I Was Anastasia

March 20, 2018

I Was Anastasia
By: Ariel Lawhon
Release Date: March 20, 2018

Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. 

Germany, February 17, 1920
: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. 
     Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson. 
     As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory: the nature of identity itself.
     The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

I've been drawn to the whole Tzar Nicholas II massacre for almost 20 years. I came into this book with a fairly strong basis of the whole Anastasia/Anna Anderson debate. I knew the facts. I knew the timelines. I knew a lot of the details behind everything. While I didn't read this book with a blank slate for the author to fill, I still was putty in the author's hands. It didn't take me long to be swept up in the dueling stories. Just as I knew so much. I also learned so much.

Ariel Lawhon had the difficult job of telling a complex story that was once a well known debate. A debate that, for some, still lives on. She handled this task with great respect and creativity. She made a real life story from many, many years ago feel relevant and current. She doesn't give much away as she tells the story from Anna's point of view. She writes her whole side of the story with a compassion and dignity that few ever thought to have. 

She rotates the reader between Anna's story and Anastasia's. Event by event, you relive the family's imprisonments, treatment, and ultimate deaths. I found myself, once again, hoping and praying what I knew would happen wouldn't. You become a fly on the wall for disgusting acts of hatred and violence. By the time the family meets their end, you are sick with anger and disgust. But you will also never forget Anastasia, or her family.

Readers will be sucked into these two lives and the events within them from the first page. You will ride every roller coaster along with the characters. I have no doubt this book is destined for the bestseller lists. You will be a tangled mess of emotions by the time you read the author's note. As Ariel Lawhon tells you what was fact verses fiction, that ball of emotion will only increase. Several things you desperately want to be fiction are not. I Was Anastasia is a book that will stay with you long after you have closed the book.

The English Wife

January 9, 2018

The English Wife
By: Lauren Willig
384 Pages

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor house in England, they had a fairytale romance in London, they have three-year-old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and named it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to try to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

I've been a fan of Lauren Willig since the days of her Pink Carnation series. She has always weaved together fascinating stories that pull you in and keep hold of you until the very last word. The English Wife is no exception. Once again, she has written a story that captivates the reader while sending them on a journey. 

Every chapter of this book offered up another piece to the puzzle being put together. So many questions seeking answers that you get to search for, along with the characters. You step into the world that Bayard and Annabelle created. You're there for their first meeting. You watch as they fall in love and form a life. In fact, you're cheering them on as they do. And you are baffled when one is found dead and the other is missing. You have as many questions as the characters do. 

You bond with Janie as she decides to boldly seek the truth of what happened to her brother and his wife- no matter what the truth turns out to be. You are baffled with every clue that is uncovered, and you try to make the many pieces fit. 

The English Wife will set you on a course to uncover the truth you never knew was hidden. And, like me, you will be gripped with every clue you find as you try to put the puzzle together. 

The Lake House

January 19, 2016

The Lake House
By: Kate Morton
512 Pages

Sadie  Sparrow is a talented detective. However, when she makes a costly mistake while solving that puts her entire career in jeopardy. Taking time off to let things cool down lands her smack in the middle of another case. This one a long, unsolved disappearance. A wealthy family, a vast estate. and a toddler who vanishes without a trace all come together as Sadie seeks to put the pieces of the forgotten puzzle into place. But that's not the only mystery that gets solved.

Kate Morton is such a talented storyteller. She weaves intricate plots and fascinating characters together seamlessly. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors- and I've only read 2 of her books, so far! One thing that has been common on both books, is that once I start the first page, I'll be gripped by the story until I finish the very last page. 

As I read The Lake House, I fell did what every reader does: I tried to solve the story. I thought I would guess the ending. Make no mistake! Kate Morton gives you many opportunities to think you have it figured out as the story she tells unfolds. But also know this: every time you think you have it figured out, she throws you a plot twist that changes everything. You may figure out a few things here and there, but, overall, she leaves you guessing along with her characters.

The Lake House centers around two unsolved cases. Sadie's story line involves the disappearance of a mother who left her child. All the evidence points in one direction, but Sadie is unsure that direction is pointing to the answer. A bad judgment call made out of desperation lands her in hot water. She's told to take time off to figure things out. So, she heads to Cornwall to spend time with her beloved Uncle. The last thing she expected to do was stumble upon an empty country estate. ut stumble she does. A peek in the house shows everything left behind. As if the inhabitants just left one day, and never returned. The seed has been planted to delve into the long forgotten- but still unsolved- Edevane disappearance.

In the 1930s, the wealthy Edevane family hosted their annual Midsummer Party. At some time during the festivities, 11 month old Theo is taken. When a search results in no clues, body, or ransom note, the case grows cold. Eventually, the family leaves the house. As Sadie digs into the story, Miss Morton takes you through it all. You meet the family. You learn the secrets. You become the fly on the wall that sees all. 

Once again, Kate Morton has written a spellbinding story, While I wasn't as gripped with this one as i was with The Secret Keeper, I still looked forward to finding out what each page revealed. The book is long, but worth the time spent.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

October 19, 2015

Three words that I can describe this book with: LOVE LOVE LOVE!! It is such an easy, cute, and romantic book that I just fell in love with! I found myself reading chapter after chapter wanting to see how the plot unfolded.

The past:

Vanessa was a military family and traveled all over. Finally she ended up in Destin, Florida, where she began another year in high school. There she met Logan, one dreamy hunk of a man (well at least how I envisioned him). Before she began college, she and Logan eloped so she could stay with him instead of moving to Colorado with her family. Sadly, the marriage didn't last and they got a divorce.

