Review: The Huntress (Kate Quinn)

While not your typical “beach read,” The Huntress is sure to captivate

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

Did you ever read a book that’s so good, it takes you a few days to even process how to do it justice in a review? For me, that was The Huntress.

This book follows three alternating character storylines- Nina, a female Soviet pilot who is the only one to encounter the Nazi murderess known only as The Huntress and escape. Ian, a war correspondent who now hunts Nazis postwar to bring them to justice, and Jordan, an aspiring photographer who is suspicious of her new stepmother’s past.

The story had a little bit of everything – history, suspense, thrills, romance, and even humor. It was a slow build of character development through each viewpoint, but this helped to really understand the characters and their motivations, and how each fit into the context of the story, until each of their paths crossed.

Before this year, I didn’t read that much historical fiction, but I’m 2/2 so far with 5 star reads in the genre. I found myself really invested in the story of Nina and the Night Witches, so much so that I actually stopped the reading the book at one point to go and read more about the real-life story of the female Soviet WW2 pilots.

Overall, this was a great read that tugged at your heart strings while keeping your pulse high. I highly recommend for anyone interested in historical fiction, or who would like to divulge more into the genre. I look forward to reading The Alice Network and others from Kate Quinn.

Pairs well with: a shot of vodka

The Huntress is available now in Paperback and Ebook !

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, so any affiliate link purchases may earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you

Book of the Month Appreciation Post

I cannot say enough good things about my Book of the Month subscription! I know, I know – the word “subscription” brings up memories of reoccurring credit card charges that you don’t know how to stop, and a drawer full of makeup samples that you know you’ll never actually use. I’ll admit, I had the same concerns when I joined… But there was this new book by an author that I love that was just coming out, and I reallyyyy wanted to read it. I also knew that the line for the library’s copy was going to be months long, and I was leaving for vacation soon. (And we all know how essential it is to have a really good book for vacation!)

That’s when, (through the magic of internet ads reading our minds!) I stumbled upon Book of the Month. For only $5, it promised, I would get a brand-new hardcover copy of this very book. From there, I could receive a copy of a new book every month going forward, for just $14.99 per month. I’m always on the lookout for a great deal, so I figured, why not? I can always cancel if I don’t like it…

Some of my BOTM selections! As you can see, this subscription and I have become very fond of each other!

There are two standout moments of excitement that occur every month when you’re enrolled in Book of the Month. The first is when the new titles are released. All my fellow bookworms and I are always aflutter in those last few days of the month, waiting in anticipation to see what Santa’s BOTM elves will provide that month. I always know as soon as the titles go live, because my bookish groups immediately blow up with the “They’re here!! What are you getting?!” posts. I usually have my selection picked out within 15 minutes, and then it’s just a waiting game for that bright blue box to arrive at my door. When it does, well that’s the second magical moment: the unboxing. Tearing open that box to reveal your beautiful, pristine new hardcover book, and reveling in the feeling of a new adventure in your hands.

That moment when your two favorite boxes arrive at your door….

Remember all of those concerns I have about subscription boxes? I was able to test them after my first two boxes. One winter day, the titles for the next month were released, and honestly, I just wasn’t feeling any of them. Sure, I was interested in some of them enough to read them – but did I really think I would like them enough to own them forever, on display on my bookshelf? Not so much. So I chose the “Skip the Month” option that month. Usually in other subscription services, that means your credit rolls over to the next month, but you’re still getting that reoccurring bill on your credit card the next month, just stacking those credits that you may never use. Not with Book of the Month! The next month, my previously paid-for credit was still waiting in my account, ready to be used for when I found another book that I just needed to own. Until then, no more charges to me. This may be my favorite feature of the subscription, and it’s definitely the reason I stayed around. It feels like I’m part of the Club, but without the commitment and waste of money if I’m just not interested in the titles.

Oh, and if you just can’t choose, and want two (or three!) books that month? Each additional book will only cost you $9.99. You can also go back to selections from the previous months, and get those for only ten bucks as well!

So here’s my little gift to all of you who you may be interested in receiving these gorgeous hardcovers every month: If you use my link, you get your first Book of the Month club book for FREE. Yep, that’s right. ZERO DOLLAS. After that, you’ll be charged $14.99 for your next book. But, as long as you log into your account each month to skip, you can hold on to that credit for as long as you want, waiting for that next perfect read to appear.

Here’s my link:
If you do choose to enroll, I hope you love Book of the Month as much as I do!!
Full disclosure – if you sign up with my link, I get a free book too 🙂

Already a Book of the Month member? Tell me what you love (or hate) about it, and if you’re getting a book this month!

Review: The Arrangement (Robyn Harding)

While the characters enjoy a lot of scotch in this one, I tried out a new canned rosé

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

This book is everything I could ask for in a guilty pleasure read: fast-paced, addicting, and totally crazy. Natalie (Nat) is an art student with financial struggles, who is starting to drown under her debt. A classmate tells her about a website where she can solve these problems, for the cost of her time and companionship…or more, if she so chooses. This leads Nat to into the world of “sugar daddies.”

