Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis

This is it!  I have finally finished the last book the Books & Broads Book Club agreed to read for this year.  The November Book chosen by the book club was The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis.  Let me tell you, Dear Bloggites, I made a huge sigh of relief finishing this one because I finally feel “caught up” to the other ladies in the club…LOL  On to the review:

The Moment She Left by Susan LewisI was unsure if I would like this book only because I was told the majority of the ladies in the book club did not like this book.  So, I figured it was going to be one of two things for me: 1. I hate it or 2. I love it.  The answer is 2!  I loved this book!  I was already intrigued simply because it was a mystery AND a fiction book AND not about Hitler or WWII or any other war there is! 🙂  The story line for The Moment She Left was about a young girl who disappears one day without a trace.  This young lady had everything going for her and her life was perfect, then she disappeared.  Two years after the disappearance without a single clue what happened, the father, Blake, asked an ex-detective, Andee Lawrence, to revisit the case.

Andee, as a favor for a friend of hers, agrees to revisit the case even though she was sure the police did everything they could to find her and yet could not find any leads.  Andee is a woman newly separated from her husband and is trying to find her way for herself outside her husband and children even though she is getting a lot of grief from everyone in the family.  Taking on this case is a good distraction for Andee and as she starts digging in, finds that there is an area that was missed by the police.  Once this area was discovered, a whole world of secrets are exposed for almost the entire town and one way or another, the key players are all tied to this disappearance.

No more story giveaway, on to the review.  Susan Lewis did an amazing job and building out each character in this story while adding to the overall plot.  The characters were well rounded and while this story was a mystery, there were funny characters that lightened and endeared the readers that much more to the town and people.  This story is the first in a series on Andee Lawrence and I do plan on buying the others in the series because I really liked this character.  Andee’s struggles with balancing life and work are struggles any one can relate to and the author wrote so well that you felt the emotions each character was feeling at the moment they had those feelings.

The only thing I did not like was that two-thirds of the way through the book, the end result of who did what to whom was apparent and so there was no surprise ending.  That was a bit of a disappointment for me because I like those stories that keep me guessing until the very end.  Even though the end became predictable, I still enjoyed the book and liked how each character was tied into the disappearance and how they were tied into the incident.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend you go get it if you enjoy a good mystery that does not confuse you.

I give The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like a mystery, go out and give it a read.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Life wins again, Dear Bloggites. :-/  I finished this book in October when it was the actual Books & Broads Book Club monthly choice, but am just now able to write this review.  The October Book Club book choice was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownI must admit, I was leery about reading this one because it was yet another book set in WWII and has Hitler as a feature due to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Fortunately, I rallied on and found that I loved this book!  My goodness, I was so surprised at what I read in this book because most of the Book Club members did not like this book and a few did not read it (yet).  I did go into this book thinking of it as a story about relationships through hard times thanks to the lovely Alice who enjoyed this book (I believe it was Alice, if not, please do not flog me friends).

Going into the story with the focus on relationships, I had the proper eyes to read this book and see all the amazing things about this story.  Daniel James Brown shared this amazing non-fiction story told from the eyes of one of the key members of the rowing team that fought their way to the Olympics against all odds.  While the author does go into a lot of technical elements of rowing and how the boats are built, I enjoyed reading the information because I am always loving to learn new things about the world around me.

The story focuses on nine young American college boys who joined the college rowing team.  All the boys are from many different walks of life and on different journeys in their lives, but managed to form a bond so tight that it dissolved the differences between them and forged the similarities that affected them throughout their lives.  These young men worked hard to obtain the right to go represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and once there, won the gold medal against Hitler’s massive rowing team.

Throughout the novel, you are taken on an emotional journey of love, fear, joy, hate, and insurmountable dedication to achieve the dreams of these young men – a better life and a gold medal from the Olympics.  The relationships that the author highlighted throughout the novel between the boys and their family and friends, gave an intimate insight into life in the 1930s and how Americans lived during the depression and WWII.

The only fault I found in this book was that there were times that the technical repetition of how to row a boat throughout the book became a little daunting, but I believe it served a purpose to get the reader in the minds of the boys while rowing the boat as a team.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to those who love a real life, feel good story.

