First line: Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months.
Fifteen year old Ellie is the golden child. Then one day she disappears
without a trace. Ten years later her mother, Laurel meets a man in a
coffee shop. He is charming and appears to be the perfect man. As her
relationship with Floyd progresses she meets his daughter who bears a
striking resemblance to her missing daughter, Ellie. What happened to
Ellie? After all the years of wondering Laurel is determined to find
My Thoughts: Lisa Jewell is a new discovery for me. I recently read her latest book, Watching You, on the recommendation of Dawn (who writes our Lit Pairings blog posts). I was hooked immediately. Her novels are fast paced filled with lots of twists and turns. I was pretty sure I had everything figured out early on in the novel. However, I was wrong. Things continued to get more twisted as I read.
The book was divided into different parts
with different narrators. As the story progressed we got different looks
at the events of then and now. I was very shocked and little saddened
by the ending. If you read it you may understand. There were lots of
pieces that are very hard to read. But Jewell is an amazing writer. Even
if the story had been less intriguing her writing would have saved it. I
will definitely be on the hold list for any more of her upcoming
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.
ALICE gets off a bus in the middle of a snowstorm in Delphi, NY. She is fleeing an abusive relationship and desperate to protect…
OREN, ten years old, a major Star Wars fan and wise beyond his years. Though Alice is wary, Oren bonds nearly instantly with…
a social worker in her fifties who lives in an enormous run-down house
in the middle of the woods. Mattie lives alone and is always available,
and so she is the person the hotline always calls when they need a
late-night pickup. And although according to protocol Mattie should take
Alice and Oren to a local shelter, instead she brings them home for the
night. She has plenty of room, she says. What she doesn’t say is that
Oren reminds her of her little brother, who died thirty years ago at the
age of ten.
But Mattie isn’t the only one withholding elements of the truth. Alice is keeping her own secrets. And as the snowstorm worsens around them, each woman’s past will prove itself unburied, stirring up threats both within and without.
I first read Carol Goodman years ago when I picked up The Death Orchid after hearing from someone that it would appease my never-ending hunger for all things Gothic. It did, and I loved her writing style. I haven’t read all her books but those I have read never disappoint.
The Night Visitors is very atmospheric, but is lacking a little when it comes to inspiration for a food based blog. So I’m hoping you will forgive my lack of original recipes and just be excited about how fun this book is!
Now on to the food! At one point in the story the characters are preparing for a big winter storm and what goes better with a storm then a nice slow cooker Chili?!?! Then in the morning when you wake up and find yourself snowed in you can make the other great recipe from the book, Pancakes, and I think this recipe is just the ticket!
I know pancakes and chili aren’t new or exciting, but I promise you this book is! If you enjoy the book drop me a line and let me know.
*If you would like to listen to the audio book it is available on Libby.*
This book is an attempt to piece together a clear portrait of how the
renowned 1970s rock band Daisy Jones & The Six rose to fame—as
well as what led to their abrupt and infamous split while on tour in
Chicago on July 12, 1979.
Summary: Daisy Jones, a young
girl in the late 1960s who spends her time on Sunset Boulevard, sneaking
into clubs, drinking heavily and dreaming big of a life as a rock star.
Billy Dunne is the lead singer of an up and coming rock band called The
Six. They each have a unique sound but when their producer decides that
the way to make them superstars is to combine their talents.
through interviews with band members, family, friends and colleagues we
get the story of the legendary band known as Daisy Jones and The Six.
My Thoughts: If you loved the movieBohemian Rhapsody then you should definitely check this out! And listen to the audio book. I find that the style of the writing is very hard to read because it is an oral history. The book is composed of interviews which bounce back and forth between different members. But the audio has a full cast and it feels like a documentary. I kept having to remind myself that this was fiction not an actual band.
I did not grow up in the
seventies but I can imagine that Taylor Jenkins Reid does a great job of
portraying it. Life was wild at the time. I really loved hearing about
Daisy. She sounds like the typical female rock star of the time who
struggled with drugs and the crazy lifestyle. However, I kept rooting
for her to figure it out.
