Book Reviews

House of Brides

The House of BridesThe House of Brides by Jane Cockram
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this contemporary spin on classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Cockram misses the mark in her attempt to create an ominous story with a gothic flair. I was hoping for a creepy read with all the elements of an eerie tale. Instead, we get a formulaic reproduction with weak characters that don’t hide anything dark or grim. I did appreciate her characterization of three interesting kids and their stories within an otherwise lackluster novel.

Catch and Kill

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect PredatorsCatch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out. And stories – the big ones, the true ones – can be caught but never killed.”

Wow! In this tell-all investigative true story, Ronan Farrow (son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen) shows NO MERCY in his quest to unveil the disgusting injustices to women over several decades by two of the entertainment industries most powerful men, Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer. Even more shocking, he reveals how their open secrets were hushed for years by both Hollywood and NBC in a twisted conspiracy of complicity.

But this is not just an expose on the abuse of women, it is a scandalous disclosure of betrayal, double-agents, spies, and deception. Well-written and well researched, you will not believe what you are going to read!

Kudos to Farrow and his bravery in going up against the rich and powerful, risking his job (and even his life) to bring the evil entitled mercilessly to their knees.

Circe

CirceCirce by Madeline Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

Miller flawlessly interweaves the infamous stories and characters of Greek mythology into a provocative tale of a goddess who wasn’t very godlike. Universal themes of motherhood, love, loss, solitude, revenge, compassion, and strength permeate every nook and cranny of a novel you will not want to put down. Typically, I do no like fantasy, but I really liked this. Four enthusiastic stars.

Becoming

BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I grew up with a disabled dad in a too-small house with not much money in a starting-to-fail neighborhood, and I also grew up surrounded by love and music in a diverse city in a country where an education can take you far. I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it.”
― Michelle Obama, Becoming

Although I was a bit late to the game with this one, I am SO GLAD I finally read it. Michelle Obama’s story is refreshingly honest and exquisitely written. In her rags to riches memoir, she details the unusual trajectory of her life. Her beautiful words flow as much as their meanings do. She writes of family, race, class, motherhood, politics, womanhood, and never settling for being settled. She writes from the heart, you can feel it in her writing, hear it in her voice. She is a sincere advocate for change, and doing what is right. For that, she has my utmost respect. Mrs. Obama is beautiful, inside and out. Highly recommended.

The Secret Wife

The Secret WifeThe Secret Wife by Gill Paul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“To feel that another human being truly understood the core of you and loved what they saw, while you felt the same about them – that was the best feeling of all.

What if Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia, daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II had escaped execution and lived? What would her life have been like? Would she ever have revealed her identity or let her secret die with her?

After reading The Lost Daughter, Gill Paul’s latest novel about another Romanov daughter, Maria, I absolutely had to read this. I found the premise intriguing, and I love fictionalized history that is based on true events. The book has an interesting and creative vibe that makes one think about the true nature of love, lost love, the sanctity of marriage, and the value of family.

Told in parallel stories both past and present, you will keep the pages turning because you want to know how the stories are linked. The reason this book is captivating is because it evokes all types of emotions with its characters; anger, sadness, pity, anticipation, disgust, surprise, fear, and joy, nothing is off-limits. Because I found the protagonist Dmitri weak and underwhelming, I took .5 of a star off. 4.5!

The Lost Daugther

The Lost DaughterThe Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What if Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II had escaped execution and lived? What would her life have been like? Would she ever have revealed her identity or let her secret die with her?

Flash forward to the 1970s. Val Doyle’s estranged father has passed on and left cryptic, haunting words on his deathbed. Who was this solemn, oppressive man that barely raised her?

This is the sweeping saga of one woman’s fight for the survival of her family. It is a story of motherhood, love, hope, heartache, endurance, and redemption. Exquisitely written, the novel follows the parallel stories of two women decades apart.

I could not put this book down. It was a beautiful story empowering two female characters to overcome the impossible barriers of their times. Narrated as both a mystery and an epic, this is a novel for those who love stories about women finding out how strong they really are. You will be routing for both of them the entire way through. Highly recommended.

Big Lies in a Small Town

Big Lies in a Small TownBig Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was excited to receive this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads and St. Martin’s press!

I have read several of Diane Chamberlain’s books through the years and was thrilled to receive this book in a giveaway. The story goes back and forth in time from 1940 to 2018 and follows the lives of two women, Anna Dale and Morgan Christopher, decades apart. The plot centers around a painting that must be restored for a gallery opening and the hidden symbols painted within it. As the novel moves along, the women’s lives become mysteriously interwoven with Morgan feeling a strong connection to the enigmatic artist.

I was drawn to this story because I knew nothing about art restoration and I found the subject extremely interesting. I loved the descriptions of Morgan restoring the painting and finding the secrets that it hid beneath the layers of dirt. The heartwarming friendship between Anna and Jesse was a sweet touch at a time of racial turbulence. A little lackluster was the development of Lisa, a central character who I wanted to know more about. I also found the writing a bit mundane. Regardless, a solid story that will keep you reading until the very end. 3.5 stars