Always With a Book

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn


Title: Ribbons of Scarlet
Author: Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb & E. Knight
Published: October 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

Summary: 
Six bestselling and award-winning authors bring to life a breathtaking epic novel illuminating the hopes, desires, and destinies of princesses and peasants, harlots and wives, fanatics and philosophers—six unforgettable women whose paths cross during one of the most tumultuous and transformative events in history: the French Revolution.

Ribbons of Scarlet is a timely story of the power of women to start a revolution—and change the world.

In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.

Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself--but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.

But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive--unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre.



My thoughts: I love a good  historical novel and I love when I find something that's a little bit out of the norm...something that touches on a topic that I don't know much about and that is exactly what we have here with this novel. I was excited about this book because it is written by a few of my favorite authors and some new-to-me authors - and to me, that's a win-win. 

This book was fascinating. It gives us the perspective of the French Revolution from the female's point of view at a time when females had no rights. And each of the women we hear from all are unique, distinct voices -  but they were all united in a common goal. They were all part of a sisterhood of women, sharing the same voice, standing up for equality.

Each one of these stories is captivating and it was so clever how they all weave together. The women all show strength of character, perseverance and courage and it is quite evident just how far they were willing to go for their goal. What is even more interesting to note is that these women are all real. This book is based on real-life women and now I want to read more about them. This is why I love reading historical fiction - it always leaves me wanting to learn more.   

This book is the type of book that stays with you long after you finish it because of the power of what these women have done. No, it's necessarily a happy book, but it's the struggle and the inspiration that these women have taken on that stays with you and resonates on a deeper level. 

I applaud the writers of this book - it was well-researched and well-written. I found myself completely lost in each one of the stories and know that I will be thinking of these women for some time to come. If you haven't added this book to you reading list yet, you definitely should...it's definitely worth a read!



Purchase Links:   HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtags:  #TLCBookTours & #ribbonsofscarlet).
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Review: The Patient by Steena Holmes (audio)


Title: The Patient
Author: Steena Holmes
Narrator: Siiri Scott
Published: October 2019, Brilliance Audio
Length: 11 hours 28 minutes
Source: Publisher

Summary:
A therapist must face her own worst fear—one of her patients is a serial killer.

Danielle Rycroft suspects someone close to her has a dark secret. In the confidential setting of therapy, her patients share their anxieties and fears. Now, with a string of murders in town putting her on edge, Danielle’s own worries come close to eclipsing her patients’. In each case, the pattern is the same: parents killed while their children sleep blissfully unaware in their beds. Her best friend, Detective Tami Sloan, is the only person she has confided in.

Danielle believes that there’s still a secret one patient has yet to share. But which one? Behind a familiar face is a stranger who’ll do anything to hide their worst compulsions. The anxiety brings Danielle to her own therapist’s office, seeking counsel and comfort. But what is she willing to risk, and how much closer must she get, to stop them?


My thoughts:  I've been a fan of Steena Holmes for quite some time but I love that she took a chance with this latest book and delved into the darker world of psychological suspense. As a big fan of this genre, I find it hard to be easily shocked, but this book totally took me by surprise in the best way...I loved it!

I love a book that makes me question everything and this book certainly had me doing that a lot! Dani Rycroft is a therapist in the small town of Cheshire. She see a few patients and is obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. There also happens to be a serial killer loose in town and she fears that it might be one of her patients - one of them has killed before. 

The way this story is told - alternating between Dani's point of view, the killer's and memories from long ago - really keeps you on your toes. While I do admit that I did start to wonder about halfway through who the killer might be (and yes, I was correct in the end), it in no way ruined the enjoyment of this book. I had to see how it all played out...and boy was it not what I was expecting at all! This really is a very cleverly crafted book and maybe it is just because I read so many books in this genre that I put it together, but still it was thrilling all the way through.

The theme of Alice in Wonderland was pure genius. I liked how it was carried out in multiple areas throughout the book - including the town name. This is definitely one book where you will find yourself falling down the rabbit hole (pun intended!) and not wanting to do anything else until you reach the conclusion. 

I hope Steena Holmes continues to write in this genre as I think this first venture was quite successful!


Audio thoughts: I listened to this book and thought Siiri Scott did a fantastic job with the narration. She really gave each character their own unique personality and brought this book to life. Her pacing and intonation were spot on and she infused just the right amount of emotion and stress into her voice as needed. This was a great book to listen to on audio!


