Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Married Girls (The Girl With No Name #2)

32570674Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire's fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming... and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne's past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry's return disrupts the village quiet and it's not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

*May Contain Spoilers*

After WWII, England was in a time of rebuilding and her citizens were trying to move on with their lives. The Married Girls, the second in the series by Diney Costeloe, presents interwoven stories that explore marriage, love, family, finances, and loss after the war had ended focusing on members of a small village in Somerset.

Charlotte is the main character of the book and it seems that all other story lines revolve around her. She was a German refugee during the war and was taken in by foster parents during it. In this book, Charlotte (whose German name was Lisa) is married with two children. She's a strong character whose two main qualities are beauty and kindness. Many of the villagers like Charlotte and her sweet, caring nature are demonstrated with how she treats those around her. Through the novel, Charlotte has to face a few difficult situations and how she reacts to and handles these events define her strength and highlight her resolve. Readers will connect with Charlotte through her personality first and her reaction to events second. As the life she built seems to crumble in the second half of the book, readers will not only be cheering for Charlotte's emotional survival, they'll be hoping for a happy ending. 

Billy, Felix, Harry, and Daphne are the main supporting cast of characters. Billy is Charlotte's husband and is an amazing father to their children. Though he does present a bit of jealousy when Harry returns to visit Charlotte. Harry Black (also known as Victor) is a member of the criminal world. He's been hiding in Australia for a few years, hoping the England Police have forgotten him. He returns to finish up a bit of business for his dying boss and is emotionally pushed to find Charlotte again. This creates a cloud of gossip around Charlotte and marks the beginning of her struggles. 

Felix and Daphne are engaged (and married in the later parts of the book), but their relationship is one built on lies. Daphne wants to be happily married to a rich man that can provide her every wish. She sets her eyes on Felix and does everything she can to marry him. Yet, Daphne doesn't get the life she thought she would and starts to resent Felix. Her biggest secret, the fact that she has a daughter, threatens to come out and Daphne does everything in her power to keep it under wraps. Daphne is not a likeable character and readers will hope that Felix somehow escapes from her grasp. Felix is a  good, kindhearted, caring, and dependable man. When his father dies unexpectedly, he moves back to Wynsdown to care for his mother and restore the family estate. Though his married life is full of unhappiness, he tries to make it work. I think readers will feel a strong connection to Felix, as he certainly doesn't deserve the kind of treatment Daphne provides. 

The Married Girls follows the relationships of these characters as they rebuild their lives after the ending of the war. By focusing on the character's lives, this book provides readers with strong connections to its characters.  There are several side plots that build the action and evoke emotional responses from readers. Yet, the main focus of the story is love. By the end, readers will see that this whole novel has really only been about two characters who find happiness and peace with each other. However, the ending is a bit abrupt and I felt like I didn't get a sense of closure for all the characters. As this is the second in the series, I can't help but wonder if there will be a third installment. With Costeloe's writing style and her power to bring the past to life, accurately and thoroughly evoking the emotional and lifestyle struggles of the time period, I would definitely recommend this book as well as be excited to read anything else by this author. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

Thursday, June 22, 2017

For the Love of Katie

33844503Newlywed Katie Maxwell is ready to settle down and leave her amateur detective days behind. But when the veil of secrecy surrounding her husband’s latest project takes them to Europe, her penchant for sleuthing lands her in some serious hot foreign water.

Katie will need to think quickly to talk her way out of handcuffs and a Parisian jail cell. Too bad she doesn't speak French.

For the Love of Katie is the second madcap adventure in The Katie Chronicles. This book can be read as a standalone, but why would you want to skip the first?

*May Contain Spoilers*

Erica Lucke Dean combines romance with clumsy humor in her book, For the Love of Katie, the second in the Katie series. Though I didn't read the first book, which I think would have helped me connect with the main character, I did enjoy how funny this book was. 

Katie Maxwell is a very clumsy woman to the point where it's almost as if she's been cursed with extreme stair-tripping, incriminating-photography, can't-do-anything-right bad luck. Though it's funny for the reader as Katie repeatedly gets herself into hot water that she must expansively explain once she's gotten caught. This aspect of Katie is one that brings readers into her chaotic life. As a main character, she's kind of a mess, but in a humorous, light-hearted way. It makes it easy for readers to like her, as we've all done things that we're embarrassed about. With this major character trait, Katie becomes more down to earth. However, as I do admit I didn't read the first book, I thought that Katie was little... over-presumptuous, secretive, and untrusting when it came to her husband. 

