House On Fire by Bonnie Kistler

Capture.JPGBook Title: House On Fire
Author: Bonnie Kistler
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: 03/12/2019
3 1/2 STARS ★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

In the bestselling tradition of Jodi Picoult and Celeste Ng, a tightly wound and suspenseful novel about a blended family in crisis after a drunk driving accident leaves the daughter of one parent dead—and the son of the other parent charged with manslaughter.

Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett knows all too well that most second marriages are doomed to fail. But five years in, she and Pete Conley have a perfectly blended family of her children and his. To celebrate their anniversary, they grab some precious moments of alone time and leave Pete’s son Kip, a high school senior, in charge of Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter Chrissy at their home.

Driving back on a rainy Friday night, their cell phones start ringing. After a raucous party celebrating his college acceptance to Duke and his upcoming birthday, Kip was arrested for drunk driving after his truck crashed into a tree. And he wasn’t alone—Chrissy was with him.

Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead and Kip is charged with manslaughter.

Kip has always been a notorious troublemaker, but he’s also a star student with a dazzling future ahead of him. At first, Leigh does her best to rally behind Pete and help Kip through his ordeal. Until he changes his story, and claims that he wasn’t driving after all—Chrissy was, and he swears there is a witness.

Leigh is stunned that he would lie about such a thing, while Pete clutches onto the story as the last, best hope to save his son, throwing his energy and money into finding this elusive witness. As they hurtle toward Kip’s trial date, husband and wife are torn between loyalty to their children and to each other, while the mystery of what really happened that night intensifies.

This richly conceived and tightly plotted psychological exploration of family and tragedy will have you racing toward its shocking and thought-provoking conclusion.

MY THOUGHTS:

House On Fire is former trial attorney Bonnie Kistler’s debut novel that explores tragedy in a blended family.

Leigh Huyett and Pete Conley are happily married and have blended their children from previous marriages. Everything seems to be going well until there is a car accident involving Pete’s son, Kip, and Leigh’s daughter, Chrissy. Following the accident, Kip is arrested for drunk driving and just when their family believes that things cannot get worse – Chrissy dies. Now the family not only has to mourn the loss of Chrissy but they find out that Kip will be charged with manslaughter.

The catch…Kip claims he wasn’t driving. Chrissy was.

Sounds good, right? I will admit that I enjoyed learning about this integrated family and couldn’t begin to imagine what I would do in a situation such as this. Leigh and Pete both find themselves with unfathomable circumstances. Leigh has lost her daughter and now her step-son is claiming the accident was her daughter’s fault. Pete has to chose between his own child and his wife. I do not know what I would do if I were them.

Bonnie Kistler did a great job with the main storyline but along the way there are multiple storylines that are woven throughout and I felt that they overcrowded the narrative. I found distracting and unnecessary. I also felt that more of the narrative should have involved Kip. It was unclear whether we were supposed to sympathize with Kip or dislike him.

Overall, I found the concept interesting but certain storylines could have been removed to make it much shorter and in turn, more enjoyable.

Thank you to Atria Books for gifting me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Becoming by Michelle Obama

CaptureBook Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir
Pub Date: 11/13/18
5 STARS ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

MY THOUGHTS:

I opted to listen to the audiobook this time around because Michelle Obama was narrating it herself and I am glad that I did. The story itself made me feel more connected to her and allowed the opportunity to learn more about Michelle and her family. Hearing it directly from her was just the icing on the cake.

In Becoming, readers will learn where Michelle came from and what it was like growing up in Chicago. You’ll hear how her husband was late for their first meeting (I feel you there girl! My hubby is ALWAYS late!) You’ll also hear about the transition into living at the White House and moving on from it.

I really enjoyed this autobiography and think you would too!

 

 

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

img_6153Book Title: The Beantown Girls
Author: Jane Healey
Genres: Historical Fiction, War
Pub Date: 02.05.2019
4 1/2 STARS ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.

My Thoughts:

Typically I stay away from historical fiction but recently I have tried to read genres outside of my norm. Boyyyy am I glad I did because The Beantown Girls was superb!

