Daisy Jones & The Six By Taylor Jenkins Reid: Book Review

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication: March 5, 2019 by Ballantine Books
368 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy on Amazon

From Publisher: Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

My Thoughts:  I’ve got to admit, when I first started reading Daisy Jones & The Six,  the author’s note at the beginning is so completely realistic that I found myself heading to Google to figure out how I missed hearing about this band way back when. I kept reading though and realized, no this is just really good fiction writing! With that being said, I know I’m standing out from the 5 star Goodreads crowd on this one but I’ll share my thoughts on why I didn’t love this book overall, one of my MOST anticipated books of 2019.

I’ll start by saying I’ve loved several of TJR’s books that I’ve read this past year…The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoOne True Loves, and After I Do … so even though I knew this was about a rock band in the 70s with a tribute to rock music in general, neither of which I enjoy, I still believed I’d enjoy this because it’s TJR! Keep this in mind… if you enjoy rock music, classic rock bands and reading about the lifestyle from the 70s you may really love this book.

The story is structured in an interview style format (for the whole book) with many characters getting a chance to speak, including the band members and all those involved in their lives. This interview format lent itself to short snippets from the characters, repetitive behind the scenes music details, concert details, song details, an abundance of party scenes involving drugs and alcohol, etc.  I get it, drugs and alcohol, especially in rock bands, was big in the 70’s and 80s but I wanted more from this story and these characters if that makes sense. For me, this structure left me feeling disconnected from the story and characters because I didn’t feel immersed in the storyline. I should’ve connected with the main characters Daisy and Billy but I didn’t. I liked Camilla (Billy’s wife) but honestly couldn’t understand her motivations so I’d say my favorite character in the end was Simone, Daisy’s best friend. I love that TJR took a chance on a completely different format for telling this story and for a gazillion others it will work, just not for me unfortunately. I’m still a fan though and will be eagerly waiting for her next book!!

Thanks to Ballantine Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

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November Road By Lou Berney: Book Review

November Road  by Lou Berney
Publication: October 9, 2018 By William Morrow
336 Pages
Buy On Amazon

From Publisher: Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America

My Thoughts: Ever since reading and loving The Long and Faraway Gone (My Review), I’ve been waiting on Lou Berney’s next book. I’ll come right out and tell you, this book was terrific and did not disappoint. I love that it was set in the time period of the 1960s, especially with the Kennedy Assassination as a backdrop. The way Berney writes, you just feel you’re there. The story begins in New Orleans with Frank Guindry, a handsome, shady, arrogant street lieutenant for mob boss Carlos Marcello. Frank has assumed he’s Carlo’s right hand man- untouchable –  and maybe he was but that was before he knew too much about a certain assassination. Let the cat-and-mouse chase begin.

The story alternates perspectives between Frank and Charlotte, a mom who makes an impulsive decision to run away from her home and husband with her two young girls. Two people escaping from different lives, running from different people, will cross paths and…well of course you’ll have to read but don’t worry there’s plenty of drama, conflict, potential romance, and possible redemption to keep you interested along the way.

There’s so much I loved about this story but what really stood out to me were two things: the unbelievably realistic  dialogue…it read like a screenplay (this would make a great movie) and the flawed yet likable characters. While I didn’t agree with many things Frank and Charlotte did throughout the story, I found myself still rooting for each of them. I also loved how Berney explored the layers of redemption, especially in terms of Frank but also for Charlotte as well. If you like your reads with a little bit of everything, this one’s for you.

Many thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain: Book Review

The Dream Daughter  by Diane Chamberlain
Publication: October 2, 2018 by St.Martin’s Press
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

From Publisher: A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable.

My Thoughts: Would you be upset if my review consisted of: you need to read this, it’s amazing…get your hands on it somehow?  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to write a review that gives none of the plot away because I want you to go into this story like I did, knowing basically nothing. That might make for a questionable review but I think you’ll thank me after you read this.

This is actually my first Diane Chamberlain book which now that I’ve read The Dream Daughter  I’m pretty mad at myself for not paying closer attention to her previous books. Rather than go into lengthy plot details I want to just share with you what I loved about this book. To start…time travel…I love this element. I know some people read that and may immediately think no, not for me. The time travel in this book is essential to the story and it’s subtle, a small piece of a much larger plot picture but without it, there’s no story. With it, the story comes alive. But, there’s no science fiction “out there-ness” to the time travel, it just is and I was on board with it from the beginning.

