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Before We Were Yours - Review & Release Day | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Before We Were Yours: A Novel – Book Review

Book Description:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aitken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Review:

Have you ever had a novel hangover? Where you feel like you just can’t move on to another novel? Where you wonder what happens to the characters after you’ve finished the last page? Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was this for me.  I loved this book!

As I read about the life Rill, her siblings, Queenie and Briny lived my heart went out to them.  I could visualize the shanty they lived on, and their surroundings.  Lisa Wingate writes in such a way that you find yourself right there on the river bank with them, locked in the basement of the orphanage with them, and then the mansions too.

The fast-moving plot ranges from magical to evil, and then lovely.  It is sad to say that many of the orphans that went to the Tennessee Children’s Home did not have the same results as little orphan Annie.  I read this whole book before realizing that it was partially a true story.  Georgia Tann was real, and real children were kidnapped and then basically sold to the highest bidder.

This novel would make a great Hallmark movie!  It has a little bit of everything… family secrets, a touch of romance, hope and a mystery.

This novel will be released June 6, 2017, so put this title on your to be read (TBR) list.  I will remind you when it is available.  But while you wait, you should also check out Lisa Wingate’s book, The Prayer BoxClick here for that review.

Thanks go out to Netgalley and publisher for providing me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

FYI: The little photo above my review is actually an affiliated link. Basically, if you would like to purchase this book and you click on that photo or any of the title links and it will send a few pennies my way.  I use those pennies to keep my blog going. (Actually, if you want to know the truth, I’ve never received enough pennies to pay for it, but it will help.) Thanks!

Before We Were Yours: A Novel
Lisa Wingate
Fiction, Historical, Literary, Women's Fiction
Ballantine Books
June 6, 2017
352

The Enemies of Versailles - Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Enemies of Versailles – Book Review

Book Description:

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

Review:

Normally I am one of those people that has to read trilogies in the correct order, but here lately I’ve read two series out of order.  I don’t know what has come over me.  I will go back and read The Rivals of Versailles, really I will.

The Enemies of Versailles is a great blend of history and fiction, just like The Sisters of Versailles.  I love the way Sally Christie writes from the different characters viewpoints.  I especially liked Madame Adelaide’s.  It is interesting  that Louis XV’s daughters were allowed to stay unmarried, the wars they waged on his favorite mistresses, and the influence they had on Marie Antoinette.  At first, I found that du Barry was a much more compelling character than Adelaide.  Adelaide was very pompous about her nobility while du Barry was, at first, doing what she could to survive and eventually coming to love Louis.

When you open this book it is like entering a time machine, and being there to enjoy every aspect of Versailles…the food, jewels, attire. It is almost like you are there, which made me dread the book coming to an end.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

FYI: The little photo above my review is actually an affiliated link. Basically, if you would like to purchase this book and you click on that photo or any of the links and it will send a few pennies my way.  I use those pennies to keep my blog going. (Actually, if you want to know the truth, I’ve never received enough pennies to pay for it, but it will help.) Thanks!

The Enemies of Versailles
The Mistresses of Versailles
Sally Christie
Christian Fiction, Historical, Fiction, Religion
Atria Books
March 21, 2017
416

The Sisters of Versailles - book review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Sisters of Versailles – Book Review

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

Book Description:

“An intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress)

“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation…A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best feet—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push sweet, naïve Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, she and three of her younger sisters—ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power as each becomes the king’s favorite for a time.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

Review:

This is a time period that I am not very familiar with, and after listening to this on audio I have decided that I want to learn more.  I am quite aware that this is a fictional story based on facts, but there are many aspects of this story that are true. Every time I see photos of people in King Louis XV’s day, France 1700s, they look so prim and proper in speech and attire, but scandalous just barely covers them.

In fact, it seems like a 1700s soap opera.  Pauline is equivalent to any daytime drama villain of the current soaps.  Can you imagine trying to become the mistress to the king after your sister had been the mistress of choice?  Or how about the second sister mistress watching the next two sisters take to the king’s bed?  It is so strange that it was acceptable for married women to have affairs with the king. Crazy!

If I had to choose a favorite sister, I would say mine would be Louise.  She seemed like she actually cared for King Louis XV, and not just out for herself.  There are alternating narratives so you are able to kind of get to know what each sister is like.  I have to say that there were times I giggled like a little school girl at some of the things they said.  Oh dear, I might have even blushed as I listened.

The Sisters of Versailles was a great listen, and even though the whole premise is just crazy it is crazy enough to make you keep reading.  Or in my case listening.

FYI – I purchased this book and am under no obligation to the author or publisher to write this review. However, the links above are affiliate links and if you were to click on one of the links and purchase the book and/or audiobook, I might get a couple of pennies that go toward my blog costs. Thank you!

The Sisters of Versailles Book Cover The Sisters of Versailles
The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #1
Sally Christie
Fiction, Historical, Literary, Women's Fiction
Atria Books
September 1, 2015
Audiobook
432; 15 hrs 13 mins

The Dog Who Was There - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Dog Who Was There – Review

The Dog Who Was There
by Ron Marasco

Book Description

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Review

If you’ve read my blog at all, looked at my photos, or know me then you know that I am a dog lover.  I believe this is why this book intrigued me.  First, I was drawn in by the cover.  Yes, I am one of those people. Second, the blurb or book description was just the bait needed to hook me.  I am a sucker for dogs and Jesus!