I give The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown 4 out of 5 Bookmarks! 🙂  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Here is another book review from my personal collection on Audible.  Amazon offered this book as an early read/listen before its release date, and because of life (you know that crazy thing that screws up all plans), I just got around to listening to it.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot HutchisonI love a good mystery, I love a good detective novel, and this book offered both.  The book is called The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) by Dot Hutchison.  The story is a different twist on a serial kidnapper/rapist.  Instead of writing the novel like most detective books where the reader follows the detectives on their journey of solving the crimes being committed, Dot Hutchison writes from the view point AFTER the bad guy is caught and follows the interviews of the kidnapped victims by the detectives.  This story line intrigued my sense of all things odd and unusual.

The main character is a kidnapped teen/young woman who was renamed Maya by the Gardener, the name the kidnapper told the girls he took to call him.  The Gardener would kidnap young girls around the age of 16 years old, the age he felt all women were in perfect form, and would rape them and tattoo huge butterfly wings on their backs.  He called them his “butterflies” and created this enclosed garden for the butterflies to live in until they turned 21 where he would then “capture them into an eternal beauty”.  I cannot tell you more on the story line without giving it all away so you will have to grab a book and find out. 😉

The way the author wrote the story, I was a little confused as to what was going on at the beginning because she toggled from one-character point of view to another.  Once I realized her cadence with the writing, I was pulled into the story.  As Maya fills in the detectives about what happened in The Butterfly Garden, the reader learns of how the Gardener hunts his prey when he picks his ‘Butterflies’; how the girls obtain their ‘wings’; and how the sons of the kidnapper became involved with all the girls being kept as captives.

The ‘Butterflies’ in the garden had to learn to get along with one another and as their knowledge grows of each other and their shared treatment from the Gardener, they form their own family with each other and always looked out for one another and mourned the loss of any ‘butterflies’ that were taken from the garden.  Maya was a sort of housemother to the girls in the garden taking on the role of caring for all of them and the newly kidnapped girls.  The other girls looked to Maya for answers due to her ability to manipulate the Gardener and one of his sons to obtain things the girls need in the garden.

The only issue I had with this book was that it did toggle back and forth from one point of view to another in the first person which I am not a fan of.  This book is the first in a trilogy written by the author.  I have not read Dot Hutchison before and I will probably get the other two in the trilogy to round out my collection.  She does write well and is able to give the readers a true understanding of the bad things that happened to the women by the kidnapper without providing too much detail or gore.

I give The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Toodles for now! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

A panda walks into a café.  He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asked the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.  The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door, “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda.  Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots & leaves.”

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussHi Ho, All!  I am doing a bonus book review, well heck, not really a bonus since I blog on most of the books I read. 😀  As you all know, I am a writer, albeit newbie writer, but a writer nonetheless and am always looking for books that cover the craft of writing and storytelling.

Being a Grammar Nazi, I always get giddy with books over any kind of grammar lessons, and I was nicely surprised when one of my Beautiful Books & Broads Book Club Tribe Monkey Member came up to me and handed me this book stating she immediately thought of me when she read this book.  Between the punctuation lesson and the snarky sarcastic way of the author, Lynn Truss, Darling Janice knew this was a book for me to read.  Thank You, Janice!!!

I was hooked on this book immediately from the first snarky sentence by the author.  I love being reminded of proper punctuation and in this day and age of “Text Speak”, punctuation is a dying art.  The book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, talks about all the standard punctuation marks that are slowly being disregarded in this world of technology where no one questions why their sentence seems off because Word did not tell them there was an issue. 😦

Lynne Truss covers the history of each punctuation she is talking on and provides great examples of how and how not to use each of them.  I was smiling from cover to cover reading this book.  If you are a writer or not, this book will definitely help remind you of how to properly state things in a written work so the meaning is completely clear without a question.

I give Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  It is a definite must have for anyone who knows how to write. 🙂  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

Join me in my journey back to the past, one-month past.  Here is the September book choice for the Books & Broads Book Club.  September’s book was The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki.  Let’s celebrate, Dear Bloggites, because I am now in the current month on my book reading!  No more catch up!  I am very glad, too, because all this darn war talk gives me a brain ache.  That being said, October’s book is during WWII, yep, you guessed it, during the reign of Hitler-AGAIN!  I digress, that is for another day, today is about The Traitor’s Wife, Benedict Arnold to be exact.

