books

Little Lovely Things | Blog Tour & Review

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly begins with the unthinkable happening. Claire, a mother and physician-in-training has caught a bug going around her hospital and is having an allergic reaction. In her rush to get her daughters squared away at daycare and to make her rounds, she collapseLittle Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connollys at a gas station. When Claire comes to, the unthinkable has happened: her daughters have been taken right from her car.

This story is told from the perspective of Claire, racked with grief and devoted only to her career, as she comes to terms with both of her daughters’ deaths, as well as Moira, an Irish traveler who is responsible for the worst day of Claire and her husband’s lives. The two other narrators bring the story full circle, as we understand the deep grief that Claire and her husband Glen are experiencing.

Restless spirits and travelers are an underlying theme in this story; everyone is very unsettled and there is the constant desire to move around and an attempt to outrun the past. I enjoyed the elements of Lakota culture, as well as the backdrop of the Midwest in its most unforgiving state. Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly | Blog Tour www.deniseadelek.com

This book is Connolly’s debut novel, and kept me racing to the finish. I was excited to get to read this book early as part of a Suzy Approved Book Tour in partnership with the publisher, Sourcebooks.

For: Readers who love a fast-paced thriller, but could do without being scared to get out of bed at night.

Pairs well with: Grilled cheese sandwiches and a cup of warm tea. This book made me think of rainy days and wanting comfort.

Rating: 4/5 stars. What kept me from giving this 5 stars was that some of the traveler slang and phrases didn’t add anything to the story, in my opinion, and were sometimes hard to understand. I think if I had a better knowledge of travelers, that I might have appreciated it more. For a debut novel, this was a great read, and I’m sure that the slang will make for a very enjoyable audiobook version.

Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog book tour!

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American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton | Book Review

I was excited to read American Princess because Alice Roosevelt was not a historical figure I knew much about. I absolutely loved learning about this time period and seeing the world through Alice’s eyes, especially as she rolled up on the DC scene as a young woman looking to make waves. A beautiful story told over 96 years with enjoyable detail that left you rooting for Alice the whole way.

Despite being more than 400 pages I read this in two days bAmerican Princess by Stephanie Marie Thorntonecause I enjoyed her fearless spirit in pursuit of supporting her family, advocating for herself, and following her heart. The writing kept me turning the pages and left me sad to close the book when I reached the last page.

I’m realizing how much I love realistic historical fiction, thanks to some recent titles, as well as American Princess. Can’t wait to recommend this to my friends!

For: Readers looking to learn more about the Roosevelts, as well as a realistic portrayal of what life is like to be the “First Daughter.”

Pairs well with: I was craving an Old Fashioned something fierce during this book, as well as one (or ten) beef wellingtons.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Loved the strongly fierce and independent female characters in this book!

Thank you to Berkley for letting me preview this read.

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historical fiction is my (surprising) jam | Daughter of Moloka’i Review

If you’d asked me a few months ago if I liked historical fiction, I think I would have said no. Fast forward to The Great Alone, Lilac Girls, Where the Crawdads Sing, American Princess, to name a few, and I think it’s safe to say I like historical fiction.

I recently had the chance to read the follow-up story to Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, called Daughter of Moloka’i. If you haven’t gotten to read Moloka’i yet, I’ll stop you now and suggest grabbing a copy to savor before you read my review (or the sequel)! Daughter of Moloka’i is out 2/19/19.

Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert book reviewa | www.deniseadelek.com I can’t imagine a better ending to the beautiful saga of Rachel Kalama and her life after leaving Moloka’i. Rachel is forced to give up her daughter shortly after she is born, due to the contagious nature of leprosy and the lack of knowledge surrounding how the disease is spread.

Her daughter, Ruth, is brought up in an orphanage until she is 5 years old. Ruth longs for a home, but is constantly stuck between two worlds- being Japanese and being Hawaiian. She is finally adopted by a loving, Japanese family with two sons, and they begin a new life together in California. Life is not always perfect for Ruth and her new family. Shortly after arriving in California, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and Japanese-Americans are rounded up and sent to internment camps.

Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert review on www.deniseadelek.com

My uncle is a third generation Japanese-American, and his parents were forced into an internment camp similar to the one Ruth and her family lived in. This story brought to life the struggle that my uncle’s family had to endure, and is an important lesson to those who were unfamiliar with this horrible scar on our nation’s history.

In a devastatingly beautiful story, we learn more about Ruth and her family’s life interned, as well as the road that eventually brings her back to

Rachel. I cannot put into words just how much I loved this book.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the exciting opportunity to read this highly anticipated read early!


Have you read Moloka’i? Are you an unwitting lover of historical fiction like me? Let me know in the comments below!

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January 2019 New Releases

Happy end of 2018, everyone! This year I was fortunate enough to reach my 2018 goal of 100 books in early December, aided by the sheer volume of books, audiobooks, galleys and ebooks that seem to come in and out of our house on a daily basis.

I spent the month of December traveling and celebrating the holiday season, but also trying to get ahead of the various ARC titles that I needed to read and review for you all! Read on for my reviews on four new titles coming to you in January of 2019!

An Anonymous Girl  | Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | www.deniseadelek.comAn Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
4 out of 5 stars, out 1/8/2019

Whoa. An Anonymous Girl was a fun, twisty thriller that was refreshing after a sea of many other “thrillers” that seemed to read the same. Jessica, a young makeup artist in New York City, volunteers for a paid psychological study under false pretenses with the well-known Dr. Shields. She is tasked with answering questions on ethics and mortality, and is selected for a higher level of interviewing.

Jessica gets mixed up in a very cat and mouse sort of way with Dr. Shields as the project quickly goes off the rails. This book nailed all of the necessary twists and turns to make a good psychological thriller, and I appreciated the gratuitous level of creepiness that didn’t leave me afraid of the dark.

Watching You | Lisa Jewell | www.deniseadelek.com

Watching You by Lisa Jewell
2.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/9/2019

Do you ever finish a book and you’re not entirely sure what just happened or if you liked it? While I LOVED Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, I can’t say that Watching You lived up to my expectations. I struggled to get into this book, but was cheered on by a few friends on bookstagram who had deemed it un-put-down-able.

Nestled in a nice suburb, where all eyes are on all of the town’s citizens, a gruesome murder happens. The book switches between perspectives as well as time periods and police depositions, which helped to keep the plot moving. Most of the characters seem like they could be guilty, and the reader is strung along until the very end to learn who the real killer is.

The Last Woman in the Forest } Diane Les Becquets | www.deniseadelek.com

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
4.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/22/2019

Living a life relatively isolated from other people, Marian works with trained dogs to track and monitor endangered species in pockets across the country. When on assignment in rural Montana, she falls for her mentor and colleague, Tate. Tate has a domineering personality, and he makes Marian feel like he can give her the world.

This story is set against four very graphic murders by an at-large serial killer in the vicinity, and some of Tate’s actions give Marian cause for concern. After his untimely death on assignment in Washington State, Marian begins to questions the things she thought were true.

I loved that this book featured a forensic psychologist who was developing profiles of the women who were murdered, as well as the potential suspect. I learned a lot from these chapters, as well as about tracking endangered species!  This book kept me guessing until the end, and I really enjoyed it.

Freefall | Jessica Barry | www.deniseadelek.comFreefall by Jessia Barry
3.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/31/2019

Freefall tells the story of an estranged mother-daughter duo (Maggie and Allison) in the wake of a plane crash that is thought to have taken the life of Allison and her fiance. Maggie feels that more than a few things are amiss, and is in denial that her daughter is actually dead. Allison’s body was not found at the scene of the crash, and even though the two have not spoken in years, Maggie feels that Allison is still out there.

Allison’s side of the story alternates between telling the tale of her survival, and how she got into the situation. Overall, a good page turner that kept me going from start to finish.

 

What books are you looking forward to most in 2019? Tell me in a comment below!

 

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5 of my favorite books in 2018

The second I finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, I took to Facebook, Instagram, text and even talking to random people to share how much I loved the book. I’ll be the first to admit that I get a little evangelical when I read something great.

My Facebook post prompted a few friends to ask what other books I would highly recommend, and while I posted this on my personal timeline a few days ago, I wanted to create a post to live on my blog with my favorites of 2018, as of early October. Be sure to read to the bottom to see what I didn’t love (but thought I would), and what I’m excited to read.

where the crawdads sing by delia owensWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I loved everything about this book. The distinctly low-country town without feeling overly “Southern fiction-y,” the resiliency and gumption of the main character, Kya, and the way this book sucked you in slowly and then all at once.

I can’t wait to see what this debut author weaves together for her next title. I also can’t stop loaning this title out to my friends… which I guess isn’t a bad problem to have.the hate u give by angie thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I listened to this book and couldn’t get it to go fast enough to devour it as quickly as I wanted to. I feel like this book should be required reading for all young adults, especially in this day and age. One of my friends teaches at a private boarding school in a very affluent area, that also has many scholarship kids that attend and live on campus who come from disadvantaged areas. She mentioned to me that their school book club was reading this book, and I wished I could be a fly on the wall to hear what kids from all different walks of life had to say.

I wanted to hug each and every character in this book by the time I was done with it, and I really feel like this movie has the potential to live up to the expectations of the book.

Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman | deniseadelek.comThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

I’ll be the first to admit that I came across this book based on the cute cover. What really drew me in, however, was that this was so much more than what you’d usually get from “contemporary women’s fiction.” This was such a sweet story about beginning again, gardening, but also dealt with some complex grief and guilt. This book and Ghosted by Rosie Walsh both pleasantly surprised me in how the characters lived through their grief.

This book also led me to be really productive, resulting in a backyard herb garden that yielded approximately 9,000 basil leaves, and enough cilantro for 2.5 tacos.


how to walk away by katherine center | deniseadelek.wordpress.comHow to Walk Away by Katherine Center
This book is the quintessential “Instagram-made-me-do-it” moment. I was following along with the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge this summer and it seemed like everyone on my feed was reading this book except me. I am clearly a sucker for influencer marketing, but alas, I LOVED this book.

I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book in one sitting, and it satisfied like a mid-afternoon cappuccino on a brisk fall day. You can read more from my standalone review here

Circe by Madeleine Miller | www.deniseadelek.comCirce by Madeline Miller
I’ll preface this final title by saying that I do not enjoy mythology. Blame it on being Greek, therefore being expected to like mythology, but my whole life I have avoided mythology like the plague.

I drove six hours from home to visit my best friend in Des Moines, and was in a pinch when my audiobook ended, but I still had the return trip left to go. Over a delicious slice of Casey’s pizza (literally the best pizza- from a GAS STATION), I scrolled through Overdrive for something to download and Circe kept coming up at the top of the search results. I figured it was some sort of sign, and dove right in. This book was incredibly narrated, and brought the story to life in a way that made me a firm believer in Madeline Miller’s retelling skills.

I didn’t love: Clock Dance, The Kiss Quotient, and There There. I feel badly not having enjoyed these as much as everyone else seemed to, especially because The Kiss Quotient and There There were written in “own voices.”

What I’m reading next: Next Year in Havana, since I seem to be the last person on earth to have read this book, and because I know my mom has wanted to talk to me about it for at least three months. I’m also picking up November Road to do a buddy read with some fun bookstagrammers.

What are your top books of 2018? What was a miss for you?

2018 Favorite Books | www.deniseadelek.com

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The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain | www.deniseadelek.comI’ll preface my review with sharing that time travel is not really my cup of tea… Diane Chamberlain, however, IS my cup of tea and I am now convinced that this is the perfect combination. I’ve read most of Diane’s recent works, including one of my all-time favorites, Necessary Lies. I’m thrilled when I hear of a new release, and I was even more excited to get the opportunity to read it in advance thanks to SheSpeaks.

Beginning in 1970, Caroline finds herself pregnant with a daughter that has a fatal heart condition if unaltered. The caveat? She will have to travel through time in order to have the surgery- in New York City in 2001. Assisted by her physicist brother-in-law, Caroline takes the ultimate leap of faith in order to do what is best for her unborn daughter.

Caroline is a Vietnam War widow who feels like she has nothing to lose. She makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the life she is carrying, and jumps forward in time without knowing what to expect or what the world is like.

I loved the juxtaposition of the Vietnam War with the months leading up to 9/11, as well as everywhere in between. I found myself rooting for all of the characters on every single page, just like in every single other one of her books I’ve read. Diane Chamberlain is the master of developing complex characters and emotional storylines.

For: readers with a touch of magical realism, or those who loved the Time Traveler’s Wife.

Pairs well with: something comforting, like a big mug of tea or hot chocolate. Also, a salty breeze, or at least a beachy scented candle.

Rating: 4/5 stars, I think that the time travel aspect detracted from the incredible drama that Chamberlain is usually able to create in her more conventional stories.

I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, and a beautiful advanced reader copy from SheSpeaks. This book is officially available in stores October 2, 2018.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain | www.deniseadelek.com

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two books to keep you up at night

If you’re a perpetual seven year-old like me, then you also happen to be afraid of the dark, and easily influenced by the things you read, see and hear right before you go to bed. When my husband was away for work last month, I only read lighthearted books (and the mammoth Chernow Hamilton biography) so I wouldn’t skyrocket our electrical bill by having every single light on in our house.

Spoiler alert- I had all the lights on anyway. Below are two books you should read when you aren’t home alone, or if you’re a real adult (unlike me) that you could read whenever!

the last time i lied by riley sager | deniseadelek.comThe Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I ordered this as my July Book of the Month, fully knowing that I wouldn’t permit myself to read this until I was well into August. Three girls go missing from a sleepaway camp in upstate New York, with their fourth cabinmate, Emma, being the last person to see them alive.

Fifteen years later, Emma is invited back to the newly reopened camp to teach painting classes to the new batch of girls. Assigned to the same cabin where her life changed forever, someone at the camp is tormenting Emma and keeping her from getting the closure she desperately seeks.

I loved the seemingly endless twists and turns in this book, even though they had me drawing the curtains.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paristhe breakdown by ba paris | deniseadelek.com

After listening to Behind Closed Doors as an audiobook at 2x speed driving home from a trip to Iowa, I knew I had to snag the next book from B.A. Paris and dedicate some supervised time to tearing through The Breakdown.

Cass drives home in a rain storm and detours down a country road where a woman is stopped on the side of the road. The next day, she finds out that the woman has been killed, and she may have been the last person to see her alive.

Consumed with guilt, and beginning to forget everything but that fateful night, Cass can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. I finished this and wanted to start right back over again. Full disclosure- I did NOT like the most recent title from B.A. Paris, Bring Me Back.

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What books kept you up at night? I need to backload my “read while supervised” list since Brendan is home for the next two months straight! Thanks for reading!