Posts Categorized: Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

July 28, 2014 Books, Meme 11

Woooo Monday! Here you are again! And today will be a good Monday, WON’T IT MONDAY?

This past week as been all about getting back from the beach. Unpacking, washing, finding what’s missing…so that’s why I was missing. Just didn’t have time to blog! Ugh! But, things seem to be settling into some sort of normal disorder, and yo! I have time! So! What have I been reading?

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A mixed bag. I was on the verge of a funk. So, I picked up some nonfiction, of the narrative sort. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley was just what the doctor ordered. So completely funny. If I ever wrote a book of personal essays, I would hope it would be this good.

Last night, while the iPad charged, I picked up a stack of books to read through and, surprisingly enough, the first book grabbed me despite myself. I started This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Honestly, I kept wanting to put it down, but I just kept reading until I’d read 58 pages. In less than 30 minutes, which for me, is fast. I’m going to have to stick this one out because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Did you know this book is about a suicidal teen living during the Zombie apocalypse? How do you put that down?

Lastly, since I finished listening to Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, I finally dove into East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’ve tried to read this book several times and I am now further than I have ever been before. I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it, so I will happily keep going.

Up next, I hope to get through the first two books (East of Eden will take FOREVER), so I can start…something. If the funk is cured, I want to start either Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark or The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl. If not, I have some more narrative nonfiction laying around to try. Here’s hoping it’s cured!

What are YOU reading this week?

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Characters I Want With Me, on that deserted island

July 22, 2014 Books 11

Today’s topic IS!

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island.

So……

1. Robinson Crusoe. Obvs. He’s kinda been here before, yeah?

2. Westley from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Any man that can survive the fire swap…and he’s hot. As long as he looks like Cary Elwes. Circa 1986.

3. John Coffey from The Green Mile by Stephen King. A gentle giant who cures all ills? Yes please!

4. Dore from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Well, basically she could gets us all home! All she has to do is make a door and she can take us ANYWHERE.

5. 355 from Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Because she’s a badass!

6. Sir Galahad. Because whatever we need; food, water, Holy Grails…he WILL find it or DIE TRYING.

7. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. For the biting commentary. You know, right?

8. Tarzan. See #1. Been there, done that. And he can talk to the animals.

9. Hermione Granger. Girl’s got a level head. And magic.

10. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. For the smolder.

Who would you have with you on your deserted island? I’m dying to know!

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For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, visit The Broke and the Bookish!

 

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell; Review and Giveaway!

July 10, 2014 Book Reviews, Books 18 ★★★★★

Landline by Rainbow Rowell; Review and Giveaway!Landline
by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 9 hours, 3 minutes
Published by Macmillon Audio
on July 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 308
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book
five-stars
From the New York Times best-selling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply - but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her - Neal is always a little upset with Georgie - but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. Is that what she’s supposed to do?

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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To say Landline, or any new Rainbow Rowell, is highly anticipated by me is a VAST understatement. I fell in love with Rainbow’s writing with Eleanor & Park and AttachmentsFangirl sealed the deal.

Landline was the nail in the coffin.

Landline was everything I expect from a Rainbow Rowell book. Heartfelt. Witty. Real. Yes, real. Rowell writes some of the realest characters, in my opinion, that I’ve ever read. And Landline may feature the realest ones yet.

Unlike her three previous novels, Landline isn’t about new love. It’s about old love. It’s about the love that has stood the test of time, maneuvered through all those unexpected changes the newly-in-love think will never happen to them. It’s about the love that has changed, grew, shrank, and stuck through thick and thin. But then, it’s also about the love that isn’t sure it’s going to make it. That isn’t sure it will last. The love that may just not be enough anymore. 

Georgie McCool is on the edge. On the edge of making it. A successful sitcom writer, Georgie is finally selling HER SHOW. All she has to do is stay home from the family vacation and write a few episodes to give to the producer. The only problem is that family vacation is the family CHRISTMAS vacation. And her husband, Neil, is none to happy about it. A stay-at-home dad, Neil is used to Georgie not always being there. Their two little girls, are used to it too, and so go off with Neil to see their grandparents. Without Georgie. Things haven’t been great for awhile now, and now Georgie is left with not only the stress of writing 5 shows in one week, but the stress of seeing that her life may be irreparably broken.  Dozens of unanswered calls later, Georgie finds an unusual way of reconnecting with Neil.

It’s, well, it’s a magic phone.

In her mom’s house.

That let’s her talk to Neil.

The Neil of 1998.

Look. I know it sounds weird. It IS weird. But Ms. Rowell does some amazing things with this. I mean, imagine if you could talk to your spouse 10, 15, 20 years in the past. What would you change? What would you leave the same? I love how Rowell uses the phone as a device to the let Georgie examine her life and her love for Neil. Because Georgie still loves Neil. It’s what a normal person would do anyway in this situation, but he or she would only do it in their head. I, personally, as someone who enjoys fantasy anyway, loved it.