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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Review: Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella


Title: Christmas Shopaholic
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: Shopaholic, #9
Published: October 2019, The Dial Press
Format: ARC E-copy, 427 pages
Source: Netgalley

Summary: 
’Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness . . . which actually means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains.

But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents host, carols play on repeat, her mother pretends she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors come ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong?

Her sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband  insists that he just wants aftershave—again, and little Minnie demands a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old-boyfriend-turned-rock-star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her big-hearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky starts to wonder if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all.



My thoughts: There are some series that no matter how long it is between books, you can pick up and feel as if it's been no time at all since you last read the previous book and that is exactly how it is with the Shopaholic books. Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood is that type of friend that you can go weeks or years without talking to and than suddenly you meet up and it feels as if no time has gone by. Oh how I've missed her - it has been four years since her last book, but as soon as I started reading this book, I felt like it was just yesterday!

These books are pure enjoyment and exactly the type of light-hearted reading I love to lose myself in after some of the heavier thrillers and historical fiction that I have been reading lately and this latest Shopaholic installment was no exception! I so enjoyed catching up with Becky who is back in the UK after her jaunt in the states. As is usual, there were equal parts laugh-out-loud moments and touching heartwarming moments. Yes, Becky is still the flawed character we have all come to love and yes, she still makes outrageous decisions at times, but she has a good heart and shows that when it really matters. 

I loved the holiday theme in this book. It really makes you wonder just how out of control we can get with our planning and buying, but in a light-hearted, funny way. It's not preachy or anything, it just brings to light the fact that perhaps we put the emphasis on stuff rather than on people. Just a little food for thought and I liked the message. I also liked that we see Becky have a few breakdowns as the stress gets to her, but at the same time, she also is able to be there for others when it really matters. She may get sidetracked by a really good sale, but when a friend is in need, she is there.

I am so glad to have been reunited with Becky and I really do hope we haven't seen the last of her.



Books in this series:

  1. Confessions of a Shopaholic
  2. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan
  3. Shopaholic Ties the Knot
  4. Shopaholic & Sister
  5. Shopaholic & Baby
  6. Mini Shopaholic
  7. Shopaholic to the Stars
  8. Shopaholic to the Rescue
  9. Christmas Shopaholic 
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Short & Sweet Review: Princess by James Patterson


Title: Princess
Author: James Patterson
Series: Private, #14
Published: November 2018, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Jack Morgan receives an offer he cannot refuse...

When the head of the world's foremost investigation agency receives at invitation to meet Princess Caroline, third in line to the British throne, he boards his Gulfstream jet and flies straight to London.

The Princess needs Morgan's skills, and his discretion. Sophie Edwards, a close friend of the Princess, has gone missing. She needs to be found before the media become aware of it.

Morgan knows there is more to this case than he is being told.

But what is the Princess hiding?




***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.


My thoughts: I loved that this latest installment in the Private series brings us back to London and not only has Jack Morgan present, as he is in some way, shape or form in every Private book, but he is a main character in this book. That isn't always the case, especially in the books that are set outside of the US, so I was excited to see him have a main role in this one. I also liked that we got more insight into Jack's character...I feel that while he has been a big part of this series, we haven't really had time to dig into him too often.

As is typical, there are two cases that the team is working on. It would appear they are not connected, but as is usually the case with these books, eventually Jack and Peter Knight, the head of Private London realize their is more to each of their cases then they realize. 

I enjoyed this book and I really hope it's not the last book in this series. There doesn't seem to be a new one on the horizon, which is strange.



Books in this series: *This list contains both the Private home office books and the Private other offices books combined. Some lists keep these as separate. And some books have 2 different names, depending on where you buy them.


     1.  Private
     2.  Private #1 Suspect
     3.  Private Games
     4.  Private London
     5.  Private Berlin
     6.  Private L.A.
     7.  Private Oz / Private Down Under
     8.  Private India: City on Fire
     9.  Private Vegas
     10.  Private Paris
     11.  Private Rio / The Games
     12.  Private Sydney / The Missing
     12.5  Bookshots - Private: The Royals
     13.  Private Delhi / Count to Ten
     13.5  Bookshots - Private: Gold 
     14.  Private Princess
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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch


Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Published: June 2019, Crown Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Personal copy

Summary: 
Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?



