The Alchemy of Night is a must read historical romance with a murder thrown in

36570121I have enjoyed several Nicola Italia books and her writing keeps getting better with each book.  This time around in The Alchemy of Night, we are introduced to Emmeline (Emme) Bell and the Marham brothers – Everett and Nigel.  Everett is next in line to become Lord Marham and run the family estate.  Nigel is in love with Emme and asks her to marry him.  Emme isn’t sure she wants to marry Nigel and asks for time to think about her answer.

In the meantime, Emme starts to bump into Everett at different events and around town setting off sparks between them, which they both try to ignore.  But when they unexpectedly spend several days together at their mutual friend’s house before the winter ball, the attraction can’t be ignored.

As Everett and Emme are falling in love, another woman sets her sights on Everett.  Not because Maude Thomas loves him, but because Everett comes with a title and money.  Who wouldn’t want to be a countess?  But how far will someone go to get said title? And is it worth dying for?

Nicola is a wonderful historical romance author who knows how to draw the reader into the lives of her characters.  I found myself losing track of time as I went back in time to London when women wore big flowing dresses and rode around in carriages.  A time when women were the “property” of the man they were with whether it was a father or a husband.  A time when a woman had money but couldn’t “own” the money because they were too simple minded.

It was also a time when couples had to sneak around and if they got caught together, whether they were doing anything or not, a marriage had to happen to stop any rumors that could ruin the woman’s and the man’s reputation.

I recommend picking up The Alchemy of Night if you are looking for something to read on vacation while relaxing in the sun.  It’s even perfect for those times you want to curl up by the fire with a blanket and a warm drink.  It’s a perfect time to read anytime and anywhere.  Be prepared to be entertained.  Then be prepared to add Nicola’s other books to your TBR list.

Book Description:
Emmeline Bell, the only daughter of a well-known London solicitor, is intelligent, beautiful, and well loved by her family and friends.

Nigel Carey, the second son of Lord Marham, is quiet and reserved yet secretly pines to call Emme his own. When Nigel proposes, Emme accepts it without love knowing the match will give her a comfortable life. She is unaware that Nigel’s dark and mysterious older brother, Everett, heir to the earldom, also holds a deep desire for her.

Arriving a week early to a mutual friend’s annual winter house party, Emme and Everett strike up an unexpected friendship, one that quickly leads to romance. As Everett invokes feelings in her she never thought possible, he urges her to break off her engagement to his brother. However, another young woman who has been scheming to force a marriage with the handsome, wealthy, and titled Everett is found dead in the middle of the winter ball. Suddenly everyone has a motive for murder–even Emme.

As the inspector assigned to the case tries to unravel the plot, the list of suspects narrows, and Everett is arrested. Convinced of his innocence, Emme embarks on admission to clear his name. She uncovers overlooked clues and someone suddenly becomes determined to stop her. Emme and Everett must race to unmask the killer before the killer silences Emme forever.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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The Girl Who Lived is a heart pumping thriller

36412584I enjoy a good thriller.  One that makes my heart pound and my pulse race.  The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson is a good thriller.  A really good thriller.  On her 13th birthday, Faith Winters watches as her older sister Kim is brutally murdered on the porch of their family cabin.  While inside the cabin, are Faith’s father, her best friend and her best friend’s mom, all dead.

After Kim tells Faith to run, Faith hides in the woods with the murderer hunting her down.  Fast forward 10 years with Faith back in her hometown trying to start over.  She has been in and out of mental hospitals, has become an alcoholic and often thinks about killing herself.

On her first night home, after leaving an AA meeting, Faith heads to a bar and downs several shots.  While heading home she is sure the ‘Ratman’ drives by her.  The same man who was sitting in a car by the cabin the night of the murders.  The man she hid from under a log for four hours, the man that no one believes exists.  This starts a crazy hunt by Faith to find the killers and realizing she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Is Faith having hallucinations?  Is the alcohol making her paranoid?  Is she just plain crazy?  No one will believe Faith.

This book took me on a roller coaster of a ride, which kept me up at night trying to figure out who was behind the murders.  Do you think you know who is behind the murders? You might want to rethink your choice.  Pick this book up for a thrilling ride with a lot of f’d up people.

Book Description:
Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

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A Million Junes is a magical love story

30763950Two families who hate each other for generations.  I’m sure the first thing you think of is the feud of the Hatfields and McCoys.  But there are two other families that have hated each other for generations – the O’Donnells and the Angerts.