Katie is a woman who likes to have all the info. And sometimes, to get it, she'll resort to lying and trickery. Even her husband calls her Nancy Drew. While, I can see these tactics useful in a few of the situations, I think if Katie was more open in the lines of communication, she'd get the answers she wanted faster and without as much drama. But, then again, where would the fun be in that? 

The book opens in Paris with Katie in a police station, arrested for trying to sneak on set of the film adaptation of her husband's book. When the police officer asks her to start at the beginning, Katie complies, happily, thus setting up the frame with which Dean shares the story. The book then flashes back to before the couple was engaged and shares the entire narrative of how Katie came to be in Paris and why she was pretending to be a movie extra when she was arrested. The book contains a lot of situational comedy and, as previously mentioned, hot water fiascoes. And although I didn't feel a deep connection with Katie (I was a bit annoyed at times), I did enjoy the book overall. It's a nice, easy read with funny characters, good plot action to propel the story forward, and a rewarding ending. 

Rating: 3/5 Cups

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What's Next, Wednesday (60)


  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

32570674


I'm looking forward to...

The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe. Set in England during 1949, this novel promises to be all about secrets and the trouble that comes along with keeping them. For two women in particular, lives are about to be upset as the war has ended and men are returning to Wynsdown Village. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (269)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


33844503

For the Love of Katie (Kindle 74%)
    - Erica Lucke Dean

The Mission: Impossible theme played inside my head as we slunk along the passageway toward the stateroom I shared with my mother. My plan, as lame as it might have been, was to grab her phone, delete the image, and pretend the whole thing never happened.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Big Little Lies

19486412Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

*Contains Spoilers*

Liane Moriarty defines the oxymoronic title of her novel, Big Little Lies, with the story of three women whose lives crash into each other, creating chaos that will underscore just how big little lies can be. 

The synopsis of this novel pretty much sums up the characters that play the larger roles in this novel, yet each of the three women have secrets that come spilling out, one drop at a time, connecting them to the reader. Though this book is about mothers of young children, there is such a larger dynamic force at work here that will surprise readers. As HBO has recently released the show that is based on this book, I already knew, roughly, what would happen in the novel. However, the book (per usual) goes into much more detail about the character's feelings by providing their point of view and even a little stream of consciousness writing. 

Madeline's character is much more likeable in the novel than in the show. I hate to make comparisons but it's true. Readers get a better in-depth look into what drives her. And, essentially, that is the fact that her ex-husband Nathan called it quits right after their daughter was born. That betrayal has scarred Madeline and she has vowed that she will never forgive him, even though she is remarried to a seemingly great husband, Ed, and has two more children. Readers will connect with Madeline, as they will with all of the characters, emotionally. Madeline is prompted into action by her emotions, whether they be anger or loyalty or love. 

Celeste and Jane are the main secret keepers of the cast of characters. Celeste has a life that seems perfect from the outside, but she's in love with a man (spoiler alert) that cannot control his anger. His abuse grows and evolves as the novel progresses, reaching a point where Celeste actually begins to believe he may kill her. Through Celeste, readers get an inside look at a relationship that is toxic and bruised by physical abuse. It's difficult to understand how someone would stay in an abusive relationship, but Moriarty does a fantastic job at relaying all the different facets of information that can go into making that decision. The answer to an abusive relationship isn't black or white. Like life, it's full of different hues of gray. As Celeste weighs her options and begins planning for a life without her abusive husband, readers will see how her mind works, the thoughts and feelings that push her to stay as well as the ones that make her want to escape. 

Jane has just moved to the area of Australia in which this story takes place with her son, Ziggy. She has a dark secret as well and that is that Ziggy is the result of a semi-violent one night stand. This experience has scarred her and she can't seem to move past it. However, as she finds new friendships with Celeste and Madeline, readers will see how Jane begins to heal. Readers will also see how much of an impact that this one night had on Jane's psyche as she struggles with an eating disorder and her self-esteem. 

As I said, readers will connect with these characters emotionally, but the main plot of the novel is set up as a frame. It is introduced early on that there was a death, a murder, at the school trivia night. As the novel progresses from six months before the incident, readers learn the ins and outs of the school and its hierarchy as well as witness the intricacies and selfish natures of the school parents. Through the revelation of secrets, the list of possible people who could have been murdered grows substantially to involve all of the main characters. And for those who have seen the show, the deceased is the same person, yet, the tumultuous situations that lead the characters to the balcony are more fully described and there is no cliffhanger ending of keeping the truth away from the police. Big Little Lies is truly a complicated network of cause and effect that culminates in a powerful statement about bullying, abuse, and violence in general. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mystery with a large amount of drama and in-depth character analysis. 

