Monday, April 30, 2018

Book Review: The Great Alone By Kristin Hannah


By: Kristin Hannah

Published: February 6, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin's Press


After reading my seventh Kristin Hannah novel, I think she just keeps getting better. I didn't think she could top her latest best-selling historical fiction novel, THE NIGHTINGALE, but I think she has. Hannah has a family connection and great love for Alaska. By setting her newest novel there she has made the Alaskan territory a character of its own.

Ernt Allbright has come back a changed man after his time in Vietnam. It's the early 70's and the nation is trying to understand the vets who have come home, the protestors, the hippies, and the fact that women are being kidnapped and murdered. It's a dangerous time and Ernt isn't adjusting well. When he finds out his veteran buddy has left him a home and land in Alaska, Ernt believes this is just the change his family needs. He packs up his wife, Cora, and teenage daughter Leni into a VW bus and starts driving north. Cora and Leni figure that this is just another hair-brained idea and they will be back home in a couple weeks, yet also hopeful that this time will be different and Ernt will finally get back to his old self before the war.

Hannah's edgy description of Ernt and his nightmares, his hatred for government, and distrust of others gives readers a view into a time when there was little help for the vets who came home to a much different life than they had been living. Cora is deeply in love with Ernt and blind to his outbursts and assumes that she can always calm him. Leni, a typical teenager, is mostly worried about what life in Alaska will be like and if she will make any friends. When they arrive at the homestead, it isn't at all what they had expected and the work it will take to make it livable is outshined by the work it will take them from day one to start planning on how they'll survive the coming winter.

The reader can visualize the stark beauty of Alaska through the vivid descriptions Hannah paints on the pages. You can tell she has a deep love for the land, the culture, and the people of Alaska and takes great care to describe them as loving, hard-working, and tenacious. When winter hits, no matter what the temperature is outside, you'll feel the chill as you turn the pages.

This story is full of sadness and despair. You feel a bit voyeuristic as you read and visualize Cora and Leni struggling with Ernt's demons. Your heart breaks when grief takes over their close-knit community. Just when you think things are looking up for the Allbrights, another tragedy occurs to set them back and your frustration builds as Cora and Leni don't seem to be able to do anything to change their fate. Your emotions will be all over the place jumping from hope to relief to heartbreak to fear. Then finally, the sun shines again and you have to believe these characters are going to find a way to survive.

It's a hefty novel at over four hundred pages, but you won't notice as you follow the Allbrights' lives through the 70's and 80's. My only negative would be that the final few chapters felt a bit rushed and trite.  I was absolutely enthralled with the setting, the characters, and Hannah's beautiful writing. I tend to miss reading about the 70's through my book choices but this one opened my eyes to an important time in our history and a part of our country that is dangerously beautiful.

Kristin Hannah - source
Kristin Hannah is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, Winter GardenNight Road, and Firefly LaneKristin is a former-lawyer-turned writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. 

To purchase a copy of THE GREAT ALONE, click the photo below:

Other posts you may like:

NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah

WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah

TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah

FIREFLY LANE by Kristin Hannah

If you choose to make a purchase through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Children's Book Review: I Am Famous By Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie


By: Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie

Illustrated by: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Published: March 1, 2018

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company


In our era of smartphones, tablets and social media it seems even the youngest of toddlers knows how to take a "selfie". Parents are posting videos of their children being silly and sharing "snaps" of them playing dress up or singing along to their favorite song. This book shares the silliness of documenting our child's every move from their perspective.

Kiely is famous....or she assumes she must be. The paparazzi (her parents) follow her everywhere with a camera and she can go online and see her "movies". Her privacy is invaded during dinner and even bath time! But, she has a big show coming up, so she needs to look her best. She walks down the red carpet to perform at her Grandpa's birthday party. Even though it may not have gone as planned, she is still a star!

As you can see in the trailer below, the illustrations are adorable. Kiely's personality shines on the page and her outfits and expressions are perfect for the story.