The present:

Vanessa is engaged to Ted, a doctor, and is planning a wedding, in Destin, Florida. They chose that location since Vanessa wanted a destination wedding, and Ted has a medical conference in that location and at that time. How romantic right?! *note sarcasm* Since Ted was working, it was decided that Vanessa would go to Florida to start planning the wedding. While walking the beach, Vanessa saw someone in need of help and at that point, she ran into Logan. Dismissing him real quick, she didn't think she would run into him again. However, fate had other plans. A powerful hurricane brings them together again. Logan discovers his love for Vanessa and doesn't want to lose her. But how does he go about showing her since she is already married?! Vanessa on the other hand, is trying to keep her head straight. She starts to remember feelings/memories she had with Logan, but she also knows how much of a whirlwind he could be. She has stability with Ted, but is that what she really wants?

This story is very well written. It flows so easy and the transitions from past to present are fluid. This is my first book I have read by Beth and it certainly won't be my last. For anyone looking for a cute little love story, this is it!

If You're Not The One by Jemma Forte

September 14, 2015

What if you could do it all over again?

Jennifer Wright is pretty sure her husband doesn't love her anymore. She and Max used to be the perfect couple, but the pressures of work and kids have pulled them in opposite directions. Now , Jen is full of "what if" questions about whether her bland, suburban existence is all she was ever destined for.

When a terrible accident sends Jen into a coma, she is able to see what her life could have been if she had run off to Australia with the handsome, dangerous man she met on vacation, or if she had stayed with her workaholic college boyfriend. Would she ever have loved another child as much as she loves her daughters? Could she have become rich? More than anything, Jen wants to do the right thing for her family. But what she discovers may leave her with even more questions about the choices she made, and no easy answers about what to do next.

Just reading that synopsis I was hooked, I could relate to this book in so many ways! I'm always imagining what my life could have been if I chose one path vs another.

With her marriage on the rocks, Jennifer is hurt that her husband, Max, doesn't treat her as he first did at the beginning of their relationship/marriage. She senses that Max is growing close and paying more attention to one of his coworkers. One night after a fight, Jennifer runs off and sadly gets in a car accident which sends her into a coma.

In this coma, she finds 3 different tunnels: each to boys that could have been. These individual relationships were ended on account of reasons, but in the coma she uncovers the outcome of the relationship had she stayed.  The first gentleman, Aidan, being a handsome guy that she finds wildly attractive who she met on vacation. The second, Tim, was a guy in college who ended up inventing this program which led her to live a very wealthy life. Finally, there was Steve who she met when she was having appliance issues at her apartment. Each of these different tunnels led her to experience different things: children, wealth, loneliness, poverty, love, tears, happiness, and everything in between.

This book had me on edge at times, I kept finding myself reading more and more every night just to see where the tunnels would lead her. I thought this was a well written book in which the story flowed nicely. It transitioned from the tunnels to present day life very well and the stories about each guy was very easy to follow. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read!

Paper Towns by John Green

August 18, 2015

Hello fellow book lovers!

Sad to say, but I've been on somewhat of a book hiatus for a bit but I'm back!!

One afternoon when I was at the movies, I saw previews for Paper Towns...It looked so captivating where I knew I had to read this book. The next day I happened to be in Target, saw the book on it's shelf, and BAM it somehow ended up in my cart. Funny how that happens!?

The moment I started reading this book I was hooked. The way John brings the characters into the story is amazing! I've never read any other John Green book so I can't compare, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Characters/Plot: The main characters: Margot and Q, next door neighbors. One night she brings Q into her own little world and gives him an adventure of a lifetime. Going to people's houses, pranking them, breaking into Sea World, you get the idea :) The next day at school Margot vanishes - what could have happened?! That's when Q finds clues which leads him, with the help of his friends, on a hunt to find her. 

I really liked Q and all his friends, and the idea of Margo Roth Spiegelman and how everyone had their own idea of her, but none of those theories were the real her. She lived to fit into people's expectations of her, but in the end, all she wanted was to be free.

Overall, I would recommend this to everyone who hasn't read it yet. Don't really expect a lot of romance, this book is more about the adventure.Although I wasn't a fan of the ending, I thought it was a nice light read!

Happy reading!

Dressed to Kill

June 26, 2015

Dressed to Kill
By: Lynn Cahoon
196 Pages

When most of the store owners agree to act in a local play to raise funds for charity, no one thought the murder mystery would become real. However, things change when one of the actors turns up dead when he wasn't supposed to. The list of suspects grows, as does the secrets that come to light. Will Jill clear her boyfriend's ex-wife of murder? 

I love Cahoon's Tourist Trap Mystery series!! Color me ecstatic when I learned Dressed To Kill will open my summer, and Killer Run is going to close it! Lynn Cahoon is going to bookend my summer! Bring on the fun! Bring on the characters! Bring on the mysteries!

Kent was the manager of the local bank. He was also the local playboy who had a string of women left in his wake. Not to mention a few other secrets that come to life when he turns up dead during a play rehearsal. South cove is boiling over with gossip about what's going on. But the spotlight shines on Sherry, Greg's ex-wife, since she was dating him at the time of his death. It's no secret that Sherry has been a thorn in Jill's side for awhile, but could Sherry actually kill someone? 

Determined not to get involved with the case this time, Jill spends most of the book doing her best to do just that. Yet, she can't help herself, and she finds out things. Clues find her, she finds them; it's all the same. 

Dressed to Kill may not be as action packed as other books in the series, but it was still as enjoyable as the rest. I loved reading it. You won't be lacking in the charm the series is known for. Nor will you be lacking in a good plot. Jill, our ever sly detective doesn't disappoint.

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