Thursday, August 6, 2020

Emancipated Love Junkie: Liberating Myself From Anorexia

Book: Emancipated Love Junkie: Liberating Myself from Anorexia
Author: Rachel Wilshusen

Are you trapped inside an eating disorder? Is biting into a slice of banana bread or simply an apple challenging? If so, Rachel will guide you towards a liberated and beautiful life! In her inspiring memoir, Rachel shares her twenty-year battle with anorexia as she travels the planet as an executive assistant, rock musician, teacher, playwright, and cookie company owner.
Interspersed with humorous anecdotes and raw moments are fresh insights to pin feelings of hope onto your heart. As you replace negative thoughts with positive truths, you’ll feel empowered to join Rachel as an Emancipated Love Junkie—radiating your best self and flooding your world with joy.

Remember when you were a tiny human, gleefully running half-naked through a sprinkler with an ice cream cone in one sticky fist? This book will help you embrace that healthy goodness today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.-Amazon

Review: Rachel Wilshusen shares her life with us, taking us from her childhood to mid-30's. Born into a loving family who moved often growing up (her father is a military doctor), Rachel was a type-A perfectionist who moved from disordered eating into anorexia as she got older. 

I have only read one previous memoir about an eating disorder and it was filled with caloric intakes and specific weights. It almost read like a 'how to' for anorexia. I like Rachel's method much better-she really shares her childhood, family and life with us, including her disease, but she does it in a way where she doesn't need to constantly talk about weights, measurements or calories. I think a big 'reveal' moment for me was that most people's vision of anorexia (including mine before reading this) is an "emaciated person." This is not always the case and Rachel is a perfect example. While anorexic for years, Rachel, while thin, did not fit into that "emaciated" mold. That is extremely frightening because people can hide their disease for years without friends and families catching on. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Rachel's journey. I love the connection she has with her family and so proud that she was able to seek help. If you are struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder or know someone who is, this would be a good book for them. 


Grade: 4/5

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Other Sister

Book: The Other Sister
Author: Leanne Davis

General Travis Bains has two daughters, one who is good, and one who is bad. Everyone knows Lindsey is the good one, and Jessie is the bad one.

Jessie Bains is the other sister, the bad sister, which she has proven more often than not, until the day she gets kidnapped and brutally raped. Will Hendricks, one of her father's soldiers, rescues her and brings her home, but fears she may be nearly destroyed by what is done to her. The most important thing, however, is that no one can know, per the general's orders.

Jessie's life was always far from normal as the daughter of one of the most revered generals in the world. No one sees what the general does to Jessie, except Will. When Will discovers the danger Jessie is living in at her father's hand, he once again rescues her. Will has survived the horrors of war, but is now engaged in a battle that has become far more personal and far more deadly. Will alone realizes what the general has done and will do to destroy his "other" daughter.-Goodreads

Review: This book didn't work for me on any level. The characters had zero depth and while the storyline itself had potential, I didn't love the writing style. 

Grade: 1/5

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Book: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
Author: Lori Gottlieb

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients' lives -- a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can't stop hooking up with the wrong guys -- she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.-Goodreads

Review: Lori Gottlieb followed a non-tradition route to her career as a therapist and I found her history fascinating. Also fascinating were the client sessions she shares with us. Her own sessions with Wendell were probably the weakest part of the book for me, but overall I loved this. 

Grade: 5/5

Tell Me Lies

Book: Tell Me Lies
Author: JP Pomare

Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie could cost her family and freedom.

Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children, and a successful career. On a warm spring morning, Margot spots one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Suddenly, one tragedy leads to another leaving her, her family, and her patients in danger. As misfortune unfolds, listeners will soon question Margot’s true role in all of these unfortunate events.-Goodreads

Review: This was a short, enjoyable Audible Original about a psychologist who seemingly murders one of her patients. 

Grade: 3/5

Her Mother's Lies

Book: Her Mother's Lies
Author: Rona Halsall


What if the person you trust most in the world, has been lying to you for your whole life?