Another thing I loved – the characters! Carly, whose unborn daughter needs a life saving fetal surgery to survive, is one of my favorite characters in fiction this year. I connected with her immediately and I never stopped rooting for her and boy did the author throw some unexpected twists her way. The suspense of not knowing what would happen to Carly and her baby was so on point. Hunter, her brother in law and Myra his mom were other characters that felt like real people to me. Really, that sums up my overall feelings about this book. Distinctive, tension filled, realistic writing that caused me to stay up super late because I had to know what was going to happen next. There are so many surprises in this story and I’ll finish by saying…have tissues ready when you pick this one up.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for my copy 

MINI REVIEWS: A SPELLBINDING FICTION & A FASCINATING NONFICTION

MINI REVIEWS

During my recent blogging break I decided that when I returned I’d incorporate more mini reviews into the blog in an effort to ward off further review writing burnout. As all book bloggers know, it’s a lot of work to write reviews for everything we read and sometimes it’s just as easy and convenient to write (and read) mini reviews. So, I’ll be trying out some new ideas here and there in terms of my review writing formats….

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Published June 2017 By Atria Books

Short Summary: Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

 

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I’m the first to admit that sometimes, ok many times, I’ve let books pass me by because of assumptions I make about them or as in the case of Evelyn, I read about 10 pages of it earlier this summer and thought nope, I’m not in the mood for a woman’s story about her 7 husbands. What a HUGE mistake that was and I’m so glad I came around to giving this another try. Being a mood reader is so bizarre sometimes and it took a complete reading slump and Sarah’s Alcohol and Advil post last week to bring this one back into my orbit.

Here’s what I found to be important about this book…I went into it not reading any recent reviews so the entire storyline was a surprise to me and there were SO many unexpected twists along the way. Legendary movie star Evelyn tells her story to young and inexperienced Monique and while you’ll wonder what she’s got up her sleeve for choosing Monique of all people, that will take a backseat as you’re swept into the 1950s glitz, glamour, and excitement of Old Hollywood. As we get to know Evelyn though, we come to find that her life wasn’t all glamour, there was plenty of heartache, drama, betrayals, and secrets to last a lifetime. And that’s what kept me completely captivated and made this a book I spent my entire Saturday reading. I was unprepared for the respect I felt for Evelyn despite not agreeing with so much of what she did; I really did like her…in the end I think she was her own worst enemy most of the time. I can’t forget to mention the supporting characters…sheer perfection! Get your tissues ready for this addictive, gorgeously written novel that’s earned a place on my 5 star bookshelf.

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Published March 2017 by Knopf; narrated by Mark Bramhall

Short Summary: In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later

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Believe me when I say this was the perfect audiobook for not only long dog walks but also cleaning the house, running errands etc. I listened to it nonstop. I was immediately drawn into the story which really starts at the end in terms of when Chris Knight, not of his own volition, ended his 27 years of solitude in the Maine forest. As a lover of psychology, I really wanted to know what made someone choose to leave society behind and basically spend 27 years camping. How did he survive? What did he do for all those years? The awesome thing about listening to this was that Mark Bramhall made Chris Knight come alive, so during the many long interviews it felt like we were hearing from Chris himself and I was beyond intrigued.

I still think about this story for many reasons but mainly for the ways it made me think about it from so many different sides. Chris Knight was a complicated individual and in no uncertain terms broke the law…over and over and over again. I loved hearing from the citizens whose lives he affected, some were forever (negatively) changed and some who brushed him off and even tried to help him. As I said, fascinating! If you’re looking for an engaging story for nonfiction November, I highly recommend this audiobook.

HAPPY READING!

 

REVIEW: THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES By John Boyne

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Published Aug 22, 2017 by Hogarth Press

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from and over his many years will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

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ALL. THE. LOVE. I finished this book almost a week ago and I’m still at a loss for words on how best to review it. The blurb is actually one of the best I’ve read because it captures the idea of the story without giving away any of the magic of what you’ll truly encounter when you open the pages and become an accomplice in the journey of Cyril Avery’s life. I say accomplice when what I really mean is friend. Every once in awhile a book comes along and allows me to connect with a character on such a deep level, being privy to their thoughts, heartbreak and happiness, that when I turn the last page it’s like saying goodbye to a dear friend. THIS is that kind of book and Cyril is that kind of character.

