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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

REVIEW: The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld @AmyBlumenfeld @AnnMarieNieves @gosparkpress

The Cast
by Amy Blumenfeld

Huge than you to Spark Press and GedRedPR for this amazing copy!
One of the best books about friendship I've ever read!


Publisher:  Spark Press
Publish Date:  August 14, 2018
296 Pages
Genre:  Contemporary

Twenty-five years ago, a group of ninth graders produced a Saturday Night Live-style videotape to cheer up their ailing friend. The show’s running time was only ninety minutes, but it had a lasting impact: Becca laughed her way through recovery, and the group—Jordana, Seth, Holly, and Lex—became her supporting cast for life.

On the silver anniversary of Becca Night Live, the friends reunite over the Fourth of July to celebrate Becca’s good health—but nothing goes as planned. The happy holiday card facades everyone’s been hiding behind quickly crumble and give way to an unforgettable three days filled with complex moral dilemmas and life-altering choices. Through humor, drama, and the alternating perspectives of five characters, The Cast explores the power of forgiveness, the importance of authenticity, and the immeasurable value of deep, enduring friendships to buoy us when life plays out differently than expected.

My Review:

I'm just going to get right into it.  I absolutely LOVE this book.  My friends and I have made video tapes for each other, done silly things to bring joy to our crew and it's just FUN to do these types of things.  When you can be completely silly and YOU around a group of people who appreciate you for who you are... well, you just can't ask for much more than that.  The other side is that the also know just about everything about you and this can also make for some heated and very emotional moments - upswings and downswings … they're no longer just friends, they're FAMILY.

I'm in awe that this is a DEBUT! The chapters alternate between the various characters of The Cast and it's done SO WELL.  Each group has their different personalities and lifestyles and she captures this brilliantly.  I knew from the first 40 pages that this was going to be an emotional read.  Captivating, heartfelt, string tugging…. and all so relatable.  Each character in here is human, visceral and I fell in love with each and every one of them.

You can't plan for life to happen - it just does.  When you have people around you that you can count on - it makes that journey just a tiny bit easier.  I'm grateful that I have those people in my life.  Thank you, Amy, for making me appreciate them all the more.

Highly recommend you put this on your TBR.  Set aside a few hours and don't move until you're done.


Monday, August 13, 2018

REVIEW: Vicious by V.E. Schwab @veschwab @torbooks

by V.E. Schwab

Preparing for the second book in the series, Vengeful, coming out September 25th. Anyone who loves anything remotely superpower/mutant-ish will be keen on this story where the line between good and bad, hero and villain are completely blurred.

Publisher:  Tor Books
Publish Date: January 20, 2015
364 Pages
Series:  Villains #1
Genres:  Fantasy, Sci-Fi

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My Review:

Look, I'm a sucker for anything superhero, supernatural or mutant-ish.  A SUCKER! So of course, I had to buy this.  And then, like with most books, it got put on a shelf and that was that.  WHY DO WE DO THIS?!  I just started back up with my local, in person, book club and with my hundreds and more TBR list, I picked a few that were on my shelves as options to read for this month and they decided on this one - YAY!  Don't you just love it when a plan comes togethers? 😉

This book has been getting high praises for as long as I can remember.  I think my expectations were extremely high because of this.  I definitely wasn't disappointed, but it didn't WOW me as much as I thought it would either.  What I love about this is the blurred line between good and bad, hero and villain.  Perspective, perspective, perspective!  

This definitely gave me a bit of Flatliners vibes, except now when they come back, they have extraordinary abilities - and yet still missing a bit of humanity.  Would death be worth it for you to gain a power?  How would you use your power - for good, for bad?  Would you even know which was which by the time it came down to it?

There's no doubt Schwab is an amazing writer.  I started reading her with the Monsters of Verity duology and her writing style is extremely addictive.  While this is her first adult fiction, it still had that YA vibe to it... and I'm not mad about it!  Looking forward to Vengeful to see what happens with the EO gang.


