The Second Home

The Second Home

Christina Clancy

4 / 5 


 

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Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

Right from the start, this book had two winning elements for me. It’s a family drama and the Gordon family is from my home state of Wisconsin. I loved all the familiar references to places and events. The Gordon family became familiar too; with Clancy’s easy, natural writing, I grew to care about this family.

The Gordon’s are your normal family in all respects. Living in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, teenage sisters Ann and Poppy are very close and love their parents. They spend their summers at their second home out at Cape Cod, Massachusetts playing in the ocean and making memories.

 When Ann befriends Michael at school and finds out he has no home or parents, the Gordon family decides to take Michael in. Eventually, adopting him. The new siblings hope to enjoy a shimmering summer out at the Cape Cod house. But by the end of summer, all three will have made different choices, carrying heavy secrets, causing the siblings to go their separate ways.

 If you love to get attached to a family, this is the book for you. Clancy really hit a nerve with me when she used the parent’s death as the force to bring the siblings back to the second home. The parents were the anchor. Now that they were gone the kids had to step up and be the adults, especially for the next generation. This book does touch on some heavy topics, but I think she handles them well. This is Clancy’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her.

** 𝘛𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘞𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴: 𝘋𝘳𝘶𝘨𝘴, 𝘏𝘐𝘝, 𝘙𝘢𝘱𝘦, 𝘚𝘶𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘦.

 

Thank you to @stmartinspress and Edelweiss+ for this advance copy for review.

 The Second Home will be available on June 2, 2020.

Recursion

Recursion

Blake Crouch

3.5 / 5 


I know this is an unpopular opinion, and trust me, I was so excited to pick up this book after reading Crouch’s Dark Matter, but this one just didn’t wow me – in fact, it started to wear on me a little.

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Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

The story begins with two timelines.

2018, Barry Sutton, a New York cop, is dealing with a new epidemic, FMS or False Memory Syndrome. It’s unknown what’s causing this disease or condition. People are remembering lives they never had and it’s driving them crazy. Their reality is shifting and they can’t cope.

2007, Helena Smith, a neuroscientist, is developing technology in hopes of helping her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, trying to help her reach those memories before they’re gone forever.

These timelines work well, in the beginning. I know it’s Sci-fi, but the science got a little sketchy for me. The whole concept of memories is absolutely fascinating. Putting forward the question: can memories become a present reality? Then he adds the components of multiple timelines and time travel to it and it seems a step too far. The connection was too large – from cerebral to the physical. And ultimately it’s like they are all caught in the movie Groundhog’s Day! I’ll stop because I don’t want to spoil anything.

All that said, there are nuggets of wisdom in this book. A great discussion ensues about the ethical ramifications of going back and altering timelines. It seems so easy to decide to stop the World Wars or certain massacres, but Crouch does a great job of presenting both sides of the argument. Our reality is affected by each pebble dropped in the pond and the ripples are far-reaching – change that and you may create a tidal wave.

“𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 – 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐧, 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫.”

 

👭 I read this one for the #bookishladishdiverseread and I’m looking forward to discussing this with the group. Has your opinion about a book been changed by talking with a friend about it? 

Beach Read 

Beach Read 

Emily Henry

4.5  / 5

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Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

After my April was filled with deep, heavy reads, I thought I’d pick up a fun romance, which is not my go-to genre. Beach Read has been receiving so many great reviews and when I heard it was about writers, I had to check it out.

January Andrews is a romance author who is disenchanted with love. Yeah, that’s making it a little difficult to write her next novel with the due date looming over her. Life has dealt her some blows that have left her not wanting to believe in her own penned “happily ever afters” anymore.

Moving into a beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan, January meets her neighbor, Augustus Everett. Augustus just happens to be a famous literary fiction writer. He likes his characters to die in the end, “no happily ever afters” for him. He and January couldn’t see the world more differently.

As the two talk of writing and life, they wager a deal to jumpstart their creative juices. Let’s swap genres! Augustus will write something happy and January will write a dramatic novel. Agreeing to help one another with experiences for their books, January and Augustus spend a lot of time together. Their research takes them from romantic line dancing to wandering through death cult camps. The books get written, but how will their story end?

This was a romance I truly enjoyed. Hands down, my favorite aspect of this book was the witty, banter between January and Augustus (Gus). I loved reading about writers and the writing process. By having January and Gus write in the other’s respective genre, I felt it was like saying, “look at life through my eyes.” Something we should all learn to do more often.

 

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and @berkleypub for this advanced copy for review.

Get your copy May 19, 2020.

The Library of Legends

The Library of Legends

Janie Chang

4 / 5 


 

This was my April BOTM pick. And while I’m not going to deny that the gorgeous cover caught my eye, the synopsis is what sold me.

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Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

Set in China in 1937, during the war with Japan, Minghua University students must evacuate to safety as the city of Nanking is under attack. Professors, students, and servants begin a treacherous thousand-mile journey, but they carry with them precious cargo: The Library of Legends. These volumes contain the ancient myths and folklore of China’s past. 

The quiet student, Hu-Lian finds friendship along the way. But when one of her classmates starts stirring up trouble with secret meetings and talk of new political ideologies, Lian begs her friends not to get involved. Now a student has been murdered and another arrested; Lian knows she must flee because of her own family secrets.