This is such a fun story and one that kids can relate to! Adults will get a kick out of the parents in the story and will likely be able to identify themselves in one of the situations. Of course, we all think our kids are special, but maybe this will remind parents that not every second of their child's life needs to be documented and shared. At least, everyone will have a laugh!

Check out the book trailer:

Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie
Source - Carl Kerridge Photography
Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie are sisters. Tara previously owned a kids' toy and bookstore in Atlanta. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and three sons. Becky was a casting producer for reality TV shows, including NBC's America's Got Talent, ABC's Extreme Makeover, and E!'s The Simple Life in Los Angeles. She now lives in Chicago. To learn more about Tara and Becky, and to download an activity kit, check out their website, HERE.  

Twitter: @T_Luebbe and @B_Cattie

Instagram: TaraLuebbe

Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is the acclaimed illustrator of A Day with Parkinson's by A. Hultquist. She lives in Amsterdam with her family.

To purchase a copy of I AM FAMOUS, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Other posts you may like:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Product Review: Hyalogic Scar Serum from Natural Healthy Concepts

On March 4, 2018, I started using Hyalogic Scar Serum on a scar that is from a burn several years ago. It was a really bad burn and left behind quite a line on my left hand. I was hoping to find a product to reduce the appearance of this burn on my hand. I have been applying this product to my scar every morning and night for nearly 8 weeks. You can see the photos of my scar below:

Scar - March 4, 2018
Scar - April 20, 2018

These photos haven't been doctored at all. No filters or "cleaning up" done to either photo. It may be hard to tell but to me, the scar is lighter. The skin is softer and I can't feel the line as much on my skin. For older scars, like this one, the product may take 3-6 months to fully see results. I'm only at the two-month mark.

Hyalogic Scar Serum is a blend of ingredients that work to smooth, soften and reduce the appearance of scars. Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, and Panthenol (Vitamin B5) combine to manage scars and encourage healthy-looking and feeling skin. This formula is odorless and absorbs quickly into the skin. What do all these ingredients do for the skin?

Hyaluronic Acid ~ Acts as a filler for skin and has a plumping effect that lessens the noticeability of most types of scars. 

Allantoin ~ A natural ingredient known for moisturizing and softening skin.

Panthenol ~ A gentle, water-soluble vitamin that delivers moisture and helps hydrate, soothe, and support skin. 

The scar serum bottle has a pump feature so you can quickly pump out a small amount onto your fingertip or the area you are applying it to and rub in it. Because of the small bottle, it is easy to find space on your counter and keep it accessible for use twice a day.

I can definitely notice a difference in that particular spot on my skin and am now wondering if I should be applying the serum to the whole top of my hand rather than just the spot of the scar! I will continue to use the product for the next few months, with the expectation for my scar to reduce in appearance even more.

To see all the Hyalogic brand of products, check out their page on the Natual Healthy Concepts website, HYALOGIC.

Natural Healthy Concepts  is a vitamin and supplement website with a blog that features articles by a certified nutritionist on the most important topics in the natural health industry, such as blessed thistle, turmeric root, and collagen.

Other posts you may like:

Derma-E Scar Gel from Natural Healthy Concepts

I was provided this product for free in exchange for an honest review. This review is my honest opinion.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Children's Book Review: Bet You Didn't Know! From National Geographic Kids

Fascinating, Far-out, Fun-tastic Facts

Published: August 8, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books


I've been subbing in the elementary classrooms long enough now that the students know I usually have a few fun books to share in my teaching bag. I recently taught remedial readers in fourth and fifth grades and their treat for getting their reading done was to look through this book. Each of the kids was allowed to read one fact off of the page I chose and they LOVED THIS BOOK and didn't want to go back to their regular classrooms.

BET YOU DIDN"T KNOW is full of fun, interesting (to kids AND adults) facts from various topics. Kids might learn about space, sea creatures, snow, bees, money, caves, the brain, and many other cool things. Of course, every page is full of fantastic photography that National Geographic does best and then numbered facts to give kids just enough information to stay interested. There is truly a page of facts for everyone!

