The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

This book was so much more than what I expected! Loved it! Some serious gushing will ensue… 



DESCRIPTION:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Publisher:
Berkley

Expected Publication Date:
May.7.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

Esme is a single mother in Vietnam when she meets an older woman that wants her to fly to America and woo her son, Khai. Esme sees this as an opportunity at a chance at a better life for her family so she agrees to do it. Upon meeting Khai, she realizes that he is a bit strange. When he tells her that he is autistic, she doesn’t really understand what that means. In the span of two months, Esme and Khai have to figure out whether they can form a lasting, loving relationship.

I absolutely adored this book!! Esme is unlike any character I’ve ever encountered before. She is a strong mother. Her every thought and action is dedicated towards giving her daughter a better life. In the States, she works hard. Not only at her waitressing job, but at her studies. She takes every single opportunity to better herself. #empowering

The story itself is also fascinating. It’s a lot of “will they or won’t they”. Once you get to understand the characters, you root for them. I mean, Khai (the love interest) is just so perfect. (Although I’d probably take his tatted up older brother 😉 ) . He’s incredibly smart, kind, and movie star handsome. What’s not to love? There were also a few juicy parts in the story that had me swooning haha.

The ending was super rushed and felt a bit off. But overall, this is a fantastic read!!!

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES!! To romance lovers and anyone looking for a feel-good read.

The Book of Dreams by Nina George

Sobbing. I am sobbing my eyes out. My goodness this book is beautiful.

DESCRIPTION:

Warm, wise, and magical–the latest novel by the bestselling author of THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP and THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO is an astonishing exploration of the thresholds between life and death
 
Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.

After the accident, Sam–a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction–waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight–for hope, for patience, for life–they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.

A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group (NY)

Expected Publication Date:
April.9.2019

*Thank you First To Read for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

A few years ago I read The Little Paris Bookshop because I found the cover to be gorgeous and the synopsis intrigued me. Boy, was I not prepared for the journey I went on haha. Nina George has this remarkable way of getting you to think about existential questions. That book changed my life. It put everything into perspective for me and helped me through my healing process. 

This book is just as impactful. Sam, Henri, Madelyn, and Edwina’s lives intertwine in a most unexpected way. This novel focuses on life, death, and everything in between as Henri and Madelyn are both coma patients in the same hospital. And surprisingly, they also exist in the same in-between state. We get the viewpoints of all 4 characters thus giving us an interesting, and profound perspective on everything. It’s a soulful, heartbreaking, oddly uplifting novel.  

The writing is lyrical. Everything I’ve come to expect from Nina George. The story tugs on your heartstrings just enough to get you wondering about dreams and what they are. About what happens after death. What, if anything, do we take with us? 

RATING: 4.75/5 stars

RECOMMEND? YES! If you’re ready to experience an existential crisis and/or bawl your eyes out, then this is the book for you!

Annelies by David R. Gillham

 A “what-if” novel. This novel attempts to answer the questions: what if Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust? What would her life after internment be like?

DESCRIPTION:


A powerful and deeply humane new novel that asks the question: What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust?
 

The year is 1945, and Anne Frank is sixteen years old. Having survived the concentration camps, but lost her mother and sister, she reunites with her father, Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam. But it’s not as easy to fit the pieces of their life back together. Anne is adrift, haunted by the ghosts of the horrors they experienced, while Pim is fixated on returning to normalcy. Her beloved diary has been lost, and her dreams of becoming a writer seem distant and pointless now. 

As Anne struggles to overcome the brutality of memory and build a new life for herself, she grapples with heartbreak, grief, and ultimately the freedom of forgiveness. A story of trauma and redemption, Annelies honors Anne Frank’s legacy as not only a symbol of hope and perseverance, but also a complex young woman of great ambition and heart.