The Traitor's Wife by Allison PatakiEven though it was during the Revolutionary War, I did not mind it so much because it did not focus on the war itself like many of the other books I have reviewed, but instead focuses on the people involved with Benedict Arnold and how is betrayal may have played out.

The Traitor’s Wife is a story told by Clairabelle, the handmaid of Peggy (I KNOW) Arnold.  The story follows the life of Peggy and her family as witnessed by her handmaid leading all the way up to the ultimate betrayal by Benedict Arnold and how he was swayed by his wife’s influence to commit this traitorous act.

The story started out slow but once it picked up, I was hooked.  The novel was written in the third person (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!?) and flowed well from one time-frame to another.  There was a lot of history on the founding of America and discussions among the characters in the book about the goings on in America.

Allison Pataki did a great job creating complex characters and providing historical information while playing on the possible personalities of the known people in the book.  The imagery was very good, especially on the different clothing Peggy Arnold was so fixated about.

Reading my name over and over was rather unnerving, especially with such a manipulative person as Peggy Arnold was, and I was disappointed in the ending because I felt justice was not served fully with the people involved in the betrayal of America.

I give The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like reading about the early growth of America or the Revolutionary War, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading! Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club August book choice: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  I must start off with the disclosure I have told you many times before, Dear Bloggites, I dislike reading war books, no matter the subject of the book, if it involves war, I can almost guarantee I won’t care for it (7 out of 10 times).  With that being said, (or written), here goes.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyThe Lilac Girls follow three different women during the invasion of Germany and into WWII.  The three ladies are: Caroline Ferriday, an America socialite living in New York; Kasia Kuzmerick, A Polish teenager; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor.  Caroline is a New York socialite who becomes involved with a French actor that is married.  Kasia lives a standard teenage life in Poland hanging out with her friends.  Herta is an up-and-coming female doctor trying to make her way in the world of only male doctors.  Once Germany invades Poland, the three lives are thrown into a whirlwind of fate that will ultimately cause their lives to cross in the most unexpected way.

Premise sounds really good, right?  You would think this was an exciting book to read and delve into, yes?  NO! NO! NO!  I was so beat down by this book and the war, yet again, as it went along.  Martha Hall Kelly writes the book from each point of view alternating chapters and it is written in first person (don’t get me started).  Now, the first person, I get (begrudgingly) because it allows the reader to fully engage in each woman’s personal life and thoughts on the world around them.

The downfall of the alternating points of view is that the author lost her rotation and you went from reading one woman, to the next woman, then the third balancing the alternation to reading one woman, to reading the next woman, then the next woman again, then finally the third.  This messed up alternation of chapters can confuse and break the reader’s engagement in the storyline.

The author did a good job in really ensuring her historical facts were correct and did give a disclosure on what was true events versus her freedom of imagination in the book.  I did appreciate that disclosure because so many times people will take great freedom with the facts of a historical work they are writing, that the reader, if unfamiliar with the time period, may actually believe all the events in the book are real.

If you are a historical fiction fan or a WWII fan or are fascinated with Hitler’s reign, this book is for you, but if not, I do not recommend you reading it.

I give The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan-Revisited

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  While I am in the process of reading all the book club books to catch myself up to the current month, I have to revisit a previous blog post I wrote on July’s Books & Broads Book Club book choice.  The July book choice was a recommendation by yours truly-Me!

What She Inherits by Diane V. MulliganThe July book club book was What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan.  I was first introduced to this book back in February of this year (2017).  Diane V. Mulligan emailed me requesting a book reading and review from me and I gladly agreed because I am all about supporting writers of all kinds.

This story follows the lives of two women who are unaware of each other but are tied in such a close way that it changes the lives of them both as the story moves along.  I was going to rewrite another book review on this book, but I covered this story line and my thoughts on this book so well in the initial book review you can click here and read it in its entirety.

I will state that this book makes you think about your life and all you know as “truth” in it and how, if, that “truth” proves to be false leaving you not knowing who you are or where you came from, it may make you realize the people you thought you knew are total strangers in regard to your knowledge of who they are. 😉

I give What She Inherits by Diane V. Mulligan 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Go check out my initial review and then go get yourself a copy and enjoy the ride.

~4-Ever, P