Friday, August 10, 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss @Jo_Furniss @luauthors @annecater #thetrailingspouse

The Trailing Spouse
by Jo Furniss

So excited to be today's stop on the Blog Tour for this amazing book!

Big thanks to Lake Union Publishing and Random Things Tours for this copy and stop.

Absolutely adored this book - see below for a synopsis, about the author (note how the her dress matches the book!) and see my review.

Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date:  August 14, 2018
352 Pages
Genre: Domestic Thriller

Do you really want to know the truth?

Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.

But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?

Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.

For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.

As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.

All the Little Children is Jo’s debut novel and she is working on a second domestic thriller to be released in 2018.

Connect with her via Facebook
(/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website:
My Review:

Oh how I do love it when a domestic thriller surprises me.  I was expecting the typical story as there has been an abundance lately in the thriller world but nope!  Here's something a little bit different that will surprise and please thriller lovers everywhere.

What I loved was the expat life and the different rules that apply when living overseas.  Coming from a military family and having expat friends all over the world, I all too well know how this can go so it's fascinating and fun to see in a novel.  

This story bounces between Amanda and Camille - Amanda, a "trailing spouse" (I actually just learned this terminology and it is SO FITTING), having marital and reproduction problems, whose maid just committed suicide by drinking bleach (I'm not sure I can think of much worst ways to kill yourself) and Camille, obsessed with what happened with her parents.  Both in Singapore, their paths cross and will change their lives irrevocably.  

I honestly didn't see that ending coming.  I knew there was something weird.. I KNEW IT... but yeah, THAT wasn't quite what I was expecting though I had an inkling.  Am I losing you yet?  Read the book so you know what I'm saying! 

This moves at a great pace and you end up being just as confused and misdirected as the characters - personally, I love that.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Sleep, Merel, Sleep by Silke Stein @_SilkeStein

Sleep, Merel, Sleep
by Silke Stein

Publisher:  Caper Books
Publish Date:  June 7, 2018
Kindle Edition
108 Pages
Genres:  Fantasy, Children

Who wants to be awake forever?

Life has changed for eight-year-old Merel. Since the birth of her sick baby brother, her parents seem to have forgotten she exists. But when she finds a tiny silver violin in her bedroom rug, things take a turn for the worse. 

Merel learns that her sleep has abandoned her and that she must embark on a perilous journey to recover it or stay awake forever. Together with her devoted toy sheep Roger, tired Merel sets out in search of Lullaby Grove. Before long, she finds herself haunted by a scary stranger. 

Follow Merel into a surreal world. Meet a sleepy king with an obsession for feathers and a transparent old man on a night train going nowhere. Discover why the moonfish cry, why you should never walk across the Great Yawns ― and if poor Merel can escape her pursuer, win back her sleep, and realize what matters most in her life.

Silke Stein is a graphic designer and the author of 'Trina Bell's Humming Summer' and 'Sleep, Merel, Sleep'. Silke currently lives at the west coast of Canada, where she combs the shores of the Pacific Ocean and tends to her ever-growing sea glass collection. When she is not at the beach, or writing, or helping her husband playtest his latest board game invention, she designs book covers for fellow authors.

SPOTLIGHT: Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach @bookpubservices @MichellePeach16

Gazelle in the Shadows
by Michelle Peach

In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth is a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University. With some travel and work already under her belt, she excels at her studies and is sent to Damascus to immerse herself in the language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren't always what they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and even murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.

Praise for Michelle Peach’s Gazelle in the Shadows:

“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“Michelle Peach brings Syrian culture and cityscapes to life with her descriptions and characters… the author is able to accurately capture a specific moment in Middle Eastern history that still has ramifications on modern-day Syrians. For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.” -Red City Review

“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read.”– Dr Andrew Rathmell, Author of Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle For Syria 1949 -1961

Michelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.” Gazelle in the Shadows is set to be released in September 2018, published by IngramSpark.