Each of the other characters has their
own demons but they are mainly supporting characters. But I did enjoy
hearing each ones perspective on the same events. It is crazy how
different each person views and remembers the same thing. The one
character that I really struggled with liking was Eddie. He drove me
crazy. He was constantly complaining about everything, even though most
of the stuff had nothing to do with him.
First line: The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.
Sarah Piper is a poor young woman working for a temp agency in London
when an unusual job becomes available. She is hired on as an assistant
for a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis, a WWI veteran and ghost enthusiast,
is determined to prove the existence of ghosts. He wants Sarah’s help
with the ghost of Maddy Clare. Maddy was a servant for the Clare family
until she took her own life in their barn. Now her spirit is wreaking
havoc on the occupants. With the help of Matthew Ryder, a former soldier
and friend of Alistair’s they search for a way to help Maddy move on
and solve the mystery behind her destructive behavior.
Absolutely chilling! Simone St. James is by far one of the best
writers, in my opinion, of the Gothic ghost story. She can weave the
historical fiction, romance and spookiness together seamlessly. I have
been meaning to read this for some time now. It took me just a few days
to read because it was that good!
I loved the mystery behind
Maddy. No one knew who she was or where she came from. She had no memory
and rarely spoke. Then one day she hangs herself in the barn of her
employer. That’s when the trouble really begins. Maddy’s vengeful spirit
is set to attack any man who sets foot on the Clare property. What
happened in her past? Sarah’s first interactions with Maddy were a
little terrifying. It literally gets your blood pumping as you read it.
When you pick this up be prepared to finish it. Maybe even the same day.
FYI: If you like this then try Wendy Webb and Amanda Stevens.
First line: Everyone was calling it the wedding of the century.
Consuelo Vanderbilt, the American heiress to the railroad empire, is
marrying the future Duke of Marlborough. However, she is in love with
someone else and is being forced into the marriage by her strong willed
mother, Alva Smith Vanderbilt. The marriage is an unhappy one but
Consuelo hopes to use her influence as the Duchess of Marlborough to
help the lower classes living around Blenheim Palace.
My Thoughts: I have been a reader of Karen Harper for many years. I really enjoy her historical fiction even though she seems to elaborate her narratives a bit. Her most recent novel was a fast read about one of the American heiresses whose money helped sustain the British aristocracy. Having recently read, A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler, I was familiar with the Vanderbilt family at the turn of the nineteenth century.
was a force to be dealt with but it sounds like her daughter learned a
lot from her mother. I loved hearing about Consuelo’s life and the way
she tried to improve her circumstances and those of the poor. I cannot
imagine living her life though. She was forced into a marriage, had
unimaginable wealth and was very unhappy for many years. Harper does a
great job of breathing life into her characters. I loved “meeting”
Winston Churchill. As with most historical novels, I googled many of the
locations and people to see what they really looked like. This was a
fun romp through the Gilded Age and into the time of the world wars.
Nina dreamed of becoming a pilot. When the German army attacks her
native Russia, she enlists to help her country fight its invaders. As
one of the all-female bomber regiment called the Night Witches, she gets
her wish. Until one day when she goes down behind enemy lines and
encounters the evil villainous known as the Huntress.
spent the war years as a war correspondent. He everything from the
invasion of Omaha Beach to the Nuremburg Trials but he is determined to
find and bring to justice one person, the Huntress. With a personal
vendetta against the war criminal he joins an organization tasked with
finding members of the Nazi party that escaped punishment.
McBride is a young girl and aspiring photographer in 1946. Her father
recently married a mysterious Austrian widow but her story makes Jordan
suspicious. The more she learns the less she trusts her. She is
determined to find out who this woman is in order to protect her father.
Told in three narratives we piece together the story of the Huntress.