When I started reading this gem all I knew was that it was a heartfelt saga…that’s it…and I’m so glad I went in not knowing anything and having read no reviews because everything was a surprise and believe me, there are twists and surprises throughout the seven decades that this book takes place. What I will tell you is that we first get to meet Cyril when he’s about age 7 and he’s living with his adoptive parents Maude and Charles. Now, believe me when I say these are some of the most eccentric characters I’ve come across in quite a long time! As a parent myself, I was shocked at some of the things they said to little Cyril…how many times can a kid hear “you’re not a real Avery” before it seeps into their whole being? Cyril, however, took everything in stride and while he grew up wondering who he was if he wasn’t a real Avery, he also knew that he was luckier than some as he had a warm house, clothes and an education. Here’s the weird thing about the family dynamics of Maude, Charles, and Cyril…oftentimes it was quite funny and I laughed out loud on several occasions at the wittiness of Cyril and the cluelessness of Maude.

The story is narrated by Cyril throughout and it’s broken up into seven year intervals spanning 70 years so we have a long time to get to know Cyril as well as his friends, loves, coworkers and acquaintances, and what I especially loved about this was that people we may have known in passing, often return again to Cyril’s life, whether attributed to fate or coincidence…who knows. Cyril’s journey also takes us not only to Ireland, but also Amsterdam and New York City which I for one love when I get to travel to various locations in my stories!

I’m going to finish by saying, how John Boyne handled the ending was just brilliant. I  loved everything about it as I cried my eyes out. In fact, I loved every single thing about this story and I can’t remember the last time I finished a book and felt the need to start over again right away. This book has EVERYTHING…drama, happiness, sadness, hope, and humor. It is epic and unforgettable. I’ve already ordered a hardcover copy for my favorites bookshelf where it will sit (until its first re-read) so I can pass by it daily and smile. Oh and if you’re a regular reader of my blog you may remember me saying that I thought The Force would be my favorite read of 2017 unless something else came along to blow me away…well, The Heart’s Invisible Furies has come along…consider me blown away!

Many thanks to Hogarth Press for my copy

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published Jan 2014 by Doubleday

One summer night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater steps into a New York City cab and is never heard from again. Behind this great man are three women, each with her own tale to tell: Stella, his fashionable wife, the picture of propriety; Maria, their steadfast maid, indebted to the judge; and Ritzi, his showgirl mistress, willing to seize any chance to break out of the chorus line.

As the twisted truth emerges, Ariel Lawhon’s wickedly entertaining debut mystery transports us into the smoky jazz clubs, the seedy backstage dressing rooms, and the shadowy streets beneath the Art Deco skyline.

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Well, I’ve officially began tackling my looming backlist with this read this week and I have to say, I really enjoyed reading something that’s not new or upcoming. Plus, I got out of my comfort zone (somewhat) with historical fiction, although still with a mystery component. I’m a complete sucker for any book that starts off with the premise… so and so was last seen doing ______ and was never heard from again! I should say, I love that premise knowing it’s a true story. So, I jumped into this without googling anything about the case because I just wanted to have this author’s story in my head.

The story takes place in 1930 New York City and alternates with present day snippets with Stella and Jude, a detective on the case. We meet Stella first as she’s with Joe at their vacation house in Maine and right off the bat we discover she’s got Joe’s number as far as his cheating ways and she’s not particularly keen to sit back and let him get away with it. In New York City, we meet Maria, Joe and Stella’s maid as well as a renowed seamstress who’s husband Jude is a NYC police officer who gets assigned to Joe’s case when he goes missing. Webs begin to get weaved when Maria walks in on something at Joe and Stella’s apartment that she really wishes she hadn’t. Finally, there’s Ritzi, a feisty showgirl and Joe’s mistress who’s gotten herself tanged with the likes of a very dangerous gangster. As the story alternates between all 3 women I was left wondering if it could possibly end well for any of them!

I was really invested in the characters, time period, and setting of this book. I thought the author did a fantastic job of piecing together long ago facts and details and imagining how the story might have unfolded as to what happened to Joe. I do, however, think there were several lulls in the story which caused me to start to skim. When it happened several times, I felt that took away a little intensity in terms of the pace but I really have to say that overall, I enjoyed this story! It ended up having a couple surprises that I found interesting and bittersweet as well. If you’re in the mood for a detail oriented historical mystery set in NYC, I say definitely grab this one and give it a try.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Amy at NovelGossip

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki at The Secret Library

 

REVIEW: HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS By Bianca Marais

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Published July 11, 2017 G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Perfect for readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds….