Martha would do anything for her devoted mother, Fran. Now in her mid-twenties, Martha still lives with her in their remote, pretty cottage in the Cornish countryside. Fran paints illustrations, while Martha trains to be an animal nurse.

But then Martha sees a strange message on her mother’s phone – apparently from her estranged father.

He had been there for her first steps. He’d helped with her homework, and taken her for ice cream at weekends. And then, two days before her ninth birthday, he walked out. She never knew what went wrong, and she and Fran never heard from him again.

Desperate for answers, she tracks him down. But when they come face-to-face, she isn’t ready for the brutal truth.

Closing his eyes he says, ‘She hasn’t told you, has she? I’m not your father.’

Her mother has been telling lies.

And not just about who her real father is…-Goodreads

Review: Living in a remote part of England with her mother, Martha is shocked to learn that the man she thought was her father, isn't. This sets off a chain of events she couldn't have seen coming. 

I really enjoyed this one! Slower paced but Halsall did a good job drawing me into the story. I only guessed part of the ending, so that was even better!

Grade: 4/5

A Woman is No Man

Book: A Woman is No Man
Author: Etaf Rum

In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.-Goodreads

Review: This is a heartbreaking book about a few generations of women. Isra is forced to leave Palestine with her new American husband, Adam. But life in America is anything but happy. Living with Adam's parents and being forced to work herself to the bone, Isra struggles to come to grips with in-laws, marriage, pregnancies and children. A sad tale that I was immersed in. 

Grade: 4/5

House of Earth and Blood

Book: House of Earth and Blood
Series: Crescent City #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas


Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.-Goodreads

Review: New series from Sarah J. Maas, yes! I'll be honest, this was hard to get into. We are immediately thrown into a new world and it took some time to get used to it. The plot was extremely slow for the first 2/3 or so and I really thought this would be a 2 to 3 star read. And then...bam! Fantastic end to the book. I shocked myself when I cried at the end. I can't wait for book #2 in the series! 

Grade: 4/5

The Grace Year

Book: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.-Goodreads

Review: This reminded me of Lord of the Flies and The Handmaiden's Tale with a small dash of Hunger Games. I was really enjoying the book until it delved into romance. I just could not get behind the romance aspect of this book, it didn't seem necessary with the whole feminist themes. Overall, I enjoyed it.  

Grade: 3/5

Maybe He Just Likes You

Book: Maybe He Just Likes You
Author: Barbara Dee

For seventh grader Mila, it starts with an unwanted hug on the school blacktop.

The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice-the one time Mila could always escape to her “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn’t feel like flirting–so what is it?

Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own–and finds help in some unexpected places.-Goodreads

Review: Absolutely fantastic. This book is about sexual harassment in middle school. It should be required reading for all middle school students. 

Grade: 5/5

You Are Not Alone

Book: You Are Not Alone
Author: Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen


You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers-Goodreads

Review: Shay is a nice woman, desperate for friends. We all probably know someone like Shay but don't understand the level of their despair. Shay is befriended by the seemingly nice Moore sisters, but they are not what they seem. 

I really liked this one! I felt bad for Shay and how she was manipulated. The Moore sister sections weren't as strong but overall, this was a page turner. 

Grade: 3.5/5

The Worst Best Man

Book: The Worst Best Man
Author: Lucy Score

The bride is a doll. The groom is the perfect gentleman. But the rest of the wedding party? They’re the stuff of nightmares. Rich? Check. Vapid? Double Check. Entitled? Not enough checks in the world. And the Best Man? More like the Worst Man.