I grew up North of Boston so immediately I felt a connection to the story. There were tidbits about local places and our sports teams that pulled me right in. I also truly appreciated the historical notes found at the end of the book. If you skipped over that part then make sure to go back and read it and if this is your first go around, be on the lookout!

The Beantown Girls begins in 1944 with Fiona Denning – a young woman who thought she had her entire future planned out. She has a steady job at city hall and is engaged to the man of her dreams. Then her fiancé is called off to the war and when he is reported missing her life falls apart. Determined to find out as much as she can about her missing fiancé, she convinces her two best friends – Viviana and Dottie – to volunteer for the Red Cross Clubmobile’s.

The trio experiences a lot during their time oversees but they are also able to bring happiness to the soldiers and quickly earn a name for themselves.

I loved this story so much and each of the girls in their own respective, especially Fiona. Their strength, determination, and bravery was remarkable. Healey didn’t shy away from the horrors of war, instead she threw the girls right into the midst of it. You will cry, you will laugh, but in the end you will be left inspired.

Thank you to the Lake Union Publishing for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott

img_6001Book Title: The Woman Inside
Author: E.G. Scott
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Pub Date: 01/22/2019
5 STARS ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

An impossible-to-put-down domestic thriller about secrets and revenge, told from the perspectives of a husband and wife who are the most perfect, and the most dangerous, match for each other.

Rebecca didn’t know love was possible until she met Paul, a successful, charismatic, married man with a past as dark as her own. Their pain drew them together with an irresistible magnetism; they sensed that they were each other’s ideal (and perhaps only) match.

But twenty years later, Paul and Rebecca are drowning as the damage and secrets that ignited their love begin to consume their marriage. Paul is cheating on Rebecca, and his affair gets messy fast. His mistress is stalking them with growing audacity when Rebecca discovers Paul’s elaborate plan to build a new life without her. And though Rebecca is spiraling into an opiate addiction, it doesn’t stop her from coming up with a devious plot of her own, and this one could end absolutely everything.

What follows is an unpredictable and stylish game of cat and mouse—a shocking tale of unfaithfulness and unreliability that will keep you racing until the final twist and make you wonder how well you really know your spouse

My Thoughts:

Now THIS is what I have been waiting for!! If you are a thriller fan then go to your nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy! There were so many aspects of this one that I enjoyed. I honestly did not want to put it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Rebecca and Paul seem to be the perfect married couple that has it all together. They have a beautiful home on Long Island and great careers – but behind the scenes they both have secrets. Rebecca has an opioid addiction that has started to take over her life and Paul has lost his job and started having an affair with another woman. Their lives begin to unravel at the seams leading them down a dangerous path.

With Rebecca’s addiction, E.G. Scott did a wonderful job of bringing attention to the opioid epidemic that is tearing through the United States. It gave the reader a first hand view at how addiction can take over your life and the destruction that will be left in its wake.

The Woman Inside is a domestic thriller filled with untrustworthy characters who seem willing to do anything to get their way. And that ending…I thought I had it all figured out but I was wrong.

Thank you to Dutton for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Capture.JPGBook Title:  The Night Olivia Fell
Author:  Christina McDonald
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: 02/05/2019
4 STARS ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

MY THOUGHTS:


Very rarely does a thriller bring me to tears but The Night Olivia Fell was able to do so. Starting from the beginning when Adi gets a call in the middle of the night telling her there has been an accident involving her teenage daughter, Olivia. When the phone rings in the middle of the night you immediately know it is not good news and this call was no different.

Adi is a single mother who has gone to great lengths to protect her daughter. She oversees her daughters schoolwork, pushes her to volunteer, sets strict rules and basically makes it so she knows where Olivia is at every minute of the day. If you were anything like me when you were a teenager, then you found ways to break your parents rules without them ever finding out.

Upon arriving at the hospital Adi finds out that Olivia fell off a town bridge and is now braindead. To make matters worse…Olivia is pregnant! The hospital explains to Adi that they will be keeping Olivia on life support in hopes that the baby will survive. Given that Olivia is only a few weeks along, this give Adi plenty of time to get the answers she so badly needs.

