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weekly wrap-up 8/6

• It’s been way too cold for me this week, but both pups are more than happy to go for extra long walks when it’s in the 50s! If you follow me on IG, I shared a photo of the aftermath in my stories (spoiler: naps and a mama ready to get some blogging done!)

• So I totally missed it earlier in the week, but the blog is now 6 years old!

• I recently scored a massive zucchini from an awesome friend and I have a feeling today will be spent in the kitchen! I have my heart set on some zucchini bread ♥

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives sounded like a book written for me: from its museum setting to a discovered ancient map, I was SO ready to love this one. Unfortunately, I had to force myself to finish. The writing was almost pretentious, using lots of big, fancy words and similes when a simple, straightforward sentence would work. There wasn’t so much a fun mystery as there was LOTS of pining after a coworker and ranting about a soon-to-be- ex-husband. I had higher hopes for this one.

Emily Colin’s The Dream Keeper’s Daughter was another disappointment, made even worse by the fact that I was so, so into it for the majority of the novel. It wasn’t until the end that it all fell apart. A woman sees her boyfriend vanish right before her eyes, leaving her to raise their baby on her own. Eight years later she believes she gets a phone call from him. Where has he been this whole time? In the past. Yep, this one features time travel! 1816 Barbados, to be exact, on the eve of a slave revolt.

I also posted my July recap.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I’ve been seeing a ton of buzz for this one! Y’all know I love me a good psychological thriller, so I’m looking forward to this one! I’m kind of loving that the blurb gives away so little info; I truly have no idea what to expect. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel
I’ve shared my dirty little secret before, right? I’ve never read a Jane Austen novel. Nope, not a single one. HOWEVER, I love retellings of her books! This one is a modern day, New Adult retelling of Persuasion! Count me in! Thank you, Thomas Dunne Books!

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July 2017 recap!


WHAT I…DID

• I made ice cream for the first time! Or, rather, nice cream. My mom hosted a 4th of July cookout and I made vegan banana-peach ice cream – yum!!

• Another cookout involved my cousin doodling tattoos on everyone – mine was AWESOME!

• Nacho turned 4 months old!

• I’ve mentioned before than I’m not a huge tv person (so I tend to be REALLY behind on all the ~cool~ shows). Matt and I recently binged on The Man in the High Castle and it was so, so good.

• I’m the kind of crazy dogmama that wears clothes with my pups on them. I already have a Pittie shirt for Bay, so the second I saw this Boston Terrier blouse I knew it had to come home with me!

• We’ll be posting the details soon, but if you missed last week’s #HistoricalFix chat, we inadvertently chose our next #BookClubFix pick!! Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Holy cow, I hadn’t realized what a doorstop this was until it arrived at my library. This book is BIG.

• I read 16 books in July, 7 on audio, 9 print/e-books. I’m more than a little surprised by that, I thought I was in a bit of a slump! lol I guess not!

WHAT I…REVIEWED

HELLO, SUNSHINE BY LAURA DAVE was such a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t a huge fan of Eight Hundred Grapes and was admittedly a little hesitant about jumping into this one, but I’m so glad I did! A Youtube chef-turned-Food Network star & bestselling author loses everything when her Twitter account is hacked by someone who knows more about Sunny’s rise to fame than they should. I did have a slight problem with the ending, but this book really made me think about how we show ourselves online vs who we really are.

GIRL ON THE LEESIDE BY KATHLEEN ANNE KENNEY had such a beautiful setting – rural Ireland – but the main character dragged this one down. She was nearly 30 but was written (and acted and treated) like a child. Being a bit sheltered and something of a late bloomer is one thing, but Siobhan took it a step too far to the point where the romance came off as SUPER gross and creepy.

THE LIST BY PATRICIA FORDE left me feeling confused. This Middle Grade dystopian novel initially sounded exciting and intense – after a devastating flood, a new society emerges where the government has created a list of 500 approved words. Anyone caught speaking a word outside those allowed will face severe punishment, even exile. What had me scratching my head was the timeline: this book only takes place a few years in the future…as in, MANY people who were around pre-flood are still alive. These people all know how to speak, all know far more words than the 500 on the List – and when government officials aren’t around, they do speak the old way. There didn’t seem to be much of a point here and I think the ideas got a bit too large for the author to tackle, leaving the book feeling sloppy.

