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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Title: Darling Rose Gold
Author: Stephanie Wrobel 
Format: ARC
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home."

My Two Cents:

In "Darling Rose Gold," Patty has just gotten out of jail for an alleged case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy against her very own daughter Rose Gold. Their small community has totally turned again Patty but it is the only place she knows so when she is released, it is where she wants to be. When Rose Gold offers to take Patty into her home, the very same home that Patty grew up in, it seems like the perfect way for Patty to mend to her relationship with Rose Gold and perhaps even rehabilitate her reputation at the same time. In this thriller, old secrets are around every corner and old hurts are hard to fix. The past is merely prologue.

This book is a portrait of a super complicated mother-daughter relationship. In the beginning of the book, I was firmly on the side of one character (I won't tell you as you should make the decision for yourself) and by the end, everything I felt in the beginning was flipped, which I loved. I loved how this book jerked around my emotions.

One of the big factors that led me towards the emotional whiplash I felt throughout the book was due to how drawn in by the characters I was. The story feels ripped from the headlines and both Patty and Rose Gold are exactly the kind of characters that would make good fodder for the tabloids. They are neither 100% good or 100% bad. They are both somewhat sympathetic characters at certain points throughout the book. They both have difficult back stories with a lot of layers that are uncovered throughout the book.

This book had plenty of twists and turns that sucked me in! The book is definitely unsettling but if you're looking for a thriller, this is a solid pick!


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona!

Hi all! I hope you all are doing well in these unsettled times. I know that it took me awhile after beginning social distancing to get back into the reading groove. My anxiety was just heightened and I just felt... well... unsettled. Luckily, I've gotten into the new routine and my reading has returned to normal and a part of me loves that I have even more time to read now. Hah, I'm all about silver linings. I hope you all have found ways to settle into a good book and have been able to find comfort among the uncertainty.

How are you all doing?

Friday, March 27, 2020

TLC Book Tours: Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living by Kris Bordessa

Title: Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living
Author: Kris Bordessa
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publish Date: March 24, 2020
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?

From "Whether you live in a city, suburb, or the country, this essential guide for the backyard homesteader will help you achieve a homespun life--from starting your own garden and pickling the food you grow to pressing wildflowers, baking sourdough loaves, quilting, raising chickens, and creating your own natural cleaning supplies. In these beautifully illustrated pages, Kris Bordessa offers DIY lovers an indispensable home reference for sustainability in the 21st century, using tried-and-true advice, 50 enticing recipes, and step-by-step directions for creating fun, cost-efficient projects that will bring out your inner pioneer. Filled with 340 color photographs, this relatable, comprehensive book contains time honored-wisdom and modern know-how for getting back to basics in a beautiful, accessible package."

My Two Cents:

I began reading "Attainable Sustainable" just as we started staying home from work due to the threat of covid-19. We have a lot of time on our hands now and a lot of time to try out some of the tips found in this book. This book is jam packed with ideas of how you can make yourself more self-sustainable. While the idea of self-sustainability itself may be daunting, this book breaks a bunch of initially complicated-seeming things into super approachable steps. Author Kris Bordessa acts as a wonderful coach towards making sure you feel well equipped to tackle the projects in the book.

This book has tips on just about everything you could think of: growing and raising food, cooking, making different household good, cleaning, etc. You can either read this book straight through like I did or treat it as an encyclopedia of sorts. Either way, I know this book is one that I want to keep on hand so that I can reference it whenever I want to try something new.

Not only is the book super useful but it is very pretty as well. It's chock full of tons of gorgeous pictures that not only show you finished projects but also gives you some instruction on how to accomplish some of the various projects. If you're interested in sticking your toe in the self-sustainability pool or if you're a newbie ready to fully dive in, this book is a great start!

Friday, March 13, 2020

HFVBT Review: The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Title: The Lost History of Dreams
Author: Kris Waldherr 
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publish Date: April 9, 2019 (Out now in paperback!)
Source: HFVBT

What's the Story?:

From "All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh's remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne's last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada's grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle's story of Ada and Hugh's ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh's relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert's own marriage--including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn't--things from beyond the grave."

