The Identicals

32498122The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Harper and Tabitha are identical twins living completely separate lives only a few miles from each other.

When Harper and Tabitha’s parents split up, they split everything up.  Even the twins.  Harper went with her laid-back dad while Tabitha lived with their fashion designing always-on-the-go mom.

Tabitha still works for her mother, divorced her husband after a terrible tragedy and is raising her child.  The outward appearances look like she has it all together…

Harper’s life has not gone as she has planned.  She stays afloat with a boring job and has relationships with several men, including a married doctor in town.  Her father’s health has been declining but it still comes to a shock when he passes away.

Now, Harper must deal with her father’s death, call her mother and sister with the news and figure out where she is headed from here.

I enjoy Elin Hilderbrand’s books.  She has a calming quality to her writing even when she is writing about chaos.  The family dynamics of this family was interesting with them living just a few miles apart but millions of miles apart in their minds.  I found myself wanting to reach in and fix all of Harper’s problems and shake Tabitha to wake her up to what was going on in her own life.

This is a beach read with some substance, I only wish it was beach read weather.

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Before We Were Yours

32148570Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Two stories, one takes place now, one takes place in the 1930’s. Do the two stories fit together?

1939, Memphis:

Rill and her little brother and sisters are living on a houseboat with their parents, living the simple river life.  Life will never be the same after Rill’s mother, Queenie, goes into labor with twins early.  The only thing Rill’s father, Briny, can do is rush her to a hospital and leave the little ones behind.

As Rill and her others are waiting for their parents to return, police show up and whisk all of the children away to a Children’s Home.  The Children’s Home is a far cry from their simple life.  Rill must keep her brother and sisters safe and hope no one shows up to adopt any of them before their parents can find them.

Present Day, South Carolina:

Avery Stafford comes from a very affluent family.  She comes home to help her family as her father battles a private battle with cancer.  She’s not only helping but also being groomed to take her father’s place in society if he can no longer hold up his obligations.

A chance meeting of May at a nursing home leaves Avery with some questions about who May is and what her story is.  Avery notices a picture in May’s room that has people who greatly resemble Avery’s own grandmother.  Avery sets out to figure out if My and Avery’s family have a connection and what history will reveal.

Lately, I have read several suspenseful books that seem to throw curves for no reason or when you find out what actually happened, it seems like authors have found the most absurd ending to a book that had no hints to the real identity of what was going on.

Before We Were Yours was a welcome relief to all of that crazy.  Both stories were told with an elegance and slight suspense that made you want to keep reading and find out how they connected.  At one point, I felt as though there were some unnecessary events happening but as I kept reading, I saw that every little piece of the story had a purpose.

I loved this book.  I loved learning a bit of history I wasn’t familiar with.  I loved how thought out the storyline was.

When I checked this book out from my local library, the librarian told me that she hadn’t read it but when people returned it they wanted to hand it to her with reverence like they were holding something special.  I completely agree.

This is a definite must read in my opinion.

On Second Thought

29095428On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

The family has gathered at Ainsley’s house to celebrate her boyfriend surviving cancer.  Ainsley is anticipating a proposal before the evening is over.  No one anticipates, Ainsley’s brother in law, dying in the middle of the party.

Ainsley’s sister, Kate, now has to learn how to be a widow when she was only married a few months and hadn’t even known her husband a year.

Ainsley goes to dinner with her boyfriend, still expecting a proposal but gets dumped instead.  He, then, takes their relationship ending public when he writes all about it on his blog.

Ainsley and Kate both have their worlds turned upside down in two totally different ways and must learn to lean on each to find their new normal.  With alternating viewpoints, we learn why they are the way they are and who they will end up becoming.

This book was pretty predictable but I still loved it.  I loved all the characters and their perfect imperfections.  I would love this family to be a series because I would love to see where they had come from and where they will go beyond this book.  What a fun, easy read.