The audiobook, which is what I read, was fantastic. Rebecca Lowman is a phenominal reader. I have a new favorite reader, that’s for sure. Her performance, especially of Georgie and Neil was funny, emotional, and lovely. Even her readings of the side characters; Georgie’s bizarre mother, Georgie’s 4-year-old daughter who wants to be a cat (I loved the way Lowman said “meow”), and Neil’s placid mother were all lovely. Lowman really brought the story to life.

Luckily, the publisher sent me a finished copy of the audiobook! So, I decided since I haven’t had a giveaway in awhile, that’s what I’m going to do with it. Give it away! So, sign up below and I’ll post a winner next week! Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

July 7, 2014 Books, Meme 11

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Oh, great. It’s Monday. Again. I’d don’t know about you, but I’m about ready for a vacation from Mondays. Thank goodness, I get one in ONE WEEK.

I. Cannot. Wait. A week at the beach is just the ticket.

But, we’re here to discuss THIS week, not NEXT week, right? This weekend, I finished The Green Mile (OMG LOVE) and started Dorothy Must Die (eh, so far). I’m listening to Thirteenth Child (love it!) as fast as I can, so I can get started on East of Eden (insert Jaws theme). The kids and I got a little off track with Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (busy time of year) but we’ll be getting back to it soon (5 hour road trip!). And Alias Hook, alas, we lost our way a bit when I lost it, but I’m getting back to it as well, or it’s going to the beach with me.

The rest of this week will be spent determining what to take to the beach. Hard decisions have to be made. Yay!

What are you reading this week? How was your weekend?

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Monthly Wrap Up – June 2014

July 3, 2014 Books, Monthly Wrap Up 11

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Ignore that Type your text here. Heather is blind and also lazy.

 June! You awesome, awesome month. I’m sorry to see you go. We read some good books together, didn’t we?

53. The Raven Boys: The Raven Cycle Book 1 by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
54. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
55. The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
56. A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, read by Kate Reading
57. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
58. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
59. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
60. The Map Thief by Michael Blanding, read by Sean Runnette
61. Glaciers by Alexis Smith, read by Rebecca Lowman

Nine books! Can we say thank goodness for audiobooks? I listened to 4 last month! Granted, Glaciers was only about 3 hours long, and I was wishing for more, but still. I’m extremely happy with my reading. All the books were good. Ruby killed me. Delancey wowed me and made me want pizza. The Map Thief was a delight, as was The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. All in all, great month.

As for July, I have a few plans. Firstly, I have to start East of Eden for The Estella Project. Let’s hope I get through it this time! I’ve started my summer King, The Green Mile, and I’m loving it. I can’t read that book and not think of Michael Clarke Duncan, one of my favorite actors. I miss him! I lost Alias Hook for a couple of days, in a completely ridiculous way, and need to get back to that one. I’ll be going to be beach for a week mid-month, and I’m really REALLY hopeful to get a lot of reading then. July, I’m ready for you! Let’s DO THIS THING.

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Take a Hike!

June 27, 2014 Books 8

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I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I have a daughter obsessed with nature. As soon as she could walk, she spent all her time collecting rocks, leaves, sticks, and and detritius of the Great Outdoors. We have always encouraged this obsession of hers, allowing her to spend time in the woods, taking her on local hikes, getting her books on nature and gems, and, yes, letting her keep her rocks in the house. Now that her little brother is old enough to go a little further, we’ve started taking them on bigger, longer hikes. Just last month we took them to a local trail system and she was enthralled with it all. This weekend, we’re planning another trip, this time to an actual mountain! This has turned my mind to, no surprise to those who know me, books. I’ve read a couple books on hiking and hikers, but I want more. I have scoured my memory, my shelves, and Goodreads, for some potention reads and rereads.

Have Read

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A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – It has been ages since I read this book and I think it’s past time for a reread.

The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America: majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way; and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – Read this last year and boy, did it pack a punch. Such a great book.

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
 
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
 
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson (my review)

Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg. In the hours that followed, darkness fell and a blizzard raged as Yates tried to lower his friend to safety. Finally, Yates was forced to cut the rope, moments before he would have been pulled to his own death.

The next three days were an impossibly grueling ordeal for both men. Yates, certain that Simpson was dead, returned to base camp consumed with grief and guilt over abandoning him. Miraculously, Simpson had survived the fall, but crippled, starving, and severely frostbitten was trapped in a deep crevasse. Summoning vast reserves of physical and spiritual strength, Simpson crawled over the cliffs and canyons of the Andes, reaching base camp hours before Yates had planned to leave.

How both men overcame the torments of those harrowing days is an epic tale of fear, suffering, and survival, and a poignant testament to unshakable courage and friendship.

On the Shelf – I actually have these at home!

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Into the Wild by John Krakauer – Saw the movie, wanted to read the book. Really must get on that.

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins – Found this when I was helping clean out my grandmother’s house after she passed. I can only assume it was my father’s book since she wasn’t much for the outdoors. It’s high on my list to get read this year.

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey — a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.
“I started out searching for myself and my country,” Peter Jenkins writes, “and found both.” In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago — from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day — and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.

Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis – Just found this one and had to grab it.