My thoughts: If you've been reading this blog or know anything about my reading tastes, you know that I do not typically read science fiction, but I decided to give Recursion a try because I was hearing such rave reviews about it and I was hearing it not full on sci-fi but more a sci-fi thriller and I was curious. Plus, it was a book club pick for an online book club I was part of, so I figured the support would help me through it. Well, it turns out I really liked it!

If you could do over a part of your life, turn back time, would you? This was at the heart of this book and certainly led to some interesting discussions during our book chats about the book. Tackling such tough subjects as memory and time, this book really did keep me engaged, with characters that I actually came to care for. I don't typically love time travel, but it did work in this case and I was able to suspend believe for the sake of this story. Yes, there were some times where I was a bit lost, but overall, this book does keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to work out just where everything is ultimately heading.

I enjoyed my first sci-fi experience - though I think the fact that it crossed over into the thriller genre helped. I liked Blake Crouch's writing and will definitely be adding Dark Matter, the author's prior book, to my list as I hear that book is just as good. 


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Friday, October 11, 2019

Review: One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski


Title: One Night Gone
Author: Tara Laskowski
Published: October 2019, Graydon House
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
It was the perfect place to disappear...

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all...



My thoughts: I am always in the mood for a good mystery, but come the fall, I especially love a good atmospheric mystery and when it's from a debut author and they manage to knock my socks off, I feel it's a complete win-win!

Right from the start, I found myself completely hooked by the atmospheric and suspenseful writing. I love a good dual time line and felt this one really worked. And I was equally invested in both stories, because both characters were so complex and troubled. I loved that they each had their own issues going on and that made them worth investing the time to want to know more about them.

This book has ominious vibes in spades and you can't help but want to know what really happened to Maureen. And the author was very good at sprinkling in clues just at the right time so as to make you keep reading...you really didn't want to put this book down!

I love a good story that involves secrets and manipulation and this one is chock full of it. All is definitely not what is seems and I loved that this one kept me on my toes throughout. Tara Laskowski crafted a brilliant debut thriller and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for what comes next from her!


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Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Review: What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand (audio)


Title: What Happens in Paradise
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Series: Paradise, #2
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published: October 2019, Hachette Audio
Length: 9 hours 47 minutes
Source: Publisher via Libro.fm

Summary:
Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn't Irene's only shattering news: he'd also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death - of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they're about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American's most beloved and engaging storytellers.


My thoughts:  It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Elin Hilderbrand's books. I've read or listened to everything she has written and while I love her summer books which are all stand-alones, I have come to love the series that she has been writing. You all know I love a good series!!!

I loved the author's note right in the beginning of this book where Elin herself notes that this book can be read as a stand-alone, and that while not necessary to read the prior book, Winter in Paradise, a more richer experience will be had by doing so. I always find that...that you definitely get a better experience having read a series the way the author creates it and I try my very best to do so. One of the reasons I love reading series is for the character development and you really only get that when you read the books in order.

But enough about that. This book picks up shortly after the first left off, where Irene learned that her husband died in a helicopter accident and she and her sons, Cash and Baker, discovered he had a completely secret life in the Caribbean.  After being down on St. John's, they are realizing that they each want to be back there - each for their own reasons. 

I loved that while this book shows the family trying to move on, it also gives us a look at Russ and Rosie's relationship and how it came to be through Rosie's journals. At the same time, the FBI are stepping up their investigation into what really happened and things get a little intense. Seems all is not really as it appears to be on that front.

Once again, we are left with quite the cliffhanger and book 3 cannot come out soon enough! This book is just as addictive as the first book and will leave you wanting more. The characters are so endearing and you can't help but want the best for them. And the setting...oh how I desperately want to visit St. John's some day!


Audio thoughts: I was ecstatic to see that Erin Bennett was narrating this book. She narrated the last one, and typically narrates all of Elin's books, so she was able to bring consistency to the characters from the previous book in this series. I was able to binge-listen to the book and loved every minute of it. I find that Erin just gets Elin's characters and is able to bring out the nuances of them and make them come to life in just the way Elin created them. I really do enjoy listening to Elin's books and part of that is the narrator!


Books in this series:
  1. Winter in Paradise
  2. What Happens in Paradise
  3. ???
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