Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

Title: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach   
Author: Pam Jenoff    

Published: July 2015, MIRA  
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages    
Source: Publisher  


Summer 1941  
Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

My thoughts: As soon as I heard that this book and Pam herself would be at BEA this past Spring, I knew the book was going on my must-get list and that I wanted to meet Pam. I was successful on both counts!!! In fact, I actually got to meet Pam a few weeks prior to BEA at another signing, but it was still great seeing her at BEA and I even got to have lunch with her and  just chat - me and a few other bloggers and it was great! 

I absolutely loved this book!!! It is a beautifully written book set during World War II that sweeps you up right from the first page. I fell in love with the richly drawn characters and the setting. This is a story of love and forgiveness, of finding oneself and learning how to overcome tragedy, and of family and what that really means. It also brings the turmoil of war to life both here in America and abroad.

I loved Addie - she's a strong female character that's also vulnerable and we see that time and time again. Being torn from her family and sent to live with her aunt and uncle who just aren't her parents, she is quickly embraced by the Connally family who have a house next-door at the shore. She develops a different relationship with each of the four brothers and even their mother. I felt for her throughout the book, feeling her fear, her loss and even her happiness - it all felt so real. She's certainly a character that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Taking us back and forth in time and from the Jersey shore to DC to London and back again to the Jersey shore, I felt that I was traveling right along with Addie. The rich details and the amount of historical detail that went into the writing create such vivid prose and you feel as if you are right there with the characters. I loved the ending, and while I had a slight suspicion that that was where things might go (maybe because that's where I wanted it to???), I was pleased none-the-less. To me, it just seemed right.

Once I picked this book up to read, I was completely hooked and had a hard time putting it down. I love books like that - where I am completely absorbed in the story and don't want to do anything but read to the end to see where it goes. This is the second book I've read by Pam Jenoff and she is definitely on my must-read list - I can't wait to see what comes next from her. Luckily I have a few of her other books to occupy me until her next book comes out! 


***Don't forget -- there's a giveaway going on until July 31 to win a copy of this book. Open to US/Canada residents only. Click here to enter. 



Book Spotlight: The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle (Plus Giveaway!!!)

There are so many good books out there and just not enough time to read them all!!! Kimberly Belle first came on my radar with her debut novel, The Last Breath, which came out last year. That's been on my list of books to read for a while now, but I just haven't gotten to it yet, so of course, I was thrilled when Kimberly reached out to me about featuring her latest book, The Ones We Trust here on Always With A Book, which releases today. I'll be reviewing it in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here's a spotlight and a chance for you to win a copy - see below for details!
 

Title: The Ones We Trust   
Author: Kimberly Belle        
Published: July 2015  
Format: Paperback 304 pages, MIRA     

A moving and evocative exploration of grief and guilt in the wake of one family's devastating loss.

When former DC journalist Abigail Wolff attempts to rehabilitate her career, she finds herself at the heart of a US army cover-up involving the death of a soldier in Afghanistan -- with unspeakable emotional consequences for one family. As the story of what happened comes to light, Abigail will do anything to write it.

The more evidence she stumbles upon in the case, the fewer people it seems she can trust, including her own father, a retired army general. And she certainly never expected to fall in love with the slain soldier's brother, Gabe, a bitter man struggling to hold his family together. The investigation eventually leads her to an impossible choice, one of unrelenting sacrifice to protect those she loves.

Beyond the buried truths and betrayals, questions of family loyalty and redemption, Abigail's search is, most of all, a desperate grasp at carrying on and coping -- and seeking hope in the impossible.


GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US only)  
Thanks to
the author, one reader can win a copy of  The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by August 4th.

 



 

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends August 4th.
 

Good Luck!!! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Title: Pretty Baby    
Author: Mary Kubica     
Published: July 2015, MIRA  
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages    
Source: Publisher   

A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from national bestselling author Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

My thoughts: This was one of the books I was most excited to get at BEA this year and I was thrilled to not only get it, but to be able to chat with Mary a few times while there! I had met her at last year's BEA when she was there with her debut book, The Good Girl, which I absolutely loved, and knew that this book was going to be another hit - and boy was it ever!

This is a book that you will keep you on the edge of your seat, but is definitely not predictable in any way. It's filled with rich, interesting characters that you get caught up with, and having the chapters alternate from their points of view allows us to really get to know all that is going on and really get into their heads. Heidi and Chris's chapters are told in the story's present time while Willow's chapters, while they occur after the fact, delve into the past. We learn the backgrounds of each, filling in holes that we might not have gotten had the story not been told this way.