Rating: 4.5/5 Cups

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Grumpface

34546012The Grumpface is a poetic fairy-tale that tells the story of Dan, an inventor who ventures into a forest looking for a rose. Instead he finds the mysterious Grumpface who threatens to hold him captive unless he passes some difficult challenges. What follows is a humorous adventure that neither Dan nor the Grumpface could have anticipated.

The Grumpface is a tale in the spirit of any grand adventure. It is about a clumsy young inventor's quest for love and the challenges he must face to find it. It is also a tale of bravery, absurdity and happiness, and the power of these qualities over negativity and sheer grumpiness.

Every parent will be acquainted with their own little 'grumpface' now and then. This story stands as a small piece of hope - that no matter how ingrained the grump, there will always remain in every one of us a smile or a laugh just waiting to come out.

**

The Grumpface by BCR Fegan was a very enjoyable children's book! I always read children's books out loud, to get the sense of how they hear as well as how they read, and this book is perfect for reading aloud. It has a great rhyme scheme with a nice mix of vocabulary. The story itself follows Dan the Inventor on a journey to find a rose when he gets lost and stumbles upon Grumpface. 

Dan is a creative main character who carries little inventions around with him. Most importantly, he's nice to the Grumpface even when the goblin-like creature threatens him with being trapped in the forest forever. When the Grumpface sets tasks for Dan and they aren't as easy as Dan believed, he doesn't get frustrated or upset; he just believes he'll do better on the next task. I think how Dan reacts throughout the storybook is a really good example of how to react when facing difficult challenges. To children, this will help solidify the idea that giving up or getting mad isn't the best reaction when things don't go your way. 

The Grumpface, though, a little mean at the start, is more of a likeable villain. As Dan attempts each task set before him, the Grumpface starts to smile a little more. I like how this demonstrates that any anger can be overcome and with children I'm sure this would be a good talking point when it comes to meeting new people. Just because they seem grumpy doesn't mean that they're actually mean people. I feel like it also promotes giving people a chance before judging them as Dan ends up helping Grumpface make his own big change at the end of the book.

With two nice main themes that jump out and a great poetic style, I think The Grumpface is a really good book for elementary school children. 

Rating: 4/5 Cups

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What's Next, Wednesday (59)


  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.


I'm looking forward to...

For the Love of Katie by Erica Lucke Dean. Newlywed Katie knows that it's time to put her sleuthing days to rest. But when it comes to her husband, how can she just look the other way? I'm excited about this book because I think it's going to be a perfect summer read. It seems like it will be funny and exciting and that sounds right on target. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (268)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


19486412

Big Little Lies (p. 328)
   - Liane Moriarty

"He's only five. Anything is possible in a five-year old world. He still believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Why shouldn't Darth Vader be his father? But I think it's more that he has somehow picked up the idea that his father is someone... frightening and mysterious."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Burning Through Their Eyes

34654968When Toby decides to move to Chicago, it is because he wants to start a new life with his family and to get close to the place where his father was killed. But Toby is shocked with the things he learns, understanding that the University where he works runs a very dangerous program operated by the NSA.

But that isn’t enough; one of his sons is kidnapped and could be in grave danger; his son would be subject to a dangerous research which aims at harnessing the ability to manipulate the dreams of others and to pry into their thoughts through their eyes. Now Toby must rescue his son, and to do so, he must use his own set of exceptional skills. The only problem, apart from a deadly adversary, is when a gifted seer of the future reveals that he’s seen Toby killed in a vision.

*May Contain Spoilers*

The psychological terror continues from In Between Dreams with Eugene Knight's sequel, Burning Through Their Eyes. Toby returns as the main character but is now the father of twin boys who seem to be even stronger than he is in the realm of Mindflyers. At such a young age, Toby's sons could have great and dangerous potential and thus makes them a target for an ambitious and unscrupulous man.  

Readers see an older and more evolved Toby in this sequel. Whereas in the first book Toby only really had to care about himself and could act childish, now he's a father, with a seemingly good career, and has a family to support and protect. Therefore, readers will be able to witness Toby as a more grown up character who is dependable and responsible. His role as a parent will also help him be more relatable to readers as they see a father willing to do anything to save his son, after one of the twins is kidnapped. This will allow readers to connect with Toby on another level, a deeper one. No one ever wants to see, or read about, a child getting hurt. So while this helps readers feel a connection with Toby, it also ups the ante of the entire book. 