Anne Frank is a cultural icon whose diary painted a vivid picture of the Holocaust and made her an image of humanity in one of history’s darkest moments. But she was also a person—a precocious young girl with a rich inner life and tremendous skill as a writer. In this masterful new novel, David R. Gillham explores with breathtaking empathy the woman—and the writer—she might have become.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher:
Viking

Expected Publication Date:
January.15.2019

*Thank you FirsttoRead for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

When it comes to writing a novel like this, about a much beloved person, you have to do it with a lot of grace. And I think this book accomplishes that. The thing is, I can’t reconcile the girl whose diary we’ve all read and loved with the one presented in this book. 

The book begins around the same time Anne receives her diary. Her day-to-day life is dramatized for the reader. Then the book transitions to the time in the attic. We get snippets of further insight. And then, the camps. A glimpse at Anne struggling to survive. Finally, back home with her father. 

The Anne that leaves the camp is not the same optimistic, bright-eyed young girl from her diary. Instead, we get a guilt-ridden and extremely bitter Anne. Because of all the atrocities and pain she has suffered, Anne has a big chip on her shoulder. This interpretation of Anne hurt. Her voice is different. Her ideals are all different. She is changed. Haunted. 

In a way, I get it. I can see someone doing a complete reversal like this. But Anne Frank? I feel it does a disservice to her memory. Her relationship with her beloved Pim is strained (to say the least). And events are changed and completely dramatized… If the author had instead written the book about a fictional character, I think this story would have, personally, worked better. 

Recommend? Sure. Especially to those who think Cinderella 3 is a good movie…
 

RATING:
3/5 stars

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

I had high hopes for this book. The premise was extremely fascinating. Unfortunately, this turned out to be an overall “meh, okay” read. 

DESCRIPTION:


One devoted modern girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it 

Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Publisher: Berkley Books

Expected Publication Date: 22.January.2019

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:
Oh my. The above description gives you an accurate representation of the synopsis. So I will forego my usual summary and jump right into it.

My problem with the book was the MC herself, Raina. She’s 29 years old but acts like a child. Stupid decision, after stupid decision. I get family pressure and expectations. I think that’s something we can all relate to on some level. But the way Raina went about things left me unsettled. Her immaturity confounds me. At one point she pretends to be lesbian to get her Nani to stop setting her up on dates. Her Nani is super supportive as their tight-knit Indian community hurls vitriol at Raina. Raina, a straight woman, suddenly becomes the champion of equality. *insert eye roll here* I won’t even get into what happens when she’s exposed.

The thing is. The book was well-written. And despite everything, the story was interesting. Told from Raina’s point of view, we tag along as she goes on various dates with the men on her Nani’s list. Which is where it’s relatability reaches epic proportions. Some of her dates are awful and the second-hand embarrassment is real. The story also flashes back every few chapters to a certain point in Raina’s life. To a certain guy, actually. Something that greatly influences her current life situation. 

This is also the second book I read this year where someone marries on their best friend’s birthday. Why is that a thing? Although in this case Raina’s bff, Shay, didn’t pick her own wedding date. Her mother did. There are 365 days in a year, people. Way to rub it into Raina’s face that she’s unmarried on her 30th birthday. Rude. 

RATING: 3/5 stars

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Retold: Classic Love Poems With a Modern Twist by William Shakespeare and James Anthony

Huh. Not what I was expecting. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just… huh.

DESCRIPTION:



An enlightening and entertaining collection of the most esteemed love poems in the English canon, retold in contemporary language everyone can understand
James Anthony has long enjoyed poetry with a strict adherence to beat, rhythm, and rhyming patterns, which he likens to the very best pop songs. This drew him to the rewarding 14-line structure of Shakespeare’s sonnets, yet he often found their abstract language frustratingly unintelligible. One day, out of curiosity, he rewrote Sonnet 18–Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day–line-by-line, in the strict five-beat iambic pentameter and rhyming patterns of the original, but in a contemporary language a modern reader could easily understand. The meaning and sentiment–difficult to spot, initially–came to life, revealing new intricacies in the workings of Shakespeare’s heart.