Pretty Baby is a chilling psychological thriller in it's purest form. These characters are all more complex than meets the eye. Heidi, the do-gooder extraordinaire, becomes obsessed with the teen girl on a train platform holding a baby. Once she brings them home, we find out little by little that there are other motivations behind her just wanting to help Willow and the baby. Willow is certainly a mystery and very slowly we start to see what really happened to her and who she really is. But, there is always that question lingering as to whether she's innocent or up to no good. Is she a reliable narrator or not?

This is the type of book that will hook you as it slowly reveals all the layers and secrets that hold everything together. Between the characters and the storyline, I have a feeling it's one that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. Mary Kubica has written two phenomenal books and is now one of my must-read authors...you don't want to miss her books!

 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Post #80 (7.26.15)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. I'm also going to link this up with Sheila's It's Monday post over at Book Journey.  
    
 
It's hard to believe this is the last full week of July...where is the time going? Usually I'm able to get a lot more reading in during the summer months as work tends to slow down, but that doesn't appear to be the case this summer. Oh well, luckily my vacation is coming up soon and I cannot wait - 2 weeks and counting!!!
 
Have a great week everyone!!!


*****************************************************************************************

Last week on the Blog:                              
* Author Meet & Greet: Jenny Milchman (Plus Giveaway!!!)
* Blog Tour & Review: Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne

* Review: Kiss Me by Susan Mallery 
* Review: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen 
 
* Book Spotlight: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff (Plus Giveaway!!!)
#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in July 24 
 
Books Read:                      
* The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - reread (audio book) 
* Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica (review book)       
 
* The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff (review book)
 
Currently Reading:          
* Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage & Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure (review book)          

* Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland  (review book) 
* The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe (audio book)      

* Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs (library audio book) 

Books Up Next:                               

* Alert by James Patterson (review book)

* In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (review book)   
* Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio book)
  
Recent Giveaway Winners:   

* Susan Mallery Prize Pack: KatieBethie   
* As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman: Kay 

Current Giveaway:
* The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff...Ends 7.31.15
 


Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
 
* Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff     
* Review: The Liar by Nora Roberts    
* Review: The Far End Of Happy by Kathryn Craft
* Month in Review: July 2015
 
Book Haul:    
From Library:
* Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio book)
 
 
* 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio book)    
* Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs (audio bones)
Purchased:
* Fire in the Sky: A Jessica Blackwood Short Story by Andrew Mayne (free e-book)
 
* The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe (audio book via Audible)  
* Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris (audio book via Audible) 

 

#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in July 24


Another good week. 3 really good training walks - 1 indoors at the mall due to the heat and 2 outdoors. My time has been pretty consistent, which is good. I'm aiming for about 4 miles an hour, with an overall goal of completing the full marathon in under 8 hours (just to clarify - I am walking not running). Hopefully when I start getting into the longer distance walks, I'll be able to keep up the same pace and be able to tell if that goal is realistic.
   
Here's how my week went:  

Jul 18:  7,930 steps
Jul 19:  5,201 steps
Jul 20: 
5.5 mile fitness walk (1 hr 15 min), 19,040 steps 
Jul 21:  2-15 minute fitness walks with dogs, 11,559 steps
Jul 22:  4 mile fitness walk (58 min), 14,808 steps

Jul 23:  2-15 minute fitness walks with dogs, 10,293 steps
Jul 24:  4 mile fitness walk (59 min), 17,408 steps
 
Audiobooks listened to this week :

  • Finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, narrated by Simon Vance 
  • Started The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe, narrated by Mary Alice Monroe
 
How did your week go? You can find this week's link-up here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff (Plus Giveaway!!!)

Next week, Pam Jenoff's latest book, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, comes out (July 28th!) and this was one of my must-gets at BEA this year. I've been looking forward to reading this since I first heard about it and you can look for my review here next Tuesday on release day! I had the please of meeting Pam twice this year - at BEA and a few weeks earlier at another book signing. She's delightful and I have really enjoyed the books I've read of hers. In anticipation of release day, I have a giveaway for you - see below for details (and this one is open to US and Canada!!!). 
 

Title: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach   
Author: Pam Jenoff        
Published: July 2015, MIRA  
Format: Paperback, 384 pages    


Summer 1941  
Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home. 

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.


