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Friday, November 13, 2015

Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the 'Libby Day fund'. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent.

Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend - a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family's past to uncover the truth - no matter how painful...

Hmm. So, I definitely have mixed feelings about this book. I haven't read much crime thrillers/mysteries, aside from a few here and there (Stephen King, Paula Hawkins), and after reading Dark Places, now I know why. Well first of all, let me just say that I could NOT put this book down, I felt like I was watching a movie and HAD to find out the ending. But as much as I enjoyed Flynn's writing, I was left oddly disturbed towards the end. Seriously. Is she a secret serial killer or something? Who thinks of this crap? I was not a fan of the cow massacre (traumatized), not to mention the descriptive murder scene of chopping up a little girl's body. UGH. I honestly despised all of the characters, including Libby, and don't get me started on Ben. However, I think that says a lot about what a good author Gillian Flynn is - to have the reader react so emotionally towards characters is pretty impressive. In the end, as disturbing as it was I can't take anything away from the actual story. There were so many twists and turns that kept me reading through the night, and I really enjoyed it (if that's the word for it). I'll be on the lookout for more of her stories, but for now I think I'll go back to my beloved chick lit.

Friday, November 6, 2015

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancĂ©, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.

I really, really loved this book. Right from the very first pages, I could not put it down. I loved Nick and Lily's love story and wanted nothing more throughout the novel, for them to have their happy ending. I feel like this would have been a great summer beach read given the Rhode Island coastal town setting. Even with a few things from the story that I could have gone without (Budgie and Kiki), I still loved every minute. Perfect story of long lost love and a happily ever after romance.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The truth finds its way into the light, no matter what you’ve done to contain it

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb
 Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.

When she arrives at the Sinclairs' enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her "too-good-to-be-true" position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb was an enjoyable read for me. That being said, I wasn't necessarily blown away. I decided to read this book leading up to Halloween, hoping it would give me a few scares, but in the end nothing really frightened me. I'm a complete horror movie buff, so maybe I'm biased, but given the setting of an old creepy haunted mansion, I would expect the author to live up the setting and create a spooky atmosphere. Honestly, for me that didn't happen. I wasn't scared or surprised at all throughout the story (some of the scenes were cliche and corny). Still though, I'd say I liked it. Maybe not as a horror novel, but definitely as a thriller or suspense read. I enjoyed all of the twists and turns throughout the novel revolving around the main characters Julia and the eccentric, Amarise Sinclair. Overall, I felt it could be better but still an enjoyable read for a rainy day.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Perfume is the key to our memories

The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown
High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild.Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother's will, she has left her job as London's leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain's devastating civil war, Emma's new home evokes terrible memories. As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya's story: one of crushed idealism, lost love, and families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing letting go of the past, but another when it won't let go of you.
Absolutely adored this book. This is my first time reading anything by Kate Lord Brown and it won't be the last. I really loved the backdrop of Spain and the alternating time lapses between the present time and 1930s Spain. All of the details, an old decrepit house , beautiful scenery, European attitude, all of it, definitely reminded me of Under the Tuscan Sun (which I loved). I'm an avid fan of historical fiction so I particularly loved the alternate story revolving around Rosa and Freya during the Spanish civil war. However, I loved Emma's story as well, especially regarding the loss of her mother and reconnecting with her through Liberty's letters. Her relationship with Luca was adorable, and I found myself rooting for them to be together throughout the story. And the perfume! The perfume! Oh I loved it so much. I felt like I was in the garden with Emma creating my own magical scents. I thoroughly enjoyed The Perfume Garden, and would highly recommend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - fall eats

Perfect taste of fall - Rustic Apple Crumb Pie
Find the recipe here

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cover Love - Halloween

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ever since I was a little girl I had wanted to be

Sweet Water by Christine Baker Kline
When a grandfather she never knew bequeaths her a house and 60 acres of land in Sweetwater, Tenn., a restless young artist leaves New York to recover her past and rethink her future. Cassie Simon's mother Ellen died when Cassie was only three; raised in Boston by her grieving father, she never knew her maternal relatives. Unprepared for the thick veil of mystery that surrounds them, Cassie is especially bewildered by her brusque grandmother, whom rumor credits with hiding a terrible secret about Ellen's death. In alternating sections told from their respective points of view, Cassie and her grandmother fight their separate battles to cope with the truth about the tragedy

I had high expectations for Sweet Water based on Christine Baker Kline's other novel, Orphan Train, which I was a fan of. I had hoped that Sweet Water would hold up to the same promise, but sadly, it completely missed the mark for me. The whole premise drew me in, a young artist leaving New York to recover her past in the south, sounds like something I would love, right? But wow, the plot fell short. It was a REAL struggle getting through this one. I couldn't relate or sympathize with any of the characters, and ok, I'm sorry, but what is up with the whole relationship between Cassie and her cousin (adopted or not, REALLY?!!?), can you say redneck stereotype? Very odd, and kind of creepy honestly. I found myself skipping pages and skimming the last few chapters, which can't be a good sign. In the end I was left disappointed. Sweet Water was forgettable to me.