And so, James embarked on a full-time, year-long project to rewrite all 154 of the Bard’s eternal verses creating SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS, RETOLD. This collection of masterful reinterpretations brilliantly demystifies and breathes new life into Shakespeare’s work, demonstrating the continued resonance of a playwright whose popularity remains over 400 years after his death. Now, the passion, heartbreak, deception, reconciliation, and mortality of Shakespeare’s originals can be understood by all, without the need to cross reference to an enjoyment-sapping study-guide. Coming with a foreword by Stephen Fry, this is a stunning collection of beautiful love poems made new.

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Poetry, Nonfiction, History, Classics

Publisher: Three Rivers Press 

Expected Publication: November.13.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

REVIEW:
Shakespeare is not really my cup of tea. I can only take so much iambic pentameter before my mind begins to wander and my eyes get droopy. I have to focus a lot to even get a semblance of understanding. Now, a few years ago I received a complete collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I read them and nearly cried. Because I understood nothing. Nothing! I reread it again, taking my time to read it. Still nothing. So when I saw this book offered, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to get an ARC.
 
This book does what it sets out to do. The poems are all in modern-day language making them easy to understand. Which brings me to my “huh” moment. Because I thought these poems were supposed to be lovey-dovey. But they’re not. Actually, the first twenty poems or so (maybe more, I lost count) are about procreation. Spreading your seed. Having kids. It caught me off-guard. They just went on and on about having kids that will be your mini-me’s. It was way too much. But after all the procreation poems, there were a few that I actually enjoyed.

The language itself was also a bit weird. Yes, it’s modern. But at times it was a little too modern. Maybe I’m just being a bit nit-picky. I did like the way the book was structured though. On one side you have the original poem, as written by Shakespeare. On the next page, you have the new, updated poem by James Anthony. Made it easy to compare the two. 

RATING: 3/5 stars

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Jaw-dropping. This novel shocked me at every turn. I made myself slow down while reading so I could savor this journey. Because believe me, I was ready to devour this book. 

DESCRIPTION:

The new novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, a seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame. 

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own. 

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel. 

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…

     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Hogarth Press

Expected Publication: November.13.2018 (First published August.9.2018 in the U.K.)

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

REVIEW:
This book. This book, this book, this book! It takes a lot to shock me. But, Maurice Swift shook me. My thoughts: “no he wouldn’t“; “please tell me he didn’t“; “oh my God, no!“; “What?!?!“; “Ahhhhh“. Shook, I tell ya. Shook.

Maurice Swift is one of those incorrigible characters that you love because of how well-crafted their character is. We first meet him as a young man in his 20’s, through the eyes of Erich Ackermann. What unravels is one wild story that concludes when Swift is about 50 years old. After initially using Ackermann for a story, Maurice moves on to someone else. His ambition is to be a world-famous author and he will do absolutely anything to accomplish it. Anything! The lengths this guy goes to. And then… I won’t get into it…

Okay, so the story is told from multiple perspectives at different periods of time. We even get a viewpoint from Maurice himself. (Enlightening, to say the least). I think at its heart, this book is a writer’s book. Because it does bring up interesting questions about where an author draws inspiration from. What is fair game, and where do writers draw the line? 

Now, I know I’m not providing a lot of useful information to convince you to read this book. But trust me. This book is masterful. Read the description. Go in blind. And stick to it. Be as shocked as I was. 

RATING: Easily, 5/5 stars!!!

One Day in December by Josie Silver

I absolutely adored this book!!

Description: 

A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don’t meet the one.


Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

   – Goodreads


Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Women’s Literature
Publisher: Broadway Books
Expected Publication: October.16.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

My Review:
Laurie and Sarah are best friends. They met on their first day of uni and have been inseparable ever since. Rooming together for about 5 years. When Laurie has a moment with a strange man at a bus stop whilst she’s on the bus, she quickly tells Sarah she has found her dream man. And for a year, the two spend time looking around for “bus boy”. 

Of course, when Laurie finds him, it had to be her best friend’s new boyfriend. The one she is quickly falling in love with. Heartbroken by the turn of events, she hides the truth from Sarah and at her friend’s insistence, strikes up a friendship with Jack, bus boy.

