The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

07CDD0F4-BDD6-482C-AB8E-8503CAC53F8BThank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow books for sending me a free copy of The Last Romantics in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected.  Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.

My Review:

The Last Romantics is a wholly realistic story of family.  It portrays the love, happiness, loss and grief that are common to all families.  The good and the bad. A cast of loveable characters that mesh together into a unique but strong family made this a very enjoyable read.

I liked that the sections of this book jumped forward in time so that the reader can see the whole scope of the Skinner’s lives from beginning to end.  It helped demonstrate how actions, events and choices really do effect the entire course of a life or lives.  With that being said, I do feel like the plot glossed over the lives of the Skinner family and didn’t go as in depth as some other stories about family. I liked that I could see the entirety of their lives but do feel like I failed to make a connection due to the quick moving plot.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I was very engaged and wanted to find out what happened to Joe, the black sheep of the family. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys family or sibling stories. I rate it four out of five stars.

 

You can purchase The Last Romantics through the links below:

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062358202/the-last-romantics/

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2F30EL6

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-romantics-tara-conklin/1126314263?ean=9780062358202

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The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

045C4E1F-8667-43AD-A635-FCD4DCFCC3A6Thank you to Berkley Publishers for sending me a free copy of The French Girl in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Everyone has a secret…

They were six university students from Oxford—friends and sometimes more than friends—spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door.

But after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate Channing knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget…like Severine, who was never seen again.

A decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts all around her. Desperate to resolve her unreliable memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the memory of the woman who still haunts her, Kate finds herself entangled within layers of deception with no one to set her free…

My Review:

The French Girl is a dark, mysterious, slow burning thriller that I greatly enjoyed. It is edgy and modern and definitely unique compared to many thrillers already out there for several reasons:  First of all, we never get to actually meet the mysterious Severine.  She is only described through the voices of the other characters. Something else I found unique was the format of the mystery.  The crime took place in France ten years prior, but there are almost no flashbacks what-so-ever.  The story is told almost completely in the present day.

Suspicion was cleverly thrown towards all the characters so that I was guessing the whole time and had multiple theories in my head. The ending, while left slightly open-ended was also very believable.  No eye-rolling for this one! All of the characters are young, successful adults living in a city, which gave it that sharp and edgy feel. I do prefer a fast-paced thriller, but overall I did enjoy The French Girl.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

B1DC6E77-1D30-4CC7-82F4-9C828D69284EThank you to Lake Union Publishers for providing me with a free digital copy of Until The Day I Die in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…

Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.

Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.

My Review:

Until The Day I Die is the third book by Emily Carpenter that I’ve read and I think it’s my new favorite! Ms. Carpenter has become the queen of the atmospheric thriller, in my own mind at least. She develops such strong settings that not only transport you to another place but also give off the creepiest of vibes. The Weight of Lies and Every Single Secret both take place in old mansions with so many quirks that I was scared for the characters. In Until The Day I Die, the tropical resort where the main character goes is so unnaturally perfect, I was left wondering what the catch was.

What made this thriller work so well for me was the realistic nature of the plot. The horrifying reality that Erin was facing could very well happen in real life. Thrillers can sometimes get a little far fetched but what happened in UTDID could probably actually happen to someone. I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoilers, but just know that UTDID is another great thriller from Emily Carpenter and a five star read for me!

The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin

The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin

848705AC-BD28-4094-BFDA-8B317C08BB15Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow publishing for sending me a free copy of The Sisters Hemingway in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

The Hemingway Sisters of Cold River, Missouri are local legends. Raised by a mother obsessed with Ernest Hemingway, they were named after the author’s four wives—Hadley, Pfeiffer, Martha, and Mary. The sisters couldn’t be more different—or more alike. Now they’re back in town, reunited to repair their fractured relationships.

Hadley is the poised, polished wife of a senator.

Pfeiffer is a successful New York book editor.

Martha has skyrocketed to Nashville stardom.

They each have a secret—a marriage on the rocks,  a job lost, a stint in rehab…and they haven’t been together in years.

Together, they must stay in their childhood home, faced with a puzzle that may affect all their futures. As they learn the truth of what happened to their mother—and their youngest sister, Mary—they rekindle the bonds they had as children, bonds that have long seemed broken. With the help of neighbors, friends, love interests old and new—and one endearing and determined Basset Hound—the Sisters Hemingway learn that the happiness that has appeared so elusive may be right here at home, waiting to be claimed.

My Review:

The Sisters Hemingway is a character driven novel about family, love, and loss. It beautifully describes the way people react differently to difficult situations. After suffering loss after loss, the only thing The Hemingway Sister did the same was leave their small town.  But where they went from there was extremely different. I loved reading the story of these estranged sisters coming back together.  They thought they were facing the death of their aunt but they ended up facing so much more than that.

It’s been a while since I read a novel with such distinctly different yet realistic characters.  Each of the three sisters was so uniquely herself which added such  an endearing quality and authenticity to the story.  I was also pleased that these women weren’t damsels in distress looking for men to save them.  They only wanted to fix what was broken in their lives and thankfully that didn’t revolve around the need for a man.

I was fully invested in this story and enjoyed it from start to finish. The only thing that was missing for me was perhaps a little more grit, because in real life, things get tough.  The writing in this one is very soft around the edges, but is a great story overall.  I give this one four out of five stars and recommend it to anyone whole enjoys family, sibling, or sister stories.

