The Dutch House

By Ann Patchett

The Dutch House: A Novel by [Patchett, Ann]

5 out of 5 stars

Some books come out of the starting gate with a bang and just explode inside your brain as you read. Other books are like a slow ride down a lazy river, you take in every nuance along the way. This lovely book is the latter. I devoured it slowly and enjoyed every single morsel. I absolutely adore this book and I can’t stop thinking about it. Of course, the house is a big part of it. A house so big and loaded with things from the previous tenants that some people wanted nothing to do with it. Some people would give anything and anyone up to have it. The descriptions of it put you right inside it. I would love to walk through it. The heart of this novel though is really the love between a brother and a sister who were everything to each other. A sister who would do anything for her brother and a brother who would give up anything for his sister. There are so many emotions on display throughout the story. The heartbreak is heartbreaking. The disappointments, the triumphs, the struggles are all so real. It was hard to say goodbye to these characters and I love how it completely went full circle. One of the loveliest books I have read in quite a while.

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for this wonderful book. The review is my humble opinion.

The Swallows

By Lisa Lutz

The Swallows: A Novel by [Lutz, Lisa]

5 out of 5 stars

Welcome to Stonebridge Academy where boys will be boys and the girls will not sit down and take it anymore. Alex Witt comes to academy fresh from a scandal at another school to teach (what she thinks will be English) writing. Her first assignment is a questionnaire asking “Who are you”? Something doesn’t sit right with Alex as she gets to know the kids and gets to know the big secret (not -so-secret) thing going on at the school. The boys are rating a certain sex act among the girls and the girls are finally realizing that they don’t have to do what they don’t want to. Cue the fireworks!

I loved the characters in this book. Alex was such a snarky, fun person. I would want her on my side. If you love the Spellman books, and who doesn’t, you will find that witty sarcasm that is so wonderful in them. This is not all comedy though. It is a serious look at gaining back your rights and it is very relevant to the times. I liked how it didn’t make all the men and boys bad or all the girls righteous or good. There was one big twist I didn’t see coming and some subtle things that I did see. I enjoyed the tug of war with her parents because behind it all, you could see how much they loved each other. I loved Gemma and her ferociousness. I loved sweet Linny and that fire she had in her. She was also the character that made me cry.

Some readers might be offended with the storyline so be forewarned but for me, it was hard to put down and something I will think about for a while.

I think Ms. Lutz said it best:

“In a perfect world, they wouldn’t need to fight. That’s not the world I live in. You can keep telling girls to be polite, to keep a level head and it’ll all work out in the end. But don’t be surprised when they figure out that you’ve been feeding them lies. Don’t be alarmed when they grow tired of using their voices and playing by your rules. And don’t be shocked when they decide that if they can’t win a fair fight, they’ll just have to find another way.”

Thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for a copy of this wonderful book. The review is my own humble opinion.

 

 

The Last Book Party

By Karen Dukess

The Last Book Party by [Dukess, Karen]

5 out of 5 stars

I know that I have wanted to be a fly on the wall at a party filled with artists, writers, actors. All that creativity in one room would be something to behold. Eve Rosen gets that chance. She wants to be a writer but something keeps holding her back. When she ends up working for columnist Henry Grey, her life becomes something she has only dreamed of. She is in the world she has longed for. There is even an unexpected affair. Everything culminates in the summer’s end book party. Everyone dresses up as a literary character and hopefully stumps everyone else. This party will be like no other party before it. Let the secrets flow!

I felt as if I was on Cape Cod. I could actually taste the salt in the air. Ms. Dukess has a wonderful way with her descriptions. From the publishing house to the Grey house, she had a great eye for detail. I was immersed in the story from the very first chapter. Each character was more flawed than the last and more human. I longed to be in Cape Cod and I have never been there! The parties were exactly how I would imagine them to be and boy, did I want to go. I cannot wait to read whatever she gives us next.

Thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt for a copy of this wonderful book. This review is my own humble opinion.

Because You’re Mine

By Rea Frey

Because You're Mine: A Novel by [Frey, Rea]

4 out of 5 stars

Lies, lies, lies, yeah. That song kept playing through my mind as I read this story. Two best friends with so many secrets between them, both unaware. We know someone dies from a fall right away but the getting there, that was a thing of beauty.