Marasco has put such love into this simply written yet powerful novel.  He was able to send me back to the days of Jesus Christ.  I felt the love Barley felt for his friends and masters, the dust on my feet from him walking down the road, the fear he felt when he was left all alone, and the hope he felt when he found Samid and the Kind Man.  Witnessing Christ’s last days through Barley’s eyes struck me in a completely different way.  Seeing the crucifixion had to be the worst thing anyone could see, and being the visual person that I am, I felt like I could see what Barley saw.

I feel like I would not give an honest review if I didn’t tell you that there are parts of this book that are difficult to read for both dog lovers, and Jesus lovers alike.  I was so glad I pushed through and finished this book.  It has stuck with me for months, and I expect it to stay with me for much longer.  I recommend this book for everyone!

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

FYI: The little photo above my review is actually an affiliated link. Basically, if you would like to purchase this book and you click on that photo it will send a few pennies my way.  I use those pennies to keep my blog going. (Actually, if you want to know the truth, I’ve never received enough pennies to pay for it, but it will help.) Thanks!

 

The Dog Who Was There
Ron Marasco
Christian Fiction, Historical, Fiction, Religion
Thomas Nelson
January 31, 2017
Paperback
262

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough - Book Review juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – Review

Book Description:

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

Review:

Wow! Just WOW!

I’m just dying for someone I know to read this so we can discuss it!

When I agreed to read and review this book for Macmillan/Flatiron Books I had no idea how difficult it was going to be for me to actually write a review.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d never heard of Sarah Pinborough, and now I’m searching for anything and everything she has ever written.  This chick is good!  So, I will apologize now if this seems a bit rambly or repetitive. It is just so, so hard to review this particular book without giving anything away.

Behind Her Eyes completely consumed me.  Gripping is a good word for it!  I love a good page turner, and this is one heck of a page turner.  I carried this book with me every where I went, and I mean every where.  If I had to wait in line at the grocery store, then I had this book in my hands.  I even sent my husband into the post office so I could read a page or two while I waited.

There is a little bit of a supernatural twist to the story, but not so much that I wanted to put the book down.  That just isn’t something I typically read.  Something else that I don’t typically read is love triangle stories.  Behind Her Eyes is written from the viewpoint of Adele and Louise.  It does go back and forth between them, and at times I found myself having to really think about which one was which.  That is the only thing that slowed me down a teensy tiny bit.  It is so well written with twists when you aren’t expecting them, characters that you can’t figure out who to trust, and a deranged mind-blowing ending.  I am not blindsided by book ending very often, but this one got me good!  In fact, one of the hashtags for this book is #WTFending, and I am not a WTF kind of girl, but it is certainly that kind of ending.

I’ve given this book 5 blooms.  I have gone back and forth on whether to give it 4 or 5, but I settled on 5 because it is just so good.  You’ve got to read this!

Many thanks to Macmillan for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, also for introducing me to a new-to-me author.  Thank you to Sarah Pinborough for such gripping novel!

 

Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinborough
Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Flatiron Books
1/31/2017
Hardcover
320
Macmillan

Book Reviews, Read Eat & Be Yappy book club

What I’ve Read Lately – Summer 2016

This summer I have read a lot of books, and listened to some. Here is a quick update on what I’ve been reading and a few thoughts about each title.

orphan train

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline on Amazon

In June, I read Orphan Train for one of our book club reads. I really enjoyed it, and loved the fact that a couple of people in our book club either knew of someone that had been on an orphan train, or a family member had been on one. It was such an interesting discussion time. I really liked the story of Molly and Vivian coming together, and the similarities in each of their stories. Great book!  5 Blooms Review | juliekmccomas.com

the lunar chronicles  Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer on Amazon

Here’s another book club read.  Our book club Read, Eat & Be Yappy, read this whole series. Or some of us did. I think there was a little miscommunication, or just some really anxious readers in our little book club. One month we decided to check the book based on a fairy tale off of our list, and we decided to read Cinder. Here’s the thing, we knew it was a series, but we didn’t know that you wouldn’t know what happened to Cinder and Kai unless you read the whole stinkin’ series. Yep, you read that right! You have to read four books to find out the ending of the story.  The next month we decided that we were going to read the next two books, Scarlet and Cress. And finally the following month we would read the last book in the series, Winter. Well, I missed the memo where everyone was reading all three of the books that next month, and I just read three of them. One day I will read Winter, but probably not anytime soon. I did like the books, not as much as some of the other club members, but I did enjoy them. The first book bleeds into the second, the second bleeds into the third, the third bleeds into the fourth and finally all the stories are tied up into a neat little bow. Or so I gathered in our discussion.