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she’s crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.

 Want. Badly.

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Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman – Sounds a little heartbreaking, but also redeptive.

After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie.With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom.

A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft and Ski by Erin Mckittrick - Just sounds fascinating.

The adventures of a young, idealistic couple who choose to reduce their world down to just two small packs and the next 100 yards in front of them.

In June 2007, Erin McKittrick and her husband, Hig, embarked on a 4,000-mile expedition from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands, traveling solely by human power. This is the story of their unprecedented trek along the northwestern edge of the Pacific Ocean–a year-long journey through some of the most rugged terrain in the world– and their encounters with rain, wind, blizzards, bears, and their own emotional and spiritual demons.

Erin and Hig set out from Seattle with a desire to raise awareness of natural resource and conservation issues along their route: clear-cut logging of rainforests; declining wild salmon populations; extraction of mineral resources; and effects of global climate change. By taking each mile step by step, they were able to intimately explore the coastal regions of Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, see the wilderness in its larger context, and provide a unique on-the-ground perspective. An entertaining and, at times, thrilling adventure, theirs is a journey of discovery and of insights about the tiny communities that dot this wild coast, as well as the individuals there whom they meet and inspire.

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts

Day One, and already she was lying in her journal. It was 1993, Suzanne Roberts had just finished college, and when her friend suggested they hike California’s John Muir Trail, the adventure sounded like the perfect distraction from a difficult home life and thoughts about the future. But she never imagined that the twenty-eight-day hike would change her life. Part memoir, part nature writing, part travelogue, Almost Somewhere is Roberts’s account of that hike.

John Muir had written of the Sierra Nevada as a “vast range of light,” and this was exactly what Roberts was looking for. But traveling with two girlfriends, one experienced and unflappable and the other inexperienced and bulimic, she quickly discovered that she needed a new frame of reference. Her story of a month in the backcountry—confronting bears, snowy passes, broken equipment, injuries, and strange men—is as much about finding a woman’s way into outdoor experience as it is about the natural world she so eloquently describes. Candid and funny and, finally, wise, Almost Somewhere is not just the whimsical coming-of-age story of a young woman ill-prepared for a month in the mountains but also the reflection of a distinctly feminine view of nature.   

Have you read any great hiking and/or outdoor adventure books?  What do you recommend?

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The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

June 26, 2014 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 8 ★★★★½

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel LawhonThe Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress
by ariel lawhon
Published by Doubleday
on January 14, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy the Book
four-half-stars
A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

“I hate being predictable.”

“I believe they call that classy.”

These are not listened in order of importance, obviously. Or are they…. I often find myself pondering titles. I mean, they are your hook, right? That and the cover. So, when you have a title like this, what do you think? Who is important? Who isn’t important? Are they ALL important? Who is the story about? WHO IS THE MOST IMPORTANT?

Let’s break it down, shall we?

First, we have a wife. In this instance, it’s Stella Crater, wife of Justice Joseph Crater, who disappeared in 1930 (that’s right, this is based on real stuffs, yo!), and, obviously, suspect numero uno. Because isn’t it ALWAYS the spouse?? Stella is, by all appearances, exactly what you would picture of a judge’s wife; wearing the correct dress, the proper perfume, attending the best parties, and serving the best champagne. She’s also the silent standby, watching her husband’s shenanigans with a weather eye.

Next we have a maid. Maria Simon is the maid for the Judge and Stella. The judge helped Maria’s husband get a promotion to detective with the NYPD. I imagine any maid for such a couple might know a few deep, dark, secrets, don’t you? Is she in the Judge’s pocket thanks to that promotion? Or, is she the good Catholic girl she appears to be?

Lastly, we have the Mistress. Ritzi has come to New York like a lot of poor Midwest girls did in the 1930s. She’s seeking fame and fortune. She’s on the chorus line, but she wants more. She’s also mixed up with some bad people, worst being Owney “The Killer” Madden. If you think that sounds like a mobster name, you would be right. Ritzi is a sweet, naïve kid and she’s about to be in big, big trouble. Because Ritzi is the last person to see the Judge alive.

So, the Judge has disappeared. This is not a spoiler, it is a fact. Remember? Based on a true story! No one has ever seen him again. Which of these three women know what happened to him? After 39 years of deception, Stella Crater is ready to tell all to the detective who worked the case, the very same detective married to Maria. Stella’s tale is full of lust, greed, and lies. It is full of smoky jazz clubs, ambition, sordid deals, and the smell of illegal whiskey.

Ariel Lawhon did a fantastic job of evoking an era. From the sizzling hot dance floors of Prohibition era New York to the dance halls of Broadway, I felt like I could smell the smoke and taste the whiskey. The mystery of just what happened to the Judge was taut and stayed that way to the end. Her writing is sharp and wickedly fun. All three women were well drawn, different, and mysterious in her own right. And the end. Oh, the end. What fun. That’s all I’ll say. The whole book is fun. I love that the 1920s are a popular setting this year. I’m really enjoying all the books I’ve read set there. I hope I don’t burn out on them for a long while.

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