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There are three things that really drew me to this novel….the cover, especially the colors, the title, and the first sentence of the blurb mentioning The Help. You see, I absolutely loved The Help, so I hit the request button as fast as possible on Netgalley and hoped for the best. I was thrilled to get this the day before it published and I immediately dropped all my other reads and started this one. I have to say, I’ve fallen victim to this marketing ploy before…the “perfect for readers of” one…and I’ve been severely disappointed in the past. I’m happy to say this book completely lived up to the comparison of The Help, although not in a similar plot way, rather in the way it evoked similar feelings in me.

The story is set in 1975-1976 South Africa with the Soweto Uprising as the catalyst that connects the main characters, Robin and Beauty. We’re first introduced to Robin, a precocious 9 year old girl and her parents, all of whom I immediately connected with as their voices were so well developed. I loved how the author set up their family life and really allowed us to get to know them. The dialogue was fantastic and I felt like I was there feeling the heat and the dust near the mines. When tragedy strikes the family and Robin is forced into a completely different life, it broke my heart! I had just gotten to know all of them. What occurs for Robin after this tragedy is the basis for the rest of the story. Especially when she makes a spur of the moment decision later in the story that changes the course of the most important relationship she has left.

Beauty is a mother of two young sons who leaves her rural South African village when her daughter goes missing in Johanessburg during the Soweto Uprising.  Her life eventually intersects with Robin’s and how this changes both their lives and whether Beauty ever finds her daughter…well you’ll just have to read to find out but believe me when I say, I was so invested in these characters, especially Beauty, that I couldn’t put this book down until I found out! What I found surprising was the fact that, for me, Beauty’s character stole the novel and she really reminded me of Abileen from The Help. There’s wit, humor, happiness and sadness all wrapped up in a well paced plot. As I said, the author manages to write in such a way that the characters all came to life, even Elvis the parrot, although at times he was over the top.

If it sounds like this was a 5 star read for me, it really would’ve been except for some minor issues I had with Robin’s character and the last couple chapters. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Robin but there were times her character, who’s 9, behaved and spoke like a 5 year old and then other times she seemed to be 16 or older. It seemed a little inconsistent. Now, I can’t really say why the last few chapters gave me pause without spoiling things but I will say that they really tested my ability to suspend disbelief which is ok (it’s fiction I get it) but the level was pretty high. Then, the ending…I’m all kinds of conflicted about it and really need to discuss it! That being said, this would make a great book club pick as there’s lots to discuss as far as character’s actions and the plot. I do highly recommend this and if you do decide to read it feel free to DM me so we can chat about the ending! In the meantime, I’m very much looking forward to Bianca Marais’s next novel.

Many thanks to G. P Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review. 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published May 2013 by Putnam

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

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 the 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 fiancé, 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.

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If you’re looking for an absolute perfect summer read, look no further than A Hundred Summers! Not only is the cover and title fantastic, the story makes for a page turning read that encompasses just enough drama and suspense, not to mention a love triangle filled with betrayal. What more could you ask for summertime reading? I actually read this last summer after it had been sitting on my kindle for over a year and I loved it so much it made my top 10 reads of 2016 last year. The funny thing was I had started the story a couple other times and it didn’t grab me initially. I’m SO glad the last time I picked it up I decided to keep going because once I really connected with Lily, Nick and Budgie I couldn’t put this down. This is a novel that does a little character set up to start so don’t despair and give up, it will quickly pick up.

The story is told in alternating timelines of Lily and Nick’s past and the present which is 1938, in an oceanfront community along the coast of Rhode Island with a country club setting, cocktails, the beach…what did I tell you…summertime perfection! Along the way there is much angst, betrayal and intrigue that occurs between Lily, Nick (Lily’s great love), and his new wife Budgie…who just so happens to be Lily’s former best friend. You just know there’s going to be a LOT of drama, right? It all plays out in a spellbinding story, filled with multi-dimensional characters and an action packed ending that I absolutely loved. I don’t read much historical fiction but Beatriz Williams has made me rethink this stance and I’m definitely going to be reading more of her books in the future.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

Cathy at Between the Lines

P Turners at The PTurnersbookblog

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Noriko at Book Fiend

Rebecca at BoofsBooks

Lynne at Fictionophile

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I want to read that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d just link back to me I’d so appreciate it.

