Are more Amazon bookstores on the way?

BookstoreI’m back with a quick Amazon bookstore update! According to news sources (including “Job postings signal Amazon plans to scale up bookstore business“) numerous job openings with descriptions referring to Amazon Books have been posted since January 2016. These open positions are one signal of many that indicate the expansion of Amazon’s physical bookstores. I still think that it’s interesting, and a bit ironic, because the tech giant wiped out brick-and-mortar book shops all over the country as a result of it’s growth. In my last post referring to Amazon’s first physical bookstore in Seattle, Washington I mentioned that I was curious about whether the store would be a success. I’m still curious about this and haven’t seen any news coverage on its progress. Maybe I’ll have to sit outside the bookstore myself and track how much traffic there is…

In an article last week, Powell’s Books CEO dishes on Amazon’s threat, Miriam Sontz (Powell’s Books CEO) said, “”I thought it was a great acknowledgement of something that independent brick-and-mortar stores have known for the past few decades, which is there is something special that occurs at a physical bookstore that is not replicable on the Internet,’ Sontz told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday. ‘People have tried, and it’s just not the same experience. It doesn’t have the same serendipity. It doesn’t have the same sense of community.'” Miriam Sontz, you have my applause. I absolutely agree with Sontz and the atmosphere that’s created within bookstores. That’s why I go to one as often as possible.

Dream by Day book reviews

The Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room is a multigenerational story of three women spanning the decades between the 1890’s and 1940’s in New York City. To make the book even more special, it’s written by three wonderful authors, Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig. It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Beatriz Williams’ work so I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review The Forgotten Room.

The story begins in the 1940’s when the wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought into the hospital where Dr. Kate Schuyler works. Kate is unable to deny the strong connection she feels with Cooper and is shocked to find a small painting in his duffle bag that looks exactly like her. While trying to understand her connection with this new mysterious man, Kate unearths the mystery of three generations of women in her family. Kate discovers the story of her grandmother Olive, a woman who served as a maid in the very mansion-converted-hospital where Kate now works. Through her search, Kate also learns much more about her mother and the forces that brought her parents together.

Despite the fact that the story was written by three people, the scenes flowed together smoothly. It took me a bit of time to keep the characters straight due to the similarities between the determined heroines and their love interests, but in the end all of the loose ends were brought together.

This is a story of fate. A story of love lost and love found. I was completely absorbed by The Forgotten Room and definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of The Forgotten Room from the Berkley New American Library Group in exchange for an honest review.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The WidowMy latest read, The Widow by Fiona Barton, is a new mystery crime novel.

When Jean Taylor’s husband is accused of kidnapping a young child, she is shocked. Playing the role of the faithful wife, she stands by his side through the case as the police, press, and public relentlessly pound on their door. Years after the little girl disappeared, Jean’s husband is dead and now as a widow, she begins to open up about all of the secrets she kept hidden for so long…

The Widow is told predominately from the perspective of the widow, Jean Taylor, with scenes from the viewpoints of her late husband, a detective on the case, a reporter, and the little girl’s mother. The story shares a unique view of the influence that the media has on a police case and public opinion. With vast experience in the field of journalism, Fiona Barton shares that perspective in her debut novel.

The book takes place in London, England (a favorite book setting of mine) and is a good story. For me this one is a quick, engaging, one-time read. The plot is wrapped up into a nice bow at the end; which is satisfying after spending the entire book looking for answers!

I received a copy of The Widow from the Berkley and New American Library publishing group in exchange for an honest review.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

Vanessa and Her SisterIn Vanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar has brought the members of the famous Bloomsbury Group to life in this powerful novel. The group is filled with incredibly talented intellectuals, artists, and writers in the early 1900’s. Within the Bloomsbury Group are the sisters, Victoria Woolf and Vanessa Bell, and that is whom this story centers around.

The story is told from Vanessa’s perspective and revolves around the very strange and intriguing relationship between the sisters. Vanessa is the elder sister and while she is calm, grounded, and wise, Virginia is brilliant, unstable, and constantly seeking Vanessa’s full attention. Throughout the book we see how far Virginia will go to be closer to Vanessa…

I also loved the way that Parmar brought Lytton Strachey to life with an outrageous personality and charming dialogue. I adored his character.

Vanessa and Her Sister was filled with so many insightful and powerful quotes that I couldn’t pick just one! Here are a few of my top picks:

“…It is a narrow precipice with Virginia. Too much affection given to someone else and she can topple over, too little and she gloats.”

“I worry that life is always in the future and that I am always here, in the preamble straightening up the cushions so that life will go smoothly once it does begin.” 