From the very first chapter I was hooked. I have been a longtime fan of
Kate Quinn and her newest novel does not disappoint. I think I can even
say with confidence that it is her best book to date. I loved the
different timelines and how each intertwine. This would be perfect for
fans of historical fiction and mysteries.
Nina was by far my
favorite character. She is strong woman but also has a deep seeded fear.
I enjoyed seeing her change and grow throughout the story. She starts
as a poor girl from eastern Russia who dreams of becoming a pilot. As
the war progresses she discovers more about herself and the country she
serves. I learned so much while reading her chapters. I had never heard
of female bomber teams during World War II. Even though Russia has a
history of being behind the times, this is a very progressive stance.
And for them to be highly decorated after the war for their courage.
Read the author’s notes at the end for more background on the story. You can tell that Quinn did a lot of research to build her narrative.
FYI: This reminded me a lot of the new release movie, Operation Finale, starring Oscar Isaac. It follows the search and capture of Adolph Eichmann, the mastermind behind the Holocaust.
First line: Dima heard the barn doors slam before anyone else did.
Nikolai Lantsov, the young king of Ravka, has spent the first several
years of his reign trying to hold his country together. With the help of
his Triumvirate he hopes to strengthen the borders, improve diplomatic
relations and rebuild the Second Army. However, as miracles continue to
happen around the country and a darkness still infects his land, he is
met with more than he imagined.
My Thoughts: Nikolai was
one of my favorite characters from Bardugo’s original trilogy. He has a
sharp wit and charisma that lets him steal every scene. I was so happy
when I learned that he was getting his own duology. Authors do answer
prayers! Ha! And Nina from The Dregs Duology has a starring role
as well. I loved every one of her chapters. She is daring and smart. And
she does not mind causing a little trouble along the way.
“But it’s a very arduous path,” Nikolai said. “Who will carry my snacks?”
In addition to past characters we meet several new
ones. I did not know how I was going to feel about them when they first
entered the storyline but they surprised me. It was a fun plot twist. I
am excited to see where these new characters take us.
half of the book was a little slower, a trait which I have noticed in
the other books. But when the action picks up the story flies by. Trust
me and stick with this. It is worth every minute you spend reading it.
finally that ending! Wow! It was shocking. It literally gave me
goosebumps as I was reading it. I will be highly anticipating the next
book. I hope I do not have to wait too long.
FYI: I would highly recommend you read The Shadow and Bone Trilogy and The Dregs Duology
before picking this one up. There are lots of characters and storylines
that carry on into this latest addition to the Grishaverse.
I had never heard of Erich Kastner before my recent trip to Dresden, Germany. I passed by the museum dedicated to him and his work several times. My German sister, Elisabeth, told me that I needed to read some of his books. I was lucky to find two on Hoopla. Luckily we have such an amazing database available for our patrons where they can find obscure books, music and movies. While I was searching I even stumbled across the fact that patrons can check out items in foreign languages as well. As I continue to work on my German I will keep this in mind to help with my study.
Lisa and Lottie is a story that is very well known but under a different name, The Parent Trap. Who knew?! Not me for sure.
*This is only available via Hoopla or interlibrary loan.*
Summary: When Lisa from Vienna meets Lottie from Munich at summer camp, they realize that they are identical twins who have been separated at a very young age. During the weeks at camp they devise a plan to switch places without telling their parents.
Highlights: This was a fun little story that I know very well. I have watched both versions of The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan) and loved them. Kastner’s story is a little less detailed than the movie versions but still a fun novel for young kids. The illustrations were very simple and worked well within the story especially when we see the twins together. I am glad that I picked this up and I plan to read a few more of Kastner’s books as well.
FYI: This is only available in digital format on Hoopla or you can interlibrary loan it as well.
Living in Kansas it seems to be guaranteed that everyone knows the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. However, the book and the movie (starring Judy Garland) are quite different. But how much do you know about the man who wrote the story? Years ago there was a made for TV movie called The Dreamer of Oz, starring John Ritter, who portrayed Mr. Baum and detailed his life and the writing of his famous novel. In a new book by Elizabeth Letts we get a look at Maud Gage Baum, the wife of the author.
