The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

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The Witch of Painted Sorrows

by M.J. Rose

published by Atria Books

March 2015

I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

My Review

I had read The Collector of Dying Breaths by Rose and I loved it even though it was the 6th in a series I had not read.  I was very tempted to go back and read all the previous books in the series, but decided not to since the 6th sort of told you want happened in those books anyway.  When I saw that the author was beginning a new series that looks similar- in terms of location and mystery- I was eager to read the first book-this book.  It started off promising- Paris in the 1890s, artists, courtesans, wow!  But it soon became apparent that this was not going to be as strong of a story as Rose’s previous works.  Once Sandrine becomes immersed in the painting world, she just becomes a different person too quickly, without a struggle to throw off everything she was and loved.  I kept waiting for an actual internal struggle with the real Sandrine and the spirit who was taking her over and it never came.  While this was a fun book and I always love Paris in the late nineteenth century, I did not enjoy this as much as I had hoped.  Despite that, the very end of the book did blow me away and I will remember it for a long time- no spoilers here!

 

Summary

Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

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The Boston Girl

by Anita Diamant

published by Scribner

2014

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review

My Review

I read The Red Tent by this author years ago and fell in love with it.  It is still one of my favorite books.  I have not read anything else by her in the years between, so when I had the opportunity to read her latest novel, I jumped at it.  I was not disappointed!  Though very different, The Boston Girl is just as good, if not better, than The Red Tent.  This is the story of Addie Baum, told by Addie herself as an 85 year old woman telling her life story to her 22 year old granddaughter.  It is an amazing story about life growing up Jewish in the North End of Boston in the early 20th century. Beginning in 1915, Addie tell her all about her life- how her family and her friends shaped her life.  I didn’t want it to end.  Looking back, I can’t remember one part of the book that I didn’t think was necessary to the story.  I actually wanted more- more detail, more characters, and I was disappointed when it ended.  I truly hope the author writes more- and quickly.

Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine – a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

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The Killer Next Door

by Alex Marwood

published by Penguin Books

2014

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I haven’t yet read this author’s The Wicked Girls, but had heard very good things about it, so I was excited to receive and ARC of her new work The Killer Next Door.  I am usually a little creeped out by serial killers- maybe it is due to overexposure to James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell in my formative years?  When I began this book, I felt it was going to be a drag, but by the second chapter I was totally hooked.  Marwood gives an array of interesting and well written characters, Cher, Collet, Vesta, Hossein and Thomas.  All from very different walks of life, they find themselves neighbors living in small rooms in a suburb of London.  The author takes us back and forth between these characters and the killer living in the building with them.  The parts with the killer, called the Lover, actually made my skin crawl-but in a good way!  Marwood has given us an amazing story- wonderful, rich characters wrapped in a mystery.  Read this book!  You will not want to put it down.

Summary

Alex Marwood’s debut novel, The Wicked Girls, earned her lavish praise from the likes of Stephen King, Laura Lippman, and Erin Kelly, and was shortlisted for an Edgar Award. Now Marwood’s back with a brilliant, tightly paced thriller that will keep you up at night and make you ask yourself: just how well do you know your neighbors?
Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash—no credit check, no lease. It’s the kind of place you end up when you you’ve run out of other options. The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don’t know is that one of them is a killer. He’s already chosen his next victim, and he’ll do anything to protect his secret. (from Goodreads).

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Effect 

by Graeme Simsion

published by Text Publishing Company

2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My review

I loved The Rosie Effect and was really looking forward to this sequel.  It is written exactly like the first book, and brings back all the old characters, while introducing some new ones.  Don Tillman is as quirky as ever, as he struggles to figure out his new role as an expectant father.  If you were hoping that Don had changed at all, you will be very disappointed.  While it is a very fun, quick read, The Rosie Effect doesn’t really bring anything new into the story we all enjoyed in the first book.  I enjoyed hearing about Don, Rosie, Gene and others again.  If you have some time for a fun fast book, this is perfect.

a great quote-

“Boy or girl?’ said Rosie. ‘Male, I think.’ I checked my message. ‘No, female.’ It was a detail that could have waited. It would be years before the difference was important.” 

