Posted in Book Notes, Reading Life, Reading List, Uncategorized

Book Notes: Review of “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay

Looking through my past posts, I realized it has been over a year since I’ve published a Book Notes review! Since I just finished reading a heartwarming novel that I really enjoyed, there’s no time like the present to offer up a new one!

 

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The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay is a women’s fiction novel that I was fortunate enough to get from Net Galley last spring… and somehow I hadn’t read it until now! Here’s a description:

Continue reading “Book Notes: Review of “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay”

Posted in Book Notes, Reading List

Book Notes: Review of “The Mother-in-Law” by Sally Hepworth

Hi, friends!  Today we’re talking suspense again!  I’ve really been enjoying all the domestic suspense novels I’ve read this year… there have been so many great titles coming out.  I just finished another one that I wanted to share.

 

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The Mother-in-Law is a new release from author Sally Hepworth.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author… it’s been getting a lot of Bookstagram buzz, and I was lucky enough to get an advance digital copy through Net Galley.  Here’s a description:

Continue reading “Book Notes: Review of “The Mother-in-Law” by Sally Hepworth”

Posted in Book Notes, Reading List

Book Notes: Review of The Braxton Campus Mysteries by James J. Cudney (with author interview)

 

If you’ve been around here for long, you know I love my cozy mysteries!  Today I’m sharing a series that I discovered a few months back, along with an author chat.

 

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The Braxton Campus Mystery series, by James J. Cudney, is a book series centered around a man named Kellan, his family, and the community around Braxton — the town and the college.

You may remember I did a cover reveal for the third book a while back.  Now I’ve had a chance to read it, and wanted to share a bit more about the series as a whole!

Continue reading “Book Notes: Review of The Braxton Campus Mysteries by James J. Cudney (with author interview)”

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Book Notes: Review of “One Summer in Paris” by Sarah Morgan

Last month was all about mysteries and suspense here at The Biblio Blonde! While those are perennial favorites and I’ll be reading plenty more, I took a little detour into Women’s Fiction last week.  And what a lovely journey it was!

A friend of mine posted a quote on social media today that is an old favorite of mine:

 

The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships, where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.

 

I love these words!  The timing was perfect, because I think it perfectly describes the book I’m about to share with you!

 

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One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two women who, on the surface, couldn’t be more different.  Here’s a description:

To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.

Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely… until she meets Grace, and everything changes.

Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…

 

Grace and Audrey come from different countries, different backgrounds, and different generations.  But a chance encounter on the street in Paris brings them together, and changes the course of the summer for both of them.

I really enjoyed this novel!  The story itself was terrific, but what really made this a good read for me were the characters.  The author did a magnificent job of building a background for each woman and bringing each to the point where they find one another.  The bond that develops between Grace and Audrey is magical, and proves that family is where you find it.

As a forty-something woman who has been married over twenty years, I found Grace in particular rather relatable:  her insecurities, her routines, her impending empty nest.  Now, I don’t know if I would have made the same decisions she did… at many moments, I found myself wondering: is that would I would have done?  Sometimes, the answer was no.

Audrey, too, was well written and interesting.  And I enjoyed the development of both women, and seeing how things changed for them over the course of the book.  And Mimi?  Grace’s elderly grandmother was absolutely charming… and she was keeping some secrets of her own!

This story was, in a word, delightful.  It’s a beautifully written tale of broken hearts, fresh beginnings, and fierce female friendship.  I love finding new authors to enjoy, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Morgan’s work.

Five fierce stars for this one… I highly recommend One Summer in Paris for a heartwarming, lovely read!

 

Find “One Summer in Paris” here:

Barnes & Noble     Amazon

I hope you have a delightful book in hand as well!  (If not, pick this one up!!)

Happy reading!!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin for a complimentary digital review copy of this title.  All opinions are my own.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “The Winter Sister” by Megan Collins

Hi, bookish friends!  As I mentioned in my recent Friday Favorites post, I’ve been reading more mysteries, suspense, and thrillers.  I love a good “who-dun-it” story, and I enjoy the insights it brings us into the characters.  So today I wanted to share a new Book Notes on my latest read!

 

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I recently finished The Winter Sister by Megan Collins.  This debut novel centers on the sudden death of a teen girl, and the fallout that lingers for her family and loved ones years later.  Here’s a description:

 

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we know the people we love most?

 

This book is chock full of family drama, secrets, and regrets.  It begins with the fateful night during the sisters’ teen years when Persephone goes missing.  A few days later, her body is discovered.

Through this storyline we are introduced to an older sister who flaunted the rules; her boyfriend who had acted suspiciously; a neglectful and distant, but grieving, mother; and Sylvie, the younger sister who had a big secret of her own.

We then move forward to Sylvie as an adult, when her aunt (who had stepped in and cared for her after the tragedy) calls Sylvie home to help care for her cancer-stricken mother.  When Sylvie returns to her hometown and her childhood house, it brings back all the pain and turmoil of Persephone’s tragedy.  As she encounters figures from her past (including Ben, her sister’s former boyfriend who was suspected but never charged in her death), she starts asking questions and seeing other sides of the story… leading to answers she never saw coming.

Sylvie is not an unreliable narrator… we’re made privy to her thoughts and secrets early on in the story.  The happenings are revealed to us as she learns them.  There are many things, we discover, that she didn’t know as a teenager and that were not as they seemed.

 

I found this to be an incredible debut novel.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m just getting back into suspense and thrillers, and I really enjoyed this one that I discovered through #Bookstagram and the Book of the Month club.  Collins weaves a tale that keeps you wanting to find answers, and features characters that are complex and flawed.

I always enjoy reading other reviews of the titles that I feature… it’s interesting to see all the different opinions.  Most of the reviews of this were really positive, and for good reason.  Among just a few readers who rated the book lower, it seemed to be for two reasons.

First, it seems there have been a lot of domestic suspense novels coming out recently, and some reviewers felt that sub-genre and the “adult comes home to reckon with her past and discovers secrets” storyline had been overdone.  I can’t speak to that because I haven’t read a lot of them, but even so… it’s a good storyline, and Collins has written it very well.

The other thing some reviewers have expressed is that the mother is very unlikable.  I do agree with that assessment.  However, for me it worked within the storyline.  It’s a subplot of its own to learn why the mother is so detached, why her girls were treated so differently, and what caused her dark days.  That doesn’t mean I related to the mother at all… in fact, I was incredulous at some of her thoughts, feelings, and actions.

This family was dark and dysfunctional.  The novel is a compelling portrait of how family secrets cause unseen ripple effects through generations.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a reveal at the heart of the plot that shifts the narrative.  Early in the novel, I wondered about this particular piece of information, but then thought, no, that’s probably not where it’s going.  Readers, that’s where it went!  Once that piece fell into place, the rest of the story clicked for me.  I’ve deliberately not spoken of most of the characters in the novel… I will say that, as in any good thriller, the people at the heart of the story are often not as they first appear.

This novel gets four and a half stars from me, and I will definitely add Megan Collins’ future releases to my list.  I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good domestic suspense, or appreciates a study in complex family (especially mother-daughter) relationships.

 

Find “The Winter Sister” at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon

What do you think, friends?  Do you love a good suspense or thriller?  Will you be adding this one to your list?  If you’ve already read this, come let me know what you thought.  Enjoy your week… happy reading!!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.