Review: When We Caught Fire

1871. Chicago.

Emmeline Carter is engaged to the most eligible bachelor in the city. But on the night of her engagement party, she can’t stop thinking about the boy who’d stolen her heart as a child, Anders Magnuson. Her best friend, Fiona Byrne, has been in awe of her friend’s rise through Chicago’s society. With Emmeline soon to be married, Fiona is now free to let Anders now how she feels about him. That is, until Emmeline wants one last fling with her childhood sweetheart before she ties the knot.

In When We Caught Fire Anna Godbersen weaves a world of glamour contrasted from the lowly upbringings of her characters. She captures the anxiousness of a city waiting for something to happen. Each character has their own personality that shines through. However, I found myself getting bored with the overall story. The first 3/5 of the book are setting up the characters. And while they all clearly their own person, I couldn’t fall in love with any of them. I was thoroughly annoyed with Emmeline and her constant back and forth. Fiona and her perpetual need to please her friend was grating and kept her from following her heart. Anders and his tough guy attitude seemed pointless.

Overall, I thought the story would be…more. But instead, I was disappointed with the way the book flowed and the lack of story development. Basically, this could have been a short story of a maximum of fifteen pages. Instead, it read more like a college student trying to meet the word count requirement for a paper.

I’d really like to read more of Anna Godbersen’s works as her writing style is impeccable. I just found this book flat and uninteresting when it could have been fantastic.

Review: Project Duchess

Fletcher Pryde, Duke of Greycourt, has not had the happiest of childhoods and it shows. He is cold, wealthy, and carries a reputation he didn’t ask for. But when his mother is widowed yet again, the winds of fate may change for Grey and the life he envisioned for himself.

517CefsaNLL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Beatrice is not your average woman. Having dealt with the inappropriate affections of her uncle, she has no interest in being with a man. Let alone a man like Greycourt. His arrogance is off-putting and getting to know him is not easy. But when Grey’s mother turns Beatrice into one of her ‘projects’, he can’t help but involved. However, family secrets run deep on both sides and as they get to know one another, uncovering those secrets could cost them much more than they bargained for.

I absolutely love historical romance. It’s one of my favorite genres to read. But I’ve never had the pleasure of reading any of Sabrina Jeffries’s books, and I just may have to start bingeing them all! Project Duchess is the first in a new series for Jeffries. Telling the story of a family wrought with tragedy and an underlying mystery they’re desperate to solve, it was easy to get sucked into the intrigue and intimacy this book provided. The characters, while seemingly your typical romance characters, were easy to enjoy and I wanted to know more about them.

However, what is up with evil uncles??? It seems like the biggest villains in this book were the uncles who mistreated their relations. It was a bit annoying that it seemed to always come back to how uncle so-and-so did this. It also seemed as if the ending was a bit rushed. The writing became sloppy and amateur at best. But Jeffries did manage to leave a cliffhanger that makes the reader want to pick up the next book in the series.

While probably not my favorite romance novel, Project Duchess was an enjoyable and easy read. If you’re looking for a romance series to get into, this may be the one for you. Look for Project Duchess on shelves June 25th!

Review: The Phantom Tree

Alison Bannister has spent the past ten years looking for her son, and in the middle of a Wiltshire antiques shop, she comes across a portrait that could be the key to finding him. The portrait is of a woman known as Mary Seymour. Alison knows this because they grew up together.

32618152The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick is a unique tale of time-travel and historical fiction. Alison has lost her son and in the process has found a way into the future. The only problem is, she can’t get back. So now she must rely on her frenemy Mary to leave clues for her to find her lost child.

I’m a sucker for historical fiction and The Phantom Tree is right up my alley. I loved the mixture of past and present so elegantly presented. However, I did get the sense that the two women’s stories were a bit disjointed, only overlapping in convenient areas. I thoroughly enjoyed the time period as it’s one of my favorites. The story is well-told and intriguing but I wish there had been more about Mary’s story as she’s such an important character. The ending also fell a bit flat for me. I felt as if Cornick just wanted the book to be over and gave readers an ending that might satisfy them.

All in all, it’s a wonderful story and one I thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re looking for a historical fiction with a touch of the present, I definitely recommend picking up The Phantom Tree.

