Category Archives: Little Brown and Company

Review: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Title: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Genre: New Adult, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer.

But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.

Review:

Beginning in 1995, Invincible Summer by Alice Adams is an engrossing novel that follows the friendships of four college friends through an array of ups and downs over the course of twenty years.

Despite the very different directions their lives take, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien remain friends after graduation.  Eva, the daughter of a professor with Socialist leanings, casts off her father’s ideology and climbs the corporate ladder as an investment banker. Benedict, whose family is wealthy, continues on with his education as he seeks his PhD in physics. Sylvie, a free-spirited budding artist, appears destined to a great career as a painter while her brother Lucien becomes a successful club promoter. Although their friendship waxes and wanes over the years, the friends maintain contact, (albeit sporadically on occasion), as they weather the various storms that life brings them. However, as they reach different levels of success, jealousy and discontent lead to unpleasant confrontations and hurt feelings.

Instead of continuing on to grad school, Eva abandons her dream of becoming a physicist to work in finance. Working eighty hours a week, she slowly but surely works her way up the ranks but her personal life suffers as she concentrates on her building her career. Eva does find time to date, and a surprising romance leads to a long term relationship but are they destined to live happily ever after?

Benedict is a bit of a science geek but he knows exactly what he wants to do once he completes his PhD.  His life takes a rather unexpected turn when he is close to completing his degree but he still manages to secure his dream job.  Benedict makes a few missteps in his personal life but overall, he is mostly satisfied with what he has achieved although he suffers a few pangs of regret for some of his choices.

Of the four friends, Sylvie’s path in life seemed crystal clear but surprisingly, she never quite achieved the success everyone expected.  Despite her very obvious talent, her career as an artist never quite came together and she works one dead end job after another. Drinking too much and indulging in numerous one night stands, Sylvie is on a fast track for disaster when her friendship with Eva takes an ugly turn. Finally deciding to get her act together, she spends a restful summer away from London, but will this hard-won tranquility last once she returns to her regular life?

Lucien’s charm and devil may care attitude translate into a successful career as a club promoter but how long can he sustain this hard drinking, partying lifestyle?  Never taking anything or anyone too seriously, he is charismatic and well-liked but he never lets anyone get too close to him. When his world falls apart in a somewhat spectacular fashion, Lucien is rather pragmatic about his fate but will he learn from his mistakes?

Spanning twenty years, Invincible Summer by Alice Adams is a captivating novel of friendship.  The chapters alternate between the different characters’ perspectives which provides intriguing glimpses of the friends at various points in their lives.  Although they drift apart occasionally through the years, their friendship evolves and strengthens as they undergo some very unanticipated and sometimes heartbreaking, life-altering events. 

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Filed under Alice Adams, Invincible Summer, Little Brown and Company, New Adult, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld

Title: The Pretty One: A Novel about Sisters by Lucinda Rosenfeld
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Imprint: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Perfect. Pretty. Political. For nearly forty years, The Hellinger sisters of Hastings-on-Hudson-namely, Imperia (Perri), Olympia (Pia), and Augusta (Gus)–have played the roles set down by their loving but domineering mother Carol. Perri, a mother of three, rules her four-bedroom palace in Westchester with a velvet fist, managing to fold even fitted sheets into immaculate rectangles. Pia, a gorgeous and fashionable Chelsea art gallery worker, still turns heads after becoming a single mother via sperm donation. And Gus, a fiercely independent lawyer and activist, doesn’t let her break-up from her girlfriend stop her from attending New Year’s Day protests on her way to family brunch.

