Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

book cover of The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Lucky Ones

Author: Tiffany Reisz

Publisher: MIRA

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever. Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night–was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her? But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew. A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page. 

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Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella book cover

Title: Surprise Me
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: The Dial
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.  Continue reading

ARC Review: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

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Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Goodreads | Amazon

When a book stays with you long after you have read it, you know it is one that has merit. The Chalk Man is a dark thriller that has quite a few intriguing characters that the reader will instantly relate to. Told through a dual timeline, the story is one that will keep you guessing right to the end.

There is something about a great thriller that I find absolutely exciting. However, the spine-chilling books aren’t typically ones that I gravitate towards, until I picked up The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. The opening of the book is written in such a shocking and intriguing way that I was immediately lured into a book that is totally out of my comfort zone.

The aspect that I enjoyed the most about The Chalk Man is the cast of characters that Tudor has created. Something about these boys from the 1980s riding bikes all over town instantly reminded me of the kids from the TV show Stranger Things. I love how realistic and interesting the boys are, right down to their nicknames, such as Fat Gav and Metal Mickey.

Written in alternating time periods, the plot flows seamlessly from 1986 to 2016. Told from Eddie’s point of view, the story unfolds through his eyes as both a preteen and an adult. Tudor slowly adds details from each time period that connect and lead to a greater understanding of the events that occurred when the boys were younger. This style is not always easy to pull off and it works really well in this novel.

This is one thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre. The writing is mesmerizing and the characters are so fantastic. The Chalk Man will definitely have you wondering what happened from beginning to end.

ARC Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

 

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Title: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

If you are one to pick up a few fluffy holiday reads, then Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will definitely put you in the holiday spirit. The story is a unique retelling of the classic, with its gender swap. However, there isn’t much substance to the plot.

I am a huge fan of holiday books, so when I first heard about this book, I was really excited. It is quite a short story, which is something that actually draws me into a book like this because it is one that you can pick up and read quite quickly during the busy Christmas season. The holiday party at the beginning of the novel really sets the scene for a fun seasonal read.

There have been quite a few retellings of Pride and Prejudice over the years, but this is the first one that has a female Darcy that I have heard of. I really enjoyed this concept and the character of Darcy is definitely an interesting one. Darcy starts off as a bit of an unlikable character, but as the story goes on and we learn more of her backstory, her personality softens quite a bit.

I try not to expect too much from a fun seasonal read, but I would have enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe more if the plot was a little bit more realistic. Some of the events just seemed to be a bit far-fetched and a little bit confusing. That being said, the story moved along quickly and I really liked the ending, so there are some redeeming aspects to this one.

While Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe wasn’t as epic as I had hoped for, it is still a cute holiday themed read. The gender swap is one that gives this retelling a different flair. If you are looking for a fast-paced novel to jump into over the Christmas season, this may be a book that fits the bill.

I received an ARC from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Something Like Happy
Author: Eva Woods
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.

“It’s simple, really. You’re just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we’re doing one right now…”

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she’d once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn’t want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there’s still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

Goodreads | Amazon

In a world where many of us are feeling at odds for various reasons, this book is a reminder that it is important to stop and smell the roses. Something Like Happy is a novel that explores the idea that no matter what your circumstances, there is still joy to be found in the little things if you let them. Eva Woods has crafted a beautiful story that is relatable, humorous, and contains a cast of characters that will tug at your heartstrings.

At first glance, one might assume that this story is going to be one that tries to turn the characters’ lives around by putting on rose-coloured glasses. This book, however, is so much more than that. I just love how Woods has woven the 100 Happy Days Project into the novel because it perfectly shows how making small changes in your day-to-day life can help you feel better, if even for a moment. Whether you are working at a dead-end job or have a life-threatening disease, doing a small something for yourself, like Annie and Polly do, can help to lift your spirits. For example, Polly takes Annie out for a picnic lunch during the work day. Annie’s circumstances may not have changed, but it helps her to recharge and face the rest of her day.

The aspect that I love about this book the most is the humour that is found throughout the entire book. Even though there is a considerable amount of heartache in the plot, Woods manages to find a way to pop in some fun dialogue here and there. It really makes the story so easy to relate to and essentially takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute the reader will be laughing along and then the next, feeling overwhelmed with what the characters are dealing with.

There are many characters in this book that are so well-developed and interesting. Annie’s  roommate, family members, and the doctors are side characters that all have quirky personalities and add to the flavour of the novel. Annie is one that readers will easily relate to, Polly, however is my absolute favourite. Polly is just so incredible and seems to be the life of the party, even though she is faced with so much adversity.

Something Like Happy is a book that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a book that is a little bit different, and gives you a fresh outlook on life. After reading this one, I was definitely inspired to make some small changes in my everyday routine. It really is important to try and see the world from a new perspective.