In A Million Junes by Emily Henry, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have held a grudge against each other for generations.  Generations of fathers that worked hard to stay away from each other even though they used to be best of friends.  Enter the younger generation who want to be together despite the feud.

June O’Donnell is the latest in a long list of Jacks and Juniors.  As the daughter Jack O’Donnell, one of the rules she must follow is to stay away from any of the Angerts.  June has been curious of Saul Angets, who lives across the field and through the woods.  She has internet stalked this forbidden guy.  She has seen him from afar.  Then they meet and the pull they have towards each other can’t be denied.  Such a pull it makes them wonder why their families began feuding in the first place.

Besides a love story, this is a magical story.  There are a lot of magical things that happen in June’s world.  Cherry trees grow overnight from a seed.  If you leave shoes in the yard, Coywolves will come and get them so make sure they aren’t your favorite pair.  And there are white floaty, fluffy balls that can soak into your skin and show you a memory, a memory that might not be yours.  The memories will feel real like June is being transported back in time.

This story might not be for everyone.  You have to like magical stories that stretch your beliefs.  But I think if you like a story with a little bit of magic, laughs, family drama, and an enjoyable love story, you will find that Emily Henry will take you on a journey that will make you fall in love with June and Saul and look at dandelion dust floating in the wind differently.

Book Description:

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Eleanor Oliphant is a must read

32503381.jpgI enjoy quirky characters and the main character in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is kind of an odd duck.  She isn’t good at socializing, she doesn’t understand why people do certain things, she doesn’t have a filter and says what she is thinking and she enjoys a very strict schedule.  It kind of discombobulates her when her schedule is disrupted.  Eleanor eats the same thing every day, she wears the same closes and always drinks a bottle of Vodka over the weekend.  Her co-workers think she is strange, people tend to look at her and dismiss her.

Raymond (the IT guy at work) enters her life when he works on her computer.  As they are both leaving work at the same time, an older man, Sam, collapses on the sidewalk near them.  Eleanor doesn’t want to get involved as it will mess up her schedule, but Raymond drags her into helping Sam.  This encounter soon pulls Eleanor and Raymond into an unlikely friendship that slowly disrupts her regular schedule.

At first I thought Eleanor, who is almost 30, might be on the autism spectrum then I thought maybe she was raised without much social interaction.  But then you slowly learn what happened to Eleanor to make her the way she is.  I really felt for Eleanor and loved her simplicity and growth along the way.  The characters were very interesting and likable.  I cared for all of them.  I think it will also help some people understand what others go through when a tragedy changes their lives at a young age.

There were sad parts that pulled at my heart and other times the story made me smile and laugh.  This is probably one of my favorite books in 2017.  I hope that everyone takes the time to get to know Eleanor.

Book Description:
Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

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Royal Bastards is a gripping fantasy story

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts is a great young adult story about a ragtag group of characters trying to prevent a civil war.  Tilla is a bastard.  Her father is Lord Kent of the Western Province and her mother is a low born woman.  Tilla longs to be at her father’s side as a legitimized heir.  But as soon as Lord Kent has his own legitimate children, he tosses Tilla aside to raise them into nobility instead.  At the age of 16, Tilla spends most of her time with her half-brother Jax, a stable hand, exploring the old tunnel system under the castle and drinking with the servants.

Instead of being with her family at feasts, Tilla ends up sitting with the other bastards.  At that table is Miles of House Hampstedt, a nerd who has had a crush on Tilla for ages and Zell, a Zitochi bastard from the north.  Princess Lyriana visits with her uncle, the Royal Archmagus and instead of sitting with the Royals, she decides to sit at the bastards table.  Soon, Tilla, Jax, Miles and Zell are leading the sheltered Princess on a nighttime escapade.

As the group is looking at the view from a cliff, they witness a brutal crime that they were never meant to see.  The group must run for their lives after their parents have put bounties on their heads to stop then from reaching the King and telling him about their parents’ crimes.

Tilla, Jax, Miles, Zell and Lyriana are well rounded characters and we learn a lot about their backstories.  The story starts out nice and lighthearted and then soon takes a dark turn. The story moves along nicely with humor, friendship, fighting, romance and death.  The dialogue is sassy, there is magic, danger around every corner and the writing keeps things fresh and modern regardless of the fantasy setting.

I usually don’t like to wait for the next book in a series or a trilogy because I don’t want to let go of the characters for a year or two waiting for the next installment.  When this book was over, I was wishing it wasn’t a stand-alone, I didn’t want to let go of the characters.  But now I see it has become a trilogy with book two coming out in 2018.  If you like this genre, this book is well worth your time.