But the Hellinger women aren’t pulling off their roles the way they once did. Perri, increasingly filled with rage over the lack of appreciation from her recently unemployed husband Mike, is engaging in a steamy text flirtation with a college fling. Meanwhile Pia, desperate to find someone to share in the pain and joy of raising her three-year-old daughter Lola, can’t stop fantasizing about Donor #6103. And Gus, heartbroken over the loss of her girlfriend, finds herself magnetically drawn to Jeff, Mike’s frat boy of a little brother. Each woman is unable to believe that anyone, especially her sisters, could understand what it’s like to be her. But when a freak accident lands their mother to the hospital, a chain of events is set in motion that will send each Hellinger sister rocketing out of her comfort zone, leaving her to wonder: was this the role she was truly born to play?

With The Pretty One, author Lucinda Rosenfeld does for siblings what she did for female friendship in I’m So Happy for You, turning her wickedly funny and sharply observant eye on the pleasures and punishments of lifelong sisterhood.

The Review:

Lucinda Rosenfeld ‘s The Pretty One is a fascinating novel about the sometimes complicated relationship between adult sisters.

The Pretty One raises some very interesting questions about family relationships and how family expectations and labels come into play throughout adulthood. Perri, Pia and Gus are now in their mid to late thirties and they seem stuck in the roles assigned to them as children. Oldest sister Perri is The Responsible One, middle sister Pia is The Pretty One and youngest sister Gus is The Rebellious One. The sisters’ relationship is complicated by their petty jealousies and insecurities that each of the women feels toward their sisters. They are a close knit family, but they continually undermine one another with gossip and their envy of each others’ lives.

The Pretty One is a difficult book to review. On the one hand, I found it to be mired in negativity since each of the sisters is going through their own individual crises. They are unhappy with their lives and they are extremely hypercritical of one another. No one was satisfied with what they had in their lives and all they could focus on was the negative.

But the further the novel progressed, the more reflective and self-aware each of the girls becomes. They still place way too much emphasis on their “assigned” childhood labels, but they do begin to realize that perhaps there is more to them than their perceived roles.

What saved The Pretty One for me was the fact that the sisters do finally begin to change and Lucinda Rosenfeld manages to pull off a happily ever after ending. It is an interesting and easy to read novel that is realistic and depicts the good, the bad and the ugly of family relationships.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Hachette Book Group, Little Brown and Company, Lucinda Rosenfeld, Rated B, Review

Review: Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Title: Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
Joe O’Loughlin Mystery
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Imprint: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

TWO MISSING GIRLS. TWO BRUTAL MURDERS. ALL CONNECTED TO ONE FARM HOUSE. WHO IS TO BLAME?

When pretty and popular teenagers Piper Hadley and Tash McBain disappear one Sunday morning, the investigation captivates a nation but the girls are never found.

Three years later, during the worst blizzard in a century, a husband and wife are brutally killed in the farmhouse where Tash McBain once lived. A suspect is in custody, a troubled young man who can hear voices and claims that he saw a girl that night being chased by a snowman.

Convinced that Piper or Tash might still be alive, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and ex-cop Vincent Ruiz, persuade the police to re-open the investigation. But they are racing against time to save the girls from someone with an evil, calculating and twisted mind…

The Review:

Say You’re Sorry, Michael Robotham’s latest novel starring psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is a riveting mystery with many unexpected twists and turns. The death of a married couple finds Joe drawn back into police work when he discovers a possible link between the murders and two girls who have been missing for three years.

Joe O’Loughlin’s life has taken a new direction as he is back in private practice and no longer consulting for the police department. He reluctantly agrees to lend his expertise in a current case, but when compelling evidence persuades Joe that Tash McBain and Piper Hadley might still be alive, he relentlessly pursues every lead he uncovers. With the clock ticking, he once again enlists retired police investigator and close friend Vincent Ruiz to aid in the investigation.

While in many ways Joe has moved on, in some areas of his life, he has made little progress. He has moved into the city which further complicates his relationship with daughters Charlie and Emma. He and wife Julianne are still estranged with no immediate plans for divorce although Joe has indulged in a few affairs. The dynamics between them are still complicated even though there is more of an emotional distance between them.

