The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman

The House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kauffman

20681CC2-9251-406E-A5F4-C768B3689133Thank you to Libro.fm and RecordedBooks for providing me with a free audio copy of The House on Fripp Island in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

Fripp Island, South Carolina is the perfect destination for the wealthy Daly family: Lisa, Scott, and their two girls. For Lisa’s childhood friend, Poppy Ford, the resort island is a world away from the one she and Lisa grew up in—and when Lisa invites Poppy’s family to join them, how can a working-class woman turn down an all-expenses paid vacation for her husband and children?

But everyone brings secrets to the island, distorting what should be a convivial, relaxing summer on the beach. Lisa sees danger everywhere—the local handyman can’t be allowed near the children, and Lisa suspects Scott is fixated on something, or someone, else. Poppy watches over her husband John and his routines with a sharp eye. It’s a summer of change for all of the children: Ryan Ford who prepares for college in the fall, Rae Daly who seethes on the brink of adulthood, and the two youngest, Kimmy Daly and Alex Ford, who are exposed to new ideas and different ways of life as they forge a friendship of their own. Those who return from this vacation will spend the rest of their lives trying to process what they witnessed, the tipping points, moments of violence and tenderness, and the memory of whom they left behind.

My Review:

Well, hello!  This little summer vacation novel surprised me.  Going into it, I was worried it might be one of those typical summer thrillers that are entertaining but lack any depth and slip from your mind before the summer is even over, but that was not the case with The House on Fripp Island. While I have a hard time calling this one a thriller, it wasn’t exactly a slow burn either.  I was fully vested in these characters and their lives and their vacation together. I think I mostly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the financial differences: Lisa’s family much wealthier, yet not happy.  Always trying to make things appear a certain way but feeling hollow within. And Poppy’s family, while of more limited means, were overall better adjusted adults and teens.

I also found this novel to be extremely realistic, even down to the tragic event at the end.  This story was so different from other thrillers in that it focuses on the characters and their vacation as a way to lead up to the loss of one of the members, rather than start with that and examine what went wrong.  I’m not sure if I am giving this one as much credit as it deserves, but it was just such a nice breathe of fresh air in the midst of a genre that I am growing weary of (dramatic suspense thrillers). I originally rated this one at four stars, but seeing as it has been in my mind a week after finishing it, I am now going with five stars!  Highly recommended summer thriller!

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

563A7420-858C-4522-B2DB-88B3CF051125

Thank you to Berkley for sending me a free copy of The Kennedy Debutante in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from the Publisher:

London, 1938. The effervescent “It girl” of London society since her father was named the ambassador, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy moves in rarified circles, rubbing satin-covered elbows with some of the 20th century’s most powerful figures. Eager to escape the watchful eye of her strict mother, Rose, the antics of her older brothers, Jack and Joe, and the erratic behavior of her sister Rosemary, Kick is ready to strike out on her own and is soon swept off her feet by Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire.

But their love is forbidden, as Kick’s devout Catholic family and Billy’s staunchly Protestant one would never approve their match. When war breaks like a tidal wave across her world, Billy is ripped from her arms as the Kennedys are forced to return to the States. Kick gets work as a journalist and joins the Red Cross to get back to England, where she will have to decide where her true loyalties lie—with family or with love.

My Review:

The Kennedy Debutante is a perfect blend of history, faith, culture, love and life. Maher did a superb job writing Kick as the young, naïve girl she was. Kick is full of hope for the future mixed with the desire to please her family yet not lose sight of what is most important in her heart. I enjoyed getting to know more about the Kennedy family through a much un-talked about member.

A very well paced novel, The Kennedy Debutant takes the reader through the Kennedy family’s time in Europe, before the war and during. I was constantly shaking my head at their strong need to keep up appearances. Even though I know it was a different time, I still had a hard time reading through the difficulties Kick faced all because she had to make her family look good.  He hearts desires had to take a back seat to appearances.

The only part of this book that I didn’t love was the focus on Kick’s relationship with Billy Harrington.  I felt like a large chunk of the second half was going in circles about the adversity they were facing, being of different religions. However, the love/relationship part of any book is my least favorite part. It’s just not for me.  If you don’t mind love stories or enjoy them then it shouldn’t bother you at all.

I went into this book a little in the dark about the Kennedy family. I knew they were a big political family but that was about it.  Now I know so much more about not just Kick, but the rest of the family as well.  Yay to learning from books!  If you are interested in the Kennedy family or you just like historical fiction in general, this book should be on your TBR. I rate it 4/5 stars.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

FEB69A6B-68B2-47C3-AAE7-522B96B31BD0Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing for providing me with a free e-copy of Unsheltered in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

My Review:

If you couldn’t tell from the description, this book has a lot going on.  It touches on a lot of relevant political and worldly issues all while flowing seamlessly through a well told story and in this case, two stories: one past and one present.  This is really what Kingsolver is best at: writing a story that you can’t put down but infusing it with her views of the world and/or political issues that are important to her.

I have read and loved several of Kingsolver’s other books.  The Poisonwood Bible is one of my lifetime favorites.  However I did struggle with Unsheltered a bit.  I was pulled into the story, as I expected to be.  The beginning of the book starts with the story set in present time.  When it switched over to the storyline from the past, I started to get lost.  Maybe it was because both stories were so intense and richly built up, it was almost too much for me.

With that being said, I did enjoy the present time story much more and found it enjoyable, albeit depressing.  But it is focused on depressing topics that face us in our world everyday: healthcare, bigotry, cost of living, job security etc. As a mid-30’s woman, married to a mid-30’s man, both of whom work, this book really got me thinking about security in the long term. It’s a scary world that is constantly changing and not always for the better and I think Kingsolver really emphasizes that unfortunate truth.

Unsheltered is a very good, very well done book that will make you think, make you feel, and will pull you in. It is totally worth reading, but be ready for an intense life lesson when you read it. I give this one 3/5 stars.