Summary

GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.

Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.

And of losing Rosie forever.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

published by

2013

I borrowed an audiobook copy of this novel from my library.

My Review

When this book was published last year, it received  some really wonderful reviews from all over.  I remember other bloggers LOVED this book.  I read the synopsis and-meh- couldn’t really push myself to pick this up.  It sounded too dry and bleak.  Fast forward a year, and give me two teens who go to a school that is a 40 minute drive from home.  I have never listed to an audiobook before, but figured I should give it a try since I was spending so much time in the car now.  I grabbed Burial Rites on cd, figuring I would give it a shot.

First day, I was going a little crazy.  I thought-” Damn, I read so much faster than this lady is reading!!”  Then, I settled down, and I found I couldn’t stop listening.  I actually sat in my driveway until the track was over.  The story was amazing.  I found myself not only wrapped up in the story or Agnes, and the family housing her, but also about Iceland in the 1800’s.  I had to look up as much as I could about everything, because it was so fascinating.  To add to this, the audiobook was narrated byMorven Christie.  Her voice can transport you to the Iceland of the story better than reading the words yourself.  I loved her cadence and think I enjoyed the story so much better for having listed to her narration.

If you have not read this book, I would definitely recommend it to you.  More importantly, I would recommend the audiobook.  I think I might be a convert.

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Summary

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. 

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Some great quotes-

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” 

“They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.”

“Now comes the darkening sky and a cold wind that passes right through you, as though you are not there, it passes through you as though it does not care whether you are alive or dead, for you will be gone and the wind will still be there…”

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

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The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

by Samantha Shannon

published by Bloomsbury

expected publication- January 2015

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

My Review

When I read The Bone Season last year, I was pretty surprised by how much I liked it.  It was certainly not my kind of book, a little too dystopian/sci fi for me.   But I loved it, and I was very excited for a chance to read the sequel before it was published.  Net Galley was very emphatic that the version I read is NOT the finalized version that will come out in January.  Well, I thought it was great!  It has been sometime since I read the first book, and it took me awhile to remember all the characters, especially since the names are all pretty strange.  Once I got that all sorted, I was hooked just as much as I was with the first book.  It is a little hard to actually summarize, but if you read and enjoyed The Bone Season, read this book.  Then sit around and wonder why the third isn’t out yet!  But keep in mind, this is the second in what is supposed to be a series of SEVEN books!  Yeah- lots to look forward to.

Summary

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dream walker is on. (from Goodreads)

Update-

I was just informed that The  Mime Order will be available as an audiobook on January 27th.  Here is a clip from it-

 https://soundcloud.com/audible/the-mime-order

Hope you enjoy it!

Hello From the Gillespies- a review

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Hello From the Gillespies

by Monica McInerney

published by NAL Trade

2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Something is wrong with the Gillespie family.  Life is not as great as it always seems from the yearly Christmas letter Angela sends about her, her husband Nick, and their four children.  Angela is experiencing painful headaches, and suspects Nick is having an affair.  Twins Genevieve and Victoria, along with younger sister Lindy have seen their personal and professional lives spiral out of control and are on the way home for the holidays to lick their wounds.  Youngest Ignatius has run away from boarding school for a third time.  AND Aunt Celia is coming to stay.  With all this piling up on her, Angela finds it hard to summon a cheerful image for her letter.  So, she tells the truth, and then has to deal with the fallout.

I liked the first third of this book, felt the second third was in danger of becoming too cliche, and then got wrapped up in the ending.  This book really surprised me.  I love dysfunctional families and this story started pretty strongly with the implosion of the Gillespie family.  When it seemed things were going a little off, the author offers up a surprise that saves it from being a little boring, and has it become unputdownable.  I really enjoyed this.  I felt I was in a weird Australian groove, reading this and listening to Burial Rites, written by Australian Hannah Kent, and then The Rosie Effect, where both main characters are Aussies.  I loved the description of the outback, the sheep station, and life on it.  A great-and quick-read!