One Perfect Lie

32328575One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Chris Brennan moves to town for a teaching an coaching job, but it’s all a lie.  He’s come to town with a plan and to carry out his plan, he will need some help so he investigates the players on his baseball team to find out who will be the most helpful for his mission.

Raz’s father died last year and his family has kind of fallen apart.  His older brother is dabbling in some shady business and his mom is barely surviving.

Justin doesn’t ever remember his father being around.  He is working hard to be the newest varsity pitcher for the team, even if it means stepping over his best friend.

On the outside everything about Evan’s life looks awesome, but beyond his new fancy car, his mother is trying to decide if his father is having another affair and their world isn’t has wonderful as it looks from the outside.

Chris is trying to figure out which of these boys fits best into his plans.

This book had me guessing the entire time.  I would think I had everything figured out and then I would get thrown for another loop.  I had a hard time putting this book down so I could get to the bottom of all the questions I had.  Great read!

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Will’s life falls apart as his brother is shot in the street but Will knows the rules.  No crying, no snitching, and you better get revenge.

As Will hears his mother crying for his lost brother, he picks up the gun is brother had and sets out to take care of business, killing the guy who killed his brother.

The trip down the elevator proves to be a long one as we meet many different characters who all give Will something to think about.

First of all, thank you, once again, Jason Reynolds for being awesome and knowing what kids need.  I love this book for being real.  I love this book for being a novel in verse that is a quick read, especially for those who don’t want to be reading.  I love that you make us think.

Thank you, as always, for helping me understand a world I don’t know and making me a better person.  I wish I had multiple copies to pass them all out to kids who need this book.

 

The Woman in Cabin 10

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lo is an aspiring travel writer, trying to make her way up the ladder.  When her boss gets sick and she gets the chance to travel on an exclusive cruise ship, she is beyond excited.

A few days before she is set to leave, Lo’s apartment is broken into, while she is home.  She gets trapped in her bedroom by the burglar and traumatized.  She is scared to be alone, scared to be in public, she is quite frankly…a mess.

When she boards the cruise ship, she is looking forward to sleep more than anything.  The cruise ship ends up being slightly larger than a yacht, with only 10 cabins but there are some very prominent people on board.

Although Lo is beyond exhausted, she attends dinner the first evening and meets everyone aboard the ship, along with the captain and his sickly wife.  That night, Lo is so excited to finally get some sleep when she awoken suddenly.  She feels like it might have been a scream that woke her up and she just knows she hears a splash shortly afterward.  She runs to her balcony and sees blood smeared on the balcony door of the cabin next to her.  She hurriedly runs to call for help.  When help arrives, they inform her that not only is there no in the cabin next to her, but the blood stain she tells about is gone.

Lo wonders if she is going crazy or what exactly is going on.  Who can she trust?  Will she get off this boat alive?

Unreliable characters drive me crazy and I love them at the same time.  I read this book super quick and I neeed to know if I was going crazy along with Lo.  I loved following along with the twists and turns of this book.  Unfortunately, sometimes the shocking conclusion comes out of nowhere but I liked how in this book, you could think back to the clues that you completely missed.

Great read!

Into the Water

33151805.jpgInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

From the author of Girl on the Train, this is the story of a town where multiple women have drowned in the “Drowning Pool”

Jules’ sister Nel is the latest victim of the drowning.  Jules goes home to the town she doesn’t want to be to deal with her sister’s death and the teenage daughter she leaves behind.

The town is full of secrets and everyone has a story.

For me, that was the downfall of the story.  I felt like I needed to keep notes about all the different characters telling their stories.  I continually had to go back to figure out which character did what and which character was narrating the current chapter.  It was definitely not my favorite and I definitely enjoyed The Girl on the Train much more.

A Baxter Family Christmas & Love Story

My all time favorite literary family is the Baxter family.  They come from a huge number of books from Karen Kingsbury.  It is quite the committment at probably over 20 books total but they are totally worth it.

Start here:

hbhcCwAAQBAJI found this series while I was on bedrest with my first pregnancy.  By the time I gave birth to my daughter, I picked a middle name for her after one of the characters in the books.

