Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

BOOK REVIEW: The Socialite by J’nell CiesielskiThe Socialite by J'nell Ciesielski
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 14, 2020
ISBN: 0785233547
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Synopsis

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them--but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?


I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

So I was browsing NetGalley and had been in a historical fiction kind of mood when I saw the cover for The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski. I don’t know what it was, but I fell in love with that cover and knew I’d be requesting it no matter what it was about! (This is a super bad habit I’m finding myself doing way too often lately.) I’m actually thinking about doing a monthly series titled “I Chose A Book by its Cover and…” But that’s a post for another day.

Basically, the cover drew me in and the description sealed my fate. I HAD TO READ THIS BOOK! So I did (obviously) and I loved it!

The Story:

The Socialite is about two English debutantes who find themselves in occupied France during World War II.

Kathleen Whitford has convinced her father to allow her to travel into Paris in order to retrieve her younger sister, who has run away with a Nazi officer. Kathleen is a mix of bravery, cowardice, strength, sarcasm, wit and naivety all rolled up into one very complicated woman. Of course, it’s not so easy to tell all that when we’re first introduced to her, as she’s about to sneak her way into a party teeming with German soldiers. When it’s revealed the hostess of this get together is Kat’s sister, Eleanor Whitford, my jaw literally dropped open!

Eleanor believes she’s found the perfect man in Major Eric von Schlegel. Despite his Nazi ideology, Eleanor is convinced he’s a good man who will care for her in a way she has never been loved before. So, of course, she’s not interested in going back with Kat to their father’s house, where she’s expected to live by high society standards. She resents that Kat always does what’s expected of her and never seems to just let go.

Kat’s world is further turned upside down by the introduction of Barrett Anderson, a Scottish bar owner she meets as he is also crashing the Nazi party her sister is throwing during Kat’s first night in Paris. Barrett is also living a very complicated life and he and Kat are drawn to each other for multiple reasons…none more interesting/disturbing than the hidden fact that Barrett is working for Kat and Ellie’s father.

Barrett views Kat in much the same light her sister does and he’s pretty uncompromising:

And you always follow the rules, don’t you? No matter who gives them or for what reason. My guess is you don’t ask the reason. You simply obey.

Barrett Anderson, The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski

As the story unfolds, Kat, Ellie and Barrett are all shown to be more than meets the eye. And the trio end up trying to escape the Nazis together among multiple twists and turns that come together to create an amazing story I can see myself reading over and over again!

The Characters:

This is a novel where the characters really make it a memorable, wonderful read. They’re well developed and likable. I even found myself at I’ve point not completely hating evil Eric!

I think it’s speaks a lot to the writing itself that the author was even able to get these characters to a dinner with Hitler and make it believable. In fact, dinner with Hitler was one of my favorite scenes!

My favorite stories are always those where the people and places stick with me for years. The characters in The Socialite are definitely going to do that!

Conclusion:

If I haven’t already made it clear, let me just wrap up this review by saying I absolutely loved reading The Socialite by J’nell Ciesielski and definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for some historical fiction! It’s way more than just a pretty cover!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

BOOK REVIEW: Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonaldBehind Every Lie by Christina McDonald
Published by Gallery Books on February 4, 2020
ISBN: 1501184040
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Synopsis

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?
Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.
Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.
Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.


This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If you read my review of The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald then you know why I was excited to read Behind Every Lie. I absolutely loved the way McDonald portrayed the mother-daughter relationship in The Night Olivia Fell. It was emotional, complicated and made the characters come alive for me. I expected the same kind of emotional thriller novel in Behind Every Lie, but it was much more of a straight-out suspense/mystery than being emotionally driven.