THE WILDLING SISTERS BY EVE CHASE was a novel I couldn’t wait to get my hands on! Eve’s debut Black Rabbit Hall is one I KNOW you’ve all heard me talk about many times – it was my favorite book of 2016 and a favorite in general! Her follow-up was fantastic: a dual-era timeline, a crumbling old manor, secrets from the past that refuse to stay hidden. So lovely. So great. Eve Chase is absolutely one of my favorite authors and I HIGHLY recommend her books!

WE NOW RETURN TO REGULAR LIFE BY MARTIN WILSON was a massive surprise. I hadn’t heard of Martin OR this novel until it appeared at my door and, guys, this is a top read of the year. When Sam was 11 he was kidnapped. Three years later he’s found, this whole time he’s only been two hours away in a neighboring city. What follows isn’t Sam’s story as much as it’s his sister’s and former best friend’s. Told in alternating chapters, the book follows Beth and Josh as they not only deal with their own problems, but how Sam’s sudden reappearance fits into their new lives. If you’re looking for a gut-punch of a novel, look no further.

IMPOSSIBLE VIEWS OF THE WORLD BY LUCY IVES was a massive dud. Initially pitched to me as an adult From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, this was less exciting museum romp and more about a woman avoiding her ex-husband, pining after a coworker she had a fling with, and having lunches with her glamorous mother. The author is a poet and I was intrigued to see how she would take to novels…not so great as it turns out. Horribly over-written, big sweeping phrases where a single, simple word would suffice, a mystery that just wasn’t there.. I was so disappointed with this one.

WHAT I…BLOGGED

LEAH’S TOP READS OF 2017…PART 1

WEEKLY WRAP-UP
7/2
7/9
7/16
7/23
7/30

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The Dream-Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin

The Dream-Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin
Pub. Date: July 25, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Ballantine Books!)
Summary: Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.
Genre: Time-Travel, Romance, Historical, Contemporary

SPOILER WARNING

When I first heard about The Dream-Keeper’s Daughter, I was intrigued: a time-travel novel involving Barbados’s slave rebellion of 1816? Count me in! For the majority of the novel I was right there along for the ride, thoroughly enjoying myself…then disaster struck and the book took a turn for the worse at the end, leaving me to wonder what the entire point was.

When Isabel’s family makes the move to Charleston, she’s in way over her head. Between the big, sweeping mansions and Southern belles, Isabel’s a classic fish out of water – until she meets Max, a boy from an old money family. A family who would much rather see him settle down with a debutante than a girl who runs around in jeans. Over time, the two become closer, finally admitting their feelings for each other their senior year of high school, determined to make a long distance relationship work when Isabel moves away for college. What they didn’t plan on, however, was a baby and just after Isabel breaks the news, Max disappears. Literally vanishes before her eyes, leaving her to wonder not only where he went, but also if he ever really loved her in the first place.

Eight years later, Isabel is a lead archaeologist on a dig in Barbados when she receives a strange call. It’s Max – or so her phone claims. Though the line is more static than anything, she knows it’s his voice and he warns her to keep their daughter safe, the daughter he never met. As more and more strange incidents begin to occur, Isabel starts to wonder if Max really is alive – and if so, how can she bring him home?

Like I said, I was fully on board with this book right from the start. Sixteen years prior, Isabel’s mother mysteriously vanished, practically in the same spot Max did. It was this moment that brought the two together – he comforted her and helped her through a painful and difficult time – so when Max seemingly abandoned her eight years after, Isabel nearly broke. Since then she’s never stopped loving Max, never stopped believing that one day he’d return.

And just where did Max go? The Adairs’ mansion rests on a Thin Place, a place where time blurs. After following a man (a man he believed to be Robert Adair, his great-grandfather multiple times over) through the Thin Place, he found himself back in the past. Back in Barbados in 1816 on the eve of a famous slave revolt. Max’s chapters were fascinating and I would have happily read a book set entirely in the past! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a historical novel set in Barbados, much less one featuring Bussa’s rebellion! I was definitely one giddy history nerd.