Lian heads to Shanghai with Shao and his faithful servant, Sparrow. When Lian learns of the connection between two of her friends and a tale hidden in The Library of Legends, consequences reaching through both past and present come into play. These ancient books, as they move across the countryside, are awakening ancient immortals, calling for their exodus, which will change China’s fate.

This book is hard to categorize. It is undoubtedly a rich atmospheric historical fiction account about China fighting the war with Japan prior to WWII. Yet there is a fantasy element to it with ancient folklore and immortal beings woven into the story. Plus let’s not forget the love story. This book has something for everyone.

 

This book is out May 12, 2020, from @williammorrowbooks

 

BearTown

BearTown

Fredrik Backman

5 / 5 


 

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Photo by Subakka.bookstuff

I went into this book with high expectations. First off, I’ve read Backman before and loved his writing and his characters. Secondly, I had read so many reviews that had nothing but high praise for this book. 

I admit I was a bit worried when the first couple of chapters had only introduced me to a small, isolated community where hockey is king! And the team is your clan. I met Kevin, the star of the team, with the rich parents. Benji, the trouble-maker, and Amat, the poor foreign boy who gets bullied. And they all live and breathe hockey.  

Honestly, reading about sports doesn’t really thrill me. But wait! Backman was working his magic on me. He was getting me invested in these characters, whether I wanted to be or not. The hockey team has a chance to go to the National Semi-finals, to put this little town on the map again, to make dreams come true for these teenage boys, their coaches, and parents.

Then one night, one aggressive act changes everything.

Now lines are drawn, sides are taken in Beartown. It’s her word against his. Others could come forward; others could stand up. Who or what will they choose to be loyal to?

Fredrik Backman did it again. Although this story is so unlike A Man Called Ove or My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, he creates characters that are so genuine you can’t help but connect in some way.

As I said, I’m not a huge sports fan, except football, so reading about hockey for 415 pages seemed a bit tedious, but once I knew these boys and the townspeople, I was all in. This story is another brilliant example of what true character is: standing up for what is right, even if it means you stand alone. 

 

**(Triggers: Sexual Assult / Rape: although not graphic)

A Breath Too Late

A Breath Too Late

Rocky Callen

4.5 / 5 


*Trigger warnings: suicide, physical abuse, depression. (This review will mention these issues as well).

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This isn’t the first Young Adult book to be about suicide, and it won’t be the last. It is an all too common theme in YA novels, and a sad reality. So what makes A Breath Too Late worth reading? It’s brutally honest and raw. It does not glamorize suicide, in fact just the opposite. 

Seventeen-year-old Ellie has just taken her own life when she “awakes” in a state of limbo. Not fully aware of what happened, she begins to realize she has the ability to still look in on the life she chose to leave. Ellie is now a spectator to the devastation she has left behind.

Momma – now curled in a ball clutching a teddy bear – Ellie’s childhood teddy bear. They were going to fly away together one day, to the mountains, to be free from – him. But now Ellie’s gone.

August – the boy whose art always brightened her dark days. His smile took away her pain if only for a moment. Now Ellie watches as August smashes bottles and cries out her name as he falls into his mom’s arms.

Rocky Callen does a great job of showing that Ellie had times of happiness over her life even though she lived in a terrible environment. She had hopes and dreams, people who loved her, but depression clouded her vision and the weight felt too heavy at times.

Ellie, having this rare opportunity to see other’s perspectives, now wishes she could have: one more smile, one more word, one more touch – just one more breath. There are no second chances in this story; it is a truthful look at the heart-wrenching consequences. Yet, it’s not a completely bleak story. I think it reveals that we should say the words we need to say, ask for the help we need – without shame, and always have hope for a better tomorrow. 

[Please be sure to read the author’s notes.] 

 

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and @henryholtbooks for this advanced copy for review. Get your copy today!

White Out

White Out

Danielle Girard

4 / 5 

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Photo by Subakk.bookstuff

Lily Baker awakes to find herself inside the tangled wreckage of a car. Beside her is an unconscious man, she has no idea who he is or why she is with him. Images flash in her mind: a man lying in blood, a woman running, Bible verses scattered. As Lily stares out into the cold, icy surroundings she realizes she doesn’t even know who she is.

Iver Larson doesn’t remember last night. Sure he drinks, and there are the meds, but how does he not remember anything from the bar last night. Life has been tough for Iver ever since coming back from Afghanistan, with a brain injury. But things are about to get a whole lot messier.

Kylie Milliard has been a detective in Hagan, North Dakota for only a few months, but she makes the connection between Lily Baker and Abigail Jensen, the woman killed behind the bar the same night as Lily’s car accident. These women share the same dark past, but why is someone after them, and who?

Although there are a few details in the book I’m left confused about, Danielle Girard pulls together a story from basically two main characters that can’t remember much of anything – quite the feat.

This book has the suspense of a thriller and the grit of a police procedural.  Chapter to chapter, you’re never sure who to trust. Girard does a great job placing doubt in your mind. If you love a strong female, in a detective role, then you will be sure to enjoy White Out.

 

 

Thank you to @daniellegirardbooks and Thomas & Mercer for reaching out and supplying an advanced copy for review.

This book is scheduled for release: August 1, 2020.