 

Summary

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….

 

More about the author
Www.facebook.com/monicamcinerneyauthor

Monica McInerney is the internationally bestselling author of eleven novels including Hello from the Gillespies, The House of Memories, Lola’s Secret, At Home with the Templetons, Family Baggage, The Alphabet Sisters and Those Faraday Girls (which was named the General Fiction Book of the Year in the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards.)

Monica, 49, grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Before becoming a full-time writer she worked in children’s television, tourism festivals, book publishing, arts marketing, the music industry and as a waitress, a hotel cleaner, a Kindergym instructor and a temp. For the past twenty-three years she and her Irish husband have been moving back and forth between Australia and Ireland. They currently live in Dublin.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

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Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya Parmar

published by Ballantine Books

December 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I always love when I get books through Library Thing, and was excited to receive a copy of Vanessa And Her Sister by author Priya Parmar.  This is an epistolary novel told through the diary and letters of Vanessa Stephen Bell.  Bell tells us the story of herself and her sister, Virginia Woolf, and there famous friends, the Bloomsbury Group.  I loved the story, especially the artists and friend who came into the lives of the Stephen family.  When history is interwoven into a well written piece of fiction, it creates a peephole into what might have happened in the past.  Some names were very familiar, some not.  I was most surprised by the portrayal of Virginia Woolf.  I didn’t not know very much about the famous author, though I did know she had some mental problems.  Parmar writes of a very disturbed Woolf, one that had trouble maintaining sanity for long stretches and is overly attached not her sister.  I was surprised by this portrayal, but left wanting to know even more about Woolf.  This is a  very well written novel and I would definitely recommend reading it!

Summary

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
 
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
 
But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
 
The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

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Educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh, Priya Parmar is the author of one previous novel, Exit the Actress.

Her new novel, VANESSA AND HER SISTER will be published by Ballantine/Random House on 12/30/14.

She divides her time between Hawaii and London.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett- a review

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First Impressions

by Charlie Lovett

published by Viking Adult

October 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

My Review

I loved this book!  I thought I would, since I also loved his last novel, The Bookman’s Tale.  If you haven’t read that one, do it!   This is a little different, yet similar in some ways.  Tale featured a bookworm who tried to figure out the mystery behind the true authorship of a certain well known Bard, while First Impressions gives us a heroine bookworm trying to uncover the truth  behind whether Jane Austen plagiarized Pride & Prejudice.  Since that is one of my favorite books, I was in a little bit of heaven reading this.  While I hope this doesn’t become TOO formulaic, I have enjoyed both stories and definitely recommend them, especially if you enjoy reading about characters that love to read.

Summary

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition ofLittle Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield.  Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books

For more on the author, please visit http://charlielovett.com

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas- a review

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We are Not Ourselves

by Matthew Thomas

published by Simon & Schuster

August 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

 

My Review

I was very excited to receive an ARC of this novel through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers group, so I was actually surprised to find myself putting it aside- twice- to read other books.  The writing was wonderful, but I just couldn’t keep reading about Eileen Tumulty.  She reminded me of a great aunt I had- not my favorite person.  When I finally decided to push through, about a third of the way through the book, Bam! I was hooked and finished it in two days.  The summary of the novel is below, and I am going to let you go with that, because I had mixed feelings about the start of the book.  Instead, let me tell you about the book as a whole.  It was a wonderful, thought provoking story that will stay with me a long time.  Without giving away too much, it shows you how amazing life can be.  Hopefully, I will have many years to enjoy this author’s works.

Summary

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away. 

 

A few great quotes-

“There were places, she now saw, that contained more happiness than ordinary places did. Unless you knew that such places existed, you might be content to stay where you were.”

 

“The fact that they were there, that everything they owned wasn’t enough somehow, disturbed her, suggesting a bottomlessness to certain kinds of unhappiness.”

 

“So much of life was the peeling away of illusions.”