Max believes he was sent to the past to change the course of history. He knows the outcome of the revolt, who will die, who will be hanged and executed. He also knows that the mistress of the house, Mrs. Lily Adair, will go into labor far too early, ultimately dying along with the baby. Robert was in the States at this time and when he hears the news he’s so distraught and overcome with grief that he leaves Barbados, moving to Charleston where he erects a new house specifically because of the Thin Place. Even after he remarries, Lily still has his heart and he never stopped trying to find a way to bring her back. Again, I absolutely loved this part of the book.

In the present, Finn, Isabel and Max’s daughter, seems to know things, claiming she sees her Daddy and Grandma Julia (neither of whom she’s ever met), and that she knows how the bring them back. Naturally Isabel is concerned and not quite sure what to make of this, thought once she begins having her own dreams and visions, it becomes harder to write the events off as tricks of the mind.

I want to point out an issue with the time-travel element. It didn’t bother me too much, though it was definitely something I noticed. Julia, Isabel’s mother, disappeared sixteen years ago. In the past, however, Max learns only a year has passed for her. Eight years later Max himself goes back in time and since he’s gone eight years, it would make sense that six months has passed for him, right? Instead, he’s only there a few weeks. Like I said, it didn’t take away from the story, but I’m not sure how the logistics added up. Another thing I was curious about was when they find their way back to the present. Would Max still be 22 (to Isabel’s near-30)? Would her mother have only aged a year?

Despite the confusing way time seems to work, I was seriously enjoying The Dream-Keeper’s Daughter…then the end came. Shortly after Max left, Isabel struggled to earn her Master’s and then Doctorate, all while raising an infant. One day she was in a coffee shop, nearly pulling her hair out over math problems. A young man came up to her and offered to help in order to fulfill a Pay it Forward promise he once made. Eight years later Isabel is still best friends with Ryan, though it’s painfully obvious he wants more. He’s taken on the role of father in Finn’s life and absolutely adores her. When he receives a job offer with Marvel, he knows the move to New York could seriously change his life, but he’s willing to pass on it if Isabel doesn’t want to move with him – and why would she? They’re just friends after all and she’s still in love with Max, fully convinced he’ll return. Here’s where I felt robbed: when Max does finally come back, Isabel isn’t sure why she’s not happier. She’s waited eight years for this. It turns out she’s actually really in love with Ryan and it took Max’s return for her to realize that. In the end she moves with him to New York while she and Max have worked out a custody arrangement. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

The Dream-Keeper’s Daughter had so much going for it and I was fully prepared to see it through to the end. I love a star-crossed romance that spans centuries, but in the end I simply felt robbed. The one shining moment of the novel was that I learned about Bussa’s Rebellion, a part of history previously unknown to me and now I’m interested in learning more. As for the novel itself, I’m left wondering what the point of it was.

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Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Penguin Press!)
Summary: Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan’s renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with “a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist” is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt’s current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world’s water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that’s making the rounds, and her mother–the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro–wants to have lunch. It’s almost more than she can overanalyze.

But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella–a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don’t ask)–on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum’s colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul’s been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life.
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

This will be a short one. Basically, this is a novel to skip, it’s worth neither the effort nor the time. I really wanted to love this one – the publicist pitched it to me as an adult From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-meets-The Goldfinch. How could I possibly say no to that?! I thought for sure this book had my name written all over it: the museum setting, an employee mysteriously goes missing, an odd map is discovered. Sadly, this one just didn’t work for me.

Stella is in her 30s and, after almost 10 years of marriage to Whit, will soon be divorced. She hopes. As long as he signs the papers. One day as she walks into CeMArt, rumors abound that a fellow colleague has gone missing. He hasn’t been seen in a few days, he hasn’t been answering calls or emails. Though a search and investigation are launched, business at the museum must go on, and Stella is given access to Paul’s computer. It’s while she’s in his office that she discovers a very strange – and old – map. A map that depicts a matriarchal Utopian settlement and Stella needs to know more.

A good reason why Impossible Views of the World didn’t work for me is because my expectations and excitement were just too high. Those comparisons to The Goldfinch and From the Mixed-Up Files just weren’t there…apart from featuring a museum. Instead, this book was page after very wordy page of Stella lamenting a fling she had with a fellow coworker (initially it was just a one-off, casual hook-up that became something more frequent and now Stella believes herself to be in love with him while he claims to love all women), avoiding her soon-to-be ex-husband, and complaining about her glamorous mother. That unfortunately left little time dedicated to the actual mystery, something I had believed to be the central focus of the novel prior to picking it up.