The book is a larger size and at nearly 200 pages, it's hefty. But, that's because it is so jam-packed with knowledge. Some of my favorite facts from the book included:

Some cats are allergic to people.

A mummy was once found with its tongue sticking out.

In your lifetime, you will eat an amount of hamburger meat equal to the weight of a family car.

In Japanese, the word tsundoku refers to buying books that you don't actually read. 

There are so many more facts in this book that it will keep kids interested for days. If you are looking for end-of-the-year teacher gifts, this would make an awesome addition to an elementary classroom. It would also be a good book to keep your child reading over the summer. 

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

To purchase a copy of Bet You Didn't Know! click the photo below:

Other posts you may like:

Just Joking Jumbo

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas

Science Encyclopedia

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Quick Lit: Mini Review of Some Recent Reads - April Edition

I'm trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I've been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don't really need a full review. But, I'd still like to give them some space here on the blog.

I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link up. Be sure to head over to see others link up their Quick Lit posts.

Our family took a Spring Break trip, driving to Dallas, Texas, and back. So I had plenty of time for reading and I read the bottom four books in this post while on our trip. The rest I fit in sporadically around other review books. My reading time is slowing down again now as track season is ramping up (just when I think Mother Nature has realized it is Spring and NOT winter she drops more snow on us) and planning for graduation is in full swing. My spare time is spent working on organizing pictures and other things for graduation party preparation. I'm looking forward to a much more relaxed summer schedule that will include catching up on reading! But, for now, I'm embracing these last moments of our son's high school experience.  

By: Kevin Hazzard 
Published: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Scribner
Format: eBook

I really enjoy medical memoirs and this one, from an EMT/Paramedic's perspective gave me a different look into the medical field. After a career in journalism, Hazzard wanted a have a job that was exciting but also gave him the opportunity to help others and make an impact in someone's life. After hours of studying, classes, ride-a-longs and being thrown into life and death situations, he started his career at Grady, Atlanta's toughest neighborhood. He was quickly thrown into the darkest and most difficult moments in people's lives.  His stories of life and death were horrifying and graphic. The conditions that the paramedics had to work in were beyond horrible and it's a wonder they were able to save anyone's life. 

Because of his journalistic background, Hazzard writes to keep the reader interested white using metaphors to give us a voyeuristic view into the days and nights of an ambulance crew. Hazzard doesn't hold back in his story-sharing and his vivid descriptions of scenes whether accidents or family drama or murders made me cringe. 

My favorite quote from the book is tragic, but sadly seemingly true:

"Medicine's great magic trick is how it convinces us we're here saving lives
 when more often what we're doing is witnessing death." 

By: Amy Thielen
Published: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Format: Audiobook

I was interested in Thielen's book because my cousin knows her and has helped with a few of her book signing events. I have skimmed her cookbook, THE NEW MIDWESTERN TABLE and salivated over her recipes. I also watched her show on the Food Network so I was already familiar with her story a bit. I listened to her memoir on audio, which she reads herself. Her story of working as an NYC chef was fascinating even though a lot of the food she was creating I had never heard of. The long hours and minimal pay were a surprise to me as I assumed chefs were paid well. How she and her husband, Aaron, would just jump in the car and start a new adventure gave me anxiety. Staying with strangers until their car was fixed, trusting that all would work out or living in an old building with strangers in NYC just floored me. It was definitely a different time, but still they were extremely trusting of others. Once they returned to Minnesota and began living off the land, I was fascinated by her willingness to live with so little. I was excited along with her when they got running water for the first time in their cabin. Thielen's story is more than a food memoir, it is an awakening of what her life purpose truly is. 

Celebrate the Dreamer in You
By: Dolly Parton
Published: November 27, 2012
Publisher: Putnam
Format: Audiobook

This book is similar to MAKE YOUR BED that I wrote about last month in the sense that the book was written based on a graduation speech. I listened to both on audio and by far, Dolly's is more fun to listen to! You can't help being happy while listening to Dolly share her stories. She is always full of joy and spunk. 

