Friday, July 21, 2017

{Review} THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis

Summary from Goodreads:

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children. 

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda--Camden's biological great-granddaughter--will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. 

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages--for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City--and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich--and often tragic--as The Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden--and the woman who killed him--on its head. 

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives --and lies--of the beating hearts within.

Mandy's Review:

Y'all, I am a little blown away by this book. First of all, it has one of the things I love the most in a novel: two time lines from two different centuries but they're connected in some way. Secondly, this story does not play out in all of the ways you think it will.

I. LOVE. That.

Our experience begins by getting to know Sara and the situation she's in. She was formerly a seamstress who left her position after having a run-in with her boss' husband ... who was a little handsy. When she left there, she went to work at a fancy London hotel working her way up to head housekeeper. While in that position, she notices one of her guests' child getting ready to climb up on an open windowsill, about four or five stories up. Sara runs to the room and pulls the little girl off the ledge just in the nick of time. Her heroic act garners her a job offer at a new hotel being built in New York.

Sara is unsure about traveling across the pond to an unknown territory and starting her life over. Then she looks at her mother and considers the life her mother has had ... and that decides things for Sara.

Fast forward to the fabulous 80's and we meet Bailey, an alcoholic and drug user fresh out of rehab. Bailey is bound and determined to start her life anew but there's a problem. All of her old friends are all users and there's NO WAY Bailey can be around those people or she'll be using again in no time. With only one option left, Bailey contacts her cousin Melinda, future heiress to the Camden fortune.

As Bailey helps Melinda remodel the Dakota, she gets to learn about the history of the place and falls more in love with it in the process.

I don't want to tell you everything that goes on but just know this book has everything. Love, desire (more implied or insinuated - it's very clean, no vulgarity), mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, ups, downs ... this is truly a roller coaster ride that I will gladly ride again and again. It is VERY rare when a book surprises me and gives me something I wasn't expecting. This novel did that and more.

In case you couldn't tell ... this is a 5 stars out of 5 for me. Brava, Ms. Davis! Brava.

*A physical ARC of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Teaser Tuesday

Time for us to join the land of memes again! =) Teaser Tuesday (hosted by The Purple Booker) is great for finding new books to add to your TBR pile and it's really simple to play along. Just ...

• 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.

This week, our teaser comes from the soon-to-be-released novel, THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis

"Theo strode into the room but stopped when he spotted Sara. For a moment the two remained frozen, their eyes fused on each other, before the young girl rushed to him."

Ooohhh ... I just started reading this novel so I haven't gotten to this part yet but I can feel the tension. Is it anger? Sexual? Whatever it is, I can't wait to find out! - Mandy

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

{Review} CRIMES AGAINST A BOOK CLUB by Kathy Cooperman

Hey, everyone! Real quick I (Mandy) just wanted to apologize for not posting anything the past couple of weeks. The hubs and I are trying to get the eldest ready to leave for grad school while dealing with another surgery I had to have last week. I plan on scheduling some posts on here so be on the lookout.

Hope everyone had a great 4th! Now, let's get into this review, shall we?

ISBN #: 978-1503942981
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Summary from Goodreads:

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.

Mandy's Review:

So, first, I was intrigued by this novel because of the title. Anything referencing books or book clubs and I want to know what it's about ... and the fact that there were supposedly crimes against a book club? Uh, yeah. I was hooked and definitely wanted to know more.

Annie and Sarah are each other's antithesis. Sarah is tall, beautiful, with a handsome, brilliant husband and high-powered corporate job. Annie is short, a little frumpy, with an intelligent, OCD-driven husband. Annie has three children where Sarah has none, but she wants to have them. Sarah is adept enough to become friends with anyone in any social situation; whereas Annie struggles with being posh enough to fit in, even in a book club. Sarah embodies L.A.-living. Annie's content in La Jolla's suburban, touristy landscape. The two really have nothing in common except for the fact they slightly envy each other. Annie would love Sarah's figure and social aptitude. Sarah would love a husband who's home every time she needs him and children running around the house. You would think Sarah would be the main character and Annie the sidekick but it's actually reversed, which gives this Character Writing 101 a bit of a twist.

Annie is the brain behind the new anti-aging cream. It's her idea to start the business, her idea for the formula, and her idea on how to sell it. The availability of the special ingredient and how Annie came to acquire some was a bit ... unrealistic. It's a little difficult for me to believe that, with as moral as Annie seems to be, she would have kept this special ingredient in the house with her for as long as she did without disposing of it sooner.

Sarah, being a lawyer and Annie's best friend for 20 years, should have known that Annie was hiding something and sniffed it out of her at the beginning of their enterprise. Again, another small unrealistic scenario that if it didn't happen we wouldn't have had a novel to read. In spite of that, even I found myself drawn to Sarah like the ladies in the novel. I wanted Sarah to be my friend and to hang out with her.

In the end, things do turn out well for Annie and Sarah at the expense of another. Don't be upset with them, though. The person being sacrificed made the decision all on their own and actually insisted upon it.

If you don't consider the events too closely (as I tend to do sometimes), then this novel would be a fun, quick read. I'm not sure I found the hilarity in it, although there were a few amusing tidbits thrown in towards the latter part of this novel. Overall, for me, I'd give this about 3 out of 5 stars.

*An ARC was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.
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