“Affection is so much easier to give when it is not owed.” 

“In my deep bones, I have always known that Virginia is in love with me.” 

“…She basks in my protectiveness, but it only spurs her on to recklessness.”

“’Hope is an unbreakable habit.’”

Priya Parmar has done an incredible job bringing this time period and these people to life in a beautiful narrative.

I received a copy of Vanessa and Her Sister from Random House in exchange for an honest review.

FIND HER by Lisa Gardner

FIND HER by Lisa Gardner“Nobody wants to be a monster.” – FIND HER by Lisa Gardner.

FIND HER is so good. And by good, I mean really, really good. Gardner brings us the story of a survivor, a fighter, and a kidnap victim, Flora Dane. This dark thriller is filled with unexpected twists and presents a very unique perspective into the trauma of kidnapping and the long-term psychological effects of such an experience.

Flora Dane has been through the worst when she was kidnapped and held captive for 472 days. 5 years following her abduction, Flora is still having trouble readjusting to normal life. When Detective D.D. Warren finds Flora by the side of a man who has just been burned to death, she is suspicious. She’s even more suspicious when Flora disappears the next day…

Flora is an incredibly strong character whom I couldn’t help but respect. After her abduction, she has extensive insight into criminal minds and is extremely resourceful. Whether it’s a mattress coil or a plastic straw, she looks at anything she has access to as a tool.

Gardner brings up the difference between surviving a traumatic ordeal and actually living afterwards. A very well-researched book, Gardner explores the conflicting feelings of abduction and the extent that Flora needed to go to in order to survive. I definitely recommend FIND HER!

I received a free copy of Find Her by Lisa Gardner in exchange for an honest review. FIND HER is released on Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty BabyOver the last few weeks I’ve been listening to audiobooks on the way to and from work and the latest was Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. A mystery novel, this one is definitely easy to engage with. Mary Kubica does a great job of getting into the heads of her characters by giving them authentic voices.

Pretty Baby switches between the perspectives of Willow, a runaway teenager, Heidi, a middle-aged woman, and Chris, Heidi’s workaholic husband. Heidi is a do-gooder who always puts the needs of others before her own both at home and in her career. When Heidi sees Willow, a skinny and dirty teenager, holding a baby on the Chicago streets, she cannot stop thinking of the pair. Without talking to her family, Heidi takes her charitable outlook to the next level by inviting Willow, a stranger, and the baby into her home.

As the story unfolds we learn more about the instances that led to Willow’s current situation as a homeless teen and it turns out that Heidi’s act of kindness may not be as generous as she had originally intended…

This is the first book I’ve read from Mary Kubica, the author of The Good Girl, and I’m impressed! Sometimes I have a hard time paying attention during audiobooks, but I had no such problem with Pretty Baby so I definitely recommend it.

I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

I'll See You in ParisWhen I started I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable I liked it, but when I finished the book, I loved it. A narrative that picks up as the story progresses, I felt truly engaged with the characters by the end. I also love the cover. A worn book on a café table in Paris? How dreamy! The story is filled with classic literary quotes from Hardy, Proust, Woolf, as well as many others, and each was a lovely addition to the story.

The story is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, also known as the infamous Duchess of Marlborough, although she denies the title vehemently throughout the book.

Annie, a young woman of 22 years, finds herself in Branbury, England with her mother. Annie has found an old tattered biography of the duchess and sets out to answer the question of the woman’s true identity. Annie may just fill in some of the gaps of her own family history as well during her search…

Between present day flashes of Annie’s search, we meet Gladys, Pru (her American caretaker), and Win (her self proclaimed biographer) back in the 1970’s. I must say that I LOVED the witty banter between Pru and Win. It was quick, sarcastic, and full of affection all at once. It was fantastic.

I also really liked Gladys, a gruff old woman over 90 years old who doesn’t filter her comments and speaks her outrageous thoughts. Despite her hard exterior and continuous desire to be the center of attention, we get to see a side of the woman that is quite endearing.

While I highly enjoyed Pru, Win, and Gladys, I didn’t especially enjoy Annie. A perfectly fine character, I thought that she acted quite immaturely during her search. It was interesting to compare Annie at 22 years old to Pru, who was 19 years old as a caretaker, and their differences in maturity.

My favorite quote – “You see, Miss Valentine, that’s the problem with getting old. Your body changes but your heart does not.”

I’ll See You in Paris is a great book that grows with you as the plot twists. Definitely add this one to your TBR list, especially if you enjoy historical fiction and wild characters!

I received a copy of I’ll See You in Paris from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.