Click the links below to purchase:

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062674517/the-sisters-hemingway/

 

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sisters-hemingway-annie-england-noblin/1129047313?ean=9780062674517#/

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

772DA714-E03F-4CB6-A149-123CA4433828Thank you to TLC book tours and William Morrow books for sending me a free copy of Learning To See in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Amazon:

In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to make her own way as an independent woman. Renaming herself Dorothea Lange she is soon the celebrated owner of the city’s most prestigious and stylish portrait studio and wife of the talented but volatile painter, Maynard Dixon.

By the early 1930s, as America’s economy collapses, her marriage founders and Dorothea must find ways to support her two young sons single-handedly. Determined to expose the horrific conditions of the nation’s poor, she takes to the road with her camera, creating images that inspire, reform, and define the era. And when the United States enters World War II, Dorothea chooses to confront another injustice—the incarceration of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans.

At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, Dorothea Lange, creator of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, dares to be different. But her choices came at a steep price…

My Review:

Elise Hooper has a real gift at writing history in such a relatable storytelling fashion. Learning To See is her second novel about a lesser talked woman in history.  Her first book, The Other Alcott, focused on the sister of the famous Louisa May Alcott and her journey with a career in art. Learning To See is about Dorothea Lange, and while I am familiar with her most famous photograph, I must admit I didn’t know she was the artist behind the camera.

This book had a fun and refreshing setting: San Francisco in the 1930’s!  I realized that many books I have read that take place in this time period are set in New York City so this setting was a breath of fresh air.  The beautiful sunny weather and the landscapes of the nearby locales in Arizona and New Mexico were described in breathtaking clarity and added such a lush setting to the novel.

Dorothea Lang’s fascinating life was a pleasure to read about as well as that of her first husband Maynard Dixon.  I was googling both of their art while reading this book. Knowing how Dorothea’s photography evolved from commercial to something artistic and meaningful made the pictures I found even more beautiful.

I always love learning from what I read and Learning To See taught me about two American artists and an in depth look at life during the depression. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend to art lovers and historical fiction lovers alike!

To purchase Learning To See, click the links below:

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062686534/learning-to-see/

https://amzn.to/2T1RS2s

 

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

c0e4c88a-6dfe-403c-b28e-0391e422a8aeThanks to Berkley books for sending me a free copy of The Suspect in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

I read The Child by Fiona Barton a couple years ago and really enjoyed it so I was excited to see The Suspect publishing this year. I like Barton’s writing and the short chapters in her books. 

The story of two missing girls backpacking in Thailand sounded intriguing but fell a little flat for me. The glimpses that the reader gets into what went on at the hostel where the girls stay were a little naive and immature. I guess that would be typical behavior for teenage girls but it didn’t make for the most mysterious of thrillers. 

As the investigation got rolling, there were parts that got redundant as the reporter, Kate, looked into and found out the same information that the detective Sparkes also received. But at about the halfway point, things picked and and I was very eager to reach the end and find out what happened.

The reporter, Kate, had some of her own personal interests tied up in the investigation which I liked: it added a little more emotion and substance to what would otherwise be a basic police procedural. Overall I liked this one but didn’t love it. Barton’s writing is great, like I said, but the plot within this one wasn’t as strong as in The Child, in my opinion. If you like slow burn mysteries you might like The Suspect.

The Current by Tim Johnston

The Current by Tim Johnston

426a4ba5-ef75-495f-b566-a93869289dfcThank you to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for sending me a free copy of The Current by Tim Johnston in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Amazon: 

In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scenehalf frozen but alive.

What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them.

Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown.

Grief, suspicion, the innocent and the guilty—all stir to life in this cold northern town where a young woman can come home, but still not be safe. Brilliantly plotted and unrelentingly propulsive, The Current is a beautifully realized story about the fragility of life, the power of the past, and the need, always, to fight back.

My Review: 

I read Tim Johnston’s Descent a few years  back and really enjoyed the depths within the pages of what would otherwise be a typical thriller.  So when I saw The Current was soon to be published, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy because I knew what a gem it would be.

The first thing I picked up on while reading The Current was the familiarity and authenticity of small town life: the people, their thoughts and judgements, the gossip and the humbleness of the daily grind.  Authors sometimes paint small town life as quaint, or quirky even but it really isn’t any of those things.  I have lived small town life and saw it mimicked precisely in The Current.

That realness really set the stage for the small town drama that ensued. Elements from the past and present, while seemingly separate in the beginning, meld into a tragedy much bigger than the towns people originally thought. While it did take me a little while to piece together what was going on between the pas and present, by the last quarter of the book I was flying through pages to find out what would happen.

One issue I did have with the book was the beginning third or so, where bits and pieces of the past are intermingled with the present plot.  Timeframes are not noted so I kept getting confused if a character was telling about something currently happening or something that happened before.  Once I got everything straightened out in my mind, I found it easier to follow along but it was a rocky start.

The Current was also a little slower moving that I remember Descent being, but I did think that the slower pace matched the small town life and setting that Johnston so soundly built up. I would definitely call this one a slow burn.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and the depths of setting and character that Johnston is so good at creating will help this book make a lasting impression in my mind. I rate this one 3.5 out of 5 starts, I did enjoy it but I think I still like Descent better.