“Behind Her Eyes”–Review

61gp9iiebal-_sx329_bo1204203200_David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling?

Louise is a single mom who has been in a rut since her divorce. One evening, at a bar, however, she meets an attractive man and they both hit it off. Even though they’d spent that evening only kissing, it was the first in a long time since Louise felt good about having someone touch her.

At the start of a new week, Louise begins her new secretary position at a psychiatrist’s office. And that’s when she meets her new boss, David: the man from the bar, who also happens to be married. Although they agree that their kiss was a mistake, neither one can stop thinking about the other.

When she least expects it, Louise bumps into Adele—David’s wife. Adele insists she’s new in town and seeking a friend. While guilt-ridden, Louise doesn’t feel right about accepting sweet Adele’s friendship.  However, the more time she spends with Adele, the more suspicious Louise becomes of Adele and David’s marriage. Adele doesn’t work.  She often appears anxious at certain hours when she’s expecting David’s phone calls. And her everyday routine is as if she has a curfew. And why is it that David never speaks of his marriage? And is David abusive, according to Adele?

While Louise struggles with her decision to tell David about her friendship with Adele, more strange behavior and secrets accumulate, putting the three of them at risk.  Because Louise constantly hears two sides to the stories, she realizes something isn’t right in this marriage and there seem to be more questions than answers. Although she’s advised to back off, Louise risks her life to get the answers she needs.

I think the storyline, itself, was pretty good. Each chapter speaks from Adele’s and Louise’s points of view, with the occasional chapters from Adele and David’s past. As for the ending, it did surprise me. To be honest, though, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole story. I didn’t love it, yet I didn’t hate it. I became curious about Adele’s plans and David’s reasons for his own behavior. Every chapter made me wonder whose side I should take. Even though there’s been a lot of hype about the ending, it just didn’t move me. But don’t let that discourage you from checking it out. You may enjoy it, perhaps.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Behind Her Eyes will be released on January 31, 2017.

About the author: Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development. Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in over 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist. Follow her on Twitter. You also can check out her page here.

“The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living”–Review

51whg08igcl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, fellow bloggers!  Here’s a review of one of my most recent reads for my online book club.  Enjoy.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope.

Olivia Rawlings is a pastry chef extraordinare for an exclusive Boston dinner club.  One evening, however, her flambéed dessert catches fire, including the rest of the building.  Feeling humilated, Olivia decides she needs to get away, so she packs a few things, including her dog, Salty, and drives out to Guthrie, Vermont—home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend, Hannah.  Although her stay is supposed to be temporary, Olivia is offered a job as a pastry chef for Margaret Hurley, the uptight owner of the Sugar Maple Inn.  Assuming her days at the club are numbered—including the fact that she’s broke and can’t pay her rent—Olivia takes the job.

With a new job, including free room and board, Livvy creates her famous desserts for the Guthrie residents.  It isn’t long, however, before she learns of the reason for being hired: to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest. No matter, Livvy is a team player.

During her stay, she begins to grow accustomed to the country life.  Will it be worth staying?  Or will she eventually go back to Boston?  Then Livvy meets Martin McCraken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to help out his sick father.  As she gets to know Martin more, Livvy realizes she’s not as alone and confused in the world as she’d assumed.  Then an unexpected arrival occurs in Guthrie, leaving Livvy to decide whether to stay or go, and what it means to truly be home.

I think this was a great story.  It tells the reader that not only does life not turn out the way we planned, it could be even better than we’d expected.  Also, if you’re a foodie, this could be the book for you.  Honestly, my reading the parts where desserts were being prepared made me crave pie.  The only thing I’ve baked is a cake, which was years ago.  The corners of the cake were cracked, but I was happy for my progress.  Perhaps I’ll learn to bake a pie, one day.

As always, feel free to comment.  Happy reading!

About the author: Louise Miller is a pastry chef and writer who lives and works in Boston, MA. She received a scholarship to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a yearlong workshop for novelists. She is an art school dropout, an amateur flower gardener, an old-time banjo player, an obsessive moviegoer, and a champion of old dogs. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is her debut novel.

“Not Exactly Love”–Review

41gn49ulxjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Part memoir, part warm-hearted look at the ’70s, and part therapeutic journey, Not Exactly Love: A Memoir is an intense and inspirational story of a woman who grew from her experience.