Her laughter, her generosity, and her love of children are what make her the Dolly we all love. To paraphrase her quote from the book, "I don't want to be remembered for my looks, but for my books." Her foundation Imagination Library makes it possible for children everywhere to have a book. To find out what that is what she is most proud of in her life, you have to read her book. At just a 1 1/2 hour listen, you can finish it in no time. Well worth your time and make sure you choose the audio version to get the full Dolly experience! I just wish she would have gone even deeper in some of her stories. 

A True Story of Rape in America
By: T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Crown
Format: Hardcover

I'm not sure that I can really say much more than what the synopsis has already told you, except for you to be prepared. It's graphic, heartbreaking, and horrifying. The evil depicted in this book is so much more so because you know every horrific detail of it happened to the women brave enough to tell their story again and again.

My first job out of college was as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counselor. I can handle a certain amount of graphic details as it used to be part of my job, but I will admit, I had to put this book aside several times and take a breather. It's been a long time since I worked with victims every day, attached to a pager knowing every time it went off, someone had been hurt. It was hard to keep turning the pages knowing the victims weren't being believed, knowing the rapist was going to strike again, and knowing all these things truly happened was a lot to take.

The reporting in this book is important and should be required reading off all police detectives and counselors who work with victims. The take away for me was the reminder that false reports are rare and each victim's response to rape can't be compared to another victim. It's our job to believe until proven otherwise, listen, and support in whatever capacity possible. 

By: Judith Fertig
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback

Who wouldn't want to read a book with a rainbow cake on the cover?

Fertig created the plot of this story while at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival where many other great books began. Claire, or "Neely" as her friends call her, returns to her hometown in Ohio after living a lavish life in NYC married to an NFL star and being well-known for her baking. Her marriage is over as far as she is concerned and it is time to start over.

Neely opens up her bakery right across from her friend's bridal shop hoping to make their community a destination for wedding planning. Success comes fast and her skill at baking for people's moods and feelings keeps customers coming to their small town.

Neely has the magical ability to sense people's emotions and bakes with certain flavors that match up with their feelings drawing stories and emotions out of her customers.

Along with Neely's story, we are also immersed in a story from the past that has a connection to Neely and her customers. At first, this didn't make sense to the rest of the story and I was confused, but as I continued along, I realized there was a connection that would tie everything together, which it did.

Readers should know there are some storylines that can be triggers for some people. Overall, I enjoyed the friendships created, the mystery behind the flavors and creating special desserts, and the endless mouth-watering descriptions of cakes.

Favorite Quote:
"Orange wakes you up, but cinnamon makes you remember. 
I guess you can't have a future without a past. "

A Science-Based Plan to Lose Weight, Revitalize Your Skin, and Invigorate Your Life
By: Naomi Whittel
Published: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: eBook

I saw an ad for this book in a magazine while on our Spring Break trip. After reading a couple sample chapters, I bought the Kindle version. I am really intrigued by the philosophy of autophagy and have done parts of the plan since I read it. Again, it takes planning and prep work which I can't fit in right now, but I liked the recipes in the book as well as the schedule of high and low protein days. The exercise plan in the book also seems doable.

By: Sherman Alexie
Published: September 12, 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Format: Paperback

This book came highly recommended to me by my nephew who is a high-school English teacher on a Native American reservation school. Our sons read it a couple years ago and I finally decided our Spring Break trip would be a good time to read it since I knew it would a quick read. I have always been curious as to why it was a banned book and yet so many rave about it. 

The only part that maybe would be of a concern for parents is that the book has strong themes yet looks to appeal to a younger audience because of the length of the book and the character (think Diary of a Wimpy Kid) drawings throughout the book. But, it is definitely written for mature middle-school to high-school-aged children. 