3 blooms review | juliekmccomas.com

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith on Amazon

Okay, so I kinda sorta love a podcast called Sorta Awesome, and Sorta Awesome has a Sorta Awesome group on Facebook that has Sorta Awesome subgroups (for lack of a better word), and in the Sorta Awesome subgroup SortaLiterary we have started a Sorta Literary Traveling Book Club. (Yes, I wrote the name of the podcast five times on purpose! They say if you say something five times then you will remember it. There you go, you are welcome.) The first book I received was I Capture the Castle, and it was quite a bit different than the books I normally choose for myself. It was an easy read. It was basically written as a journal, and we were invited to read this girl’s private thoughts. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t one that I will rave about.

3 blooms review | juliekmccomas.com

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware on Amazon

This past weekend my husband had a business trip in Austin, Texas and I was able to tag along. We typically drive to these meetings if it is twelve hours away or less, so we drove. Our oldest granddaughter had asked for this book, and we had given it to her. I read the synopsis to him and we agreed that it sounded pretty good. I also wanted to “read” it before our granddaughter did to see if it was appropriate for a teenager. It has a lot of f-bombs, but other than that, there is nothing in it that they wouldn’t see on television. (I for one can’t believe what they will show on tv these days. I’m either old or old-fashioned.) We downloaded it from Audible, and y’all, it was so slow! I kept hoping it would get better because I just knew we would be looking for a new book soon if it didn’t. We took a break from it at chapter 5, and then tried it again later. Finally, in chapter 7 things began to pick up. Finally! So glad we gave it another try. We were guessing until the very end. One of us would stop the book to say what they thought was happening, or whodunit, and then two chapters later the other one would do the same thing. This happened over and over. I highly recommend this book, but it only gets four blooms because it was so slow in the beginning.

4 Blooms Review | juliekmccomas.com

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This basically means that it is a short cut for you to go directly to an item on Amazon.  It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it helps me earn a few pennies (literally, just a few) if you use these links. I repeat, it doesn’t cost you a thing. Happy Clicking!

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth (Book Review)

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth
Guinnevere Shuster
Pets & Animal Care, Cats, Dogs & Animals
Andrew McMeel Publishing
May 3, 2016
Hardcover
128

Book Description:

Man's best friend! What better way to showcase adoptable dogs than by letting their true personalities shine in a photo booth! In the tradition of the best-selling dog photography book, Underwater Dogs, Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth wins the heart of all dog lovers.

Often seen as sad, rejected, and behind cold metal bars, it's no wonder people would avoid images of shelter dogs awaiting forever homes. From talented photographer (and now public figure and adoption champion) Guinnivere Shuster comes Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth, a guaranteed-to-make-you-smile photo book featuring shelter dogs in a brand-new light. Get ready to see the cutest canine portraits you’ve ever seen! Guinnevere’s fantastic photos went viral  and have been featured on websites, in magazines, and on television programs all over the world: Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, Time, The Daily Mail . . . even celebrities have gotten in on the action: Amy Poehler, Cesar Millan, and Zooey Deschanel have made statements and posts declaring their love of Guinnevere’s work. After the adorable and up-for-adoption photos of these furry friends were seen and enjoyed by millions, adoption rates at Utah's Humane Society skyrocketed.

The book features 100 dog photo booth style photographs, each accompanied by a short story about the dog's personality, how the dog ended up in the shelter, and the adoption date. A follow-up will conclude the book, with photos of some of them with their new families.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

My Review:

BUY THIS BOOK!

This book is super-duper cute! I know that when I first saw the title of this book I thought of the ASPCA commercials on television. Seriously, some of those are the most depressing commercials...the photos and the songs they pair them with...oh my!

Back to this book.

Have you ever tried to take a photo of your dogs? I feel like these are the types of photos I end up with myself. The dogs personalities really shine through the photos.

If you are a dog lover, or just want a little pick me up kind of picture book then this is for you. You will not be able to help but smile. You might even laugh at some of the cuties. I plan on getting this one for a few of my peeps for Christmas.

When you BUY THIS BOOK you not only get a great book that never gets old (you can read it over and over), but you also contribute to great organizations, Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

Redemption Road by John Hart Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Redemption Road by John Hart (Review)

Redemption Road: A Novel
John Hart
Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Thomas Dunne Books
May 3, 2016
Hardcover
432

Book Description:

Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

My Review:

First of all, I have to say that I am super bummed! I wrote a pretty killer review for this book and when I went to save it *poof* it was gone! Bum-mer! So, here we go again!

This has been the best book I have read this year! Just sayin', so I will try my best not to spoil it for anyone.

Redemption Road is full of tension, twists, secrets and is so realistic! Seriously, this could be a Criminal Minds or Dateline episode.

John Hart is known for his great writing, and this novel doesn't disappoint in that arena. He was able to pack so much into this story and keep me guessing the whole time. I am one of those readers that likes to figure out "whodunit" before the main character in the book has it figured out. Not this time. I was wrong, and I was wrong more than once. I'm telling ya, there are twists galore!! And I loved it!

If you like a good crime thriller, as much as I do, then you will not be able to put this book down. I'm not saying I carried it to the bathroom with me more than once, but I might have.

I really hope someone reads this so we can chat about it.

Buy, borrow or steal this book! (Okay, don't steal it. But honestly, it's that good!)

Redemption Road on Amazon