Allie and Bea: A Review

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Allie and Bea

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

350 pages

Lake Union Publishing.  May 2017

General Fiction.

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes. Goodreads Synopsis

 

This is the second book by Catherine Ryan Hyde that I have read.  Over the summer, I read Say Goodbye for Now.  Both books, for me, are wonderful.  This book alternates between Bea and Allie’s perspectives;  Bea being a poor elderly woman, and Allie being a 15 year old from a very well to do family.  This unlikely friendship was so well created.  Both characters were able to learn so much more than either of them would have ever expected. There was quite a bit of experiencing life in another’s shoes throughout the book.

The character development is strong throughout the book.  I could almost hear Bea’s raspy voice or Allie’s teenage high pitched squeal.  I wanted to smack Bea at times with her careless decisions.

This story tells how life can change in the blink of an eye, and everything you know and had can just disappear.  It also tells how strong the human spirit is and when handed the raw end of the deal, there’s always a way around and back on top.

Allie and Bea is a feel good drama and I would recommend this title.  Thank you to Little Bird Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Windfall: a review 

Windfall 

By Jennifer E. Smith

421 pages

May, 2017

Young Adult. Contemporary.
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. Goodreads Synopsis

In a way this is a hard review to write. I don’t have any big criticism, there wasn’t anything absolutely remarkable to comment on.  At the same time, I loved this book!  It was everything I want in a young adult novel!  There wasn’t any silly teenage angst.  All the drama that arises let real, even though the main plot itself is a little far fetched.   The way the characters develop into adults was so well done.  You could see them transform right before your eyes in an appropriate way.

I liked that there wasn’t a lot of teenage drinking, or scandalous behavior that is in a lot of YA books these days, making this a great book for high schoolers and adults alike.  There was a lot more implied, or briefly mentioned, but these negatives weren’t the focus of the story. This made it more realistic to me.  

Windfall is the perfect light, summer read.  If you are a fan of the young adult genre, Windfall should be on your summer reading list!

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Thanks o blogging for books for sending me a review copy.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much: a Review

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Amanda Quick

400 pages

May 2017

Mystery. Historical Fiction. Romance

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago.

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under… Goodreads Synopsis

 

I love who done it type stories.  I like to guess along and solve the mystery.  To me, a good who done it mystery is so very different than a psychological thriller, it’s almost more “fluffy”.  That description fits the Girl Who Knew Too Much perfectly.  It would make a fantastic summer read: not too intense, a love story, but also a murder mystery.

The glamour of the 1930s Hollywood sets the perfect setting for the glitz and glam of murdered celebrities.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is an ideal mystery for those who aren’t so into the gore and suspense of a big thriller. It was a fun refreshing read that I know I’ll recommend to friends during the summer months.

Thank you to Penguin’s Read it First program for sending me the digital copy for review.

‘Round Midnight: a review

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‘Round Midnight

by Laura McBride

384 pages

May, 2017

Historical Fiction, General Fiction

Spanning the six decades when Las Vegas grew from a dusty gambling town into the melting pot metropolis it is today, ‘Round Midnight is the story of four women—one who falls in love, one who gets lucky, one whose heart is broken, and one who chooses happiness—whose lives change at the Midnight Room.

June Stein and her husband open the El Capitan casino in the 1950s, and rocket to success after hiring a charismatic black singer to anchor their nightclub. Their fast-paced lifestyle runs aground as racial tensions mount.

Honorata leaves the Philippines as a mail order bride to a Chicago businessman, then hits a jackpot at the Midnight Room when he takes her on a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Engracia, a Mexican immigrant whose lucky find at the Midnight Room leads to heartbreak, becomes enmeshed in Honorata’s secret when she opens her employer’s door to that Chicago businessman—and his gun.

And then there is Coral, an African-American teacher who struggles with her own mysterious past. A favor for Honorata takes her to the Midnight Room, where she hits a jackpot of another kind.

Mining the rich territory of motherhood and community, ‘Round Midnight is a story that mirrors the social transformation of our nation. Full of passion, heartbreak, heroism, longing, and suspense, it honors the reality of women’s lives. Goodreads Synopsis

 

I went into this book with high hopes, and to be honest, I struggled to get through the first 80 pages.  My attention was all over the place.  I even found myself zoning out to a Minions game my son was playing on Apple TV for WAYYY too long.  I almost thought it would be a book that I abandoned (P.S. That is something I RARELY do, but I need a DNF for a book challenge). The early praise for the book told me that maybe I should just read a little more.  Let me tell you, that was one of my best reading decisions of the year!  I absolutely LOVED this book!!  So much so that it gave me a horrific book hangover. Once I got into it, I devoured it in a day and a half.

I loved the four separate stories, but how they are intricately woven together is what really made the book for me.  It almost felt like reading a separate book, but then everything links together and becomes intertwined.  Very beautifully done!

This is one of those books for me that sticks around after you finish reading.  I can already say that this will be one of my favorite reads of the year!