Friday, June 25, 2021

The View from the Very Best House in Town by Meera Trehan

Book Summary

This inventive debut combines the pleasures of a thriller, a school story, and a real estate listing in its witty and insightful exploration of what it means to be—and lose—a friend.

Sam and Asha. Asha and Sam. A perfect pair of friends whose differences complement well, and whose main similarity, autism, means they understand each other. They are a fixture, an established thing, just as Donnybrooke, the mansion that sits on the highest hill in Coreville, is the acknowledged best house in town—and Asha’s dream home. But when Sam is accepted into elite Castleton Academy, leaving Asha to navigate public middle school alone, she begins to wonder if the things she is certain about are so fixed after all. Because soon Sam is spending time with Prestyn, Asha’s tormentor whose family also happens to own Donnybrooke, and who have forbidden Asha from setting foot inside. Told from the points of view of Asha, Sam, and Donnybrooke itself, this remarkable debut explores themes of prejudice and classism as it delves into the mysteries of what makes a person a friend and a house a home.

Flo's Review

Well, this book took me through the range of emotions. I felt protective of Asha and Sam. I felt angry at the adults. And I rolled my eyes so hard at Donnybroke throughout the whole thing.

There's so much to explore in this story that I'm sure sleep deprived me won't scratch the surface, but I'll try to mention a few things. 

First of all, I loved how different points of view came in. How Donnybroke saw himself, how Asha same him, how Sam saw him, how Prestyn saw him. You of course have the different POVs of the children -- for example, how Sam's mom saw him, how Prestyn saw him, how Asha saw him, how he saw himself. Same with Asha.

I felt a lot of this book with my heart hurting for Sam and Asha and what I thought they didn't realize. But by the end I came to understand that they did realize everything. They processed it in their own time and way, and came out stronger. Though they were doubted by some of the adults in the story, they were also loved and understood by others. My favorite part of this story was walking this path with Sam and Asha, seeing through their eyes, feeling all the confusion and hurt, and then seeing how much they grew, individually. Friend break ups and relationships in general are every bit as emotional and impactful on the individuals as romantic relationships, and I'm always happy to read a friendship story.

I feel like I could go into my app store and download Househaunt! What detailed, realistic description of that game. Though I agree with Joanna -- it's probably too gross for me! Lol

Also, can we please have a mini series of stories from around the town all narrated by Donnybroke? That would be amazing.

The View from the Very Best House in Town publishes in February 2022, but don't worry -- I will definitely be reminding you of it when it gets closer to pub date so you can pick it up!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Book Review: A Shadowed Fate by Marty Ambrose


A shocking revelation from an old friend leads Claire Clairmont on a dangerous quest in this second in a fascinating historical trilogy based on the 'summer of 1816' Byron/Shelley group.

1873, Florence. Claire Clairmont, the last survivor of the 'haunted summer of 1816' Byron/Shelley circle, is reeling from the series of events triggered by the arrival of Michael Rosetti two weeks before, which culminated in a brutal murder and a shocking revelation from her old friend, Edward Trewlany.

Stunned by her betrayal at the hands of those closest to her, Claire determines to travel to the convent at Bagnacavallo near Ravenna to learn the true fate of Allegra, her daughter by Lord Byron. But the valuable Cades sketch given to her by Rosetti is stolen, and Claire soon finds herself shadowed at every turn and in increasing danger as she embarks on her quest. Is the theft linked to Allegra, and can Claire uncover what really happened in Ravenna so many years ago?


Mary Shelley....Lord Byron....mention their names and I am sure to pick up the book. Both are favorites of mine along with Shelley's husband Percy. I also will read anything on the haunting weekend that they spent when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. So when I was asked if I wanted to read an advance copy of Marty Ambrose's A Shadowed Fate, which has these writers in could I say no?

The book deals with the mystery surrounding the death of Allegra, Mary Shelley's and Lord Byron's daughter. Shelley's step-sister Claire Clairmont travels to Bagnacavallo to the convent that Byron had placed Allegra in to find out the truth of what happened to her.

A Shadowed Fate happens to be Book 2 of the Lord Byron Mystery series and I suggest that you read the first book, Clair's Last Secret before jumping into A Shadowed Fate as I did, the book is not meant as a stand-alone. However, I did still very much enjoy the book. Marty AMbrose's writing is well thought out and her characters were full of depth, and her descriptions of Italy...beautiful.