Yes, you may think where this story is going to go. And you wouldn’t be completely wrong. But, the way the story is woven, will keep you firmly rooted to the book with a big smile on your face. 

When the book begins, Laurie and Sarah are sharing a flat together. They are in their early-20’s, living in London and trying to start their careers. Sarah, the more outgoing of the two is having a bit more success. While Laurie, the quieter one, is floundering a bit. They complement each other though. And to see their friendship, you realize how realistic it is. Because even though they are thick as thieves, they do have one big argument that kind of derails their friendship. But they’ve been friends for too long and nothing is really going to way of that. 

The story itself is told in alternating viewpoints between Laurie and Jack. The main one being Laurie’s, beginning with that day in December when she and Jack first lay eyes on each other in 2008. From there, the story progresses, encapsulating almost a decade of these characters lives in one book. And this format works. It doesn’t make the story long or too tedious. It’s not a month by month account. Rather, snippets every few months of what the characters have been going through at the moment. 

I should mention that because the story takes place primarily in London, the language reflects it. A lot of British expressionisms are used. Some went over my head, but that didn’t bother me. I’m pretty sure I got the gist of them. Besides, the writing is top-notch. 

Final Thoughts:
I loved loved loved this book! I honestly cannot wait for this book to be published so I can buy a copy for my best friend. It actually sparked a discussion between us as I told her about this read. What would we want the other to do if we were in a similar situation. Quite enlightening. Now, I have not stepped into my local indie bookstore all year and I am willing to pay full price for this one. That’s how enthralled I am with this book!

This book is perfect for hopeless romantics. Or for those in need of a good romance story. Cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously. ❤

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 



Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House 

Expected Publication: August.28.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Ahh I love this kid. Darius reminded me of Simon (from Simon vs.) . There’s something so damn endearing about them. 

Darius is a half-Persian, clinically-depressed teen that is continually bullied at school. Told from his point of view, the reader follows him and his family from their home in Portland, Oregon to Iran where he meets his dying grandfather for the first time. In Iran Darius learns to be a bit more comfortable with himself, thanks in huge part to his new best friend, Sohrab.

At first, Darius continues to struggle with fitting in. He doesn’t feel like a true Persian because he doesn’t speak fluent Farsi (unlike his 8 year old sister), his Babou (grandfather) doesn’t understand his mental illness, and he still has issues with his father. But with Sohrab, he doesn’t have to explain himself because he understands. Because being Bahá’í, he too knows quite well what it is like to not fit in. 

“Dr. Howell likes to say that depression is anger turned inward.

I had so much anger turned inward, I could have powered a warp core.

But without the proper magnetic field strength, it exploded outward instead.”

A beautiful story so subtle and wonderfully written. From the food (Qottab!!) to the landscapes to the cultural identity struggles. Iran came alive before my eyes. 

The book is billed as an LGBT novel but you have to read between the lines to even get close to the label. Honestly, I don’t think I would have picked up on it if it hadn’t been promoted as such. Darius becomes close with Sohrab, but there is no romance. At all. And Darius never discusses his sexuality. I think the closest we got was when his family in Iran kept asking why he didn’t have a girlfriend which flustered him. Other than that, I didn’t see it. 

My one little complaint about the book would be Darius’ dialogue. A lot of “um”. And I mean, A LOT. At least 85% of his sentences begin with “um”. I get that the author is trying to convey a part of the character’s personality, but it’s unrealistic. Nobody speaks that way. No matter how shy, anxious or whatever. No one. 

Anyway, I really did enjoy this book. I loved reading about Darius’ bougie tea taste haha. I’m not a tea drinker (except for my black tea lemonade from Starbucks lol) but this kid really knows his damn tea. He’s low-key funny. And his Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references were on point. Loved it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Becoming Belle by Nuala O’Connor

This historical fiction novel was a complete and utter miss for me. I didn’t like the characters or the writing. The plot was interesting but it just didn’t do it for me. 