Normally, I talk about what I loved about a novel first, but this time I want to get what didn’t work for me out of the way first – mostly because it has a lot to do with how I’ve reviewed the book. I enjoyed the story itself and the characters, but there was a lot that was just hard to believe. I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan so my ability to suspend disbelief is pretty high up there. Behind Every Lie requires that you believe in a series of consequences that, taken by themselves may not be that unbelievable, but when combined just ruined my ability to pretend what I was reading was anything other than make-believe.

Another problem I had with this story wasn’t so much to do with the writing itself, but because I had recently listened to the audiobook Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil. While the plots of the two stories are nothing alike, the characters and their relationships are essentially the same. The result was that I figured out almost every plot twist just because I knew how the relationships were going to play out.

All that being said, I still really enjoyed this book. I’m definitely a fan of the way Christina McDonald writes and this would probably be a full 4- or 5-star book for me, if not for the issues I pointed out above.

I’ve become a fan of books written from different perspectives, but it’s hard to pull this off well and so there are few stories I can even read like this. But Christina McDonald has perfected this way of storytelling. In Behind Every Lie, the story goes back and forth between Eva and her mom, Kat. Kat has been murdered and Eva is suspected of being the murderer. The relationship between Kat and Eva had recently become more strained than usual and we’re slowly let in on the reasons for this most complicated of mother-daughter relationships.

It’s hard for me to say much more about the events or people in the novel itself because SO MUCH happens and is interconnected that this entire review would just be spoilers. So I’m gonna go ahead and wrap this up…

This book is worth the read for anyone who enjoyed The Night Olivia Fell. I know I’ll definitely be picking up the next novel Christina McDonald writes.

I’m curious… has anyone else read both Behind Every Lie and Silent Child? If so, did you see the similarities like I did?

If you’ve read Behind Every Lie, what were you’re thoughts? Agree with me? Disagree? Leave a comment below!

three-half-stars
Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – New Year’s Day 2020!

Happy New Year!!! 🎉 Another year has come and gone and I’m very excited to start this year off with a fresh new excitement and vision for my little space on the internet here at Combing Through the Pages. I’ll be posting more about that another day, but right now…

It’s time once again for WWW Wednesday ! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.
Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So let’s get started, shall we?

What am I currently reading?

Veritas

Veritas by Ariel Sabar. I gotta be honest, this one hooked me hard with the description on NetGalley, but so far I’m just not that into it. It’s taking everything in me not to DNF it already and I’m only about 9% in. I’m gonna give it another 20 pages or so and we’ll see what happens. I’d give some kind of explanation on what’s not working for me, but I can’t even put my finger on what I don’t like.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, …

City of Bones by Cassandra Claire. I felt like I was the only person in the book blogger world who hadn’t read this book yet. So I was super excited when I saw it’s the January book in the Book Hoarders United Group on Goodreads! I literally JUST started it, so no opinion yet… I’ll definitely let you guys know what I think later though!

What did I recently finish reading?

Behind Every Lie

Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald. I was invited to review this on NetGalley because I’d previously reviewed The Night Olivia Fell. I’m happy to say, it didn’t disappoint! My review will post tomorrow so come back for my full report then!

The Socialite

The Socialite by J’Nell Ciesielski. Gotta be honest… I picked this one mostly because I loved the cover. But I absolutely loved it! I’ll be posting the review next week.

God of Manna

God of Manna by Daeus Lamb. I meant to read this novella forever ago, but got distracted by kids, life, and well…other books. I wish I’d read it sooner now that I’ve finished it. It’s one of those that took me a minute to get into it, but once I did I really enjoyed it. A review for this one will be posting next week as well.

What I’ll be reading next:

Posted in book reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel Of Grace Kelly by Kerri Maher

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel Of Grace Kelly by Kerri MaherThe Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher
Published by Berkley on February 25, 2020
ISBN: 0451492072
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Synopsis

A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real. Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks--her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.


I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Yes, I’m actually posting a book review. You can close your mouth now!