Even though it is a quick read, I did find it extremely depressing and had to put it down a few times just to take a step away from the story. Arnold was born to alcoholic parents so he has had some brain complications and lives in the cycle of alcoholism, poverty, and poor choices that seem to be too common on reservations. Even with his brain issues, he is extremely bright and takes a chance by leaving the reservation school to attend the local high school that is 20 miles away. Many days he has to walk himself to or from school. Other times he catches a ride by hitch-hiking. But, still, Arnold succeeds....even when things are chaotic all around him and it would be so much easier to give up.I had to believe that there would be happiness ahead to keep myself reading and there was, but there was a lot of tragedy too. So, choose carefully if recommending this to young readers. 

Other posts you may enjoy:

Friday, April 13, 2018

Children's Book Review: The Boo-Boos that Changed the World By Barry Wittenstein

A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!)

By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated by: Chris Hsu

Published: February 13, 2018

Publisher: Charlesbridge


Who knew the story of how band-aids were invented would be so interesting! Wittenstein has a way of telling a story from history but injecting enough humor to keep kids interested in finding out what happened next. Earle Dickson came up with the idea for a band-aid because his wife was often cutting herself while making his dinner. He felt bad and worried about her wounds getting infected. One night, he had a bright idea and went to his boss, James Johnson, to tell him his idea. But, the band-aids didn't immediately become a best-selling item and there were a few bumps along the way.

I think this is a great story for kids to learn about because even though Earle Dickson had a great idea and worked for the right company to make the idea happen, he still had rejection and frustration. After getting the idea to actually work, then he had to figure out a way for customers to buy into it. It took trial and error and perseverance to keep working on selling his item. By deciding to give band-aids away to just the right group of people, his idea finally took off.

The end of the book includes an author's note with a bit more detailed history on Earle Dickson and a timeline of events in Earle's life. There is also a timeline of other medical-related inventions from the 1920's and 1930's and a list of websites that kids can go to to find more information and watch videos about band-aids. Wittenstein took a little liberty with the story of Earle Dickson and his invention, but the important piece for kids to learn is to not give up and keep finding a solution to the problem all while having a bit of humor.

Barry Wittenstein - source
Barry Wittenstein has always been involved with writing, from contributing to his high school and college newspapers, to writing and performing poetry on stage in San Francisco, songwriting, sports writing, and now picture books.

He has worked at CBS Records, CBS News, and was a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball. He is now an elementary-school substitute teacher and children's author.

Barry particularly likes nonfiction, and profiling mostly unknown people and events whose stories have never been told in children's literature. He is the author of Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World. He lives in New York City. To learn more, visit his website, HERE, or on Twitter: @bwittbooks.  

You can also listen to Barry talk about the book on the Charlesbridge podcast, HERE.

To purchase a copy of THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

You may also like these posts:




Friday, April 6, 2018

Children's Book Review: The World of the Bible By Jill Rubalcaba

Biblical Stories and The Archaeology Behind Them

By: Jill Rubalcaba

Published: November 7, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books


Are your children intimidated by reading the Bible, yet you still want them to know the stories and lessons from it? This book tells the important stories from the Bible like Noah and the Flood, Joseph's Robe, Jesus Walking on Water, and The Good Samaritan in a condensed version based on the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible. Vivid and detailed illustrations and classical portraits fill the page along with the story to hold your child's attention. There are also "Did You Know" bubbles on the pages to share other historical facts that go along with the story. The pages also reflect which Book of the Bible and chapter/verse this story came from in case you want to dig deeper into the story.

These brief versions of the stories offer the main points and the lesson God was trying to teach in Jonah's story (above) after disobeying God, his fellow sailors threw Jonah overboard to his death to stop the raging storm that God had created. Jonah was then swallowed by a whale just before he drowned. After three days, he was spat out onto dry land. The next time God asked Jonah to do something, he complied. This story from the book of Jonah can be found in Chapters 1-4. The "Did You Know" bubble offers factual information on Nineveh and the Hanging Gardens.