Michelle lives in Atlanta, GA. She is a stay-at-home mom, married with three children. Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to


Excerpt from Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Chapter One
With my legs bunched up near my chin, I buried my face into my knees and rocked. I smelled the rusty, iron scent of blood on my jeans. Strands of long hair that had been pulled out of my braid after the struggle were sticking to my neck and cheeks, held in place by sweat and blood. I reached up and felt the sore skin around my neck, where my hood had been tied. Welts had formed around my wrists, where the ropes had been. I moaned.
Who are my kidnappers? Could it be Hezbollah? The Syrian Army? Or the South Lebanese Army? God, please let it not be Hezbollah.
My heart beat in my neck at the thought of being held by a terrorist group. I squeezed my knees even tighter and whimpered from a sudden, sharp pain in my ribs.
I remembered the Sunday I broke the news to my parents that I was going to study in Damascus. Mother made me promise that I would not go to Lebanon, even saying that it’s because she feared Hezbollah.
“Elizabeth, I want to hear you promise.” She had insisted when I shrugged my shoulders and grinned.
I thought she was being over-protective, after all Hezbollah had ceased taking hostages three years ago and released their last captive, Terry Anderson, last year.
It can’t be them.
My heart rate reduced to a dull thud. So, perhaps it’s the Syrian Army? Adrien had told me during my last visit to see him at the embassy that the Syrian government knew I was a former British diplomat, and even though the Syrian Army was in Lebanon, he vouched that I would be safer there than in Damascus. I trusted Adrien implicitly, as I had done so with the MI6 officer in my former embassy in Sana’a.
I prayed the Syrians had picked me up, or even the South Lebanese Army. After all, I told myself, they are on the same side. I whispered to myself Adrien’s reassurance that I still had diplomatic immunity, and that this meant I would be released soon and sent to the British Embassy.
I lifted my head up and looked around the room. It was dimly lit, with one bare bulb and a fan in the centre of the ceiling. A grimy, thin mattress lay on the filthy floor, with an empty nightstand beside it. The one window the room had was crudely boarded up. I could see daylight, which seeped in from around the ill-fitting plywood. Gingerly, I stood up gripping my left side as pain seared in my ribcage and took three steps forward. Through a crack in the board, I could make out a gravel road and the bonnet of a black car. My field of vision was disappointingly limited, as I peered in all directions for any clues as to where I was. I pulled at the wood to see if it was loose, but it had been nailed to the window frame and then I discovered one, additional barrier. Like so many homes I had seen in this part of the world, windows on the first floor were barred, perhaps to keep inhabitants in rather than prevent break-ins. My hope of a possible escape route was dashed. I collapsed onto the mattress in a heap and wept.
I thought of my parents. I couldn’t take my mind off the intense longing I had to see them again and put my arms around them. I had felt loneliness before, but this was different. It was an aloneness that you are somewhere in the world where your loved ones don’t know, nor have any hope of finding you or even dream what is happening to you. It was an emptiness of unfathomable depth.
I reached up to the empty nightstand and pulled open its small drawer. I was surprised to find that it was full of rubbish, which I sifted through. A rush of relief washed over me, when I saw a pen and a possible scrap of paper to write on.
Then slowly, I began to write.

SPOTLIGHT: Terms of Surrender by Karyn Rae @karynraepublish

Terms of Surrender 
by Karyn Rae

Delighted to be Spotlighting this book for you today.  Female friendships, scandals, coming of age - what's not to like?!

Publisher:  Karyn Rae Publishing
Publish Date:  June 19, 2018
272 Pages
Series: Terms of Surrender Book 1

Terms of Surrender is a story about when coming of age arrives late.