Lucy Ives is a poet and it’s very evident that this book was written by a writer who loves language. Other early reviewers said this novel came off as pretentious; while I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, the writing is definitely verbose and Ives has a penchant for using a string of $5 words (some of which I haven’t come across outside televised spelling bees) when a far more simple one could have easily sufficed. I’m sure there are (and will be, once this book is released tomorrow) plenty of readers who enjoy a tougher, wordy read. I’m not one of them – particularly not when it comes to what I thought was going to be a fun historical-esque mystery about an old map.

One other thing that dragged the book down and made it seem much longer than its slim 287 pages was that there’s very, VERY little dialogue. If you compiled all the dialogue, it would maybe be 5 or 6 pages. That’s it. The rest of the book is paragraph after long-winded paragraph of strange similes and Stella pining after her coworker. Perhaps the mystery here is actually finding the mystery. Sadly, Impossible Views of the World just wasn’t the book I thought it would be and the writing style made what should have been a fun, quick read, one that was instead a drag.

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weekly wrap-up 7/30

#twinning, y’all. The second I saw this shirt I knew I needed to have it. I already have a Pittie shirt for Bay, I couldn’t pass up a little Boston top! Modcloth still has this shirt on sale for $29!

• Are you officially an adult when you get excited over ordering a new blender? A few months ago Matt’s parents bought a new one and gave us theirs – a pretty fancy, high-tech model and we were pumped! I haven’t had a chance to use it until earlier this month when I decided to make vegan ice cream for a 4th of July picnic…and discovered there was a piece missing. PERFECT time to find out, right?? Ha, I was so upset over it that Matt ended up ordering a new one (♥ Amazon Prime, we love you ♥) and it’s here and I’ve been Pinteresting like crazy and pouring over my favorite foodie blogs!

• Earlier this week we had a #HistoricalFix chat and this time our theme was vacation destinations! SO, so fun – and we ended up choosing our next #BookClubFix read: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!! I’m super excited for this one – a bunch of people had fantastic things to say about it!! We’re shooting for October, but we’ll release all the details soon!

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Eve Chase wrote my favorite book of 2016 and she’s back with The Wildling Sisters. Another creepy, Gothic manor and a past-present storyline. I think Eve writes books specifically for me, because, seriously, her novels are pretty much a checklist of everything I love. Another great read by an author who’s firmly planted among my all-time favorites!

And then there’s Martin Wilson’s We Now Return to Regular Life…I got a little carried away here. I think this might be my favorite read of the year so far – and I hadn’t even heard of the book until it showed up at my door! A boy was kidnapped when he was 11 and is discovered three years later, but this book is told through the eyes of his older sister and his former best friend, the boy who was with him That Day. I could talk about this one for ages, it was that phenomenal.

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen
While I might not be a fan of cold weather, I love me some cold weather reads, those moody, dark books perfect for chilly nights. Plus I have FANTASTIC luck with Delacorte! A girl’s body is discovered on a beach and no one knows what really happened that night, other than the fact that her boyfriend hasn’t been seen since. But now he’s back and asking for her. Cage has no memories of the past year and, as strange at is sounds, Mae believes him. She found a notebook hidden among her sister’s belongings, a book full of terrifying, dangerous secrets…secrets that could possibly bring her sister back. Thank you, Delacorte Press!

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We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Source: finished hardcover via publisher (Thank you, Dial Books!)
Summary: Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

I’ll be honest: there are some books that show up at my door totally unannounced and, after reading the blurb, I think, yep, there’s a reason I wasn’t forewarned about this one. Either the author isn’t one I’ve enjoyed in the past or the book itself is so completely off from what I typically read and review that I instantly know a) chances are extremely slim I’ll dive into this new book and b) odds are good I won’t even like it. But then there are books that quietly slip in unnoticed: Liora Blake’s Second Chance Season, for example, is one of my favorites books of 2017. Serena Burdick’s Girl in the Afternoon and Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony are two other fantastic novels I wouldn’t have even known about if they hadn’t been handed to me. So what I’m basically trying to get at here is that sometimes the best books are the ones I didn’t see coming.

