The Joy in Jolley

Joint Birthday Party for the Win

Jolley Events, Jolley Men, DIY JoyAngela JolleyComment

I absolutely love to party plan! I am not such a huge fan of large events but anything under 50 people is my jam. I believe it is all in the details and that planning a fantastic party does not have to break the bank. Do you notice a trend here?! I am all about saving money! 

I especially love birthdays and always go above and beyond to make those I adore know they are loved on their special day.  I will do another post soon on ways to do this that are easy and under $25.

 

My boys both have birthdays 6 weeks apart so this year since my oldest was not going to invite his classmates I decided to throw a joint birthday party and they LOVED it. Nolan even said it was "the best day of my life"! With all the kids that were going to be coming I knew for my sanity I should not host this at my house so we decided to rent a party room at a local indoor play area, Recreations Outlet. The theme was outerspace, specifically the moon...because we are all obsessed with the moon in the Jolley house. I ordered personalized favor tags and food labels from Etsy and cute shirts for the boys from Little Cotton Apparel. We ordered pizza from Jets (still in theme, lol) and had an amazing cake made from Oliver's Desserts. The extra treats we decided to have were: star crunch, milky ways, moon pies and outer space cookies. And all of the paper plates/silverware goods were purchased from Target (my #2 go to behind Amazon Prime). For the party favors we ordered glow in the dark stars and planets, moon pies, space shuttle glider and star sunglasses all purchased via Amazon.  

The kids all had a great time and the best part was I had to do little clean up because it was not at my house. I am not sure we will always be able to do joint parties becuase as the boys get older they will want to invite all their own friends but this time around it worked perfectly!     

Book 19- When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

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Book 19 review: 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤  When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Length 352 pages
Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world—and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done. My thoughts: hick lit is my favorite type of book as much as I try to venture into other genres. They are just feel good books, easy books. Some are a bit cheesy to me at times but Lauren Weisberger always delivers great books and this book is no different. It's a great book about girl power, friendship and redemption! I recommend this as a great pool time book!

Book 18- How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

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Book 18 review: 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤. How To Walk Away by Katherine Center
Length 320 pages
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment. 
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there's her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there's Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won't let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect. 
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best―a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

My thoughts with spoile: OW did this book surprise me! From the minute I started reading I could not put it down. I love the family love story in it just as much as the romantic one and Maggie's determination and strength is so admirable. I fell in love with Ian just as quick as Maggie. The only part I could have done without was when Maggie went to Chip's wedding...I felt like they could have left that part out. But maybe I am just really not a fan of Chip! 🙃🤔 This is a must read, feel good book.

Book 17- Circe by Madeline Miller

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Book 17 review: 🖤🖤/5🖤 
Circe by Madeline Miller
Length- 400 pages

I‭n the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.

My thoughts: I am so disappointed with my overall thoughts of Circe, I mean it has over 800 5-star reviews on Amazon and is a #1 best seller! This book is beautifully written and the descriptions given are absolutelly amazing. I cannot even begin to imagine the time that went into writing such a detailed novel. With that said there were SO many characters that it was hard to follow at times and I cringe😬 writing this but I found it pretty boring! I felt like it was going to really pick up when she was banished to a deserted island but I felt like it kind of drug on... I love that this is written from a females point of view and the family dynamics were interesting!  PLEASE give this book a try though, 99.5% of people that read it really love it!

Book 16- The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

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Book 16 review: 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Length: 336 pages

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar,they are looking for a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed. 
My thoughts: I like to pride myself on figuring out book endings especially mysteries before the author reveals anything to us but this book had me guessing until the very end. I was so completely surprised by the kidnapper! I loved the mom friendships that were formed in this book and that they show a realness to motherhood that was refreshing to read about. I believe I also read that this is the author's first book and she did an amazing job! This is a must read if you like a tamer psychological thriller. Note: just maybe not a great idea to read it on Mother's Day like I did, lol🤷🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

Book 15- Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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Book 15 review 🖤🖤/5🖤. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall
Length: 288 pages

Publishers summary: A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.
This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely, life before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job; he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his e-mails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move, he’ll know just when to come to her rescue . . .

My thoughts: NOPE didn't love this book (at this point I am second guessing my botm club selections all together). I loved her writing style but was so confused by this story and the ending I had to reread it three times to make sure I was really following along correctly. I think the hardest part for me was that this story was only told from Mike's point of view...which I understand is the point but since he is a crazy person the book was hard to follow. The whole time I was wondering if he was reallly this nuts or if Verity was insane also?! Give me your thoughts...what did you guys make of the very last page?? Is V nuts too??