Lee is raising her son Mason alone. He is a very special child with the brain of an adult and some very special needs. Grace has been the one friend she can count on, even introducing her to Noah. He works with special kids and he has been a Godsend. Lee needs him in more ways than one. Grace has her own secrets and one that might just push Lee over the edge.

The past comes into play in the story and we find out how both of these women and Noah came to where they are. It plays big time into everything and is really the meat of the story. I was fascinated by it. Then comes the ending. The ending is extremely chilling and very surprising.

This is another good outing from Ms. Frey. She has a wonderful way with a suspenseful thriller and the story that gets you there. Not Her Daughter was another good read. I look forward to reading more from her.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s for a copy of this book. The review is my own humble opinion.

 

Never Have I Ever

By Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever: A Novel by [Jackson, Joshilyn]

4 out of 5 stars

This is quite the departure from the books that I have read by Ms. Jackson and all I can say is that I am happy to take the u-turn!

Amy Whey has what we would consider a normal life. She has a husband, teen stepdaughter and young baby son. They live in a nice neighborhood in Florida. She has a circle of friends who meet for book club. Her best friend Charlotte leads it. One night, a new neighbor blows in, that really being the perfect term for what she does. She calls herself Roux and she takes over the book club, much to Charlotte’s dismay, pouring drinks and starting a game of adult “Never have I ever”. Only this game is a bit different. It is a game to tell what is the worst thing you did today, yesterday and so on. Amy feels as if it is just for her and she is not wrong. Our heroine is hiding her past from everyone.

If you want a sly game of cat and mouse, this book is definitely for you. There are a lot of twists and turns, one even made me gasp but made so much sense to the story and the character of Amy. I loved Amy. She felt a sort of kinship with Roux but they really were different. I felt like their was such a deeper story with Roux that we don’t really see, her past, but then you realize what she is doing and you dislike her even more. I felt a bit mad at myself for feeling a little sorry for her.

I think that Ms. Jackson conquered the veer to writing a thriller perfectly and I hope she writes more.

The review is my opinion and I thank Edelweiss and William Morrow for a copy of this book.

 

Things You Save in a Fire

By Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel by [Center, Katherine]

4 out of 5 stars

There is one thing I know for sure when I read a book from Katherine Center, I am going to finish that book feeling happy and perfectly content. Her characters are always so relatable  and you feel a kinship to them.

Our main character Cassie Hanwell is a tough firefighter with some baggage. Her mother left the family on her 16th birthday and something awful happens to Cassie that night. She keeps her emotions in close to the vest. Her mother asks her to come and stay across the country because of some eye problems and something happens at a dinner that causes Cassie to move. She joins a new firehouse where women have never been part of the brotherhood. Trying to follow some rules her captain tells her, she tries to fit in like at  her old station but she does not count on falling for the rookie. Life and things happen and you will not want to put this one down!

As always, you will savor every path along the way. Watching Cassie change and open up is pure joy. The themes of forgiveness, hope, love, and family hit all the right notes. (Especially a bit of non-forgiveness for one character) I loved all the characters in the book, even the gruffest ones had their redeeming qualities. You will not be disappointed.

The review is my humble opinion and I thank St. Martin’s Press for once again, sending the perfect book.

You’ve Been Volunteered

By Laurie Gelman

You've Been Volunteered: A Class Mom Novel by [Gelman, Laurie]

4 out of 5 stars

She’s baaaaccckk! Jen Dixon, the witty, sarcastic mom of Class Mom, is back for another year of school and the funniest newsletters ever! I only wish I had met a mom like her when my kids were in school. I would have been her best friend. Her newsletters are hilarious. The whole book is hilarious, just like the last one. Of course, she has some different issues this go-round. She has been put in charge of the fifth grade crosswalk safety group. (Wouldn’t we all say oh yay?) Max is hanging around with a kid who brings delightful little trinkets to school. Her daughters are more silent about what’s going on in their respective lives. Something is up with her parents and her husband wants to franchise the company. It all adds up to plenty of laughs and a lot of good fun.

If you are looking for total escapism,  this is the book for you. If you haven’t read the first book, Class Mom, you really need to. You are going to laugh and see yourself in a lot of it. If you cannot laugh at yourself in mother mode, you are going to lose it. I look forward to more in the series. Please Laurie Gelman?

The review is my opinion and I thank Netgalley and Henry Holt for a copy of this delightful book.