My Two Cents:

"The Lost History of Dreams" is a delicious concoction of a gothic historical fiction book. Hugh de Bonne is a beloved poet with a very passionate following. When he meets his untimely demise, it is up to his cousin, Robert, to take care of his burial. Robert knows little of Hugh's life as he and Hugh have been estranged for a long time so when he travels to Hugh's residence, he is surprised to meet Isabelle, Hugh's niece, who holds the secret to the real relationship between Hugh and his wife, Ada. Filled with love stories and ghost stories in equal measure, this book was a great gothic story!

This is a very character-driven novel. Robert, Isabelle, Hugh, and Ada all are very complicated characters. I really thought the author did a good job of pulling back the layers of each character and weaving the detail into the story line to move it along. When the book opens, there is a lot of mystery surrounding each character. The readers are not privy to what is driving each of the characters. I was particularly struck by the story that unfolds about Robert and Sida and how it drives him to his occupation: post-mortem photography. More about this later!

The detail in the book was good! I loved the dark, moody feel of the entire book. As I mentioned before, Robert is a post-mortem photographer. This occupation is so specific to the Victorian era and I loved reading about it (even if it creeped me out a little bit - hah!). I also loved reading about Hugh's poetry, distinctly of the Romantic time period. The world-building in this book was really great!

The pacing of the book was good. It did get a little hung up for me as we are introduced to Isabelle and trying to figure out what made her tick and what she had witnessed between Hugh and Ada. Eventually the pacing evened out for me and flowed rather nicely. This was an interesting book and I would love to see what Waldherr writes next!


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Reading Challenge Update

As a reminder, I am aiming to read a book from or set in each country the Department of State recognizes, which is 195 countries!
February went a little bit better!
I read books from this many countries in February:
You can check out my progress on my map or see a list of where and what I'm reading here.

I have read 144 books for this challenge so far.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Title: And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 10, 2020

What's the Story?:

From "Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

My Two Cents:

"And They Called It Camelot" is a fictionalized account of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and covers about 25 years in her life: from the early 1950s until the late 1970s. In that time, she goes from being a young woman courting one of the most eligible bachelors in the world to a twice-widowed woman who is carving out a life for herself in the best way she knows how. This is a woman that the world's spotlight always seemed to find, whether she wanted it to or not. Where many would have withered, she grew and stood tall and became a role model for so many, myself included.

When I heard that Thornton's latest book would take on Jackie O., I was terribly excited. I am so fascinated by Jackie and knew that she would be in really good hands with Thornton, who has created such wonderful stories about some truly phenomenal women. Turns out my excitement was very much warranted! I loved this fictionalized account of Jackie, a woman who had to reinvent herself so many times throughout the tumultuous period that this book covered and always came out looking like the very epitome of grace and strength!

The book opens with Jackie meeting Jack for the first time. It seems like they have an instant connection. Where other men seem intimidated by Jackie's sophistication and education, Jack seems intrigued. I love how Thornton was able to capture the sparks that flew between them from the very beginning. We also get to see just how complicated things were between them. Although it was clear that they loved each other, we see that Jack had a roving eye and always seems to have his eyes on another woman. I loved seeing how they were pulled apart and put back together again over and over again throughout the book.

The book covers all of the highlights of the Kennedy presidency, which seemed to breathe new life into the entire United States. I loved reading about the renovation and massive redecorating of the White House. Jackie definitely made it America's house and gave it a sense of grandeur deserving of its history. We see her triumph in France and charming De Gaulle. We get to see her in India receiving a veritable menagerie of animals and being awed by the Taj Mahal. The book flashes back several times to that fateful day in November that marred the entire country.

I feel like I knew less about her life after the death of Jack. We see her eventually marry Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate, just four years after the death of her first husband. This really seems to be the first time that Jackie finds herself on the wrong side of the press and it was so interesting to see how she grappled with that after being their darling for so long.

I really thought that Thornton did such an amazing job of giving Jackie a truly authentic voice. I felt as if I were talking to a friend who is ready to spill all of her secrets. This was a great book and a wonderful way to get a better understanding of a truly fascinating woman!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Giveaway Winner!

The "Fighting for Space" giveaway is over so...

Congratulations to the winner:
Cassandra D.
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