DESCRIPTION

A witty and inherently feminist novel about passion and marriage, based on a true story of an unstoppable woman ahead of her time in Victorian London.

In 1887, Isabel Bilton is the eldest of three daughters of a middle-class military family, growing up in a small garrison town. By 1891 she is the Countess of Clancarty, dubbed “the peasant countess” by the press, and a member of the Irish aristocracy. Becoming Belle is the story of the four years in between, of Belle’s rapid ascent and the people that tried to tear her down.

With only her talent, charm, and determination, Isabel moves to London alone at age nineteen, changes her name to Belle, and takes the city by storm, facing unthinkable hardships as she rises to fame. A true bohemian and the star of a dancing double act she performs with her sister, she reigns over The Empire Theatre and The Corinthian Club, where only select society entertains. It is there she falls passionately in love with William, Viscount Dunlo, a young aristocrat. For Belle, her marriage to William is a dream come true, but his ruthless father makes clear he’ll stop at nothing to keep her in her place.

Reimagined by a novelist at the height of her powers, Belle is an unforgettable woman. Set against an absorbing portrait of Victorian London, hers is a timeless rags-to-riches story a la Becky Sharp.    

– Goodreads 

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, British Literature

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Expected Publication: August.7.2018

*Thank you First to Read for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

WARNING: The rest of this post will be full of ranting and spoilers.

THE PLOT
Isabella “Belle” Bilton is a young woman who dreams of becoming a dancer. She leaves her family home and sets out for London where she quickly gets her dream job. She falls for a well-to-do “Baron” and ends up pregnant. She becomes quick friends with Wertheimer who takes her in. Once the baby is born, she returns to her dancing career. Next she meets William, a young, and rich Viscount who is madly in love with her. They marry. There’s a huge scandal when they go to court because he begins divorce proceedings against her. Everything works out and they live happily ever after.

THE WRITING
Sigh. The chapters are relatively short, making for a fast-paced story told in third person POV. The prose is way over the top. It’s weirdly flowery and inconsistent. The sex scenes are unnecessary and low-key gross. I’m cringing. 

Belle whimpered and leaped into his lap. They kissed and it was the most natural thing, to feel William’s tongue hot and swollen in her mouth. Tears slipped from her eyes and mingled with their spit; they laughed and cried.

Need I say more?

THE CHARACTERS



Belle Bilton

One of my problems with this book is the characterization of Belle. From the book’s description you get the idea that she was a woman ahead of her time. But she wasn’t. She was stupidly naïve and her idea of moving ahead seemed to be to snag a rich husband. Good for you. Doesn’t necessarily make her a woman “ahead of her time” though. More a victim of her time.

Which is how she ended up having a baby out of wedlock with a criminal. She is a selfish woman. The only decent thing she seems to have done was give her baby away to a loving family.

And that’s another thing. She doesn’t like her baby because she hates his father. But then she has the audacity to expect some form of love from her son?! The boy she rarely sees and shows no maternal feelings for. Paying for his upbringing does not make you a good parent. Then, 2 year old baby Isidor nearly drowns and all she does is watch as the river’s current takes him away. When she does eventually jump in, she decides she’ll never see him again. 

William

This guy was spineless! As the eldest son, he is set to inherit his family’s estate in Ireland. But when he marries Belle, his father threatens to disinherit him. Because he was underage (20) when he married, William has no money of his own. So to appease his father, he abandons Belle days after they get married and heads to Australia. 

He promises to return once he is 21 and has his fortunes secured. Except, he doesn’t come back! In fact, while in Australia he enacts divorce proceedings against Belle for adultery!

Wertheimer

I liked him. He was Belle’s gay best friend. But no one knows he is gay because it is Victorian England and well, bad things would happen to him if it ever were revealed. Belle knows though. In fact, he tells her when she reveals that she is pregnant. They become fast friends and Wertheimer houses Belle when she is pregnant and can no longer work. And he houses her again when William up and leaves.