On Harlow Ausby’s fortieth birthday, she still feels as out of place in polished Charleston as the moon in a midday sky. From her strawberry-red hair to the matching birthmark that seems to swallow her left leg, Harlow’s uncommon looks have always made her feel less than worthy of the image-conscious Ausby name. As her often cruel and critical mother, Vivian, lies dying in a hospital bed, Harlow reexamines the choices—or lack thereof—that have brought her to a crossroads in her life. She is freshly divorced from a social climber she never loved, nursing a newly empty nest, and shocked to run into the love of her life—a man whose heart she broke twenty years earlier—and his wife, her former best friend.

What she doesn’t realize is that everything is about to change.
Over the course of one monumental day, a secret as old as Harlow surfaces. Moving from the present to the past and then back again, Harlow’s story explores rich female friendships, deep rifts between mothers and daughters, and simmering under-the-surface social scandal.

Terms of Surrender is a novel that women will want to discover, because it’s a story they may already know. They just haven’t read it yet.

"The plot twists are genuinely surprising, and the complicated relationships give this page-turner a touch of humor and a ton of drama." -KIRKUS REVIEW

Karyn Rae is a cross-genre author. Her debut novel, The Achilles Heel was released in May 2014, with the sequel published the following year. She's a ghostwriter, a member of the Romance Writers of America, and a member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association. 

No matter where life takes her, the Midwest keeps calling her home.

SPOTLIGHT: Tragedy Plus Time by Adam Cayton-Holland @touchstonebooks @CaytonHolland

Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-Comic Memoir
by Adam Cayton-Holland

Spotlighting this fabulous autobiography - it's on my TBR and should definitely be on yours.

Publisher:  Touchstone
Publish Date:  August 21, 2018
256 Pages
Genres:  Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography


In the tradition of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Truth & Beauty—from one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch,” a poignant tragicomic memoir about the author’s beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking relationship with his younger sister and the depression that took her life.

Adam Cayton-Holland went from a painfully sensitive kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, to a writer and performer with a burgeoning career in comedy. His father, a civil rights lawyer, and his mother, an investigative journalist, taught Adam and his two sisters to feel the pain of the world deeply and to combat it through any means necessary. Adam chose to meet life’s tough breaks and cruel realities with stand-up comedy; his older sister chose law; their youngest sister, Lydia, struggled with mental illness and ultimately took her own life.

This devastating tragedy strikes the Cayton-Holland household at the same moment Adam’s career is finally getting off the ground. Both a moving tribute to a lost sibling and an inspiring guide to navigating grief and pain, Tragedy Plus Time is a heartbreaking, honest, and darkly funny memoir about trying your hardest to choose life in the wake of a terrible loss.

Adam Cayton-Holland grew up in a close-knit family deemed “The Magnificent Cayton-Hollands” in Denver, Colorado. Adam combatted life’s tough breaks with stand-up comedy (one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch”), his older sister pursued law; their youngest sister, Lydia, struggled to find her place in the world. When Adam sank into a deep depression in college, it was Lydia who was able to reach him and pull him out. But years later as Adam’s career took off, Lydia’s own depression over­took her, and, though he tried, Adam couldn’t return the favor and was left to grapple with the trauma while simultaneously having to focus on his budding career in comedy.

Both a moving tribute to a lost sibling and an inspiring meditation on mental illness, grief, and recovery, TRAGEDY PLUS TIME is a revelatory, darkly funny, and poignant tribute to a lost sibling that will have you reaching for the phone to call your brother or sister by the last page.

#allthebookreviews: What Remains of Her by Eric Rickstad @wmmorrowbooks @ericrickstad @tlcbooktours #whatremainsofher

What Remains of Her
by Eric Rickstad

Thanks so much to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for this chilling story! 
Right in the wheelhouse of what #allthebookreviews likes to read - see our full thoughts below.

Publisher:  William Morrow
Publish Date:  July 24, 2018
416 Pages
Genres:  Mystery, Suspense, Thriller


Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girlscomes this chilling, harrowing thriller set in rural Vermont about a recluse who believes the young girl he's found in the woods is the reincarnation of his missing daughter, returned to help him solve her and his wife's disappearance.

