Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: The Next Together by Lauren James

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Pub. Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time they are total strangers thrust together under unusual circumstances. Each time their presence changes history for the better. And each time they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. Why does fate keep bringing them together to save the world, and what must they achieve before they can finally be left to love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different. . . . Told in parallel time streams through a mixture of prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports, and Internet articles, and spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039, The Next Together is a glittering, sweeping story of time travel, fate, and the power of first love for fans of OutlanderPassenger, and The Girl from Everywhere."

Katherine and Matthew are what you would call star-crossed lovers. The year is 2039 and they are chemistry students working for the government.  Their attraction is instantaneous. During their research they discover people that lived during 2019 that looks exactly like them. This is all well and good, but they died mysteriously, which has Katherine and Matthew curious about what exactly happened. Through further research, they discover identical Katherine and Matthews at other crucial points in British history.  Katherine and Matthew decide to take it upon themselves to finish what was started when they realize their "relationship" spans many, many years. The Next Together by Lauren James is a nice blend of science-fiction, romance, and tidbits of historical fiction.  Fans of Bracken's Passenger will enjoy this book the most.

All of the various Katherines and Matthews are featured in parallel story lines in The Next Together. I was most intrigued by the future storyline (2039) and James's portrayal of reincarnation.  There's the 1745 version of Katherine and Matthew which focuses on the Siege of Carlisle and there's the 1854 version which features The Crimean War.  I liked learning more about this time period in British history; however, the future versions of Katherine and Matthew were the most compelling.  I wish James would have explained things a bit more about her theory of reincarnation as well as the random computer notes that are dispersed throughout the novel. I am still curious about what that all meant??

What is pretty neat about The Next Together is how the story is presented to readers. There's parallel story lines, but it's interspersed with "primary" sources from the time period, emails, text messages, diary entries, etc.  I thought this was a fun way to add to Katherine and Matthew's story even though I felt the transition between the time periods could have been a bit smoother.

If you love time travel and are a fan of Passenger, definitely give The Next Together a try.   I wish James would have provided readers with a bit more clarification; nonetheless, it was a fun and entertaining ride.

Thanks to Sky Pony, I have a hardback edition of The Next Together to give to one lucky US reader.  Please refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is October 4th.  Good luck!

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Pages: 448
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Other Books By Author: The Winter Sea and Mariana
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, ""Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough." Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time. But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs."

Eva Ward returns to the house of her childhood summers on the Cornish coast.  But she returns under sad circumstances as she plans to spread the ashes of her sister.  Her friends and current owners of the house, Mark and Susan, are struggling to keep it going.  Mark wants to keep it as a farm where rare and gorgeous roses grow, whereas Susan wants to open a tea room as she thinks many people would come for the beautiful views.  Eva plans on helping them, as she worked in public relations back in Los Angeles, but the more she researches about the house, the more she is drawn back to the 1700s.  She slips back in time and the more time she spends there the more time she questions where she belongs. Susanna Kearsley's The Rose Garden is a delightful historical romance with a gorgeous setting.

I enjoyed the character of Eva and I especially liked her trips back in time in The Rose Garden. When she meets Daniel Butler, that's when it gets very good! Kearsley is known for her time-slip novels and although I never really had to suspend my disbelief in her previous novels, I had to do that with The Rose Garden when Eva travels back to the 1700s. I didn't buy it as much in this novel, especially Daniel Butler's acceptance of where Eva came from. That definitely made me scratch my head in disbelief. I feel like he didn't really take too long to process it and just accepted it right away.

I especially loved the setting of the Cornish coast, the description of the land, the history of the house and the politics of the 1700s in The Rose Garden.  There's smugglers, Jacobites, and lots of other dangers of the time period. I think Kearsley brought it to life very well.

If you enjoy time-slip novels with interesting historical details and a lot of romance, give The Rose Garden a try. If you are new to Kearsley, I recommend reading The Winter Sea first, which is my favorite of her novels so far.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR List

This fall I'd like to read more books that have been collecting dust on my shelves than review books, which hasn't happened for quite sometime. I still have some "newer" books that I hope to share with you all, but I'm secretly hoping this fall will allow for me to get caught up on my ever-growing TBR of books that I own. 

As much as I love summer for me there's nothing better than reading at the beach, I will admit that there's something nice about getting cozy reading by the fire with some apple cider or an adult beverage. Here's what I plan to read this fall:

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand - A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite classics, so I knew I had to read this YA twist on the classic. 

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz - I'm looking forward to reading this adult retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne - I am always on the hunt for a good YA fantasy. 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn - This thrilling mystery has been getting a lot of pre-publication hype. I am curious about this one!

The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam - I love the sound of this historical novel and am really intrigued by the setting of St. Petersburg.  

A Court of Mist and Fury (Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas - I hope to carve out some time this fall to continue with this addicting series. You can't go wrong with Sarah J. Maas.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - So many people have said how powerfully moving as well as how important this book is, so I hope to make time to read it this fall.

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) by Diana Gabaldon - I am slowly, but surely making my way through this epic beast of a series. I've been listening to the audio books when I exercise and I've been enjoying my time spend in Claire and Jamie's world.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid  - I've been meaning to read this book for years! I've really come to love everything that Taylor Jenkins Reid writes.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - I've also been meaning to read this classic for years and fall seems like the perfect time! 

What do you think of my TBR list?  What do you plan to read this fall? Let me know in the comments below.  This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Pages: 503
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth matter where it leads."

Charlie St. Clair's family has shipped her off to Switzerland to get rid of her unwanted pregnancy; after all, it's 1947 and unwed mothers aren't exactly celebrated.  Instead Charlie uses her newfound freedom to search for her missing cousin, Rose, who disappeared during World War II.  Every one thinks that Rose is probably dead as she went missing in France, which at the time was occupied by the Nazis, but Charlie wants to find out for herself.  Then there's Eve Gardiner, who was a female spy during World War I working against the Germans in France.  She works in a really extensive spy network and this is worth noting as Rose's last interaction was with this woman Eve.  Could Rose has been in the French Resistance? Kate Quinn weaves both stories very well in The Alice Network. If you like historical fiction, you won't want to miss this compelling novel.

All of the characters are especially memorable and well developed in The Alice Network. Charlie St. Clair is my favorite as I was invested in her story the most, but Eve's story was equally compelling though.   I was curious about her background and what secrets she was hiding.  There are many secrets that Eve's harboring, after all, she was a spy! What I especially appreciated about this book was the fact that both females are strong, smart, and unconventional for the time period.

All good historical fiction truly teaches readers something or inspires readers to learn more about a time period or a given topic. That was definitely the case with The Alice Network. I was definitely intrigued the real-life Alice Network of spies during World War I. I knew about female spies during the war, but the Alice Network was a new-to-me topic. I found it very fascinating; Quinn did a great job bringing it to life.

The mystery of what happened to Charlie's cousin, Rose, also really kept me engrossed in The Alice Network.  That's what is so great about this book. It has a little bit of everything. There's a mystery, some romance, some historical fiction, and truly compelling characters. If you enjoy smart historical fiction or stories about strong females, look no further! I can easily see why Reese Witherspoon would choose this novel for her bookclub.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winners (47)

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

This coming week I hope to share my thoughts on two historical novels, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. Both are very good historical reads, so keep your eyes out for my reviews.  I also be sharing the books I hope to read this fall.  There's a lot of older books I'd like to finally read along with some great new releases.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn - Thanks to William Morrow
The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam - Thanks to St. Martin's

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz - Thanks to St. Martin's
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert - Thanks to Flatiron


Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake - Thanks to Harper Teen 
The Next Together by Lauren James - Thanks to Sky Pony Press

Congrats to the following winner of my International Giveaway to close up my Summer Kickoff Feature:

 Kim K.

Congrats! I hope you enjoy your book. 

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

Pages: 576
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Library
Other Books In This Series: The Girl in the Castle
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Perched majestically atop the lush emerald hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has been the home to several generations of the Deverills. But when the castle fell prey to a devastating attack during the Irish revolt, the ancestral home’s survival was at stake—until Celia Mayberry and her husband buy the estate and vow to restore Castle Deverill to its former glory. For Celia, the castle holds many fond childhood memories when she ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty Deverill and their cherished friend Bridie Doyle. But not everyone is elated. Although Kitty is grateful to her cousin for purchasing the manor and ensuring it will remain in the family, she cannot help but be wistful for the days when she was the mistress of Castle Deverill. While she is content in her new life with her husband Robert and her adopted son JP, her heart still yearns for Jack O’Leary—the man she cannot have. As Kitty struggles with her choices, she must make a heartbreaking decision that could bring her the greatest joy, but hurt those closest to her. Now wealthy and the toast of the town in New York City, Bridie Doyle has come a long way since she was a young girl in Ireland and the daughter of one of the maids at Castle Deverill. But all her money cannot ease the pain over giving away her baby. When she finds love, she is tempted to return to her beloved homeland—even if it means she will have to face the woman she still longs to seek revenge against. As Celia wastes no time, or expense, in hiring workers to renovate Castle Deverill—even when the country soon finds itself in the midst of the Great Depression—she has no idea that her world is about to be shattered. Now everything that felt so certain is cast into doubt as this daughter of Ireland must find the inner strength to build a new future."