The other parts of the book share historical and archaeological finds related to stories from the Bible. Archaeologists in Israel found ancient beehives that uphold the truth of God commanding Moses to lead the Israelites to "the land of milk and honey". Honey was in high demand in ancient times because it was used for medicine and as a sweetener. I had no idea jars of honey were also placed in tombs as part of a ritual to feed the dead in the afterlife. Many of the other archaeological finds shared in this book are just as fascinating.

As a mom who frequently read her children stories from the Bible and also taught Sunday School, this book would have been a wonderful resource to add more layers to the story. All of the information in this book has been reviewed by biblical scholars to make sure all the facts and details are up-to-date and accurate. This book is a bit larger than normal and the pages are heavyweight paper. It is well-written and full of details, much like any other National Geographic quality book would be. It would make a great addition to a church or homeschool library.

To purchase a copy of THE WORLD OF THE BIBLE, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

You may also like these posts:

Questions and Answers for Kids

The Great Carp Escape

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2018

National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia

Thanks to the publisher for providing copies of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: The French Girl By Lexie Elliott

A Novel 

By: Lexie Elliott

Published: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books


Debut novelist, Lexie Elliott always wanted to be a writer. Thinking back on a summer vacation with her friends to a farmhouse in France, the idea for this novel was formed. Kate Channing, along with her boyfriend Seb, and three other friends spend a week at their friend Theo's farmhouse in France. It's the perfect reward for surviving Oxford University. The six of them are the best of friends with Seb and Tom, cousins, Lara and Kate being best friends, Caro a childhood friend of Seb and Tom and Theo. Then the beautiful French girl, Severine, who lives next door, shows up. She changes the dynamics of their friendships and the day the friends are all set to return to London, Severine disappears.

Fast forward ten years later. Kate is living in London starting her own headhunter business. Seb is someone else and is moving back to London. Tom and Lara are still Kate's best friends and Caro is ending up being a new potential client of Kate's. But, Severine has come back to haunt them. Her body has just been found at the bottom of the well at Theo's farmhouse. Theo can't be questioned because he was killed in Afghanistan. The five are now thrown back into what happened that week at the farmhouse and realizing someone isn't telling the truth.

I chose this novel because I love stories of friendships and secrets. When Severine's body is found and the timing points to one of the six likely committing the murder, the questions start to circulate in everyone's minds. Who isn't being truthful, what really happened that last night in France, and who is going to ultimately be the murderer? The story starts to unravel as Elliott takes you back to the week in France and into the minds of the five friends that are left to answer the detective's unending questions.

Elliott immediately starts to put you in the mode of questioning every character's motive. Why is Caro suddenly back in Kate's life? Why is Seb moving back with his new wife? Since Theo can't be questioned, can he be trusted? Elliott throws you into the lives of these thirty-something professionals who thought they could put that week in France behind them and now their lives and careers are hanging in balance as the investigation gets more and more intense and the French are pushing to make an arrest.

The interesting part of the story that really intrigued me was the introduction of Severine's ghost that only Kate could see. Severine loomed in Kate's periphery joining her at home, at work, after work at the bar, at dinner with friends, and while she was being questioned. At first, Kate can only see her bones or her skull, but then as the investigation moves forward, Severine becomes a crucial character in the story of her murder. She hovers around Kate, insistent that she isn't forgotten.

Even though I guessed the murderer and the story has a common second attempt at murder that I see in many novels as the murderer gets desperate, I was still surprised by the conclusion of the investigation. I thought it might leave me feeling angry, but it actually left me feeling like it was a bit more realistic than some other conclusions. Is this a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist? No. It's more of a slow mystery that builds as you get to know the characters and their motives for keeping the secrets that have been inside them for ten years. I think Elliott has talent and creativity. Since she used bits of her own idyllic trip to France back in college for this story, I am hoping she has other recollections that she can fall back on for more twisted mysteries.

Lexie Elliott - source
Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was THE FRENCH GIRL.

When she's not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won't be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won't be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn't out of the question. For more, check out her website, HERE

To purchase a copy of THE FRENCH GIRL, click the photo below:

Other posts you might like:





Thanks to the publisher for providing copies of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.