One time I asked for prayer for a character in these books and halfway through remembered it was a book.  That’s interesting to explain.

To say I love them would be an understatement.

I thought this series was over.  I didn’t realize Karen Kingsbury had written more stories about the Baxters.

Last week I was browsing in the public library, trying to find something light hearted.  I had read several dark and depressing books so I needed a change of pace.

First I read A Baxter Family Christmas.

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It’s hard to summarize this book without giving away too much of the past twenty books.  John Baxter, the patriarch of the family, decides to invite someone to Christmas Eve dinner and some of his children do not agree with his decision.

The thing I loved so much about this book is that I didn’t have to take the time to meet new characters.  It was like going to my own family Christmas and reuniting with loved ones I hadn’t seen in a long time.  I devoured this book so quickly as I caught up with all my favorite Baxter friends.

 

 

30834957 (1)I also picked up, Love Story, the first book in the newest Baxter spinoff, The Baxter Family.  This story does a nice job of continuing the story of the Baxters and their friends and also taking us back in time to when John and Elizabeth Baxter first met, and how their love began this whole family.

I invite you to start at the beginning and love the Baxters just as much as I have the past 12 years.

 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

 

17185496The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

I have this “To-Read” list on Goodreads.  If it ever gets under 200 books, I’m pretty impressed with myself.  Sometimes I read books on the list that are getting a lot of buzz or that I’m really looking forward to, and sometimes I go to the oldest books on the list to try to make a dent.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly has been on my “to-read” list for almost two years.  It was the oldest book on my list.  That means I have no idea why I put it on the list.  I’m not sure if a friend recommended it or if I read about it somewhere.  I wish I remembered so I could talk to whoever recommended it to me.

When we meet Minnow Bly, she has been convicted of assault and is being sent to juvie.  As the story unfolds we learn about Minnow.

Since she was five years old, she has lived in a commune with her family.  In this commune, men marry multiple wives and they all look toward the “Prophet” for guidance.  Minnow has always questioned their way of life and remembered enough of their old life to want to know more, but that is not acceptable.

Minnow has lived a terrible life. She has unimaginable things done to her by people who are supposed to love her.  She has one friend outside the community but if they find out about him, she is afraid what will happen to him.

The story goes between Minnow living in juvie and learning about the real world and going back to her memories of her life in the commune.  She has to figure out the truth from the lies that have been told to her.

This book disturbed me.  There were parts that were very hard to read and I felt the need to finish the story quickly so I could stop reading it.  Not finishing the book was not an option.  With that being said, this book left a mark on me.  I’m not sure you can “enjoy” a book like this but I did learn a lot and cared to know what would happen to Minnow after the book was over.

I would love to hear others opinion of it.  Go read this book!

The Glittering Court

 

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The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

This book reminded me of The Selection, which I loved.

This is one of of those books that seems to be a fantasy set in historical times.  Lady Whitmore’s future is looking pretty dismal as she must marry to save her family’s legacy as their money is running out.  She decides to make her own destiny by impersonating her lady in waiting, Adelaide and taking a trip to the Glittering Court.  The Glittering Court is an opportunity for girls born in the common life to learn the ways of the upper class.  They are then whisked away to the new world where women are in need.  They are guaranteed to be matched with wonderful men in the New World who will give them a  life of luxury that they have never experienced in their former lives.

The “new” Adelaide fits into her new life easily as she “learns” how to be a classy lady.  What she doesn’t see coming is her attraction to Cedric Thorn, one of the associates responsible for bringing the Glittering Court to the New World.

I feel like this book is hard to explain but you get swept up in this fantasy world rather quickly.  You want to root for Adelaide and the other girls as they start their journey toward the New World.  This book is hard to put down.  When the girls arrive in the New World, the story is just beginning.  I read this book on my Kindle and I would be shocked that I still had so much to read when so much had already happened.

Definitely pick this book up.  You won’t be disappointed.  I’m only disappointed that I have to wait to get the second book to the series!