Why She Left

Why She Left by Leah Mercer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Burlington Square is not just a private privilege school – it’s a lifestyle. Established by Ruth’s grandfather, The Square has been running by the family ever since. And as a rule – The Square was meant to be inherited by Ruth’s younger daughter Isobel who grew up sharing her mother’s dream. At the age of fifteen, Isobel left home and her future at The Square behind, only to return fifteen years later. But she didn’t come back in the hope to reunite with her family, she was seeking protection.

I was completely disappointed by the book. The reason Isobel ran from home was right there, at the very beginning of the novel. The ex she was now running from – was not as dangerous as he was portraited to be. Alex – do not get me even started on Alex. From his first mentioning in the novel, anyone could tell that he came to The Square with vengeance on his mind. And Cecily – I believe her character could have been so much more involved in the novel, but she was always “dismissed”. Even at the end, her twist was not shocking, actually, it felt necessary. I just didn’t see any mystery in the novel, no suspense. Characters felt forced. The plot was evolved around Isobel’s physical and emotional trauma during her teenage years. It was a great idea of the plot, wish it was built better.

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Mitford Vanishing

The Mitford Vanishing: A Mitford Murders Mystery by Jessica Fellowes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have not read any other books from the series, nevertheless, an author kept inserting short descriptions from the previous books to make the current one understand easier. Loved it.

A newly established Private Investigation Agency “Cannon and Sullivan” have received their very first case. The fact that the new client is Louisa’s previous employer – plays a huge role. The daughter of the Mitford family is on the run, and Louisa and her husband Guy are hired to locate and bring the girl back to England. The search takes the couple from London to Paris, and finally to Bayonne. While working on their first case, Louisa has accepted a new work, from a local Londoner searching for her missing sister. As the PI couple works on both inquiries, they soon establish a strange connection between the two cases.

Wonderful plot. I could not get enough of it. The simplicity of the writing, to well built-in twists – this novel includes it all: love, betrayal, and politics. Louisa’s role in the story is the strongest one, in the times when women had no major rights – she is not afraid to speak her mind, ask necessary questions, make her own observations, and act on it. She is dedicated to the cause. Not able to give up and leave tasks/actions unresolved. On the other hand – the Mitford family, based on this book I can tell – those are some feisty sisters and I would love to read and learn more about their stories. I can absolutely promise to look forward to the next Jessica Fellowes’ novels. Thank you, Net Galley and Minotaur Books publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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Not A Happy Family

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been a huge fan of Shari Lapena since I’ve read her famous novel “The Couple Next Door”. But this review is for her latest “Not a Happy Family”.

A gruesome murder of a wealthy couple shocked the neighborhood of Brecken Hill. A couple’s children fall under the detective’s watchful eyes. Within the days of the murder, each child exhibits a reason for shocking killings. The victim’s sister shares a ghastly secret about her brother. Is it possible for history to repeat itself?

From the very first pages, I was glued to the novel. Every new chapter was better than the last. I was driven by anticipation. Every character, every secret, every new detail of the case – were so greatly delivered. The speculation of who is a cold-hearted murderer kept bouncing from one subling to another. And then there was a very disappointing ending. The person who has killed the couple was abruptly revealed. I re-read the ending in hopes that I’ve missed something in between, but that was it. The end. I expected a triumphal ending, but it seemed as the author has run out of time to finish the novel.

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The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The words of wisdom always advise appreciating what we have because it can be taken away from us in a spear of a second. Victoria had it all, a job she loved, a grand home, and a handsome and successful husband. One dreadful slip on the stairs took it all away from her, leaving her partially paralyzed.

Desperate, broke and two days away from being homeless, Sylvia accepts a job from a guy she meets at the dinner. Since her arrival at the beautiful mansion, Sylvia gets an uneasy feeling about the house. However, despite her sixth sense, Sylvia decides to stay. On her very first day she discovers a diary, and what’s inside surprises and shocks her. But what to believe, a charming and handsome Adam, or the words of paralyzed woman written in the diary?

While reading the novel, I had a very strong feeling that I am re-reading “Gone Girl” all over again. Fortunately, the twist at the end turned the novel in a different direction. I enjoyed the plot, fast and engaging read. Only one part has annoyed me, the naiveness of Victoria, and her behavior throughout the novel. She had an “immature victim” written all over her. No wonder she’s ended up in the position we found her in. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed the story. Thank you NetGalley and Hollywood Upstairs Press publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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The Runaway Family

The Runaway Family by Diney Costeloe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As much as I love historical fiction and books based on WWII, it is getting harder and harder for me to read the stories of people from that period of time. Although the stories of the survivors are good stories, the obstacles of what they have gone thru are horrifying.

The novel begins with Ruth Friedman and her four children. The night her husband was arrested and taken to Dachau, their family business and home were burned. With no place to live and four kids to feed and protect – Ruth begins her run for safety. The mother and four children acrosses Germany into Austria and beyond.

I absolutely loved the plot, the harshness of life that came upon Ruth and her little family, and the way she choose to deal with it. Her character is brave, strong-minded, and family-oriented. It’s hard to keep it together, on a run with four small kids and an elderly mother. I absolutely disliked both Ruth and her husband’s families. They were self-centered human beings with no care for others. There were a few characters in the novel that showed their support for Jewish people, a few had surprised me. As I read WWII novels, the hate Germans had for the Jewish population surprises me every time. What’s actually unsurprising is the hate people love to share. But that’s another discussion for a different day. Thank you NetGalley and Head of Zeus publisher for a free copy of the novel.

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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. At first, the read was slow, but once I began to get to know the characters – my interest has spiked.