Book 14- As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

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Book 14 review 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Length: 395 pages

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Publishers summary: In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! it is the first book I have ever read about the spanish flu and about working and living in a funeral parlor but  with that combined and all the death that occurs this is also a great story about love, forgiveness and family! This book is not a light-hearted read but it is a moving story that will stay with you even after you have finished

Book 13- Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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Book 13 review 🖤🖤/5🖤

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Length: 369 pages

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Publishers summary: Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

My thoughts: This is the take all for disturbing stories...I mean it, what the hell! It is the saddest story and I cannot stand books with kids that are abused, so if you are sensitive to that this is not for you. It does have a love story that is a bit "off" and I just thought it was so sad how much Laurel and her ex-husband still loved each other but due to all the loss and pain they endured could not be together. Poppy is quite the character but she seemed a little creepy to me. And the nutcase tutor, oh my goodness. This story made me want to put my kids in a bubble and keep them there!

Book 12- Not That I could Tell by Jessica Strawser

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Book 12 review: 🖤🖤/5🖤

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Length: 336 pages

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Publishers summary: When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

 

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

 

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce―and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her―and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions―especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

 

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors―and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

 

My thoughts: This is not one of my favorite reads but I didn't exactly hate it either. It is a middle of the road mystery that is pretty easy to solve early on...there is one twist at the end of the book that I was really not expecting but loved! This is a great book if you like a mystery but are not into the psychological thrillers that are all the rage right now.

Book 11- The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

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Book 11 review 🖤🖤🖤/5🖤

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

Length: 329 pages

                 Click on the book photo to order your copy today! 

                Click on the book photo to order your copy today! 

Publishers summary- In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.
Nearly thirty years later, Hugo's estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father's funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.
Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father's history--and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father's secrets now.  

My thoughts (spoiler)- I loved the characters right away and really wanted the love story between Hugo and Sofia to work out. Right when I would really begin to get into the story it would have an abrupt change of pace which made it a little hard to really love 100%. I didn't like the was Sofia just vanished, I thought that part of the story could have been elaborated. The Italian culture was great and I almost felt like I was there by the great description used. The ending with Joanna falling in love was a little off to me?! Overall it was a good read but it could have been really great!

Book 10- White Rose Black Forest by Erin Dempsey

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Book 10 review 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤
White Rose Black Forest by Erin Dempsey
Book length- 270 pages 

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Publishers Summary: In the shadows of World War II, trust becomes the greatest risk of all for two strangers.
December 1943. In the years before the rise of Hitler, the Gerber family’s summer cottage was filled with laughter. Now, as deep drifts of snow blanket the Black Forest, German dissenter Franka Gerber is alone and hopeless. Fervor and brutality have swept through her homeland, taking away both her father and her brother and leaving her with no reason to live.
That is, until she discovers an unconscious airman lying in the snow wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, his parachute flapping in the wind. Unwilling to let him die, Franka takes him to her family’s isolated cabin despite her hatred for the regime he represents. But when it turns out that he is not who he seems, Franka begins a race against time to unravel the mystery of the airman’s true identity. Their tenuous bond becomes as inseparable as it is dangerous. Hunted by the Gestapo, can they trust each other enough to join forces on a mission that could change the face of the war and their own lives forever?

My thoughts: This story drops you right in the middle of WW2 and does not waste time getting to the plot, which I love. It also has great character development which sometimes lacks when they jump right into the story. A surprisingly great love story too!

Book of the Month Club

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For the last few months I have been reading and just posting my reviews on Instagram and not on my blog like I had planned. So today while it was storming outside like crazy I got all caught up on my book review posts, they seem a bit impersonal because I just copied and pasted them from Instagram in order to save time. I am hoping to do better from here on out but I cannot promise that every time because my two little guys keep me busy. 

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Almost all of the books I read I purchase on my Kindle but recently I signed up for the Book of the Month Club and I absolutely love it! Every month they showcase five new books. They narrow it down from hundreds of new releases...sometimes the books haven't even been released to the public and you get to read them first!!  Each month you pay $14.99 and can select one book (they are hardback too) and shipping is free. I like to also purchase other books to ship with my selection because they are heavily discounted. This also would make a great gift!

If you use my referral link below you get a free book in addition to your first month's book selection...so that is two books for $14.99 with free shipping!! Oh and they ship to you really fast. 

https://www.mybotm.com/3n5kvyrambc

Happy reading!! 

Book Review 9- Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman

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                     Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

                    Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Book 9 review: 🖤🖤🖤/5🖤
Other People's Houses by Abbi Waxman
Another great thing about the book of the month club is you sometimes get to read books before they are even on bookshelves, that was the case with this book! This one is available everywhere on April 3! 
Do you guys remember the show Desperate Housewives? This book reminds me of that show so much! It is the story of 4 families in a suburban neighborhood and the secrets that go on in each house. The story is told from the point of view of carpool mom, Frances Bloom. She is witness to an extramarital affair and that gets the story rolling...from there we get a glimpse of parenting, love, lies, illness and much more. Abbi Waxman takes the sometimes mundane life of housewives and makes it anything but boring! This is a cheeky, light read...a perfect book to read after my last spooky read. My only complaint was I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and abrupt, I would have liked to seen more story after the infamous surprise birthday!

