what I’m reading: the alice network by kate quinn.

In the aftermath of World War II, Charlotte (Charlie) St. John is unmarried and pregnant. Sent by her parents to Europe to have her “problem” taken care of, Charlie takes the opportunity to search out her cousin Rose, who disappeared during the war. The only clue Charlie has to Rose’s whereabouts is a note indicating the last person to have contact with Rose was Evelyn Gardiner.

In 1915, Eve Gardiner was a young woman desperate to prove herself. Recruited to work as a spy as part of the Alice Network, Eve worked to collect information the Allies could use to defeat Germany. But that was many years ago and now Eve spends her days drunk and alone, with only her driver Finn to keep her company.

I liked this novel immensely. The story is told in alternating points of view, and alternating time lines. As Charlie, Eve, and Finn set out in 1947 on their road trip in search of Rose, we are gradually told Eve’s story and learn more about her and her trials during WWI.

I enjoyed the development of the characters over the course of the story. Eve starts out as a hard, whiskey-drinking curmudgeon. Charlie is naïve and a little immature – she is only 19 and has led a sheltered life. But the friendship that forms on their road trip was lovely and each character evolves over the course of the story as long-buried secrets and events come to light.

As I said, both Charlie’s and Eve’s stories held my interest, but what made this book so good is that it is based on real people and actual events. The Alice Network was a real group of women that existed during WWI and at the end of the book, the author includes notes that detail the women that the characters are based on.

This was a fascinating novel.


what I’m reading: act like it by lucy parker.

The play that Lainie Graham is acting in on the London stage is not doing well. Despite having hot actor Richard Troy as one of its leading men, ticket sales and attendance are down. Could it be because of Richard’s arrogant and playboy public persona? When the producers concoct a plan to bring more publicity to the show, Lainie is on board, until she realizes it means staging a fake relationship with Richard. Lainie is a good actress but even she can’t pretend to be in love with someone she hates. However as the two are forced to spend time together, their relationship slowly changes from hate to love…

I love a romantic comedy and I thought this book was super cute! I enjoyed how the relationship between Lainie and Richard moved from them hating each other to becoming friends and more. It was a slow build, which made it all the more believable.

At first, I was hesitant and wondered how the author was going to make such a grouchy and grumpy character likable, but she did. Richard definitely redeems himself in the end and the relationship that formed between him and Lainie was charming and delightful.

There was a lot of British slang in this book and plenty of banter between the characters. Good banter always makes me smile and this book was a fun read.

This is Lucy Parker’s debut romance novel and I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more from her.

what I’m reading: on second thought by kristan higgins.

Half-sisters Kate and Ainsley have never been close. But when devastating events bring them together, they are forced to lean on each other to survive. When after only 4 months of marriage, Kate finds herself unexpectedly a widow and Ainsley’s boyfriend of eleven years decides to break up with her instead of proposing, the sisters turn to each other for comfort.

This is an emotionally compelling story about family, love, and marriage. There is a lot of laughter, a lot of sadness, and of course, romance.

The best part of the book was the relationship that grew between the sisters. Kate is older than Ainsley and the two have never been close. They feel that they don’t have a lot in common because they don’t really know each other. Kate is the more serious of the two, while Ainsley is more carefree and energetic. After Ainsley’s boyfriend breaks up with her, she ends up moving in with Kate and as the two work through their own versions of grief and move on, their relationship grows. There are some great side characters, as well. I found the character of Gram-Gram hilarious and enjoyed her dating excursions as an octogenarian.

I adored the book’s setting, the fictional New York town of Cambry-on-Hudson. I have to confess I was bummed when I found out it wasn’t real. It seems like a fun little place to live.

I did feel the ending of the book was a bit predictable with everything wound up in a nice little bow. Still, it was an enjoyable trip to get to the end and I enjoyed it very much.

what I’m reading: i see you by clare mackintosh.

Every day Zoe Walker takes the same route to and from work, stands at the same place on the subway platform, and sits in the same seat. It’s her routine and she follows this routine until one day, while glancing through the newspaper, she sees something startling. It’s a photo of herself along with a telephone number and a website listing called findtheone.com. Zoe thinks she must have imagined the photo until she starts seeing other young women appearing in the same ad with the same telephone number and website. The women look familiar and Zoe realizes that they’ve all become victims of violent crimes. With this realization, Zoe has to wonder if she is the next target.