My PICK this week is:

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Published 2011 by Scribner

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

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I can’t believe I haven’t featured what might be my very favorite Stephen King read! Whether you’re looking for your next summer read or want to put this on your fall tbr,  this would be THE PERFECT read for anyone looking to be swept away by amazing storytelling but don’t want the traditional horror that is associated with Stephen King. In my opinion, no one tells a story better than King and what makes this one so fantastic is there’s literally a little bit of everything….time-travel, suspense, thrills, and yes a love story! Of course, nothing in this story is as simple as I just made it seem and really isn’t that what we’re all hoping to find when we pick up a book? To be transported to another time and/or place, to be entertained and maybe to just contemplate the ‘what if’ of a significant part of history? You’ll get all that and more with 11/22/63, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

HAPPY READING! 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere 

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Nicki at The Secret Library

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

 

REVIEW: ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT By Laura McBride

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From Goodreads

To Be Published May 2, 2017 by Touchstone

From the author of We Are Called to Rise comes a novel about the interconnected lives of four women in Las Vegas, each of whom experiences a life-changing moment at a classic casino nightclub.

Spanning the six decades when Las Vegas grew from a dusty gambling town into the melting pot metropolis it is today, ‘Round Midnight is the story of four women—one who falls in love, one who gets lucky, one whose heart is broken, and one who chooses happiness—whose lives change at the Midnight Room.

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I’m calling this now…FAVORITE COVER OF THE YEAR!! It’s just gorgeous and I knew as soon as I saw it I had to read this. Well, that and the fact that it’s wrote by Laura McBride whose first book, We Are Called to Rise, made my top 10 reads of 2016 list last year. This novel is similar in structure to her first and totally works just as effectively as it as well.

When the novel begins, we meet June, who seemed to me very much a free spirit, but also somewhat lost in terms of what she wanted in life. The year is 1960 and June ends up in Las Vegas where she and her husband, Odell Dibb, run the El Capitan hotel where the showroom The Midnight Room hosts the most popular singer in Vegas…one Eddie Knox. Let’s just say June manages to stir up quite a bit of drama at the hotel and in her personal life and I loved reading about it. The author writes in such a way that I was completely drawn into June’s life. Her writing style flows and is so engaging that I felt that I was a fly on the wall…privy to everything going on in and out of the casino.

I have to say the settingLas Vegas in the 1960’s to present day… was a character unto itself and I absolutely loved reading every detail about the casinos and life on and around The Strip.  I remember visiting Vegas as a kid when there were still coins clinking non-stop out of the slot machines just like in the book. I’ve since visited Vegas every summer for the past 15 years and while the sounds in the casino have changed (paper has replaced coins), the vibe, lights and action of the casinos and The Strip sure haven’t. Laura McBride captured all of this brilliantly.

Following June’s section, the timeline jumps to 1992 and we meet Honorata, a Filipino girl who reluctantly (and somewhat bitterly) ends up in Vegas but whose luck may be changing. Then, there’s Coral, a Vegas native and music teacher who longs to find her own kind of happiness. Finally, in the last section, beginning in 2010-present we meet Engracia, an immigrant woman from Mexico with a tremendous broken heart. The beauty of how these very different women’s lives connect lies in the author’s tremendous storytelling ability. There wasn’t a time that I wasn’t completely engaged with the story and intrigued about how the ladies’ lives would intersect. That being said, I was definitely more invested in June’s story and to a lesser extent Coral’s. I really wished there wasn’t such a huge time gap between when we first read about June and when she makes another appearance. She was the character that I was most connected to and compelled to understand and there just wasn’t enough of her, in my opinion. I never really connected with Honorata and Engracia wasn’t in the story nearly as much as the others so I didn’t feel like I knew her as well. In the end, while I hoped for a little more ‘wow’ with the final scenes, I was very happy with how the author chose to end it. If you like vivid settings and charismatic characters, I encourage you to pick up this book.  This is truly top notch writing and storytelling and all I can do now is impatiently wait for Laura McBride’s next novel!

Many thanks to Touchstone Books via Netgalley and Laura McBride for my copy of Round Midnight, I’m happy to provide an honest review.