Four families – four mothers and their daughters. Each generation was born on different continents and raised in a different culture. As an immigrant myself, I absolutely understood The Joy Luck Club mothers’ plans and dreams for their children. They came to the US in hope of giving their children the American Dream. Unfortunately, they have lost their kids in the transition. As their daughters naturally accept the American culture as their own, their mothers’ past, teachings, and wisdom seem foreign to the younger generation.

At first, what seems silly, makes a whole new meaning. Chinese culture is rich, full of great customs and traditions. The novel has opened my eyes to Chinese heritage and I’ve learned a lot of interesting information. This is a great read and comparison not only of culture but the generation.

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The Cottage

The Cottage by Lisa Stone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A small village of Merryless keeps many secrets. The residents of the quiet town are all look alike due to their genes being messed up by a power station chemical waste that got into the village’s water. Baby cries and screams are heard in the Coleshaw Woods. Families lose their babies in multiple miscarriages. A coincidence or simply bad luck?

I was sickened by the end of the novel. Person’s obsessive need to continue his family line has brought an atavism and genetic throwback to many shattered young families. And that’s not counting the reason for their heartbreak.

The reader has to come to this read with an open mind. It’s a shocking story of a hideous experiment that was brought on a small village of Merryless and its surrounded towns. I did enjoy the characters and their gripping storylines. I would give this book five stars if it was not for the ending. That last twist was unnecessary, it was over the top and in my opinion, just ruined the whole story. Nevertheless, the novel is worth reading. Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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Odd Numbers

Odd Numbers by J.J. Marsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One night, six friends, a lifetime of regrets.

A new millennial has divided the lives of six friends into “before” and “after”. A new years eve that was supposed to be a grand occasion resulted in a tragic accident. Since the fatal NYE, the friends made a promise, to meet and spend every other NYE together. As the twenties anniversary, and their tenth reunion approached, the friends met in an isolated snowy chalet. And since their arrival, strange things began to happen.

This was an amazing phycological thriller. Loved all the characters and their connection to each other’s lives. The twist at the end was outstanding, although if you read the novel thoroughly and pay attention to the storyline – the clue to the grand twist is at the very beginning of the book. I enjoyed the build-up of the plot. And think the multiple narrators are a great touch to the novel, helping the reader to relate to each character. I’m very happy I came upon this novel, it was a very thrilling read. Thank you NetGalley and Prewett Bielmann Ltd publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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Wrapped Up in Christmas Hope

Wrapped Up in Christmas Hope by Janice Lynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a typical Hallmark Christmas novel. Great story of family, love, hope, and new beginnings.

Morgan’s return to the small town of Pine Hill was not easy. As a widow and a single mom who is trying to make her ends meet she has no room for love in her life. Well, not until a handsome firefighter enters her and Grayson’s life. After weeks and toying around, the couple confesses their feelings and as you’re imagined lived their hallmark happily ever after.

The way the novel was going, I was hoping it would end in a cliffhanger when Andrew would leave the town. This would make a great second part for the novel when he would return and the fight for Morgan’s heart would begin all over again. Ah, the girl could dream. A great happy-go-lucky plot, but it was missing the thrill. Thank you NetGalley and Hallmark Publishing for a free copy of the novel.

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The Second Marriage

The Second Marriage by Jess Ryder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jess Ryder is becoming one of my favorite domestic thriller writers.

As Lily walks down the aisle to a rich and handsome silver fox, known as her soon-to-be husband, her dreams for the future are bright and full of possibilities. But as soon as the ceremony has ended – married life becomes nothing of what she has expected. As mystery after mystery keeps pilling over Lily’s head, she decides to dig deeper into her husband’s life… the life before his second marriage.

I loved the build-up of the plot. The suspense has gotten better with each chapter. Although Lily’s constant need to share everything with Edward was annoying me a bit. This novel has everything you want for a gripping thriller: bratty stepdaughters, mysterious dead wife, alarming comments made by a kid stepson. I loved the web of lies the novel has presented and was pleasantly impressed by Lily’s courage to expose the truth at the end. It was such a fast read, I would absolutely read more of Jess Ryder’s books. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel.

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Dreaming of Christmas

Dreaming of Christmas by T.A. Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This year I’ve decided to get back to my Twelve Books of Christmas Challenge and this book was a perfect novel to start my Christmas reading venture

Dreaming of Christmas is your typical Christmas story. Girl reunites with a boy. Girl falls in love with a boy on top of gorgeous Alp mountains and they live happily ever after. Although, what actually caught my attention are the secondary characters. I loved their stories. Meeting after 10 year period, old roommates who turned friends, excited to show how their lives have changed/improved since their college years. However, the short holiday has turned their lives over again.

Dreaming of Christmas is a feel-good holiday read that will fill your heart with joy, hope, love, and holiday spirit. Thank you, NetGalley, Canelo Escape Publisher, and T.A.Williams for a free copy of the novel.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

1984 by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nineteen Eighty-Four is social science fiction novel written in published in the late 1040s.

The novel takes place in the future, 1984. After years of wars and revolutions, the world is divided into three parts: Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. Winston, our main character, lives in Oceania and works for one of four ministries that are in charge of their nation. His job is to rewrite history, and by learning of the past, Winston questions his present. In time, he develops hate for his party, and Big Brother, hence he decides to join the resistance, also known as a brotherhood. Unfortunately, this step leads him into captivity and re-education.

I will admit, I was terrified by the novel. A famous quote: “the big brother is watching you” came from this book, and I must say – I am glad the world didn’t turn out to be as George Orwell has described it in his novel. This book touches on subjects of perpetual war, government surveillance, totalitarianism, historical negationism, and propaganda. Basically, the life that was envisioned by Stalin and Hitler. Nevertheless, this was a great read.

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