annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Netgalley, Random House, womans fiction

#BookReview & #BESTBOOK2020: The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna ~5⭐️

Date of Release: July 14th, 2920

Summary:

A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve.

“Memorable and meaningful.”—Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well-liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that feels to Lauren like she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.

When Siri invites her along on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: “Everything will be green, fresh, new, just thawing out.” But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.

Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the relationships that come to us when things feel darkest–and the transformative power of female friendship.

Review:

To say that Diane Zinna moved me with her story would not be fair, because it was more than that. She stood above every other book I read this year!!

She writes about grief with an original way to approach it.

The “All-Night Sun” is a lyrical journey that promises to open your heart! Even open your eyes to new ways of seeing the English language!

Diane gave words new meanings.

You will see things differently; they’ll be brighter! Whisper louder! Call to you!! Because you’ll notice even the small things…Diane has taught us how to look through life with a new lense of appreciation.

The world opens up without edges because her story feels so smooth and utterly beautiful!

Let me be blunt –

This book excited me! I tell everyone about it!! Diane is breathtakingly talented!

This may be her debut novel, but the essence screams she has been writing successful Literary Fiction novels for years!

5 Stars. My Favorite Book this year!

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: June 9, 2020

Summary:

When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

Review:

“Stranger in the Lake” is another Kimberly Belle triumph! She always gives us stories that we settle into until we’ve finished, because she builds the desire in us to know the ending so desperately…an ending we can’t ever guess, because Kimberly Belle’s mind is one step ahead.
She has the talent of making the reader a character in the story! I felt that close. My toe was dipping in the lake! I was spooked! You will be, too!
I received a copy of the book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Fiction, Psychological Thriller, suspense, Thriller

#BookReview: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon ~5⭐️

Date of Release: May 26th, 2020

Summary:

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.
 

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

Review:

Hannah Mary McKinnon unfolds this story like a rattle snake coming out of hiding, moving ever so slowly with precise execution to strike its victim! In “Sister Dear” the twists were wicked fast and you absolutely do not see them coming! They have bite!
You’ll be scared!! The hair on your arms will stand up! You may even look around your room once or twice! Hannah is phenomenal at rolling out the story!
Between the exceptional writing and the unforgiving storyline, it’s hard to put the book down.
It’s also impossible to decide which Sister you are rooting for!! But, I chose! Will you?
This is a MUST READ if you enjoy thrillers! To not read it, would be a shame!
I was given a copy of the book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, book review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, She Writes Press

#BookReview: Mountain of Full Moons by Irene Kessler ~ 4.5⭐️

Date of Release: April 14, 2020

Summary:

Thirteen-year-old Elisha lives in a village near Shechem in the Land of Canaan in ancient Israel. She wants to be like other girls but is unmarried, speaks to an angel, and composes and sings her own songs—a pursuit her parents disapprove of. When she tells the village women to stand up for themselves, the men are outraged he tribe banishes her.

After journeying alone through the desert, escaping bandits, wild animals, and men who would sell her as a servant, Elisha makes it to Jerusalem, where the angel guides her to study with Abraham and Sarah. She learns much including reading and writing, and Abraham even gives her Doron, his servant, to accompany her as she sings her songs throughout the country. Doron becomes her lover and her songs are well accepted—until she sings one about equality for women.

Mountain of Full Moons explores how we overcome our fears, go out into the world, and gain the courage to speak up and be whom we choose to be.

Review:

What a different book! Unlike at story I have ever read! Irene Kessler brings us back thousands of years to to the Ancient Land of Canaan and Jerusalem.
Her protagonist, Elisha is an intensely strong-willed and determined girl that I was rooting for through the entire story. Her village and family banished her because of something she believed in and stood up for!
This is the tale where following your Guardian Angel, and trusting your inner soul, you remember to stay true to inner self!
“Mountain of Full Moons” dares to teach us females lessons from way back in ancient times, all while watching a young lady try to deliver the message through song!!
I absolutely found the power and strength in this story!
I received a copy of this book from the author and GET RED PR in exchange for a fair and honest review.


4.5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Graydon House

#BookReview: The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 28th, 2020

Summary:

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family–a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability–Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

With delightful illustrations and fascinating detail, Viola Shipman’s heartwarming story will charm readers while resonating with issues that are so relevant today.

Review:

Once again, Viola Shipman wraps us up in a beautiful story about the capacity of the human heart and the power in its bonds.
“The Heirloom Garden” brings together two women suffering a loss of one kind from two different wars, decades apart. The very fabric of this friendship is described by way of gorgeous flowers found in a most beautiful garden. I can still envision it clearly!
You will think of spring and all it’s powers in renewal!
You will think of your friends and reflect on their place in your life. Viola Shipman always opens your heart with each story. He always teaches a lesson. Stories that make you consider your life are amazing! I want to be a better person because of this story.
I fell madly in love with Iris! And I loved her relationship with her neighbor, Abby.
I’ve always loved Viola Shipman’s novels, but this is by far my favorite now!
Now! If only I had a green thumb!
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and hones review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Psychological Thriller, suspense

#BookReview: Her Daughter’s Motherby Daniela Petrova ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: June 18, 2019

Summary:

She befriended the one woman she was never supposed to meet. Now she’s the key suspect in her disappearance. For fans of The Perfect Mother and The Wife Between Us comes a gripping psychological suspense debut about two strangers, one incredible connection, and the steep price of obsession.