But Maid of Honor Franchesca takes her duties seriously. Kidnapped groom? She’s got this. Rude attendees? You just watch her handle them. So a best man with a big attitude and an even bigger…checkbook? Yeah, there’s no way she’s going to let that pretentious, judgmental jackhole ruin her best friend’s wedding. No matter how sexy he is. (Well, that’s the plan anyway…)

Aiden Kilbourn doesn’t do long-term relationships. He’s busy ruling the business world, and has yet to find a woman he can tolerate for longer than a month, two at the outside. Conquering the unconquerable is basically his bread and butter. And he hasn’t met a challenge that he can’t win. But Franchesca Baranski? This smart-mouthed girl from Brooklyn may just be his downfall. -Goodreads

Review: This is a cute romance between Frankie and Aiden. While the entire wedding plot was ridiculous (the characters, especially the female ones did not seam realistic in the least), I chuckled a few times and enjoyed how this played out. 

Grade: 3/5

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Iron Crowne

Book: Iron Crowne
Author: CD Reiss

Byron Crowne is a charming liar and a gorgeous monster.
I detest him.
I can't resist him.
He’s awakened desires I didn’t know I had.
When he touches me, I need to fight him . . . and I need him to win.
Our one night stand bruises my skin and leaves dents in the walls, but the sheets aren't the only thing we shred that night.
And suddenly, the stakes are higher than ever.
***
Olivia Monroe lights a fire in me that died a long time ago.
I’m a different man when I’m with her. I need to own her, take her, mark her as mine.
Everything changes when she might be pregnant and for the first time in my life...I’m powerless against this stubborn, untamable woman.
She’s the one in control and I have an impossible job:
Prove I’m worthy to be a father. -Goodreads

Review: CD Reiss is my go-to romance writer but this book fell a little short for me. While I overall liked it, there wasn't enough tension between the characters. I felt like their relationship progressed way too fast. 

Grade: 2.5/5

The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy

Book: The Phantom Price: My Life with Ted Bundy
Author: Elizabeth Kendall

Review: I hate to give a low rating to a book about a woman who will forever be haunted by her relationship with Ted Bundy, but for anyone who has read about Ted Bundy, this book didn't offer much. My biggest takeaway was that I didn't realize how much Kendall had cooperate with police and I was surprised at how many times I kept thinking she was the crazier one in the relationship. Obviously, he was a manipulating sociopath and she had her own issues which contributed to their co-dependent relationship. 

Grade: 2/5

The Wives

Book: The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.-Goodreads

Review: I compulsively read this book and couldn't put it down. A woman in a plural marriage who knows nothing about his other two wives, I had to know more! I have a friend who is wife #2 (wife #1 is legal, wife #2 is religious) so I knew this was not a typical arrangement. It's hard to wrap my head around this one but it was probably a solid 4/5 star read until the end..which I hated. 

Grade: 3/5

Perfect Little Children

Book: Perfect Little Children
Author: Sophie Hannah

All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn't mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn't seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn't want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can't resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except... There's something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It's the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt - Hilary hears Flora call them by their names - but they haven't changed at all.

They are no taller, no older... Why haven't they grown?-Goodreads


Review: I think it's best to go into this book completely blind. Was this a realistic read? No. Was it a fun read with great characters? Yes. I could totally see myself acting like Beth but the MVP award goes to her daughter, Zannah. Such a fun book!

Grade: 5/5

Long Bright River

Book: Long Bright River
Author: Liz Moore

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters' childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.-Goodreads

Review: First things first-this booked is marketed as a 'thriller' and it is not a thriller. People going into this expecting a twisty, turning tale will be disappointed. This is a story about sisters, one a drug addict and one a cop. It is dark, depressing and while gripping at times, could have been a hundred pages shorter. While I overall liked the book, the main character, Mickey, was the most unrealistic cop. I think the story could have been stronger if she had a different profession and a better editor tightened the story up. 

Grade: 3/5

The Unhoneymooners

Book: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren


Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.-Goodreads

Review: This is a a cute, light romance that is a perfect summer read. After avoiding food poisoning at her twin sister's wedding, Olive and Ethan (the groom's brother) take their sibling's planned trip to Hawaii. The catch? They hate it each. 