Book Description:
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had true born children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Girl In Between broke my heart

32739853There are a lot of things in life that are sad, things that can break your heart.  The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll is a book that is sad in so many different ways and broke my heart.  The story depicts life on the street and on the move for a young girl and her mother from the eyes of the young girl.

Life is good when the girl and her Ma live with grandma, but Ma doesn’t want to stay there, so they move out.  They don’t have any money and nowhere to go.  Ma is a drug addict and promises the girl she will stop the drugs and drinking and take care of her.  But Ma doesn’t keep her promise.  She forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places where drug dealers live and she doesn’t take her to school.

They end up on the streets until moving into an abandoned old mill they call The Castle.  The castle that Ma has promised the girl they would live in some day.  The girl explores the Castle, drawing on the walls, and from the roof, spies on the people walking by.  The girl must be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world.  She can’t leave the Castle but can only let the Caretaker see her.

The girl thinks the mill is haunted and tries to lure the ghost out into the open.  She learns about the ghost from the Caretaker, who is struggling against his past and grief to leave the mill after forty-seven years.

The girl doesn’t want the Authorities to see her because they could take her away from Ma.  Now, the Authorities have come to the Castle, but not for her. They have come to take her Castle away leaving Ma and her with nowhere to live.  There are flashbacks intermixed in the story that slowly brings everything together ending with a shocking revelation.

The Girl In Between shines a spotlight on addiction, parenting on the streets, the relationship between a mother and a daughter and how drugs can make someone selfish.  No child should live on the streets and this book shows what it’s like for some of the children living on the street.  This is a very sad story.

Book Description:
I know the mill has a story cos there’s something strange going on. I heard something. I’ve decided that I’m going to find out what it is later today when Ma leaves. Cos even if it is scary, we live here and we’re never leaving. So if there’s something going on, I need to know. 

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets. To the girl it’s home, her safe place, the Castle. But as her ma spins out of control and the Authorities move ever closer, the girl finds herself trapped – stuck in the crumbling mill with only the ghosts of the past for company.

Can she move on before it’s too late?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Sunshine Sisters isn’t all sunshine

32867521The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is about the relationships within one family.  Ronni Sunshine is the perfect selfish Hollywood diva who cares more about her image than her three daughters who can’t wait to get away from her, and a husband who can’t make her happy no matter what he does.  To the general public, Ronni is a wonderful person who has the perfect family.  But behind closed doors it’s another story.  Ronni is narcissistic and often a cruel mother.

When the veil comes off and her mood comes out, Ronni treats her daughters differently and the daughters react in different ways to Ronni’s cruelness.  Nell, who is the oldest, withdraws within herself and when she turns 18, flees to a farm a few miles away where she befriends the owner, who becomes a stable mother figure.  Nell seemed like a genuine, down-to-earth person who worked tirelessly to fill the voids she didn’t get from her childhood.

Meredith takes a lot of abuse from Ronni.  She is told she needs to lose weight, that she isn’t pretty enough.  This breaks Meredith and she flees to England to stay with relatives.  Meredith is a people pleaser and wants everyone to be happy.  Because of her mother’s comments over the years, Meredith doesn’t feel she deserve to be treated with respect, which leads her to be engaged to a who acts like she isn’t good enough as herself.

Then there is Lizzy who doesn’t take any crap from Ronnie.  While growing up, she laughed at the things Ronni said and did, never taking it seriously.  Lizzy really came across just as selfish and self-centered as Ronni.  Now a famous TV chef, Lizzy doesn’t care who she hurts with her actions, including her husband and child.

The main focus of the book is bringing the three girls together again to be with Ronnie, who has become ill and wants them by her side as she passes.  Once again making everything about her and bringing the attention to her, the center of attention.  This story is also about the relationship between the sisters, who are not close and are so very different.

The Sunshine Sisters shows that families can look all rainbows and sunshine on the outside, the inside, behind closed doors, might not be what it seems.  It’s probably why on the news, the neighbors say “they were such a nice and loving family” when something goes wrong with a family member or an entire family.

I have four older sisters so it was interesting for me to see how the sisters were very different yet could support each other after being reacquainted. There were relationships where I wanted to smack people on the back of the head and relationships where I wanted to stand up and cheer.

I have pretty much read all of Jane Green’s books and have enjoyed every one of them.  Like her other books, I had a hard time putting The Sunshine Sisters down.  When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about the sisters.  The Sunshine Sisters looks like a fun cheerful book, but instead it dives into family dynamics that aren’t so filled with sunshine.

Book Description:
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat