Monday, September 18, 2017

Review - Not Afraid of the Fall: 114 Dyas Through 18 Cities in 15 Countries by Kyle James

After purchasing one-way flights from New York City to Paris, Kyle James and his girlfriend Ashley quit their day jobs, planned futures, and their daily paradigms to see as much of the world as they could. In 114 days, they trekked across 15 countries and 38 cities with nothing but their backpacks, their smartphones, and each other. Not Afraid of the Fall is the unvarnished story of their off-the-cuff journey: From cliff-jumping on Croatia's untouched coasts to bathing with rescued elephants in Thailand; from crashing mopeds on mountainous gravel roads in Santorini, to hitchhiking with strangers in rental cars in Hungary.

Part travelogue memoir, part love letter to those staring at the walls of a corporate cubicle, Not Afraid of the Fall is an inspiring book that captures both the sweet mysteries of life on the road as well as an empowering narrative for anyone who has ever uttered the words "maybe next year."

My Thoughts 
What an amazing journey from beginning to end.  I love Kyle's raw yet simple style.  He tells it like it is.  He doesn't sugar coat their journey and make it sound like sunshine and rainbows from beginning to end.  He talks about the amazing waterfalls and the crystal clear beaches but he also talks about how sick he was on one part of the journey in INTRICATE detail (if you know what I mean) as well as talking about some of the dirty places they stayed along the way that would make your skin crawl. 

He talked about their amazing journey through so many distant cities I have never even thought of seeing but are now on my bucket list - Croatia sounds truly magical and who wouldn't want to bath with rescued elephants, HELLO sign me up!

I wish I had the ability and the courage to just drop everything and travel the world for several months - it sounds like a dream that someday needs to be made a reality.

Drink Selection
Kyle and Ash LOVE beer!  They especially loved to try beers that were native to their currently location.  Here are some great suggestions:
Rating
I have to get this straight to the point travel memoir 5 wine glasses!  I really enjoyed every part of it!  



About the Author
Kyle James grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and is an avid Tar Heel fan. He studied marketing, economics, and exercise science at Appalachian State University. He currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina. Not Afraid of the Fall is his debut book.

Link to Purchase







Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review - Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.
 

My Thoughts 
I will not give too many of the twists and turns away from this story.  For those who have not read it, each page is a new clue, a new piece of evidence, a new psychological look into Cass and each member of the family.
Just when I thought I knew what happened Wendy changed course on me and sent my mind into a whole new direction.
The premise of the story is that Cass and Emma have been brought up in a very difficult life.  There father left their mom (who cheated) at an early age, their mother was (is) a real piece of work and they had very interesting (to say the least) relationships with some of their family members.  
One night the two girls disappeared, never to be seen again.  What happened?  Were they kidnapped? Then one day Cass just reappears after 3 years, out of the blue.  She starts to talk of being trapped on an island and not being able to escape.
Dr.Winter, a forensic scientist, little by little loses faith in Cass's story.  There are pieces that aren't adding up and she spends every waking moment working this case.
The end will surprise you and wonder when Wendy's next book will be out!

Drink Selection
I am lucky to live near the Finger Lakes Wine Region and have gone on several wine tours and Salmon Run Riesling is delish!  
Rating 
I loved every minute of this book from beginning to end!  Amazing and well written and believable!  5 wine glass rating hands down!


About the Author 
Wendy Walker is a former attorney and investment banker in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. Her debut thriller, All Is Not Forgotten, has become an international bestseller and was optioned for film by Warner Brothers with Reese Witherspoon set to produce. The paperback will be released July 18, 2017, followed by her second thriller, Emma In The Night, on August 8. 

Link to Purchase






Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review - Final Girls by Riley Sager

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. 

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.


My Thoughts 
I don't even know where to begin.  There were some parts that were a little slow for me but overall the suspense was there, the characters were interesting and I couldn't stop reading.  I had to know what happened next.
A final girl - a girl that is the LONE survivor of a horrific crime and somehow seems to go on and live life (sort of) while all others die that night.
10 years previously Quincy went on vaca with her friends to Pine College and she was the only one  to return.  Lisa was also a member of this famed group after her sorority was all killed and Sam who survived the terrible night at the Nightlight Inn.
Even though these ladies have their own special club they have never officially met.
Quincy is doing well except for her addition to painkillers to get through any part of her day.  She has a handsome boyfriend, a baking blog, a nice place in the city and no memory of that night.
Then Lisa is found dead...and Sam located her.
What is happening? She thought she had put this all behind her and moved on.  Obviously someone else has different plans.
Little by little Quincy starts to remember that night...who will Him turn out to be?  Can she handle the truth?

Drink Selection
We have to pair this read with Mystery Red Wine...perfect companion to Final Girls.
Rating
I would give this book a 4.5 overall.  I really did enjoy the story and the characters drew me in.


About the Author 
Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley's first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called "The first great thriller of 2017" by Stephen King), will be published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Visit Riley at www.rileysagerbooks.comwww.facebook.com/rileysagerbooks and on Twitter @Riley_Sager.
 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review - Where the Sweet Bird Sings by Ella Joy Olsen

In this provocative new novel, the author of Root, Petal, Thorn offers a powerful story of resilience, hope, and the secrets that, no matter how deeply hidden, can shape and ultimately unite a family. What connects us to one another? Is it shared history? Is it ancestry? Is it blood? Or is it love?

People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don't move at all. A year after her young son's death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah's suggestion that they try to have another child.

As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family's past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son's disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle. Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at--a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last.


My Thoughts 
I seemed to connect to Emma from the very beginning.  Being a mother I think if I was put into her situation I would feel and act the exact same way.  She is still stuck in grief mode, after her son died of a rare genetic disorder.  Where does she go from there? She struggles to know where her place is in life going forward.
Her husband's way of coping is to suggest trying to have another child.  Is he crazy?  All she can think about minute after minute is the chance, even the slightest one, of a newborn having the same health issues...could she bare losing another in the same way?
Emma tries to pass the time by cleaning out her dear grandfather's home, he just recently passed as well.  She starts going through pictures and starts to wonder who some of these people are?  She decides to go on a quest for more information and maybe just maybe she can figure out where this rare gene came from that was passed down to her poor little one.
Emma starts to unravel an interesting chain of information, not only is it keeping her busy but it is also sparking interest into who she is and where she came from?
I couldn't put this novel down, the past has always intrigued me and I love how a tangled web of humans in our lives can create a story that we never knew. (I have to add the library full of  knowledge was amazing, I must visit!)

Drink Selection
This piece is perfectly match with a delish bottle of Pinot Noir - called Mysterious.  Very fitting I might add.
Rating 
Well deserving of a 4 wine glasses rating, a little bit of sadness, mystery and family mixed into a good read!


About the Author 
Ella Joy Olsen was born, raised, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah – a charming town tucked against the massive Rocky Mountains. Most at home in the world of the written word, Ella spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library System (and four decades browsing the stacks). She is the mom of three kids ranging from barely-teen to barely-flown-the-nest teen, the mama of two dogs, and the wife of one patient husband.

Though she’s crazy about words, Ella is also practical, so she graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Finance. After years spent typing boring stuff, Ella eagerly gave up her corner cubicle and started writing fiction. She has also lived in Seattle, Washington & Savannah, Georgia.

She is a member of Tall Poppy Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Historical Novel Society, Binders, the Badass Writers, and the best book club ever: Salt Lake Bibliophiles.

ROOT, PETAL,THORN is her debut novel. And coming in September 2017: WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS. To find out more visit www.ellajoyolsen.com, @ellajoyolsen (on Twitter).              

Link to Purchase



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Review - The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

In this suspenseful, provocative novel of friendship, secrets, and deceit, a successful writer returns to her elite Swiss boarding school to get to the bottom of a tragic accident that took place while she was a student twenty years earlier.
How far would you go to uncover the truth?

One spring night in 1998 the beautiful Cressida Strauss plunges from a fourth-floor balcony at the Lycée Internationale Suisse with catastrophic consequences. Loath to draw negative publicity to the school, a bastion of European wealth and glamour, officials quickly dismiss the incident as an accident, but questions remain: Was it a suicide attempt? Or was Cressida pushed? It was no secret that she had a selfish streak and had earned as many enemies as allies in her tenure at the school. For her best friend, scholarship student Kersti Kuusk, the lingering questions surrounding Cressida's fall continue to nag long after she leaves the Lycée.

Kersti marries and becomes a bestselling writer, but never stops wondering about Cressida's obsession with the Helvetian Society—a secret club banned years before their arrival at the school—and a pair of its members who were expelled. When Kersti is invited as a guest to the Lycée's 100th Anniversary, she begins probing the cover-up, unearthing a frightening underbelly of lies and abuse at the prestigious establishment. And in one portentous moment, Kersti makes a decision that will connect her to Cressida forever and raise the stakes dangerously high in her own desire to solve the mystery and redeem her past.


My Thoughts 
Wow!  What a great read!  Goodman leads you through the crazy, twisted, sexy, turbulent mindset of those individuals that attended that elite boarding school - from students to teachers to administrators.  A tragic event - Cressida's plunge from a fourth floor balcony - takes place and it shapes the lives of all involved or thought to be involved.  Kersti has let the events of that night be pushed to the back of her mind for many years, but now she has been asked to come back as a speaker at the 100 year anniversary of Lycee and it has brought all of those events and suspicions to the surface.

Was Cressida's death a suicide or was she pushed?  What would bother her enough to make her want to take her own life?  Were there signs that Kersti missed?

Little by little Kersti puts the pieces together into an ending you may or may not have seen coming.  Can Kersti save Cressida's reputation and bring the right individual(s) to justice?

Drink Selection
The Finishing School would pair perfectly with a pinot noir Swiss wine. Delish!
Rating 
Cheers to Joanna for an amazing read that really pulls the reader in from beginning to end.  Excellent story worth a 5 wine glass rating!


About the Author
JOANNA GOODMAN is the author of three previous novels. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Ottawa Citizen, B & A Fiction, Event, The New Quarterly, and White Wall Review, as well as excerpted in Elisabeth Harvor’s fiction anthology A Room at the Heart of Things.
Originally from Montreal, Joanna now lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids, and is the owner of the Canadian linen company Au Lit Fine Linens.

JoannaGoodmanAuthor.com    

Link to Purchase