I won’t say a word. Cross my heart and hope to die…

Jonah Baum, a professor of poetry at a local college in Vermont, sees his ordinary life come tumbling down when his wife and young daughter vanish from their home. No evidence of a kidnapping. No sign of murder. No proof that Rebecca didn’t simply abandon her marriage. Just Sally’s crude and chilling drawings, Jonah’s little lies, and the sheriff’s nagging fears that nothing is what it seems.

For Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, it’s something else. She trusts in Sally not to just disappear, not after they’ve shared so many secrets—especially about the woods and what they saw there. But she’ll never tell. No one would believe her anyway.

As the search for Rebecca and Sally intensifies, and as suspicion falls on Jonah, the disappearances become more relentlessly haunting than anyone can imagine. Because what’s seen in the light of day is not nearly as terrifying as what remains hidden in the dark…

About Eric Rickstad

Eric Rickstad is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Silent GirlsLie in Wait, and Reap, novels heralded as intelligent and profound, dark, disturbing, and heartbreaking. He lives in his home state of Vermont with his wife, daughter, and son.
Author Links: WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook 
My Review:

This is a standard case of mother and daughter disappearing with the husband as prime suspect number one.  There's an ominous tone set from the beginning with the depths of childhood imagination and that wholehearted importance to keep secrets for your best friend, no matter the consequence or potential helpfulness to a case.  It's amazing what we deem to be so much more important as children than as adults.

We fast forward a couple of decades+ where people close to the case are still dealing the aftermath of this horrible crime.  There's nothing worse than not having answers... or so we like to think.  Grass is greener? Graves are darker?  While I did like how the author transversed from one timeline to another smoothly, I found myself liking the beginning part of the book better. 

The short chapters make for a fast read and I found myself continually flipping page after page.  Next thing I know it's way past my bedtime and I'm halfway through the novel.  While this story is addicting, I did find the ending not to surprise me as much as I thought that it would.  I did the whole, "ohhhhhhhh, really?! asshole..." then shrug and continued on.  (Asshole for a certain character, not the author, to be clear!)

This is an absolutely solid lighter thriller with some creepy tones and no real big surprise.  The story is well written and even without that throat punch a lot of people expect from thrillers these days, it still makes an impact.  I felt this was a bit more character driven and I did feel for a certain two of them.  I just wanted a little bit more bite that I felt the ominous tone set at the beginning felt like it was promising. 


Jessica's Review:

This was my introduction to Eric Rickstad – I have heard nothing but amazing things about his other books. Needless to say I was excited to get started. WHAT REMAINS OF HER did not disappoint!
What would you do if you woke up one day to find your spouse and child missing? Well, this is the new reality for Jonah Baum. His wife Rebecca and their daughter Sally are gone. What’s even more confusing is that there is no sign of kidnapping, murder, and no hard proof that Rebecca didn’t just up and leave their marriage.
Something isn’t quite right about the situation and they are determined to find them. As the investigation gains momentum, Jonah becomes a person of interest. What do the strange drawings that Sally left behind mean? What secrets is Jonah hiding? What did Sally and her friend, Lucinda, see in the woods that night?
This book really ramps up in suspense and intensity as the chapters go on. Rickstad does a great job sucking the reader in and keep your attention. If I wasn’t at my family reunion, then I would have finished this much sooner!
I give this 4/5 stars

#CJSReads REVIEW: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis @duttonbooks @fionajdavis

The Masterpiece
by Fiona Davis

If anyone can make me love historical fiction, it's one Fiona Davis.

See how much Sam, Jess and I loved this work of art.
Thank you to Dutton Books for these beautiful gifted copies.

Publisher:  Dutton Books
Publish Date:  August 7, 2018
368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931. 

My Review:

As a New Yorker, I absolutely should have taken this book to Grand Central and taken a better picture that seems much more suitable.  I am kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner.  However, for the sake of getting my thoughts out to you quicker, this will have to do because we need to talk about this book!!