The plot of this sequel moves pretty fast as the list of suspects for who could have kidnapped Brice, Toby's son, grows exponentially. When we add the fact that the kidnappers have absolutely no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way, the odds quickly stack against Toby's chance of surviving. One important thing to realize going in, is that all of this is being done to advance the research of killing people by using a Mindflyer to enter a person's conscious and basically push them into a daydream in which they die, causing a heart attack due to the level of stress their mind thinks their body is experiencing. Scary situation and horrifying idea. The explanations can get a little muddled, but I think Knight does a good job in explaining it, and demonstrating, how it would work so the audience gets the right idea. As a whole, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me entertained while I was simultaneously hoping for the survival of various characters. All the different doctors did become a little bit confusing as I struggled to keep them, and their specific work, straight, but I didn't feel like it detracted from the overall storyline. For readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and science fiction, I would recommend taking a chance on this one. 

Rating: 3/5 Cups

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Read the review of Book One

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What's Next, Wednesday (58)


  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

34546012

I'm looking forward to...

The Grumpface by BCR Fegan. It's time again to switch gears and review a children's book! I like to keep the genres I review on The Coffee Pot as eclectic as possible so when a children's book comes along, I like to include them. This story is about a young inventor who runs into a very grumpy villain and is, literally, put to the test, in order to continue his journey. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (267)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


34654968

Burning Through Their Eyes (Kindle 6%)
    - Eugene Knight

You see, when we go into someone's mind and show them our own dream or image, it acts as a printed photograph that you see daily hanging on a refrigerator. The image is always there in your head, and you can't do anything to erase it, or so I was told. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

American Gods

30165203A storm is coming...

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Neil Gaiman's magical realism combines with stories of global gods in his novel, American Gods, in which gods from different lands find themselves in the United States, brought along by the memories of immigrants. Yet, new gods have now materialized as Americans worship new forms of technology. Presently, these gods are in a battle as less and less people believe in the old gods while nearly everyone believes in the new. But the old gods have a plan, at least one of them anyway, and it will culminate in war. 

Shadow, the main character, is a waif of a man. He wasn't always like this, but prison and losing his wife changed him. As an ex-con, he doesn't exactly care about the direction in which his life is going. So when a random (really not so random) man shows up and offers him a job, Shadow refuses until he can't anymore. Then he starts working for Mr. Wednesday, an old god. Shadow is a man carried by the wind of other people's decisions. Yet, he is dedicated, loyal, and has an air of something more about him. He's seemingly fearless with a 'take-it-as-it-comes' attitude. The most interesting thing about Shadow is that all the interactions with other gods, old and new, make readers see him as more important than he initially seems. I think this intrigue is one of the main factors that drive the story and helps build a connection between Shadow and readers. Shadow isn't a bad person, but he kind of lacks any personable qualities. Though as the story progresses, he seems to gain traits one at a time. As his deceased wife tells him, he's more dead than alive. And the story seemingly works backward from his death to his birth, creating an intricate emotional attachment to his character. 

My favorite sections of the book turned out to be the interludes, or the 'Coming to America' stories. These intermediate chapters are sprinkled throughout the novel, sharing stories of how the old gods were carried to America, with insight into how they stay alive. At first, I thought these sections would feel like interruptions, but they turned out to be more of an offering to the reader. A background that the reader could consume that would help them understand why the old gods are struggling to stay relevant in a technologically advanced world. 

The plot of this novel follows Shadow's release from prison leading him to work for Mr. Wednesday in the hope that Shadow can help Mr. Wednesday to rally the old gods in a fight against the new. Though there are many side-stories like a disappearing girl, Shadow's dead wife coming back to a sort of zombie state, and the interludes, the novel tracks Shadow and Mr. Wednesday road-tripping back and forth across America in hopes to create an army of old gods, some named and some nameless. The novel becomes an intricate map of crisscrossed information and ever-changing situations and people. One of my favorite aspects of this novel is, of course, Neil Gaiman's writing style. The words are willowy and the characters are constantly changing, as if no one could ever really grasp these things called gods. And yet, the whole thing is a con and a simple story of the immigration of beliefs and the lengths one would go to to keep those beliefs alive. 

Rating: 4/5 Cups