**I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.**

Review: Clementine & Claudia

I’m a sucker for World War 1 books. I love the era and the culture of that time. So when I found a copy of Clementine & Claudia on NetGalley. I couldn’t wait to dig in! Cut to almost a year later, and I’ve finished it!

cover93699-mediumClementine & Claudia, two sisters, who couldn’t be more different. Clementine is a “plain Jane” who has devoted her time to the Red Cross movement and helping out in the war-time hospitals as much as she can. She’s compassionate, smart, and someone Alexander doesn’t expect to meet, let alone to turn his world upside down. Claudia is strikingly beautiful. Having had multiple beaus it’s no wonder that she catches Alexander in her snares. But as their wedding day approaches, Alexander unexpectedly meets her sister and falls in love with her. What follows is the tale of two lovers pitted against fate and fighting for their future and their country.

I wanted to throw this book across the room on so many occasions! Not because I hated it or because it made me disgusted. But because I got so frustrated with the characters. It seems like no matter what something always stood in Clementine and Alexander’s way! I love this book for that though! I love that I got so involved in their relationship that I was frustrated for them, cried with them, and laughed with them. While it felt like some bits of this story seemed a bit rushed or that the plot was suddenly “convenient”, I still enjoyed every minute of this spectacular novel. If I had to complain about one thing, I want more from the ending! But don’t we all say that?

**I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.**

The Snow Gypsy

One of my absolute favorite genres to read is historical fiction. I usually enjoy anything written in the Victorian era and set in England. Although recently, I’ve enjoyed reading a good American Revolution era novel. So when I found a free copy of The Snow Gypsy, I did what you’re not supposed to do. I judged a book by its cover. And as I began to read it, I realized this was not a book I would have chosen for myself.

img_0799The Snow Gypsy follows the intertwining stories of two women, Rose Daniel and Lola Aragon. Rose is living in London as a veterinarian during the aftermath of World War 2. In the years of the war, her brother Nathan joined the fight. But the last letter Rose received from him was eight years ago. Now she is determined to find her brother and get the answers to the question that’s been nagging her for years: what happened?

Lola is a young flamenco dancer who also lost her family in the war. As a gypsy living in Spain, she meets Rose in a stroke of fate. Between the two of them, they form a bond stronger than any could fathom and help each other to heal the wounds the war has left behind.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found the plot to be unique and held my interest almost to the end. The characters were well developed, however, I didn’t find myself getting attached to either of them. While I appreciated the history side of things, and loved that this book put me outside of my comfort zone (I don’t usually gravitate towards books set in Spain), I was disappointed with the last few chapters. I felt that the author was unsure how to end the story and therefore the ending fell flat. Also, there is a touch of romance in this book that I felt was unnecessary. It didn’t really add anything to the characters or the plot and felt more like filler.

If you’re looking for a good historical fiction, pick up The Snow Gypsy and let me know what you think. I’d love to get someone else’s take on this story.

**I received this book through Amazon’s First Reads program.**

The Kitchen House

6837103Imagine your entire family gone. No memory of who you are or where you came from, and suddenly being pushed into a world you’re unfamiliar with.

Lavinia is a young girl who is in such a situation. Brought to a Virginian plantation by a captain who found her on a ship, alone and sick. She is placed in the kitchen house with a group of slaves who quickly become her family. But Lavinia isn’t used to the segregation and she doesn’t quite understand the nuances of her new place in the world.

With people like Mama Mae and twins, Fanny and Beattie, her world isn’t just loneliness and heartache. She makes her place in their world, not knowing that one day she’ll soon have to join a different crowd.

Kathleen Grissom brings to light the hardships of being a slave in the 18th century and how one child can change things for the better. The Kitchen House is a tremendous story with underlying tones of issues still going on today. A roller coaster ride of emotions, it’s incredibly difficult to put down. Grissom manages to give two sides to her story without drowning in details and getting lost in the timeline. Alternating chapters between the two main characters, Lavinia and Belle, make for a well-rounded book.

Be prepared if you choose to pick this book up. You will finish it and be emotionally exhausted. But you won’t regret adding this to your bookshelf!

The Paris Wife

51m40jzixl-_sy344_bo1204203200_  I’ve never been to Paris, but I’ve always wanted to go. I sometimes feel like I was born into the wrong era. The 20s seem like more of where I should be. The Paris Wife transports me to both.

Following Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, The Paris Wife depicts life in the roaring 20s in Jazz-era Paris. The bohemian lifestyle is just beginning and creatives are flocking to Europe. This eclectic novel covers Hemingway’s beginnings and his struggle to make it as a writer. The Paris Wife also explores what it’s like to love someone but love yourself more.

Paula McLain does a wonderful job of pulling her readers in. Lovers of Hemingway will enjoy this fictional glimpse into his life. Even those who take no interest in Hemingway will find something to love in this novel. McLain can paint a picture with her words and pour emotion onto the pages like no other. I highly encourage any reader to pick up this wonderful novel.