It was in 1969 when Betty—a single schoolteacher—met Jack, a handsome but edgy new teacher at her school.  When they got to know each other, they clicked instantly.  Their relationship was filled with happy times and Betty couldn’t ask for anything more…

But when they got married, Jack was a different person.  He was quick-tempered.  He’d easily get angry about anything, taking it all out on Betty.  His fits of rage constantly ended up in verbal and physical violence.  Every day seemed to be unpredictable.  Was Jack going to be in a good mood?  Was he going to be angry?  Betty had to live with her decisions on a daily basis.  When Jack was loving, Betty tried to assure herself that their lives would be better.  But when the rage would come back, she didn’t know what to do.

Because nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the U.S. suffer from physical violence from a partner, Betty had to see the reality of her marriage and decide whether or not her marriage was worth saving or to save her own life.

This is great memoir.  It was almost like reading a thriller novel.  It’s just sad to think about situations such as these because, although it doesn’t excuse it, there’s always a story behind the violent outcomes.  This book is an inspirational read, especially because it raises awareness of domestic violence.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Betty Hafner lives outside Washington, DC and has written a popular monthly book column for twelve years in The Town Courier newspapers in Montgomery County, MD. With a M.S. in counseling, she was a teacher and counselor in high schools and colleges for twenty-five years. She continues to lead workshops, give talks, and facilitate groups. She wrote two practical career-change books that stemmed from her workshops―Where Do I Go From Here? (Lippincott) and The Nurse’s Guide to Starting a Small Business (Pilot Books). Always ready to converse, she also loves telling stories through her drawings, photographs, and writing.  Follow her on Twitter and you can check out her website here.

“Above: The Broken Sky Chronicles”–Review

51vvhf8ulzl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Good evening, bloggers!  This will probably be my final book review for this year.  I can’t wait to read and share more reviews for 2017.  Here’s my review for the second book from The Broken Sky Chronicles, by Jason Chabot.

In the first book, Below, Hokk and his fox sidekick, Nym, are living in exile in the barren plains of Below, surviving on anything they can find.  Meanwhile, in the floating islands in Above, Elia works as a lowly servant girl in the Mirrored Palace.  The edges of the island have always been seen as borders that no one dares to approach.  However, when a natural disaster occurs, Elia falls down to Below.  And that’s where she meets Hokk.  Together, the two plan to escape the dangers of Below and get back to Above.

Now in the second book, Above, Elia and Hokk are separated after unusual circumstances.  For weeks, Elia tries to survive in the lands of Below, all the while trying to gain acceptance from the Torkin marauders, especially because she’s seen as a dangerous outsider.

Just when she starts to feel she’ll never return home, she and Hokk are reunited, and Hokk has a plan to get the two of them out of Below indefinitely.  Once they finally make it to Above, they realize it’s not over.  Their quest has become a lot more complicated than they’d expected.  They’re led into the scorching sand dunes, where the sun’s rays become a threat to Hokk’s life.  However, they are rescued by a privileged family who seem to have ties to those who Elia has tried to infiltrate.  During their stay with the family, though, Elia and Hokk stumble upon secrets that pose a threat to Elia’s plans to save Hokk, herself, and her own family.

Although I think the first book was quite interesting, this new installment was even better.  The secrets, along with the suspense, really had me turning the pages.  Now I’m really curious about the final book.  So if you haven’t, I recommend you read the first book.  Afterward, it gets better.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

Above: The Broken Sky Chronicles, Book 2 will be released on February 7, 2017.

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, as part of the Review Team.

You can also follow Jason Chabot on Twitter.

“Skipping Christmas”–Review

41mpsbst04l-_sx312_bo1204203200_Good afternoon, bloggers! I can’t believe it’s already the week of Christmas. I hope you all are enjoying some great books. I, too, am hoarding books faster than I can read them, but it’s worth it. Anyhow, after stumbling upon a recommendation for Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham, I immediately took an interest in reading it.

It’s a good plot.  With their daughter away in Peru doing work for the Peace Corps, Luther and Nora Krank have different plans for the holidays. Every, single year, they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on holiday festivities yet not much to show for it. Now that it’s the two of them, the Kranks decide it’s time to do something for themselves, for once.  Instead of spending money on all the madness of Christmas, they’re going to spend ten days enjoying the warm weather on a Caribbean cruise.  What a wonderful way to treat themselves, right?  Wrong.

Once word gets out that the Kranks are cancelling their annual Christmas plans, the entire neighborhood is angry.  While preparing for their upcoming cruise, the Kranks endure harassment, rumors, gossip, etc., but that still won’t stop the Kranks from packing their bags.  Until they are hit with another surprise, making everything twice as messy.