Praise for Pam Jenoff and THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH

“[P]owerfully and emotionally written…the historical backdrop and three-dimensional characters are sure to attract more fans to Jenoff’s writing.”—RT BOOK REVIEWS


“The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a beautiful story of love and redemption about a woman struggling to find her voice and her way amidst the turmoil of World War II."—Kristin Hannah #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author


“Jenoff's meticulous research, a feisty heroine, and a sweeping plot makes this book a real page-turner.” —Karen White, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author

“[The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is] a powerful, moving drama of love, loss and redemption—heartbreaking, authentic and ultimately uplifting."—Susan Wiggs, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author


''I won't soon forget Adelia Montforte... A warm and heartfelt story of emotional survival.'Diane Chamberlain, bestselling author


''The kind of book that absorbs you from the beginning and doesn't let go.''Beatriz Williams, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author


******************************************************************************************

GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US/Canada only)  
Thanks to
the publisher,
one reader can win a copy of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff.   To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form by July 31st.



 

This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only and ends July 31st.


Good Luck!!! 

Review: Your Last Breath by Iris Johansen (audio)

Title: Your Next Breath   
Author: Iris Johansen   
Series: Catherine Ling, #4   
Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers  
Published: April 2015, Brilliance Audio   
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes  
Source: Publisher 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an explosive new thriller

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA’s most prized operatives. Raised on the streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang. Luke was kidnapped at age two, and now, nine years later, he has astonishingly been returned to her. Catherine vows never to fail him again.

Now, just as she is building a relationship with Luke, it seems that someone from Catherine’s past is playing a deadly game with her, and using those she cares about as pawns. Three are dead already: the former prostitute who helped Catherine when she was out on the street, a CIA agent with whom she worked closely, and the informant who helped her free Luke. Someone is picking off the people Catherine cares about one by one, with the circle narrowing closer and closer to those she loves the most.

Catherine has made many enemies throughout her life, and she has no choice but to weed through her past to find out who is targeting her now, and then go after the vicious killer herself.

My thoughts: I have really come to enjoy Iris Johansen's books. I first started reading her when I came across her Eve Duncan series way back when and love how she has created new series featuring some of the strong female characters that she introduced in that series.  I also love how there is often cross-over from the Eve Duncan series, too, with these other series! It's almost as if you need to be up-to-date on all the series because they overlap and propel each storyline forward - something I find to be rather unique amongst the different series by a single author.

This book brought in a lot of familiar faces - Eve, Joe, Jane, Caleb, Kelly, Luke, Hu Chang, Erin, Sam, and even Bonnie-  because someone was targeting Catherine in a personal way. He's going after the ones she cares about most to hurt her before finally taking her out. And Catherine is desperately trying to warn everyone she loves to be vigilant, but while she's successful in some cases, she's too late in others. 

I love Catherine - I find her to be a strong female character - not afraid to stand up and fight for those she loves. She's also selfish, though. She wants to put an end to this herself, though, she is willing to accept help when backed into a corner. But we did see a different side to Catherine in this book - a more vulnerable side when she realized that it was because of her that so many people were targets. She always thought she was a bit of a loner and didn't have many close relationships, but as Santos proved to her, there were many people she had to warn to be careful - many more than she would have thought possible, and when someone close to her winds up severely hurt, Catherine was devastated. This isn't a side we see too often. 

While there isn't really much of a mystery as to who is after Catherine - we know from the first few pages that it's Santos - it's still quite a page turner. There's a crazy cat and mouse game going on as Catherine and her team thwart Santos and his team in their attacks, or at least attempt to. But we are still left holding our breath, wondering if Catherine is going to finally be able to out-wit Santos. 

I  really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read more from this author - I love her Eve Duncan series, her Kendra Michael series and the Catherine Ling series. They all have recurring characters, yet tell their own stories and feature strong female characters. There's a bit of a set-up for a future book - I'm not sure if it's for the next book out, the Kendra Michaels one, or the next Eve Duncan book, but either way, I'm quite anxious to read it and find out!!!


Audio Thoughts: I really like Elisabeth Rodgers - she has narrated quite a few of the Iris Johansen books I've listened to and I enjoy the voices she uses. She does great with the suspense and tension of the book, and seems to be a good fit for this series. I hope she continues to narrate these books! 

I've found that for the most part, I almost always listen to Iris Johansen's books now - unless I can't get them on audio, which is rarely the case. I just enjoy listening to them and find they are always well-done and keep my attention from start to finish.


Books in this Series:
  1. Chasing the Night (Eve Duncan, #11)
  2. What Doesn't Kill You
  3. Live to See Tomorrow 
  4. Your Last Breath


 

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