I am planning to pick up a copy of Clair's Last Secret, so I can read them in order before the third one comes out, because A Shadowed Fate certainly ends on a cliffhanger!

If you enjoy Historical Fiction, Mysteries, or the romantic/ gothic age of writing, you should look into The Lord Byron Mysteries.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Tuned In Thursdays: Listen to " It's Not An Accident, It's Love " by Polarized Eyes

I am going to liven things up over here and throw on a new single that sounds a lot like old school punk.
It's Not An Accident, It's Love is by UK band Polarized Eyes.

The band consists of...wait for it...16 and 17 year olds. Imagine the future these kids have ahead of them.
The band consists Noah Lonergan ( vocals and guitar ) Amber Welsh (bass ) Michael Barlingieri (guitar) and Harry Heard ( drums ) 

All of them were brought up properly on the music of Patti Smith, The Who and The Clash and their sound is influenced by Nirvana, Royal Blood and Idles. They've been friends since they met at their North London primary school and started making a noise together in 2018.

Polarized Eyes  write powerful songs that capture the zeitgeist of Gen Z – from global warming and toxic masculinity to racism and corruption.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Book Review: 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand


By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of '69: Their secret love affair has lasted for decades -- but this could be the summer that changes everything.

When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flashback to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere -- through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise -- until Mallory learns she's dying.

Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives and the lives of the people they love.


Elin Hilderbrand's 28 Summers was a beach read I had leftover from last summer, I have several that I feel I need to read before I can justify filling my shelves with new ones. I love beach reads, but dang I am trying to be good !

28 Summers is basically a take of the old Alan Alda movie Same Time Next Year, which is a movie I really enjoy. If you are not old enough, you may know Mr. Alda from his role as Hawkeye from watching old Mash reruns, or maybe not. I am aging myself... let us move on.

I will also say this is the first novel I have read by Elin Hilderbrand and I did enjoy it. Her ability to describe the area of Nantucket was magical. You could feel the warm sunshine and the salty sea breeze, taste the rich food and smell the flowers, it was like being transported to the area. Maybe it is because the author lives in the area, but you still need the gift of words to describe the place so visibly.

BUT..there is always a but...
I had a problem with the narrative during parts of the book, mostly in the first part. She would almost seem to stop the story in random places and write as if a narrator took over.." our girl did this " " our boy felt this.." and then it went right back to normal and you carried on with the story.

The story alternated from the viewpoints of both Mallory and Jake the main characters of 28 Summers. I liked the backstories that each told and was interested in what they did during the other 52 weeks of the year when not together. However, I never really understood exactly why they only spent three days a year together, there just didn't seem to be a valid reason why they could not have gotten together at some point over these 28 years. I also felt that the time they were together was written in a rather vague and short way. Where was the passion? I don't mean sex scenes, I mean here are two people who for 28 years made this date NO MATTER WHAT and all they did was eat Chinese and watch movies??? It seemed more like a " friends with benefits " situation instead of a true connection.

So with all that being said, I really did enjoy Hilderbrand's descriptive writing, the story was just a bit flat for me. Maybe I read too much into it. Maybe I should have just taken it for what it was, no questions asked. Maybe it would have seemed to have been a better story for me ( I think it had great potential ). This certainly won't be my last Hilderbrand book, I have already ordered another book by her to give her a second chance, and if I don't like that story...well it was at least another great escape to Nantucket for a few days!


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Tuned In Thursdays : Boy Release new haunting single " Fit Back In "


Swiss-German duo BOY return with their first new music since 2015’s We Were Here. Released by Groenland Records and SilverDoor Music, "FIT BACK IN" is an emotionally complex but typically bewitching teaser for their as yet unfinished, untitled third studio album. Showcasing their distinctive bittersweet style, with Valeska Steiner’s enviably charming vocals riding Sonja Glass’ delicately arranged composition, the song’s like running into an old friend you’ve not seen for ages and suddenly remembering just how much you’ve missed them.

"FIT BACK IN" opens with the lines “Feeling like a stranger in my city and my skin / Nothing around here reminds me of anything”, and while these may appear timely for a world overfamiliar with lockdowns, the song was written before Covid-19 arrived. Instead, it was inspired by the death of Steiner’s father, with whom she was particularly close, and the lyrics were written over the course of more than a year. If, however, this sounds like the premise for a sad song, think again. It’s instead a masterclass in finding hope in despair.