In Say You’re Sorry, Joe’s personal life (including his Parkinson’s disease) is overshadowed by the murder investigation and the hunt for Piper and Tash. There is a high sense of urgency to discover the connection between the murder victims and the missing girls. Joe is sometimes alone in his belief that Tash and Piper might still alive and he diligently works to overcome the police’s reluctance to re-open their case.

Told in alternating perspective from Joe and one of kidnapped girl’s points of view, Say You’re Sorry is an enthralling mystery with a unique and well-executed storyline. A tangled web of clues keeps the investigation steadily moving forward until events culminate in a frantic rescue attempt that will keep the pages turning at a blistering pace. Through a series of misdirects and red herrings the killer’s identity is cleverly concealed and Michael Robotham brings the novel to an absolutely stunning conclusion.

As with the other novels featuring Joe O’Loughlin, Say You’re Sorry can be read as a standalone novel.

Read my reviews of the other novels in the series HERE.

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Filed under Contemporary, Little Brown and Company, Michael Robotham, Mullholland Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Say You're Sorry

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Imprint: Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 391 pages
Book Rating: B

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher

Summary:

A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. But what begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny’s boyfriend Jake and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt – but the emotional damage is overwhelming, and questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.

As summer unfolds, startling truths are revealed about the survivors and their parents – secrets kept, promises broken, hearts betrayed. Elin Hilderbrand explores the power of community, family, and honesty, and proves that even from the ashes of sorrow, new love can still take flight.

The Review:

How well do we know our husbands, wives, children, friends, and neighbors? In Summerland, Elin Hilderbrand’s newest release, that answer becomes painfully clear in the aftermath of a fatal car wreck. The survivors and their families search for answers to the cause of the crash uncovers several shocking secrets that will forever change their lives.

Living year round on the island of Nantucket, the Alistair, Randolph and Castle families are close friends. Their children, twins Penny and Hobby Alistair, Jake Randolph and Demeter Castle have been friends since pre-school. The families’ lives are intricately intertwined through their children’s relationships, school activities and close friendships. They have supported one another through difficult losses, celebrated the children’s various triumphs and lend a helping hand whenever one is needed. That all changes following the horrific car wreck that leaves Penny dead, Hobby in a coma and Jake and Demeter physically unscathed but emotionally devastated.

Everyone reacts in different ways in the days, weeks and months after the accident. Penny and Hobby’s mother, Zoe, withdraws and concentrates all her attention on her remaining child. Jordan and Ava, Jake’s parents, distance themselves both emotionally and physically. Al and Lynne, Demeter’s parents, continue to help Zoe despite her indifference to them.

Instead of chapters Summerland unfolds from each of the characters’ and the townspeople’s viewpoints. Through flashbacks, we learn how everyone ended up where they are today. Important facts about the individual people and their families are revealed. Their hopes, their fears, their vulnerabilities. Eventually their deepest and most closely guarded secrets are exposed. It is only after the ugly facts are brought to light that the healing process can finally begin.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand is an outstanding read. It is breathtakingly poignant but it is also incredibly uplifting. The characters are so beautifully and realistically drawn that you cannot help but get caught up in their compelling story of friendship, love, loss and new beginnings.

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Filed under Contemporary, Elin Hilderbrand, Fiction, Hachette Book Group, Little Brown and Company, Rated B, Reagan Arthur Books, Summerland

Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham

Title: Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Imprint: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A teenage girl–Sienna, a troubled friend of his daughter–comes to Joe O’Loughlin’s door one night. She is terrorized, incoherent-and covered in blood.

The police find Sienna’s father, a celebrated former cop, murdered in the home he shared with Sienna. Tests confirm that it’s his blood on Sienna. She says she remembers nothing.

Joe O’Loughlin is a psychologist with troubles of his own. His marriage is coming to an end and his daughter will barely speak to him. He tries to help Sienna, hoping that if he succeeds it will win back his daughter’s affection. But Sienna is unreachable, unable to mourn her father’s death or to explain it.