Lana Stone has never considered herself a stalker–until the night she impulsively follows a familiar face through the streets of New York’s Upper West Side. Her target? The “anonymous” egg donor she’d selected through an agency, the one who’s making motherhood possible for her. Hungry to learn more about her, Lana plans only to watch her from a distance. But when circumstances bring them face-to-face, an unexpected friendship is born.

Katya, a student at Columbia, is the yin to Lana’s yang, an impulsive free spirit who lives life at the edge. And for pragmatic Lana, she’s a breath of fresh air and a welcome distraction from her painful breakup with her baby’s father. Then, just as suddenly as Katya entered Lana’s life, she disappears–and Lana might have been the last person to see her before she went missing. Determined to find out what became of the woman to whom she owes so much, Lana digs into Katya’s past, even as the police grow suspicious of her motives. But she’s unprepared for the secrets she unearths, and their power to change everything she thought she knew about those she loves best…

Review:

Super Genius Thriller!!
We all know that being an egg donor or recipient takes a lot of courage, but we didn’t know that it might also require stalking skills!
What a truly riveting and exciting tale Daniela Petrova has pulled together! “Her Daughter’s Mother” is not only unique, it’s fabulous!
You won’t want to put this down once you start, so be prepared! Be careful, you won’t see it coming!
I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, British & Irish Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sparkpress

#BookReview: The House Children by Heidi Daniele ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 9, 2019

Summary:

In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway.

At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland.

Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.

Review:

Oh! Wow! “The House Children” is based on true stories shared with Heidi Daniele by 5 women raised in St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway, Ireland, 1940s and 50s. This story holds so much grief and regret, you actually feel the pangs of this absolute disappointment in what happened to the children at this time.
This deeply researched novel is not only absolutely fascinating, you sense Heidi’s sheer and utter passion towards the telling of this story. Reading this you sense this was Heidi’s life’s calling!
This alone makes the book worth the read! Add in all of her writing talents and you have a winning novel!

Be prepared to want to learn more about this story once you’ve finished!

This is a story that needed to be told! Thank you, Heidi Daniele!
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Ballantine Books, book review, Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Historical Fiction, the write review

#BookReview: Lilac Girls(Lilac Girls #1)by Martha Hall Kelly ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 5, 2016

Summary:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Review:

This is historical fiction at its best! I was totally enamored with everything, I had to know more, to see which parts were true. I love flying down that research hole!
Martha Hall Kelly’s pen was meant to write this story! She was so invested, you could feel her love for her characters. I had the sense that special care went into each detail.
This is a Series to get lost in.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Flatiron Books, Historical Fiction

#BookReview: The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: March 3, 2020

Summary:

In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.

As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:

The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.

In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.

Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope―a whispered story, a bird’s song―in even the darkest of times.

Review:

Jennifer Rosner taught me something new about WWII in her novel “The Yellow Bird Sings”! Everyone knows that when I learn new things, I’m standing at attention while reading. But, this book makes you want to snuggle up in a warm blanket…look around your room and appreciate all the luxuries that you have.
Jennifer writes with such exquisite prose and tone, only making the story lift from the pages. I couldn’t imagine all Roza & Shira had to do to remain safe in 1941, Poland, but Jennifer Rosner expresses their life with dignity while still being honest. The birds singing are noe extra sweet!
Jennife Rosner is an author to watch! Whatever she writes will be superb!
I received a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, book review, Fiction, Literary Fiction, William Morrow, womans fiction

#BookReview: You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer ~ 5⭐️

Date of Release: April 7, 2020

Summary:

The heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story of a mother and daughter struggling to be a family without the one person who holds them together—a perfect summer read for fans of JoJo Moyes and Marisa de los Santos.

Alexis Gold knows how to put the “work” in working mom. It’s the “mom” part that she’s been struggling with lately. Since opening her own advertising agency three years ago, Alexis has all but given up on finding a good work/life balance. Instead, she’s handed over the household reins to her supportive, loving partner, Tommy. While he’s quick to say they divide and conquer, Alexis knows that Tommy does most of the heavy lifting—especially when it comes to their teenage daughter, CeCe. 

Their world changes in an instant when Tommy receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, and Alexis realizes everything she’s worked relentlessly for doesn’t matter without him. So Alexis does what Tommy has done for her almost every day since they were twelve-year-old kids in Destin, Florida—she puts him first. And when the only thing Tommy wants is to spend one last summer together at “their” beach, she puts her career on hold to make it happen…even if it means putting her family within striking distance of Tommy’s ex, an actress CeCe idolizes.

But Alexis and Tommy aren’t the only ones whose lives have been turned inside out. In addition to dealing with the normal ups and downs that come with being a teenager, CeCe is also forced to confront her feelings about Tommy’s illness—and what will happen when the one person who’s always been there for her is gone. When the magic of first love brings a bright spot to her summer, CeCe is determined not to let her mother ruin that for her, too.

As CeCe’s behavior becomes more rebellious, Alexis realizes the only thing harder for her than losing Tommy will be convincing CeCe to give her one more chance.  

You and Me and Us is a beautifully written novel that examines the unexpected ways loss teaches us how to love.

Review:

Tissues! Intensely powerful story about losing your “anchor”! Both Individually and for the family. Alison Hammer draws a beautiful scenario of loss within a family and how it effects them, and how they work through it. This is a lesson on grief! This is a love letter to those left behind, those feeling less whole when they lose someone.

“You and Me and Us” will bring you to tears. It will make you examine parts of your life. It will help you see the beauty left in still learning to really live!

I received a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.