The last chapter broke me…I will not anything more than that because I do not want to spoil anything but have your tissues ready.

Thank you to Gallery Books for gifting me a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

 

 

In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

Capture.JPGBook Title: In Another Time
Author: Jillian Cantor
Genres:  Historical Fiction, War
Pub Date: 03/05/2019
4 STARS ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

A sweeping historical novel that spans Germany, England, and the United States and follows a young couple torn apart by circumstance leading up to World War II—and the family secret that may prove to be the means for survival.

Love brought them together. But only time can save them…

1931, Germany. Bookshop owner Max Beissinger meets Hanna Ginsberg, a budding concert violinist, and immediately he feels a powerful chemistry between them. It isn’t long before they fall in love and begin making plans for the future. As their love affair unfolds over the next five years, the climate drastically changes in Germany as Hitler comes to power. Their love is tested with the new landscape and the realities of war, not the least of which is that Hanna is Jewish and Max is not. But unbeknownst to Hanna is the fact that Max has a secret, which causes him to leave for months at a time—a secret that Max is convinced will help him save Hanna if Germany becomes too dangerous for her because of her religion. 

In 1946, Hanna Ginsberg awakens in a field outside of Berlin. Disoriented and afraid, she has no memory of the past ten years and no idea what has happened to Max. With no information as to Max’s whereabouts—or if he is even still alive—she decides to move to London to live with her sister while she gets her bearings. Even without an orchestra to play in, she throws herself completely into her music to keep alive her lifelong dream of becoming a concert violinist. But the music also serves as a balm to heal her deeply wounded heart and she eventually gets the opening she long hoped for. Even so, as the days, months, and years pass, taking her from London to Paris to Vienna to America, she continues to be haunted by her forgotten past, and the fate of the only man she has ever loved and cannot forget.

Told in alternating viewpoints—Max in the years leading up to WWII, and Hanna in the ten years after—In Another Time is a beautiful novel about love and survival, passion and music, across time and continents.

MY THOUGHTS:

I have found myself on a historical fiction kick lately and Jillian Cantor pulled at my heart strings with In Another Time. The readers are taken on an epic journey filled with love, music, and perseverance. Alternating between Max and Hanna’s perspectives and covering 1931-1958.

There are tons of books that cover World War II but Jillian Cantor was able to do so in a different way. Cantor was able to touch on the subject in a way that was not particularly gory but instead showed the beauty and strength of the characters.

Max, a Christian bookshop owner and Hanna, a Jewish violinist who longs to join an orchestra, fall in love during Hitler’s rise to power. The story follows their relationship from the early stages before Hitler and goes right into Hanna waking up in a field without Max or any memory of the last 10 years.

Hanna’s strength and determination to continue life and to play her violin by any means possible was remarkable. As her memories began coming back, I felt deeply saddened for her and wanted to reach through the book to hug her.

In Another Time was captivating and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Thank you to Lori with Get Red PR and Harper Perennial for gifting me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Capture.JPGBook Title: The Mother-in Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: 04/23/2019
4 STARS ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.

My Thoughts:

This was the first book that I have read by Sally Hepworth and I look forward to reading more!! The Mother-in-Law is not your normal edge of your seat thriller – it is a family drama that surrounds a mysterious death.

We have dual POV’s – Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana. I think the dual perspectives made for an interesting storyline because the reader would see a situation from Lucy’s eyes and think Diana is batshit crazy. The reader would then see the rationale behind her actions in Diana’s chapter. This lead me to feel bad for Diana because there were numerous times when she had a reasonable explanation for her actions but she did not tell Lucy the reasoning. There were times that I was on Lucy’s side and then times when I was on Diana’s which was rather interesting to me. Normally I can pick one side or the other.

I enjoyed the set up of this book – during the first chapter Diana is found dead in her home with a suicide note in her desk drawer. The remaining chapters tell the build up until this point in time. I could not put it down! I wanted to know the outcome as quickly as possible.

If you enjoy family drama filled with lies and a pinch of mystery then this one is for you!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!