Grade: 3/5

Lies that Bind Us

Book: Lies that Bind Us
Author: Andrew Hart

Jan needs this. She’s flying to Crete to reunite with friends she met there five years ago and relive an idyllic vacation. Basking in the warmth of the sun, the azure sea, and the aura of antiquity, she can once again pretend—for a little while—that she belongs. Her ex-boyfriend Marcus will be among them, but even he doesn’t know the secrets she keeps hidden behind a veil of lies. None of them really know her, and that’s only part of the problem.

Then again, how well does she know them?

When Jan awakens in utter darkness, chained to a wall, a manacle around her wrist, her echoing screams only give her a sense of how small her cell is. As she desperately tries to reconstruct what happened and determine who is holding her prisoner, dread covers despair like a hand clamped over her mouth. Because, like the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Greek myth, her captor will be coming back for her, and all the lies will catch up to her…-Goodreads

Review: Meet Jan. Jan is a habitual liar going on vacation with friends (I use that term loosely) she met in Crete five years ago. Jan is not a likable person, nor are her "friends." Unfortunately, this book didn't work for me on any level. I can dislike characters if the storyline is good but this was predictable and boring. 

Grade: 1/5

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Book: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. -Goodreads

Review: If you are looking for an absolutely adorable, feel good, read, look no further. This is an enjoyable read that almost everyone in my book club enjoyed. 

Grade: 4/5

Believe Me

Book: Believe Me
Author: JP Delaney

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?-Goodreads

Review: This was a random airport purchase and a super fun read! Claire is a talented British actor in need of a green card. She ends up working for a divorce attorney, using her skills to lure married men into propositioning her. Things are going well until the wife of one of her marks is murdered. The police hire Claire to help them lure the husband. This was such a fun read. Great for the beach or pool!

Grade: 4/5

The Girl With a Clock for a Heart

Book: The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
Author: Peter Swanson

George Foss never thought he'd see her again, but on a late-August night in Boston, there she is, in his local bar, Jack's Tavern.

When George first met her, she was an eighteen-year-old college freshman from Sweetgum, Florida. She and George became inseparable in their first fall semester, so George was devastated when he got the news that she had committed suicide over Christmas break. But, as he stood in the living room of the girl's grieving parents, he realized the girl in the photo on their mantelpiece - the one who had committed suicide - was not his girlfriend. Later, he discovered the true identity of the girl he had loved - and of the things she may have done to escape her past.

Now, twenty years later, she's back, and she's telling George that he's the only one who can help her..-Goodreads

Review: Do you remember your freshman year boyfriend or girlfriend? George sure does. Even though she deceived him and it's been twenty years, George can't stay away from the trainwreck that was his first love. Swanson does a great job writing George as a likable character, even after he makes bad decision after bad decision. Very enjoyable read!


Grade: 3.5/5

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Giver of Stars

Book: The Giver of Stars
Author: JoJo Moyes

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. -Goodreads

Review: I loved this book about a group of women who deliver books as part of a traveling library. There was heartbreak, friendship and love. All around great read. 

Grade: 4.5/5

The Idea of You

Book: The Idea of You
Author: Robinne Lee

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.-Goodreads


Review: This is a hugely popular book on Goodreads but it didn't work for me. Solene is a 39 year old single mom to a 12-year daughter. Her daughter loves the boy band, August Moon and their 20-year old lead singer, Hayes. When Solene meets Hayes, they embark on a relationship. 

I will admit I was initially uncomfortable with the age difference between Solene and Hayes as she literally could have been his mother. I think it would have been a tad more realistic if he was at least 21 and legal drinking age. By the end of the book I was fine with it as he was portrayed as wise beyond his years due to his lifestyle. My main issue with this book was Solene herself-she was so pretentious about art and being French, I could not relate to her at all. She was a complete snob. 

Grade: 2/5

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Book: Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author: Linda Holmes

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth "Evvie" Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn't correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy's childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the "yips": he can't throw straight anymore, and he can't figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie's house, the two make a deal: Dean won't ask about Evvie's late husband, and Evvie won't ask about Dean's baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken--and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they'll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they've broken, the plans they've changed, and the secrets they've kept. They'll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there's always a chance--right up until the last out.-Goodreads

Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over is a romance novel about a widowed woman and her late husband's friend who comes to live with her for a few months. This is an adult romance (by 'adult' I don't mean 'sexy', I mean the main characters are adults who actually have conversations and their courtship is not via text). While somewhat boring at times, I overall liked this. I thought the ending was well constructed. 

Grade: 3/5

The Other Daughter

Book: The Other Daughter
Author: Shalini Boland

Nine years ago her daughter was taken. And now she’s back.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.

Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.

Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.

Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.

And she will stop at nothing to get her back…-Goodreads

Review: I discovered this book through my 'Kindle Recommendations' and THANK YOU KINDLE! I really enjoyed this one. This was fast paced and I didn't see the end coming. A great beach read for the summer!

Grade: 4/5

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Book: Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And... do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…-Goodreads

Review: Chloe Brown has fibromyalgia. With a broken engagement under her belt, Chloe is a bit of a hermit in her apartment. She decides to 'get a life' and the sexy handyman in her apartment helps her. 

I wanted to love this book and while I overall enjoyed it, I found my favorite characters were not Chloe and Red, but her sisters. Chloe was not an easy character to like although she did grow on me by the end. I didn't dislike Red but I didn't like him either. Now Chloe's sisters? I absolutely loved them! Great personalities and funny. 


Grade: 3/5

Rhapsodic

Book: Rhapsodic
Series: The Bargainer #1
Author: Laura Thalassa

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one. -Goodreads

Review: After reading a seemingly non-stop flow of psychological thrillers last year, it was good to switch things up and get back to one of my favorite genres, urban fantasy. 'Rhapsodic' came highly recommended and while I would have liked more world building, I really enjoyed Callypso, our main character who happens to be a siren. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to the next book in the series. 

Grade: 3.5/5

The Girl Who Lived

Book: The Girl Who Lived
Author: Christopher Greyson

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?-Goodreads

Review: This was my first Christopher Greyson book and while I found the ending completely ridiculous, this was otherwise a well crafted tale. Faith is a flawed heroine but I was drawn into her story and the mystery of who killed her sister and father. Overall I enjoyed this. 

Grade: 3/5

I Found You

Book: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.-Goodreads

Review: This was an enjoyable, quick read with two different timelines and three different perspectives. Alice is a free spirit who takes in a man she finds in the rain. He has no jacket and no memory of who he is. Her kids think she's nuts but she is going to help anyway. Meanwhile, Lily has recently moved to England with her new husband when he disappears without a trace. She is shocked to learn from the police he doesn't exist. In an older timeline, we follow Gray and Kirsty as they vacation on the island (where Alice now lives). How does it all tie together? This is a good beach read for the summer. I liked it. 

Grade: 3/5

Sweep of the Blade

Book: Sweep of the Blade
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #4
Author: Ilona Andrews

Maud Demille was a daughter of Innkeepers. She knew that a simple life wasn't in the cards, but she never anticipated what Fate would throw at her.

Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her daughter, Helen, had been exiled for the sins of her husband to the desolate planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud had spent a year and a half avenging his debts. But now all the debts are paid. Rescued by her sister Dina, Maud had swore off all things vampire. Except she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined.

Try as she might, she can't just walk away from Arland. It doesn't help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.

To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is a powerful vampire House, and Maud knows that a woman who turned down the proposal from its most beloved son wouldn't get a warm reception. But Maud Demille never shied from a fight and House Krahr may soon discover that there is more to this human woman than they ever thought possible.-Goodread
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Review: A great addition to the Innkeeper series. I wasn't sure I would enjoy a full book about Maud but she proved fierce and interesting. I especially love Arland and her daughter, Helen. I can't wait for the next book!

Grade: 4/5

I Know Who You Are

Book: I Know Who You Are
Author: Alice Feeney

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.-Goodreads

Review: This was a solid read until the end of the book. The conclusion was completely convoluted and unbelievable with a major "ick" factor. 

Grade: 2/5