The concept of “sugar daddies” and “sugar babies” is intriguing enough – who wouldn’t consider an opportunity for their financial problems to be solved, just by meeting a rich stranger for a drink? (Back when I was single, I had some pretty awkward first dates that I wouldn’t have mind walking away from with a few benjamins in my pocket for my troubles!) But beyond that, I really liked that the author did her research and actually reached out to “sugar babies” to learn about their experiences. I think that was a great way to get insight on these kinds of situations, instead of making sensationalized assumptions about what goes on. Clearly, there is much at risk when entering into a “sugar” situation – morale, reputation, and family life are just some of the areas that can be negatively affected. The author does a great job of not sugarcoating (no pun intended) how dangerous and degrading it can be, despite the glamorous life that is portrayed by “sugar babies.”

If you’re looking for a read where you can actively root for a character, this might not be the book for you. The main character and “sugar baby” Nat might have been dealt a tough hand, but her actions went from “woe is me” (she couldn’t possible take out a student loan to cover her tuition like the rest of us!) to selfish pretty quickly. That being said, I don’t necessarily mind an unlikable main character if the story is interesting, and this one kept me absorbed.

I could see this being turned into a Lifetime movie, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. I would love to sit under a blanket with a glass of wine, and watch this story play out on my television!

Pairs well with: a Rusty Nail

The Arrangement is available now in Hardcover and Ebook!

Review: A Stranger on the Beach (Michele Campbell)

(I really loved the cover for this book!)

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

I really wanted to love this book – and I did love the first half. I was hooked into the story right away, and I had a hard time tearing myself away. It was quick-paced, and the story line had me intrigued throughout.

That being said, I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. Campbell used alternating POVs to tell the story through the eyes of Caroline and Aiden, and sometimes the events were hard to follow and seemed nonsensical. By the end, when it wraps up, I understood why the gaps were there, but it was hard to still be invested without a character to root for.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this because of the fast-pace, even though I was left confused and unsettled by the outcome. If you’re a fan of thrillers with crazy story lines, this might be a good one to pick up.

Pairs well with: a dirty martini

A Stranger on the Beach is on sale now in Hardcover and Ebook!

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, so any affiliate link purchases may earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you

Review: Lock Every Door (Riley Sager)

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Is there anything better than a summer day when you’re so hooked on a book that you can’t bring yourself to do anything else but finish it? If you’re searching for that kind of read, look no further than Riley Sager’s latest, Lock Every Door.

If you don’t go into this book blind, you know that the Bartholomew building is hiding some deeply buried, mysterious secret. Even though I was able to pick up on some of the clues about what was going on, the twist in this story is still crazy and unexpected. Sager’s use of quick, cliffhanger chapters will grab hold of your attention from the beginning, and won’t let you go until the very last page.

One of the things I really appreciated about this book was the main character – an actual strong, female lead. While she was a bit of a loner, with no family and only one friend to count on, she was someone you could root for from the start. Too often in this genre, the female lead is portrayed with some glaring fault – she drinks too much, she is overly emotional, or she has some kind of other ailment that keeps her credibility low. Lock Every Door‘s lead, Jules, only has the elements of a rough life path working against her (unemployed, but not by her fault; homeless, because she left her apartment after discovering a cheating boyfriend; mostly alone, because her family is dead or disappeared). Still despite this, she approaches life not as a victim, but as someone looking for that chance to get on her feet. It was a refreshing change to have a lead who the reader could truly connect with.

Overall, this book is worth the hype. If you find yourself with some extended free time, move this up to the top of your #TBR list and buckle up for the ride.

Pairs well with: a dark and stormy

Lock Every Door is on sale now in hardcover and ebook!

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, so any affiliate link purchases may earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Review: The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

While I had always heard great things about this book, it was never high up on my list. I’ll admit, I was intimidated by both its size and its subject matter. I tend to avoid things that will make me sad, because there’s already so much sadness in the world. However, when this title was thrown into the ring for a group buddy read, I figured it was a good opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone. I am truly glad that I ended up taking it on.

The book is mainly about two sisters during occupied France in WWII: one who stays in her home despite the Nazis who end up quartering with her, and the other who is just anxious to do something to help in the war. The timeline starts as the war is unfolding in France, and continues until it is over.

Heart-wrenching. That would be the main word I would use to describe this book. The struggles that each character goes through show how hard it was just to survive in that era. While the book is fiction, the characters are based on many women who actually lived through the war, and the things they did to help others and survive themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how evil exists while we’re living out our normal lives, thinking something like that could never happen again. The scary part is that it could – there is so much hatred out there over our differences and it makes me sick to think that we may not have learned so much after all.

I’m giving this 5/5 stars. This was my first Kristin Hannah book, but I doubt it will be my last. Do yourself a favor and read it, but don’t forget the tissues

Pairs well with: a full-bodied red

Welcome to my library!

“Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle, a good book, a good friend.” – Moliere

I can’t remember a time of my life where I wasn’t a reader. From picture books as a child, to devouring my first chapter books, I have always had a book nearby. During the last year, I realized how big of a community there is out there of people just like me. People who get excited over the smell of a bookstore, people whose Kindles are attached to them like a second arm, people who spent their days getting lost in finishing a book just to find themselves slightly depressed when the story is over. My kind of people…

Six months ago, I started a Bookstagram – an Instagram page all about books. That page has brought me further and further into the book community. I started connecting with other readers, reviewing advanced copies of to-be-released books, and have even started to plan a book club or two. While I love my Bookstagram community, I wanted to be able to give more insight to the books that I read and love, so that I can be a source for those who are looking for the perfect read for any mood or occasion.

I can’t wait for you to join me on my bookish adventure!

Cheers & happy reading!
-The Biblio Wino