If anyone can make me love historical fiction, it's Fiona Davis.  It's no surprise to those who have been following my reviews, that I am slowly becoming a fan of this genre.  My first Davis was The Address, which I absolutely adored!  Imagine the squeal of delight when I was gifted a copy of this for review.  Davis, I'm here for you!  I did enjoy The Address slightly more than The Masterpiece, but they are both beautiful reads in their own right.

In this novel, we parallel Clara Darden in the 1920s, during prohibition and Virginia Clay, in the 1970s, where women are still struggling to prove themselves beyond a wifely position.  Not only do we get a little bit of an artist history from the 1920s, we also get a look into the history of Grand Central Terminal and the fight to keep it a NYC landmark in the 1970s.  Admittedly, I enjoyed Virginia's story slightly more because I was fascinated by this history "lesson".  Art has never really been my thing, but that didn't diminish my love for Clara's story.  

Davis has a way of bringing together these women in a way that you wouldn't expect.  Some parts reminded me greatly of Mad Men.  While each generation and decade have their issues, a standard one that's true even to this day, is a woman having to fight for her place in life.  I was just speaking with someone about women lawyers even today having to prove themselves more than men - and this was a man I was speaking to so let's get that clear. 😉

Fiona Davis brings us two extremely strong female characters.  She's proving again to be a master in the historical fiction genre and I am here for every last piece of it.  


Jessica's Review:

I'm so sad to say that this was my first time reading anything from Fiona Davis. Why did no one make me pick up her books sooner?? THE MASTERPIECE was just what I needed. I loved the history, the small dose of mystery, and the writing is incredible.

If you've followed my reviews at all, you'll know that I love historical fiction. Give me any time period or event and I'll be completely absorbed. Davis made these characters and this story come to life. I've never been to New York or Grand Central Terminal, but I felt like I was there.

We follow two stories and two timelines. During the Prohibition era of the 1920s, we follow Clara Darden, a talented artist that has taken a position to teach at Grand Central School of Art. Then we follow Virginia Clay, a woman struggling to help save Grand Central Terminal in the 1970s.

Both Virginia and Clara had such strong and unique voices. I loved both timelines. I learned a lot about the history of Grand Central - I had no idea there was a threat to tear it down. Davis does a wonderful job weaving these stories and I was impressed with how she was able to connect these two women.

Overall, if you're looking for some great historical fiction, then this is the next book you need! If you want to dip into historical fiction, then THE MASTERPIECE will be the perfect way to do this. It's not too technical in it's history and has a compelling narrative to go along with it.

I give this 4.5/5 stars

Sam's Review:

Last year, I was completely obsessed with The Address by Fiona Davis.   I quickly discovered that Davis was a masterful storyteller with the capability to completely entrance her reader.  Needless to say, I ran to the bookstore, picked up her other novel (The Dollhouse) and waited patiently for her next publication.  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait too long!!

The Masterpiece, the newest release by Fiona Davis, was just as brilliant as I expected.  Like her other novels, The Masterpiece tells two linear stories (fifty years apart) where two different women (Clara, an illustrator, and Virginia, a divorcee) try to figure out their place in a male dominated world.    I absolutely loved this concept and I found myself completely connecting to both Clara and Virginia.   There is such an element of nostalgia to Davis’ work and she has an ability to make me feel like the experiences were my own.   Her descriptions, down to the smallest details, are so realistic.  It truly feels like you are reading memories.

That being said, as much as I loved her writing style and the characters, there was a bit of redundancy that had me distracted towards the middle of the novel.  However, this ended very quickly and by the end, I was completely captivated.

Overall, I can say with complete confidence that I am pretty much obsessed with the work of Fiona Davis and will anxiously await her next novel.  If you are a fan of any sort of historical fiction or a story that builds tension while focusing on character relationships, you will absolutely devour The Masterpiece. I know I did.

4/5 stars