This was a delightfully creepy story. It kept me guessing until the very end as like most psychological suspense novels, everyone is a suspect. I was with Zoe as she became more and more paranoid and didn’t know who she could trust.

I especially liked the unsettling undertones of this story. This story takes something that a lot of people find mundane, public transportation, and adds an extra level of spine-chilling feelings to it. The thought of being watched and followed was nerve-wracking. You think you’re safe because you’re in a public place and surrounded by people, even though they are strangers, but you have to wonder what that person sitting across from you is doing with their phone.

This was an enjoyable read, all the way to the last page!

what I’m reading: meet me at beachcomber bay by jill mansell.

When Clemency sits next to Sam on an airplane, she thinks she may have just met the man of her dreams. Until Clem discovers he’s married. Three years later Clemency has moved on and is living in the seaside town of St. Carys when Sam re-enters Clemency’s life as her stepsister Belle’s boyfriend. Belle doesn’t know that Sam and Clemency have already met and Clemency soon finds herself in the midst of a love triangle.

I didn’t love this book as much as I’ve loved other Jill Mansell’s books. I felt that a couple of the storylines were a bit far-fetched and I found myself rolling my eyes at how nicely everything was wrapped up. There was also one character that I wasn’t especially fond of. I felt that her redemption happened a little too fast to be believable and that her happy ending was a little too easy.

The setting of the book, however, was excellent. The town of St. Carys contains many quirky characters who are all dealing with their own problems. Some of the topics Mansell touched on include unrequited love, adoption, cancer, and race. I did like the character of Clemency. I found her to be funny and relatable and I really enjoyed her relationship with her co-worker Ronan. They have such a genuine and close friendship which really comes across in their interactions and banter.

As with all her books, Jill Mansell has the ability to draw you into her story. Her writing is entertaining, easy to read, and I spent multiple hours engrossed in this book. St. Carys was quaint and the descriptions of the people and community made me want to visit to see more of this idyllic town. I definitely want to meet all the background characters and hear more of their stories.

Overall, this book is not a bad read; however I’ve read plenty of Jill Mansell’s books that I’ve liked better.

what I’m reading: horrorstör by grady hendrix.

The employees at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio are mystified. Every morning they arrive at work only to find rearranged furniture, broken bookshelves, and graffiti in the bathrooms. When three employees volunteer to spend the night at the store to figure out what is going on, they find something more sinister than they ever believed.

You guys, this book is creepy and twisted. If it were a movie, I would have watched it with my hands in front of my face, peeking through my fingers, and I never would have watched it at night in the dark.

I thought this might be a good book to read on vacation. It wasn’t. The reviews for this book said it was fun and funny and light-hearted. I have to wonder if we were reading the same book. I kept waiting for something amusing to happen, and while the beginning of the book starts off light and humorous by comparing store employees to zombies, the book soon takes a dark turn.

This book was clever, as it’s a horror story set in a knock-off Ikea store. I’m not dissatisfied that I read this book, but I wish I knew what I was getting into.

If you’re looking for a scary book to read with ghosts, this is one for you.

what I’m reading: behind her eyes by sarah pinborough.

One night, single mom Louise meets a man in a bar. They hit it off, share a kiss and then he leaves. Louise is riding on cloud 9, thinking she has finally met a man who likes her, only to be thrown the next day when her new boss David walks in and it’s the man from the bar. Oh, and he’s married. Louise is determined to forget about the kiss, but David can’t stay away. Things only become more complicated when Louise meets and befriends Adele, who turns out to be David’s wife. As Louise is drawn more into David and Adele’s lives, she discovers that everything is not what it seems.

This is a difficult review to write. I don’t want to say too much, however just by saying that you know that something bizarre is going to happen at some point in the book. I will say that this book took a sharp turn from the direction I was expecting it to take and the ending was completely unpredicted.

I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed this book. Characters who cheat are one of my pet peeves. However, Louise is just naïve enough that you feel sorry for her as she stumbles through her relationships with Adam and Adele. Is Adele really the victim here or is she a manipulative housewife? And why does Adam appear drunk all the time? None of these characters are very stable and it’s not always clear who we should be rooting for.

Apparently the marketing for this book came with the hashtag #wtfthatending. And, yes, this book is crazy enough to warrant it.