The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Title: The Things We Wish Were True 29057887
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Pages: 276
Year: 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

This book kept me guessing right up until the end. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has produced a suspenseful, and complex novel that causes the reader to question just how well they know the people living around them, and what secrets we all hold in the dark abysses of our lives.

Told from several POV characters, Whalen weaves each story line together into a connected web of experiences and tragedies. While this is a little confusing at first, I found it easy to differentiate between each character and POV chapter. Every character has a distinct voice, and I found it easy to follow each of their story lines once we established who everyone was. However, they have the most ridiculous names for small town-American characters. There’s Zell, Jency, Bryte, Everett, Lance, Pilar, Zara, etc, etc. I thought these names were interesting and it made it easy to keep everyone straight, but honestly who do you know from the deep south named Jency, Bryte, or Zell? If they had names like Tinsley or Kinsley or Lynnely, THAT I would believe. Southern people love naming their offspring after Presidents and adding -ly to the ends of names. That’s like their crack.  This is not a stereotype, I would know.

Another thing I thought about while reading this novel was who the main character was. We get so many different points of view, and follow so many different characters that it was hard to say that one particular character was the “main protagonist.” However, I think that Cailey was meant to be the main character because she is the only one who speaks in first person. She is also the only POV character that is not an adult.

This was a fairly short read, but it definitely sucked me in. I fell deep into the drama of Sycamore Glen, and I loved that it had a more suburban and classic southern feel. Being from the south, this book made me feel nostalgic and right at home between its pages. However, I wasn’t able to get too comfy, as I was speed-reading through each chapter trying to figure out all the little mysteries alongside the big one. Even though it was a little predictable at times, the suspense more than makes up for it. Honestly, even if you figured out all the mysteries ahead of time, I think you would still enjoy this book. Preferably read in the summer, on the beach, with a tall glass of lemonade or sweet tea.

Book Personality Challenge

Thanks Katlyn of ChaoticEverything for the tag! She tagged me so long ago to do this, but I am JUST NOW getting around to do it. Thanks for being so patient girl. You da real MVP.

For my personality test, I used Sixteen Personalities because it was fo’ free. And if it’s free, it’s for me. I’m not going to bother to post the other one because it asks for a credit card and who needs that? Not me. Not you either.

What is your MBTI personality type?

Adventurer Personality (ISFP, -A/-T)


If you’re super curious about me, read on!

Alrighty then.  So when I first got this result and started reading about it, I was convinced that there was some sort of mistake in my results because it didn’t sound like me at all.

Being the ignorant hag that I am, I immediately took the test again and got the exact same result. Amazing. Incredible. Mind-blowing. Etc. Etc.

After I got over the initial shock of being labeled as an adventurer type, I realized that maybe this is pretty accurate after all. The more I read, the more similarities I found between myself and the personality type they saddled me with. Fine. FINE. But what does this have to do with books, you ask? Be patient, my friends. And stay thirsty.

What is your personality like?

Apparently I am an adventurer.

If you were a character in a book, what would be some of your character strengths and flaws?

Strengths: (as listed by 16 personalities) Charming, sensitive to others, imaginative, passionate, curious, artistic.

Judging by this, I would be the go-with-the-flow, comic relief, everyone’s best friend type. I would be passionate about whatever cause I was fighting for and get very caught up in it. I would not let other people explore an idea or have an adventure while I stayed behind, I would need to see it through for myself. I would be the one to offer creative solutions and to feel empathy for people who have wronged me.

Weaknesses: Fiercely independent, unpredictable, easily stressed, overly competitive, fluctuating self-esteem.

AKA: I would march to the beat of my own drum, I would get jealous of the praise and recognition the protagonist gets, I would be the one who gets frustrated with a situation and gives up. OMFG. I’M RON WEASLEY.

Do any authors share your personality type?

I couldn’t find any authors, but the website says:


A.K.A. All the famous crazy people. At least they didn’t list Ted Bundy or Donald Trump, then I’d be in trouble.

Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, and Ryan Gosling are also adventurer types, according to my desperate-need-to-prove-I’m-not-a-crazy-person research. I don’t have any trouble eating cereal though, and I have never had the sudden urge to shave my head.

What fictional characters share your personality type?

From my research: Claire Fraser (Outlander) and Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief). The website says: bgfxc

If you were a character in a book, what job would you have?

16 Personalities says teaching is a great profession for Adventurer types. I think I would be a great teacher, which further cements my fictional career choice of becoming a Hogwarts Professor.

What personality type would complete your OTP?

16 Personalities says I would fit best with Extraverted (E) and Judging (J) personality traits. That makes sense, because I naturally gravitate towards people who are much more outgoing and adventurous than I am.

Who are some fictional characters that would complete your OTP?

Dean Winchester from Supernatural (ESFJ) or Robb Stark from Game of Thrones (ESTJ). I’m totally fine with either of those options as long as Robb doesn’t take me to any weddings.

Tag You’re It ♥

This was so interesting and eye opening so I think everyone would benefit from it.  If I haven’t tagged you below and you would like to do this on your own page make sure you tag me so I can read your post! (Because I’m nosy, that’s why.) And as always, if I have tagged you, don’t feel pressured.

Chandareads | Alwaysbooking | Meltingpotsandothercalamities | Bookpandamonium | Tumiltuousreads

(Side note: I think this test would be great for teachers too as a first day of school, “get to know your students” activity.)

Top Five Wednesday: Favorite Angsty Romances

Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)

My favorite romances are the ones that are minus the angst. There’s allowed to be some drama, but not so much that I am bored by it. Couples that are always fighting or breaking up and getting back together irritate me. Either you love each other enough to stick it out and work out your differences, or you break up. None of this, “but I love him!” crap. This is not a Lifetime movie.

Moving on, here are five angsty romances I have read (NOT my favorites.)!

Juliette, Adam, & Warner in Shatter Me


Holy enchilada, Batman. If there isn’t some DRAMA in this book. Yes, the angst… BUT THE DRAMA.

Juliette’s romance with Adam was so confusing. One minute he’s an anonymous roommate who kicks her out of her own bed, forcing her to sleep on the ground; the next he reveals that he’s been in love with her since ‘nam. OH YEAH, and she realizes she’s been in love with him too for just as long? Okay. So how did you not recognize each other when you were forced into a prison cell together? Not only this, but she also takes every chance she has to ogle the villain. Who has made it his life’s mission to torture her and hurt the people she loves. Makes sense.

I don’t plan on finishing the series, so I already know she doesn’t end up with Adam (spoiler alert.)  We could have had no other characters in the book and we still could have filled at least 300 pages with whining, crying, sniffing, shivering, shaking, trembling, passive action, insecure comment, etc. I’m sorry if you liked this book, I have a lot of feelings. Read my review here! #shamelessselfpromo

Tris and Four in the Divergent Series

Tris and Four’s romance popped out of a birthday cake and yelled “surprise!” Not that I didn’t see it coming, because how can you expect to read a YA novel and not have some sort of hormone induced romance between the pages?  There wasn’t any sexual tension between them. Their romance came out of nowhere. The only thing I liked about it was that there was no love triangle. I can appreciate the lack of a good love triangle.


Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald in Z: The Beginning of Everything

There’s so much anger between Zelda and Scott throughout the entire book. They were in love, but they actively made each other miserable. Their relationship is just as fascinating as it is tragic. (The series is on Amazon Prime video! Go watch.)


Sloan and Asa in Too Late

Every relationship in this book was a complete mess. This whole book was a mess. OMG and the baggage… where’s the tylenol?


Edward and Bella in Twilight

Don’t tell me you didn’t know this was coming.

Edward Cullen funny I Like Watching You Sleep, I Find It Fascinating - Bloody Hell

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen


Title: In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II
Author: Rhys Bowen
Pages: 398
Year: 2017
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 2.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?

Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

I read this book as part of the Kindle First  program.

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I loved the cover, I thought the story line sounded intriguing, but somewhere between that and actually reading the book I lost interest very quickly.

The writing wasn’t terrible, but it was very “paint by numbers.”  I thought the story was very predictable, the characters were one-dimensional, and the action scenes fell flat. It was almost like Bowen wasn’t sure how to portray her thoughts on paper, so she just summarized what she wanted to happen and moved on. Each scene left me wanting more, or thinking there would be more to it.  I only kept reading because I wanted answers to the dead parachutist mystery, but by the time we answered that question I was hanging on by a thread.

To make matters worse, stereotypes ran rampant, especially in the daughters. Of the five girls, we have the mothering one, the baby, the smart one, the brave one, and the annoying one. All characters you have seen before and they all have pet nicknames. Those of which, would have been cute if they hadn’t been so inconsistently used.

Dido is the most annoying character of the book, possibly of any book I’ve ever read in my lifetime. All she does is bitch and moan about how she wasn’t able to come out and be presented by the court because of the stupid war. “Wahhh… I want to go to parties, meet men, and have sex!” Girl, chill. Dido isn’t alone in this mindset because many of the aristocratic characters we revolve around for much of the book don’t seem to realize there is a war on either. They look at it as more of an inconvenience. When Dido does the unforgivable toward the end of the book, I wasn’t surprised or amused in the slightest. It was inevitable, an accident looking for a place to happen, if you will. Or if you won’t.

Also, every character interaction is laden with overly British phrases like “jolly,” “blimey,” “crikey,” and “bloody.”


WOW is this book set in ENGLAND??? I had no idea!

I know Bowen is from the UK and she probably would know what Brits are like better than I would, but it didn’t feel genuine or authentic to me. It was more like she wrote this book for non-Brits and felt like she needed to pound the message into our heads that THIS. BOOK. IS. BRITISH. I get it. Message received.

And for the cheese factor, here is a sample exchange between the baby sister, Phoebe, and the villain.

“Don’t you hurt Alfie, you horrid man,” Phoebe screamed.

“What the hell. Go on, you little brats. Go. No one can stop me now, anyway.”

Who else read this in their best cartoon villain voice?

Side note: Why are we using periods if we’re screaming? Although, punctuation is the least of my worries…

As far as historical fiction goes, I’ve read better. This was well researched, but poorly executed. I don’t know who I would recommend this to, it has a younger reader feel to it, but then talks about sex throughout the whole book. Not that there is anything graphic, but it’s present.

Because I feel like I need to say something positive:

  • This book was very well researched.
  • I was surprised at the end, Bowen did a good job of leading us away from the ultimate villain.
  • This book got a lot of 5 star reviews on Amazon, so just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t!

The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Title: The Girl from the Savoy26156468
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Pages: 419
Year: 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

First of all, I have to admit that the real reason I chose this book was almost exclusively based on the cover. Can you blame me though? The subject matter piqued my interest as well, but the former was what did me in. #Sorrynotsorry


Hazel Gaynor is not a new author for me, as I have also read (and loved) her novel- The Girl Who Came Home. Gaynor is an author I would pick up for an inspirational, feel-good read. She has a knack for portraying strong women in circumstances in which they defy all the odds, whether those odds are for survival or making a name for themselves. In this case, The Girl from the Savoy features a young dreamer who denies fate and achieves everything she sets out to accomplish. With heavy-handed (cliche) themes of ‘follow your dreams,’ ‘never give up,’ and ‘life after loss,’ this is a story you’ve heard a thousand times before. But Gaynor has put her own spin on it, weaving a tale of a young woman who learns to live after losing what she holds dear, and to follow her dreams at every opportunity.

Set in 1920’s London just after World War I, The Girl from the Savoy follows Dolly Lane, a maid at the famed Savoy Hotel. Despite coming from scratch beginnings, Dolly dreams of being a star.

The story alternates between several points of view, switching from Dolly, to Teddy Cooper, to famous actress Loretta May. I found Dolly and Loretta to be intriguing characters, and I appreciated the parallels between their experiences. While their connection seemed a bit convenient, I didn’t find it annoying or unbelievable. The third narrator, Teddy, left much to be desired. His character had great potential, but didn’t carry much weight between the other voices. I appreciated his role in the novel, but he seemed more like a means to an end.

My favorite part of this book was that there was no Prince Charming to sweep Dolly off of her feet and ensure her success. Dolly stands alone and doesn’t need a man to validate her. She puts her dreams and what she wants for herself ahead of anything else, which I find commendable and unusual for the time period.

My complaints are as follows:

  • The employers at the Savoy hotel treat their employees remarkably well for the time period.
  • Convenience for the sake of convenience.
  • Some story lines are not wrapped up as neatly or as realistically as I would have liked them to be, and left much to be desired.
  • It was a bit slow going in the beginning while Gaynor introduced her characters and their backstories.

I think Gaynor portrayed the passing of time very well in her novel, but she took too much of it in laying her groundwork for the story. The novel took too much time finding its feet, and its delivery of the message came a beat too late. I think a lot of the story could have been cut out, and I can see this easily being condensed into a “made for TV” movie.



Happy 200th Birthday, HarperCollins!

HarperCollins is one of the most iconic book publishers today, home to the works of authors like Agatha Christie, Harper Lee, C.S. Lewis, Shel Silverstein, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain… the list goes on and on and on.

HarperCollins has published so many influential, ground-breaking, award-winning, and yes, iconic books over the years, and I just want to say thank you.

Thank you for the entertainment, the education, and the inspiration that you have given us over the years. Thank you for publishing some of my favorite books. Thank you for giving me my love of reading. (Although, I can’t give you all the credit!)

If you didn’t already know, HarperCollins has set up an anniversary website to commemorate this monumental occasion. (To visit the site, click here!)

Here’s to many more years, and many more generations!

giphy (1)

March Madness Book Haul

How is it March already? I feel like we just started 2017, and here we are already 1/4 of the way through it! Is it just me, or does it feel like the years went by much more slowly when we were little? I feel like that’s a psychology thing. If someone with those skillz is reading this, let me know if that’s a thing in the comment section.

This is a very late book haul, because I bought these books back in January… But I figured that since most of my readers are book people, then you love hearing about the books people buy just as much as I do. (If there is anything I love more about this, its gushing about someone buying a book I already love and telling them how much I love it.) And if anything, that just makes me want to read that particular book even more.

I bought these books for $1 each at Goodwill, and they are all in amazing A++ condition. If you have ever bought books at Goodwill, you will know how rare it is to find a book that someone hasn’t tried to drown, eat, or throw into a wood-chipper. I actually had to put some books back because I was feeling self conscious about buying too many books and not leaving any for anyone else. (Is that really a problem though?)

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Further proof that I bought these books SO long ago… I seriously loved this book, read my review here!

The Glass Castle


I had already read the Kindle sample of this book when I found this one. The only reason I hadn’t already gotten it was the fact that it was $15, and I was waiting for the price to drop before I bought it. This book is a memoir of resilience and redemption, and a look into a family that is both dysfunctional and colorful. I got very lucky at Goodwill and I cannot wait to read this!

The Silkworm


The second book in Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s Comoran Strike series. I don’t have the first book though, so I’m going to have to table this until I do!

City of Women


I love books about World War II, especially stories about experiences we don’t normally hear about. This one seems a little chick-litty, but I’m sure I will enjoy it!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


This is a book I have been hearing about for AGES. I watched the first movie with my Big, and we were so appalled at certain scenes that I completely swore off of it. However, now that a few years have gone by I think I am ready to tackle this series. Wish me luck!

Angela’s Ashes


My mom pulled this one out for me, and now that I’ve read the synopsis I am so excited to read it! This memoir follows the story of Frank McCourt, who was born in Depression-era Brooklyn to Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. I think this story will resonate with me because of my grandmother, who was also born during the Depression to Irish immigrants. My grandmother was also the child of an alcoholic, so I think this story will parallel hers in a way. (Slightly related: I think my grandma should write a memoir, her story is so incredible and interesting and sometimes I can’t believe how resilient she is.)

The Help


I’ve already read this one and classified it among my favorites, but who could resist a hardcover copy of one of their faves in perfect condition? I sure couldn’t.

The Devil in the White City


This one is about H.H. Holmes, America’s first famous serial killer. I recently found out that there is a theory that he was also “Jack the Ripper,” which is equally terrifying and fascinating. At the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I think this is a fascinating subject. I’ve already read The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule, which is about Ted Bundy, and couldn’t sleep for a week.

Top Five Wednesday: Fictional Jobs You’d Want to Have

Any fictional career you’d want to have? Remember, T5W is always open to movies, tv, and video games as well.

Professor at Hogwarts

Preferably with a delightful Scottish accent. I’m probably in the silent minority when I say I actually loved school, and I think I would be a kick ass teacher. I would probably just mess with my students all the time and get no real teaching done, but it’s fine.


Gladiator For Olivia Pope And Associates

If I can’t be Olivia Pope herself (Minus the affair with the POTUS because I’m so done with that…) then I want to be one of her gladiators. (A normal gladiator, not a serial killer.) Honestly, I just want a killer work wardrobe and the ability to deliver intense monologues…. I already like red wine, so does that mean I’m halfway there?


Narrative for Westworld

I was a kick ass barbie doll player when I was little. This is more or less the same thing, but for adults. Actually, it’s probably more like real life Sims. Either way I would crush this. (Preferably without being murdered by Hosts.)


Professional Time Traveler

I’ve always thought of myself as belonging in another time period, and at the rate I devour historical fiction I would probably fit right in. Not sure how much this pays, but it would surely take up most of my time.


Tech Analyst At The FBI BAU

Sass and typing, my favorite pastimes.


Honorable mentions:

Queen of the Andals and The First Men
Oompa Loompa at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory
Waitress at Luke’s Diner
Raptor Trainer for Jurassic Park
Surgeon at Grey-Sloan Hospital
Superhero Costume Designer for the Incredibles