When he was 11 years old, Sam Walsh was abducted. A massive search ensued, televised pleas to his captor were broadcast almost nightly. As the weeks stretched into days and ultimately gave way to years, Sam’s family slowly lost hope, believing Sam had been killed. Only his mother held on to her conviction that one day she would see her son again. …and then that day came. Sam had been discovered, still living with the man who had taken him – and the worst part? For the past three years he had only been an hour away from home.

But the Sam who returned was not the Sam who left the house that day three years ago. He’s no longer the loud, rambunctious, annoying little brother Beth remembers. The boy who came back home certainly looks like Sam, but now he’s quiet, thoughtful, preferring to spend time alone drawing – a hobby he didn’t have before. As Beth tries to understand and reconnect with this new version of her brother, his former best friend Josh is battling his own inner turmoil: Josh had been with Sam the day Sam was taken…and for the past three years Josh has been harboring a secret he never told the police. A secret he never told anyone, one that could have possibly saved Sam from years of torture and trauma.

I’m just going to cut right to the chase here: this book was phenomenal. I can’t begin to count the number of books I’ve read featuring kidnapped teens who break free from their captors and return home like nothing happened. That’s not the case at all here. Sam changed, and whether that’s good or bad isn’t for me to say, but it’s an aspect to the book that struck me hard. Throughout the novel people ask Sam why he didn’t just leave – he had friends in the apartment complex where he lived with Rusty, he even had a girlfriend. They don’t understand how Sam could have possibly cared for this heinous man, but he did and in showing this complex, messy side of kidnapping, I realized Martin Wilson is amazing.

Though Sam is definitely the focus of the book, the novel is actually told from the perspectives of his older sister Beth and his friend Josh, another brilliant move. In alternating chapters, Beth struggles to get a hold on this sudden shift in her life. She should be thrilled, ecstatic that her brother was found alive and is home, right? But he’s not the boy she once knew and she isn’t sure how to coexist in the same house when she’s tip-toeing around him. At school she was simply Beth. No one knew her as the girl whose brother was snatched off the street. Now everyone knows her name, wants a piece of her 15 minutes and watching Beth juggle school, home, rocky friendships, it was great. Josh’s chapters show a boy full of guilt. He was with Sam That Day and witnessed something he never told a soul. Three years later he’s living in a new house and has been able to almost move on. While he constantly thinks back to the day Sam left, his more pressing concern is the realization that he’s gay.

Just a side note: I was a little concerned when I saw the LGBT tags on GoodReads. It’s not a spoiler to say Sam was sexually abused by Rusty and I really didn’t want the book to use that as an excuse to make Sam gay. I’m thrilled to say that’s not the case at all.

We Now Return to Regular Life is definitely a book I could talk about for ages. That I finished this near-400-page novel in a single sitting should say something and I couldn’t be more grateful to the publisher for sending it my way. This book isn’t one I would have picked up myself – or have even known about! – yet it is by far one of the best books I’ve read all year. If you want an intense, engaging, gripping, gut-punch of a novel, look no further! The book’s only downfall is that it had to come to an end and I’m so sad Martin Wilson only has one other novel for me to devour!

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The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
Pub. Date: July 25, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Putnam!)
Summary: When fifteen-year-old Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote Manor in June 1959, they expect a quiet English country summer. Instead, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. As the sisters become divided by new tensions when two handsome neighbors drop by, Margot finds herself drawn into the life Audrey left behind. When the summer takes a deadly turn, the girls must unite behind an unthinkable choice or find themselves torn apart forever.

Fifty years later, Jesse is desperate to move her family out of their London home, where signs of her widower husband’s previous wife are around every corner. Gorgeous Applecote Manor, nestled in the English countryside, seems the perfect solution. But Jesse finds herself increasingly isolated in their new sprawling home, at odds with her fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and haunted by the strange rumors that surround the manor.
Genre: Fiction, Gothic, Historical, Mystery

To say I loved Eve Chase’s debut, Black Rabbit Hall is something of an understatement. I was head over heels for the book – over a year since it’s release and it still remains one of my go-to recommendations (to the point where I’m running out of people to recommend it to!) In April of last year I featured the book in a GoodReads Recommends post where I highlighted similar titles: so far I’ve read two of the six and have an ARC of a third! Finally, in January I featured a week-long series highlighting the 2017 novels (from the first half of the year) that I couldn’t wait to read. No surprises here: Eve’s follow-up was included in my list of historical novels…where I shamelessly flailed over it even though it’s a July release. #sorrynotsorry