Celia, Kitty's cousin, somehow by sheer luck and marrying into a wealthy family, is able to buy Deverill Castle and while it's great they are keeping it in the family, it's still a loss to Kitty.  Celia and her wealthy husband plan on restoring the castle to its original state while also adding in some of those extravagant modern amenities.  Meanwhile Kitty is living in a smaller house nearby and although she should be happy with her husband and her adopted son, she can't help but long for Jack.  Also, Bridie is living in New York City essentially as a socialite and rubbing elbows with society's elite.  Her past days of being a maid at the castle are long gone, but she can't forget about the child she gave up. Essentially, she can't run from her past. The Great Depression is looming overhead and it will impact the Deverills, especially Celia.  The second book in this riveting historical series is fantastic.  If you like historical fiction that is compelling, is a sweeping family saga with a gorgeous Irish setting, give this series a try. The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore doesn't disappoint.

I really enjoyed the character of Kitty in the first book of this series and while I still enjoyed her in The Daughters of Ireland, I didn't necessarily agree with her every move.  Her relationship with Jack is heartbreaking.  I understand why they can't be together, but it was still upsetting and definitely tugged on my heartstrings.  I also understood her resentment of Celia. While she appreciates the fact that Celia "rescued" the castle from demise, it still upsets her that she isn't mistress of the castle. It's only natural and I liked that Kitty grappled with that.

Celia is a major focus in The Daughters of Ireland and she was absolutely tiring. Her tirades about her renovations of the castle and her obsession with it was exhausting. Her husband kept reassuring her that all was well financially and it's no problem to spend thousands on something trivial, but readers knew with the Great Depression right around the corner that she should be worrying.   Celia deals with a lot in this novel. There's blackmail, family secrets, her husband's secrets, money issues, traveling, and untimely death.  Poor Celia is put through the ringer in this book.

Bridie is also a major character in The Daughters of Ireland and she goes through a lot as well. Mostly she still is pretty naive and makes some poor choices. I did feel badly for her as she has a hard time coping with the fact that she gave up her son and now Kitty is raising him. That's a tough pill to swallow. Even surrounded by so much wealth and the entire city at her fingertips, she is still unhappy. Things do get better for Bridie eventually, but not until she hits rock bottom.

I love the way Montefiore presents this family saga as well as female relationships. I can't wait to read book three and find out what's in store for the Deverills. I am starting to think this series is filling the void that Downton Abbey left. Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction and family sagas.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What I'm Reading Next (2)

Last month I shared what I was throwing in my beach bag for one last month of summer bliss, so this month I'll be sharing the books that I hope will grace my nightstand.

This month I have decided to go old school. I am cutting back on the amount of review books that I am reading and I am am hopefully going to hit up some of the books that have been collecting dust on my shelves.

YA Fiction:

The Next Together by  Lauren James - I am so glad I received this book for review, because I have been meaning to read it! This is a YA novel with some time travel, so it sounds right up my alley!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - I vow to read this book this fall. I haven't read a bad review for it!

Speak Easy Speak Love by McKelle George  - I also received this one for review and this YA debut sounds really fun. Who doesn't love the 1920s?

Adult Fiction:

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley - I have had this one on my shelf for what seems to be FOREVER.  I enjoyed Kearsley's Mariana and I loved The Winter Sea, so I am excited to check this book out.  I love time travel, historical fiction, and I like the Cornwall setting of this novel, so it should be a hit.

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel - I also received this for review and am looking forward to reading this modern retelling of Austen's Persuasion.


The Secret by Julie Garwood - This was leftover my last month's TBR pile and I have heard such good things about this historical romance. I must make time for this book this month!

I am more than a little bummed that summer is coming to a close, but there's something nice about cozying up with a good fall read. What do you hope to read this September? Let me know in the comments below.

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