First line: It was a city within a city, a textile mill to weave the gossamer of fantasy on looping looms of celluloid.
Summary: Maud Gage Baum, the widow of the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, visits the set of the filming of The Wizard of Oz where she meets the young star, Judy Garland. Maud immediately feels a connection and need to protect the sixteen year old actress who will be portraying Dorothy. Told through flashbacks we see Maud’s life with husband, L. Frank Baum as they start out touring the country with a theater group to owning their own dry goods store to becoming a literary success.
Highlights: This was a fun jaunt through the history of one of the greatest movies/books of all time. I remember watching the movies numerous times as a child before I ever picked up one of the books. It is so much different but each are wonderful in their own ways. Nothing beats Judy Garland singing ‘Over the Rainbow’.
I know that the author took some liberties with the history to help suit the timeline and layout of her novel but the background of this iconic story is fascinating. Such a successful man (or so I would have assumed) struggled so much trying to find his place in the world. He tried multiple different careers before he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Even though his story is entertaining, his wife was the strong one.
Maud Gage Baum was the daughter of famous suffragette, Matilda Joslyn Gage. She was a strong advocate for women’s right to vote, fighting alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Maud learned from her to be bold and speak her mind. As I read I could tell that having such a strong mother helped Maud navigate her life with an eccentric husband and battling the studio to do justice to his novel.
I loved every interaction that Maud had with Judy Garland. It is hard to imagine that Judy was only sixteen when she was cast in the role that sky rocketed her career. The poor girl had to deal with unbelievable things while preparing for this role including smoking 80 cigarettes a day and taking diet pills to keep her trim. It is outrageous. Maud tries to help Judy as much as possible in order to keep her promise to Frank to watch over “Dorothy”. This is the most heartwarming part of the novel, watching Maud make sure that Judy is Dorothy and Dorothy is Judy, and fighting for her.
Lowlights: There were several historical inaccuracies that are easily overlooked but at times also drove me a little crazy. One of Maud’s sisters was completely left out of the story. And the idea behind the character, Dorothy, was changed. However, the story does not suffer for any of this. Letts does a great job of weaving a fun and intricate story filled with all the magic of Oz.
I love to hold a paper book. There is something about feeling the pages in my hands. However, sometimes I find I like the convenience of a digital copy. I can take it with me where ever I am using an app on my phone. How cool is that? Plus, we have such a great selection of books available on our Sunflower eLibrary. The app used to be called Overdrive but is slowly migrating over to Libby by Overdrive. It is a fantastic upgrade. Definitely check it out if you enjoy ebooks and audio books.
*This review will be a little different because the library does not own a physical copy but only a digital one that is available on Sunflower eLibrary.*
Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy by Elizabeth Chadwick
Summary: This is the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine (or Alienor as she is called in the book). She was married to two kings, one of France and one of England. She was the mother of kings. However, she was a duchess in her own right and a very strong and determined woman. She traveled to the Holy Lands on a crusade. Through her the Plantagenet dynasty began. Her life was not all easy, she faced imprisonment, war and death but managed to achieve greatness in the face of it all.
Highlights: I loved this trilogy. This was my first interaction with Elizabeth Chadwick’s work and I was very impressed. Chadwick brings Eleanor to life. She shows what a strong woman she was. I loved seeing her take on kings and prove that a woman is just as powerful. The writing is superb. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
I had heard very little about Eleanor before picking up these books. As I read I learned so much about her and life in the 12th century. Her family life was very erratic and messy. I find it hard to believe how dysfunctional her family was. Her sons were constantly fighting with one another and their father. She had to be the peace keeper but also an instigator once in a while. But I found her fascinating! I think after Anne Boleyn, Eleanor is my favorite female historical figure. She did so much, lived a long life and is still remembered nearly 900 years later.
FYI: This is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory!