosie the Riveter” far too many times—once is enough. It was implied far too often that Tabitha “isn’t like most women”, which is an overly used trope that drives me crazy.

As far as the mystery, it dragged. The inspecteur was not developed well enough for me, which I think was the intention, but it didn’t do the book any favorites in my opinion. My guess is the author plans to slowly build him up over the couse of the series.

As far as Julie Child’s role in this book, I found it charming. It was cute the way Tabitha was terrible in the kitchen and she leaned on Julia to guide her so she could cook for her grandpère and uncle, as a thank you for allowing her to stay with them in Paris. Reading this fictional account of Julia made me interested to learn more about her actual history.

Ultimately, I think if you’re a fan of cozy mysteries and historicals, this could be the book for you. Sadly, cozy mysteries have never done it for me, and as a historical, for me this was a miss.

A cute concept for a cozy mystery... bringing Julia Child together with a crime committed with her own kitchen knife.

REVIEW: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Some Boys by Patty Blount

Read: January 27 – February 4, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Genre: Contemporary YA

Pages: 339

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 Beat The Backlist, 2017 YA Reading Challenge, 2017 TBR Challenge

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But…Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.


REVIEW

Some of the books I win from Goodreads I’m pretty meh about. I’m like, “Oh, cool, I won a book.” But this book? This book I was excited for! I mean, LOOK at that gorgeous cover! The high contract, the beautiful background color, what’s not to love? And then I open it, and on page one I’m in tears. Okay, I didn’t actually cry, but only because I was sitting outside my kids preschool classroom waiting for the class to be released. I held back, but I wanted to cry. I really did.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t read a whole lot of contemporary YA. I’m a paranormal/fantasy kind of girl, but I’m working on branching out. The book this most closely relates to from my catalog of books read is Girl on the Brink by Christina Hoag. Both books deal with very tough subject matters. In this case, we’re talking not only rape, but bullying and slut shaming.

I love Grace so much. Grace has had to put up with so much shit since her rape. She’s been called a liar, a slut, and worse. She’s had her property damaged. She’s had her own parents blame her for what happened to her. There were so many times I wanted to cry for Grace, but you know what? Grace is badass. She’s not the kind of girl who is going to just let people get away with this stuff, especially not her rapist. She kept fighting even when she was told it was hopeless.

Then there’s Ian. Ian liked grace before she dated his BFF Zac. But friends don’t date friends exes. Despite acting like an idiot for most of the book, Ian is a good guy. He has good parents who raised him right. It takes a really long time for him to step up and do the right thing and from other reviews I’ve read, a lot of people hate him for that. You know what I think? I think that makes him real. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against your friends and team, especially as a teenager. If Ian were to drop his best friend just because the girl he liked cried rape, I wouldn’t buy it. So yeah, while it’s frustrating at times to read some of the things Ian did/said, it made sense. And in the end, we see him grow and change into a better person.

As for Zac, it was so easy to hate him from Grace’s POV, and at times question her story and almost sympathize with him from what he tells Ian in his POV. (Did I mention this is dual POV alternating between Grace and Ian? I love dual POV!) I mean, I never liked Zac. He was always a sleaze ball, but the author was able to really help me understand why Ian felt the way he did for Zac based on his interactions and conversations with Zac.

There were a couple of times in this book where it bordered on After School Special territory, but even with those way too cheesy moments, this book is a 5 star read. Every girl should read this. Every boy should read this. Hell, every parent and teacher and human being should read this!

This will not be my last Patty Blount book. She is an author to watch out for.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

I want to turn to look at him, look him dead in the eye, and twist my face into something that shows contempt instead of the terror that too often wins whenever I hear his name so he sees—so he knows—he didn’t beat me.


She always wants me to run with her, but I strongly believe if God had intended man—or woman—to jog, he’d have scaled way back on breast size and sent some of that padding to the soles of our feet. Just sayin’.

 

“Everybody says it’s my fault because I got drunk, and you know what? That doesn’t count! Everyone was drinking that night. There’s only one thing that counts, but nobody wants to hear it.”


Maybe the whole female sex is worse than the males, the way they turn on each other, transforming from bat-shit crazy into straight-up vicious over some guy.

 

I just want to shatter so I never have to feel anything again.

 

Beat The Backlist: Print Book Edition

 

I’m supporting Hufflepuff in the #BeatTheBacklist reading challenge.

 

The challenge goal: Read/review as many backlist books as you possibly can. Bonus points for social media posts!

My goal: Get through as many of my Goodreads wins and impulse library/Goodwill buys as I possibly can.

Below you’ll find my current list, though I doubt I’ll come close to reading them all! This is JUST my print books. I’ve got to take some time to compile a list of ebooks, which I can get through much quicker thanks to the wonders of Text-to-Speech (nothing like a robotic voice reading to you while you fold laundry, am I right???)

Without further ado, my list of book titles and reason for bumping them up on my TBR list.

 

* Note: All books are linked to Amazon with an affiliate link.


Some Boy by Patty Blount

– Goodreads win. AMAZING cover. Important topic (rape culture). Already 50% in after 2 days and in love.

Switch by Douglas Davey

– Goodreads win. It’s YA. It fits the LGBTQ reading challenge I took on. Also looks like it might be a relatively short read.

The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey

– Goodreads win. Very short middle grade. It might bore me, but it might not. It’s about bullying. I might give it to my 4th grader to read when I’m done. Also an ARC…. I probably should have read sooner. I’m the worst.

The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

– Pretty sure this was a Goodreads win. One of the very few YA’s I’ve won. Plus it looks super cute with reality TV and teen romance mixed in.

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier

– Goodreads win. MG I believe. Might be a good one to read with/to my kids. Been on my TBR list since I won it. Another ARC I feel guilty for not reading sooner!


More Than Friends by Monica Murphy

– Goodreads win. YA contemporary romance. Fun cover. Second in a series, hopefully I can enjoy despite having not read book 1!

Silence by Michelle Sagara

– Goodwill find. I paid money for it, I damn well better read it! Pretty cover.

The Wizard, The Witch & Two Girls From Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou

– Friends of the Library buy. I paid money for it, I damn well better read it! If the book is as good as the title I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.


Legacy: A Private Novel by Kate Brian

– Friends of the Library buy. I have a feeling I won’t like this one about rich boarding school girls, but I paid $1.50 for it so I have to at least try.

Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix

– Friends of the Library buy. I’m iffy on this one. But it was cheap. And there are girls in tiaras. I like princesses.

The Best “Worst” president: What the Right Gets Wrong About Barack Obama by Mark Hannah

– Goodreads win. Fabulous cover. I need to read more about politics. And I love the Obama family. Big book with small print though…


How To Get Publicity For Your Book by Natalie Obando

– Goodreads win. May help with promo ideas for my own publications. SUPER SHORT – only 145 pages. I meant to read this over the summer, but it got lost in the shuffle.

The ABC’s of Adulthood: An Alphabet of Life Lessons by Deborah Copaken & Randy Polumbo

– Goodreads win. Short. Maybe I’ll learn an important lesson about adulting. I suck at adulating.

The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston

– Goodreads win. I’ve been trying to win an Amish romance since forever. Now I can find out if I even like Amish romances!


Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

– On loan from a friend. From at least 3 years ago! EEP! Better read and return. Hesitant because it’s chick lit and my luck with that genre has been meh.

A Night With Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday

– Goodreads win. One of my FIRST wins. Keeps getting pushed back on the list because I haven’t had much luck with chick lit. Beautiful cover though!

Something Blue by Emily Griffin

– See book 1 for all reasons. If I hate Something Borrowed I will not be reading Something Blue.

 

Cat With a Clue by Laurie Cass

– Goodreads win. Cozy mystery. Cats. Sounds good to me! Was going to read summer 2016 but it got shuffled aside. 🙁


Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

– Goodreads win. Another ARC I feel guilty for not reading sooner. The author recently liked/commented on my Instagram post I made when the book arrived. Now I feel extra obligated to read/review!


The Cardboard Spaceship by Matt Snee & Gregg Chirlin

– Goodreads win. It’s….about a cardboard spaceship. I’m intrigued! Also it’s pretty short.

A Boy in Barcelona by R. W. Mitchell

– Goodreads win. Meets 2 other reading challenges (LGBTQ & Tour of Europe). Main character is quitting social media? I must see how this plays out, I couldn’t do it!

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

– Goodreads win. A book about a man who loses his arm. And it’s a comedy. Yes please.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

– Goodreads win. I’ve heard good things about this one. I like libraries. And magic. It was an ARC and I feel guilty for not reading/reviewing yet! (BONUS: Counts for my European Reading Challenge!)

Drop Dead Beautiful by Jackie Collins

– Given to me by a friend to keep. I read most of the Lucky Santangelo series before this one. The first one, Chances, I thought I’d hate. But my friend insisted and boy am I glad I did! SO ADDICTING! I need to double check that I am up to date before starting this one, but I’m pretty sure I have at least one more to read first. Despite being HUGE books, these are totally addicting page turners. It’s good to have a little Jackie Collins in your life.