THE AUTHOR’S NOTE
After the book ended on a relatively happy note, we have this section. Now this page upset me.Honestly, it’s what pushed me over the edge. The author, Nuala O’Connor, gives a little information on the real life people whose story inspired this novel. And oh boy, were some liberties taken!

So it turns out in real life Wertheimer wasn’t gay! So why make him gay in the novel? For representation? Okay… cool. But… I’m a cynic. Personally, I believe it was done to make Belle more sympathetic to the reader.

Finding out Wertheimer isn’t gay made me go back and question his relationship with Belle. Because I did feel sympathy for her during the trial! She’s accused of having an affair with her bff which is impossible because he’s gay and she can’t tell anyone. Then to find out he was straight. What?! I feel lied to and betrayed!! In the novel, when William is in Australia, she is lusting after her servant. Now I completely believe she did have an affair with Wertheimer. Bah!

FINAL THOUGHTS
I am annoyed. If I had a physical copy of this book I would fling it out the window and leave it there until the end of time.

I knew nothing about Belle Bilton when I read this book and I really don’t care to read up on her now. Which is really saying something because ya’ll know I love doing my own research.

The best part of the novel was the court trial. It was a good look at celebrity culture and how it was covered by the press then. In that respect, apparently nothing much has changed. Everyone loves a good scandal. Especially one involving a somewhat famous person. 

Rating: 2/5 stars

*All direct quotes used in this review are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication*

The Disappearing by Lori Roy

 

Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy spins a twisted, atmospheric tale about a small Southern town where girls disappear and boys run away.

When Lane Fielding fled her isolated Florida hometown after high school for the anonymity of New York City, she swore she’d never return. But twenty years later, newly divorced and with two daughters in tow, she finds herself tending bar at the local dive and living with her parents on the historic Fielding Plantation. Here, the past haunts her and the sinister crimes of her father–the former director of an infamous boys’ school–make her as unwelcome in town as she was the day she left.

Ostracized by the people she was taught to trust, Lane’s unsteady truce with the town is rattled when her older daughter suddenly vanishes. Ten days earlier, a college student went missing, and the two disappearances at first ignite fears that a serial killer who once preyed upon the town has returned. But when Lane’s younger daughter admits to having made a new and unseemly friend, a desperate Lane attacks her hometown’s façade to discover whether her daughter’s disappearance is payback for her father’s crimes–or for her own.

With reporters descending upon the town, police combing through the swamp, and events taking increasingly disturbing turns, Lane fears she faces too many enemies and too little time to bring her daughter safely home. Powerful and heart-pounding, The Disappearing questions the endurance of family bonds, the dangers of dark rumors and small town gossip, and how sometimes home is the scariest place of all.           – Goodreads

Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Fiction

Publisher: Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Publication Date: July.17.2018


** Thank you First to Read for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. **

This was such a disappointing read for me. I feel like I’ve read this story before. And it has nothing to do with the fact that this book was partly inspired by true events. Which is something I did not know when I picked up this book and only read up on after finishing it. But I found it hard to immerse myself in the story when I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters in this book.

The story is told from multiple perspectives through relatively short chapters. Some parts were repetitive, which I choose to believe were done for effect. (Because if not for effect, then what was the point?) Also some of the perspectives were unnecessary. In fact, it would have added a bit more mystery to at least take out the Grandmother’s chapters. I’m not exactly sure what her point of view added to the story if I’m honest.

I also couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Lane isn’t a great mother, and Annalee, the eldest daughter, is troublesome. I didn’t care one bit for them. The only one I truly felt sorry for is Talley, the youngest daughter. That little girl has her head on straight. She figures things out that not even the adults do. 

I also saw the plot twist coming a mile away. I put this book down for several days because I knew the way it was going to end. When I finally pushed myself to pick it up again and finish, I was underwhelmed. It pulled a Gone Girl which I did not appreciate. 

Overall it is meh, an okay read. Nothing wholly original or groundbreaking. But if you’re looking for a mystery with unlikeable characters and a storyline somewhat inspired by true crime then this might just be the book for you.

Rating: 3/5 stars