Rarely do I read holiday-themed books, but I enjoyed reading this one.  I was curious to see how far the madness would go.  Some of the neighbors were so annoying, yet I couldn’t help wondering what would happen next.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

“The Secret Language of Dogs”–Review

61xos-763hl-_sx385_bo1204203200_Good morning, bloggers!  Here’s a new recommendation for dog owners/lovers.

Many of us have more likely wondered what dogs go through on a daily basis.  Sometimes we wonder if there’s some hidden language dogs share with each other.  In this book, trainer and star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or The Dog, Victoria Stilwell reveals how to both interpret and “speak” the hidden language of dogs.

Each chapter will answer particular questions, such as:

  • What do different tail wags mean?
  • What does being right-pawed say about my dog’s personality?
  • How can I tell the difference between boredom barking and warning barking?
  • What does it mean when my dog spins around, arches his back, or gives me the whale eye?
  • Do dogs feel guilt?
  • How do dogs perceive human faces?
  • Why do some scientists think dogs’ emotional experience is even greater than ours?

And so forth.

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Leah (in the above picture) is extra hyper and can be a handful, yet she’s so sweet.  The book has a chapter on the reason for howling, which is something Leah does often, especially when I play music for her.  It could be that she just enjoys singing along to music.  And it boosts my mood.

13244127_1055301057894889_2686228353419622822_oBecause I look after a senior mini pinscher, named Mandy (in the above picture), I was definitely interested in the chapter on the language of aging.  When dogs get older, it’s especially important to know about certain signs in their body language.  Also, signs of aging could effect their daily activities, and oftentimes, they lose interest in what they usually love doing.  Because Mandy is arthritic and can’t walk anymore, I have to assist her with certain things.  Despite her ailments, however, I always treat her as if she were my little child.  So that’s mainly the reason I took interest in this book.

To all the dog owners/lovers, this may be the book for you.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

“The Wayfarer Trilogy”–Review

511m9sm0mgl-_sx323_bo1204203200_-2Hello bloggers!  Although I’d read the last two books in the Wayfarer Trilogy awhile back, I’m happy for having the opportunity to finally read the first book, The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano.

Set in a war during the Boxer Rebellion in China, star-crossed lovers, Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, meet.  Because of superstition, history, and customs, Lian and Giacomo are separated yet try to find a way back to each other.  Then Lian is forced into marrying a man to whom she was promised long ago.  When she is forbidden from her profession as a healer, frowned upon by her unbound feet, and enduring her husband’s and in-laws’ demanding ways, Lian turns to Nushu, the women’s secret writing which expresses her hopes for the future.

When Lian realizes enough is enough, she embarks on her own quest for freedom—even if it will come with a costly price.  Not only does she risk everything in hopes of reuniting with Giacomo, she learns a lot more about herself along the way and what she’s willing to endure to be happy again.

I liked Giacomo and now that I’ve read his story, the next two books made a bit more sense to me.

51gnxdwxitl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the trilogy, takes place in Italy, where Angelica Domenico resides in a blossoming lemon grove on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  During an accident from her childhood, Angelica faces the importance of maintaining her purity.  She begins to question it all even more after she endures the trauma of her aunt’s death during a difficult childbirth.  Because of that, including her fear of intimacy, she decides she’s going to commit her life to the convent, even though her parents forbid it.

Things start to change, however, when Giacomo Scimenti stops by the family shop, leaving Angelica confused and afraid of her feelings toward him, including her future in the convent.

I liked this book, even more, especially when certain chapters mentioned some Italian recipes.  I hope to, one day, visit Italy.  Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters.

51yi1la3zhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The final book, In America, takes place in 1920s New York.  Marcella Scimenti—the daughter of the characters in the previous book—is young, beautiful, and ambitious.  The handsome neighborhood boy is in love with her, she has a large family, and she has dreams of moving to Hollywood to sing.  Although her parents forbid her to pursue a singing career, Marcella is willing to stick by her own stubborn ways and do what it takes.  During the economic depression, she learns the importance of friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working woman with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family.  Later on, Marcella’s fate is tested when she learns of a devastating family secret, leaving her to choose what is really important in life.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this trilogy and I loved some of the helpful advice Marcella was given in the third book.  It just left me thinking, “Wow.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  No spoilers, of course, so I’ll just encourage you to check out this wonderful trilogy.

Feel free to post your comments, of course.  Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here.  Also, you can follow her on Twitter.