It seems 2019 has been the year of reading books about things I know little to nothing about and The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher continues that theme. I knew the name Grace Kelly and had seen some old movies with her in them but I knew absolutely nothing about her. For instance, I didn’t even know she married the Prince of Monaco!

I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into the life of Grace Kelly. It’s written in such a way that you actually feel as if you’re spying on this icon. The story felt intimate and almost too real. I loved every page of it!

The story goes back and forth between Grace’s struggle to make it on Broadway and her life after she’s left Hollywood behind for life in the palace in Monaco.

Grace spends so much time chasing after approval and dreams. Unfortunately, the two don’t always compliment each other. Her family, and more importantly, her father, don’t approve of her ambition to be a Broadway star. But she’s determined to have it all… Family, friends and a successful acting career. If only the men in her life would agree to let her have them!

If I was going to sum up this book in one word, it would be “brilliant.” Like all great historical fiction, it blurred the line between fact and fairytale and has made me hungry to read more about it’s subject. In this case, I want to watch every movie referenced in the story and find out more about the real life of Grace Kelly.

I recommend The Girl in White Gloves to anyone with even a passing interest in Grace Kelly!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonaldThe Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Published by Gallery Books on February 5, 2019
ISBN: 1501184008
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?


I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on The Night Olivia Fell:

The love I have for my daughters exceeds anything else found on this earth. If you ask Thing 1, she’d tell you I love my children more than most other parents love theirs… to the point that it gets annoying and suffocating at times!

Thing 1 and I are especially close and she knows my biggest fear is to get “the call.” Even if you’re the type of parent that spends 20 hours of your 24 hour day complaining about your teenager, you know and fear “the call.” It’s the one that causes your stomach to drop before you even pick up the line, the one that changes your life forever, the one where a complete stranger tells you your child is seriously injured — or dead.

It’s every parent’s worst fear.

Thanks to some past events in my life, I suffer from PTSD. My particular trauma involves harm to my children and so this fear is even more magnified for me (probably why I get all suffocate-y sometimes).

It’s probably also why The Night Olivia Fell was such an emotionally gut-wrenching, roller-coaster ride of a story for me!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it… But it was hard to get through. I saw so many similarities between Olivia and Abi’s relationship to my relationship with Thing 1 that it all felt way too personal and real!

Abi and her daughter are obviously super close and Abi loves Olivia fiercely. But then comes the night Olivia falls… suddenly, Abi has to come to terms with the fact that maybe she didn’t really know her daughter at all.

Not only does she have to keep processing that bit of life-altering, earth-shattering news, but her daughter’s pregnant, the police refuse to believe the fall wasn’t an accident, and Abi’s life is just all around spinning out of control! She’s built her entire adult life around Olivia and now she’s gone. Even if she does find out what happened that night, how does she go on???

Final Thoughts:

I’ve got to tell you, this book gave me chills! (And nightmares.) I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good suspense novel featuring relatable characters and a totally believable plot!

What do you think? Have you read The Night Olivia Fell? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Day 1 & Goals: 2018 Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon


tackle2byour2btbr2breadathon2b2018
And so it begins…
The 2018 Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon hosted by Wishful Endings started today! If you want to learn more or participate, please visit her site!
My goal for the read-a-thon is to finish at least 6 books. Not sure how well that’ll work out since I still have a houseful of kids and a husband, so my alternative goal is to read at least 100 pages per day…
So without further ado, here’s how Day 1 went for me:

Books Read: Hunting Annabelle & Get Weird

Pages Read: Hunting Annabelle doesn’t show a page count on my kindle, but I went from 62% to 100% do that’s Book 1 checked off the TBR already!!! Yay!!!
I read 62 pages from Get Weird.
So I definitely hit my secondary goalof reading 100 pages for the day and I’m on track for my first goal already!

Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: Unsure
Finished Books: Hunting Annabelle
I’m hoping to finish Get Weird tomorrow and start on A Home for the Redeemed. Wish me luck and Happy Reading!!!