Investigators take aim at Sienna. O’Laughlin senses something different is happening, something subterranean and terrifying to Sienna. It may be something in her mind. Or it may be something real. Someone real. Someone capable of the most grim and gruesome murder, and willing to kill again if anyone gets too close.

The Review:

Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham is a compelling mystery that brings murder close to home for psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. Joe’s investigation into Ray Hegarty’s death uncovers dark family secrets and startling revelations about Ray’s daughter’s Sienna’s private life.

Joe O’Loughlin is a complex and engaging protagonist who is struggling to maintain his relationship with his two daughters and estranged wife. Written in first person from Joe’s perspective, readers gain valuable insight into Joe’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease, his love for his wife Julianne, and his hope that they will reconcile. As the story unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that Joe is at a turning point in making peace with his past so he can move into the future.

Joe’s investigation into Ray’s death is complicated by his emotional involvement with his daughter’s friend Sienna. His inability to maintain his objectivity adds an interesting dynamic to the plot and puts him at odds with longtime friends and fellow investigators. Seemingly unrelated incidents are interconnected and provide valuable clues into the identity of Ray’s killer.

Bleed for Me is an engaging novel with a fascinating plot and engaging characters. It is also an interesting character study as Joe employs his keen observation skills and psychological insight to catch a killer. Michael Robotham keeps the series fresh and unique as Joe finds a new perspective on his life and makes positive changes regarding his future.

Although part of a series, Bleed for Me can be read as a standalone novel.

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Filed under Bleed for Me, Contemporary, Little Brown and Company, Michael Robotham, Mullholland Books, Mystery, Rated B+

Shatter by Michael Robotham

Title: Shatter by Michael Robotham
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Imprint: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Joe O’Loughlin is in familiar territory-standing on a bridge high above a flooded gorge, trying to stop a distraught woman from jumping. “You don’t understand,” she whispers, and lets go. Joe is haunted by his failure to save the woman, until her teenage daughter finds him and reveals that her mother would never have committed suicide-not like that. She was terrified of heights.

What could have driven her to commit such a desperate act? Whose voice? What evil?

Having devoted his career to repairing damaged minds, Joe must now confront an adversary who tears them apart. With pitch-perfect dialogue, believable characters, and astonishingly unpredictable plot twists, Shatter is guaranteed to keep even the most avid thriller readers riveted long into the night.

The Review:

Michael Robotham’s murder mystery, Shatter is a gripping psychological thriller. Psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin is compelled to discover what drove Christine Wheeler to leap to her death. Was it suicide? Or was it something far more sinister?

Joe O’Loughlin is an incredibly complex protagonist. Stricken by early onset Parkinson’s disease Joe is a part-time psychology professor and full-time dad to daughters Emma and Charlie. While able to clearly read strangers and acquaintances, Joe readily admits an inability to understand his own actions and motivations. His involvement with the murder investigation strains his relationship with his wife Julianne and further undermines their increasingly troubled marriage.

With retired police investigator Vincent Ruiz’s aid, they quickly discover the twisted and sadistic killer’s identity. Their attempts to track down the elusive murderer turn into a game of cat and mouse as he skillfully eludes capture. When the killer strikes close to home, Joe is in a race against time to save the latest victims.

Told from both Joe’s and the killer’s perspective, Shatter is a fast–paced novel with a realistic plot. Michael Robotham engages the reader with unexpected humor, appealing characters and a unique and compelling storyline. Unexpected twists and turns along with a fascinating look into the mind of a horrific killer keep the reader on the edge of their seat as Shatter comes to its exciting and satisfying conclusion.

The third book in a series, Shatter can easily be read as a standalone novel but you won’t want to miss a single installment of this fabulous series. I am eagerly anticipating the next Joe O’Loughlin mystery Bleed for Me which will be available February 27th.

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Filed under Contemporary, Little Brown and Company, Michael Robotham, Mullholland Books, Mystery, Rated B, Shatter