Book Review 8- The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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                                          Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Book review 8 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤 The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This book is a dark thriller that you will not be able to put down. I know I have said that before but I REALLY mean it this time! The writing is so clear and easy to follow but the "spookiness" made me have to keep taking little breaks, with that said I read it in less than two days. Dr. Anna Fox goes through a horrible tragedy and the result was a phobia of leaving her house, alcoholism and prescription pills. Her husband and daughter are no longer living at home with her only connection with outside people comes in the form of her drs )that have to come to her house) and then spying on her neighbors. One day she sees something horrible and the mystery to solve it begins. I was completely surprised by two of the twists towards the end of the book. I was rooting for Anna the whole way and I think you will love her too!

Book Review 7- Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

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Book 7 review: 🖤🖤/5🖤 Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I know this is not going to be a popular book review and I am sad to even write it because I have really loved a lot of Sophie Kinsella's books (Remember Me is one of my favorite books of all time) but I did not love Surprise Me at all. I just could not get into the storyline and found it to be pretty boring! Sylvie and Dan have been married 10 years and found out they have another 68 to go. This freaks them out and they begin this game to not get bored with one another. But along the way you realize Dan has been keeping a secret from Sylvie. Dan is a character I couldn't really understand but I really loved the character Sylvie, I just wish they didn't make her out to be so crazy at times. The humor that is usually in Sophie Kinsella books really lacked for me in this read.

Book Review 6- The Wife Between Us

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Book 6 review. 🖤🖤🖤/5🖤. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This is a very quick read that you will not want to put down. The best way to describe it is Girl on a Train meets cheesy lifetime movie. The plot is really great but like any lifetime movie it is a little overkill in some areas. That being said I did enjoy reading it! Basic story line for this book is that what seems like a happily married couple is not that at all, Richard leaves Vanessa "heartbroken" for a much younger woman. It is a story of lies, secrets and revenge. There are twists on every new page, just enough to keep you reading into the late night hours just so you can see how it ends. The final twist was way too much for me though, there could have left that out!

Book Review 5- The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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                        Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Book 5 review: 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤 The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I finished this book last night but needed time to sleep on it before I wrote my review. This book is magnificently emotionally exhausting! It is a story about a family under the control of dad/husband Ernt Allbright and his struggle with POW, Vietnam & PDSD demons. The Allbright family runs away to the solitude of Alaska as an escape. Ernt is sure the Alaskan life will be the cure he needs to save himself and his family. They are all in for more than one surprise once they arrive and settle in. This is a story of love; mother-daughter love, young love, friendship love, neighborhood community love as well as dysfunctional love. This is also a story of loss. Author, Kristin Hannah, captures every emotion perfectly and draws you in on the roller coaster of emotions you will feel while reading. Get your tissues ready, you will need them more than once!

Book Review 4- We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

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 Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Book 4 review- 🖤🖤🖤🖤/5🖤
We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
This is a heartbreaking read about a Jewish family living in Poland at the beginning of WWII. The Kurc family is made up of the parents and their five adult children. The story follows them through their courageous journey of survival. I was especially drawn to the characters Mila and Felicia...a mother and young daughter. I could not imagine living during such an awful experience and reading a book like this is a reminder of the luxuries we all have today that are taken for granted at times. I liked the book even better once I read it was based on a true story of the authors family. My only complaint was because the family is so large it is hard to follow at times. SPOILER ALERT: the happy ending is something I am not used to when reading a WWII book!

Book Review 3- The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

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 Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Book 3 review: 🖤🖤🖤🖤/🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 (if I was doing half scores this would be a 3.5) 
The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett
This was such a great quick read, quick because I couldn't put it down. I didn't expect it to be such a mystery or for the twists to be like they were...the biggest being what actually happened to Violet. It is a story of present time that flashes back to the past. A heartbreakingly good story with strong female characters. I especially enjoyed the love between Ella and her husband, it was refreshing to see a marriage succeed based on mutual love and respect for one another. From the first page I was drawn into the story and I think you will too! 

 

Book Review 2- Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

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 Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

Click on book photograph to purchase your copy today!

🖤🖤🖤 | 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤 Book 2 review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a suspense thriller where two little girls go missing and the search to find them begins. The beginning of the book was great, I instantly liked Cap and even though Jamie (the mother) seemed a little rough you were drawn to her and wanted her to succeed. The way the girls went missing is believable but then I feel like character development begins to lack. I didn't really feel connected to anyone else and there are a lot of characters! Versa is supposed to be a kick ass detective and I definitely got that feeling but she was a little too mysterious for me. I felt like this book had great potential but lost me mid way through. I was eager to find out the kidnapper and the ending is a bit twisted.  Maybe not the best book if you have little girls! If you have read it let me know your thoughts.