In June the author of my second-favorite novel of 2016 (a seriously twisty psychological thriller) released her follow-up and…it was a total dud. Like, painful to where I almost tossed it aside. I don’t know if my expectations were just astronomically high or what, but it was a terrible read and one of the worst I’ve read all year. So, yes, I’ll admit I was a teensy bit worried The Wildling Sisters would follow suit – after all, I liked Black Rabbit Hall even more than that other novel. Surely any expectations would be even higher, any disappointment even more painful.

The Wilde girls, Flora; Pam; Margot; and Dot, spent summer after summer at their aunt and uncle’s country house, Applecote Manor. Long, lazy days spent swimming, exploring the grounds, sharing secrets, all with their cousin Audrey. If Margot were to be completely honest, as much as she loved her sisters, she secretly wanted to be Audrey’s sister instead. Audrey was like the sun they revolved around and whoever she chose to be her friend was considered very special indeed. Then one summer everything changed. Audrey disappeared, vanished. Though the grounds and surrounding village were thoroughly searched, no evidence ever turned up – Audrey was simply gone.

When the sisters finally (and begrudgingly) return to Applecote some years later, their uncle has given himself over to drink, their aunt insists Audrey will return home one day safe and sound, going so far as to keep her bedroom exactly how it was the day she left – and see to it that her closet is full of new clothes. Obviously she would no longer be the 14-year-old girl she was when she left. She’ll be grown, filled out, and in need of a young woman’s attire.

Fifty years later, Applecote Manor is a shell of its former self. Jesse, determined to move out of the London home her husband had shared with his previous wife, can’t help but fall in love with the place. Where others would see a drafty home in serious disrepair, Jesse sees a new start. A place all of their own where the ghost of a woman cannot touch. However, when Jesse’s step-daughter returns home from school one day with rumors of a horrible tragedy surrounding the house, Jesse begins to wonder if there’s some truth to it. Did she finally free herself from one ghost only to find herself with another?

Like Black Rabbit Hall, The Wildling Sisters features a dual era story with a grand old house at its center. And, much like Black Rabbit Hall, Applecote Manor is every bit a character. There might be some readers who would complain that Eve Chase is just rehashing the same story but with new names. I can see that, but I didn’t mind one bit. Dual era narratives, a moody, Gothic tone, a once-grand estate – I love every single one of those things and happily went along for this ride, formulaic or not.

As much as I love novels that feature multiple characters across decades, I feel like the present storyline wasn’t nearly as strong as the past. Jesse is learning how to make a home with her husband, their new baby – and Jesse’s teenage step-daughter. Will’s first wife Mandy passed away and while Will has moved on, Bella hasn’t. She refuses to allow Jesse into her family, sneaks in snide remarks about how her mother loved this, her mother did that. She wants nothing to do with her sister. Basically your average fifteen-year-old. This story wasn’t bad at all, but the past…that story was absolutely gripping. It’s hard not to be when the book opens with Margot and her sisters dragging a body through the grounds. That scene alone practically screamed TELL ME MORE!

While reading – and several times in this review – I found myself comparing The Wildling Sisters to Eve’s debut. That’s not entirely fair as this novel in no way ties to Black Rabbit Hall, but I loved that one so, so much and, as mentioned, Eve’s storytelling once more calls upon the past and a big old house. It’s hard not to compare the two, especially since both novels have been likened to Kate Morton and Daphne du Maurier.

With a haunting atmosphere (and a possibly haunted house), The Wildling Sisters is exactly the kind of moody, brooding mystery I love. Though I did prefer one storyline over the other, the book as a whole was phenomenal. Eve Chase is a master at what she does: Jesse’s bleak, isolating winter in her new home, Margot’s unsettling summer, my emotions were on high alert with every turn of the page. Black Rabbit Hall is still solidly on its pedestal, but The Wildling Sisters is a fantastically strong follow-up and just a plain good read. With two excellent novels under her belt, I’m even more excited to see where Eve Chase goes next!