Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street #1) by Lauren Layne

Blurb from Goodreads:
A sexy agent hounds Wall Street’s hottest new wolf in an exhilarating novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.

She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.
My Review:
I have to tell you that every Lauren Layne book I read lately is starting to fee the same.  It's the same push/pull between a forthright heroine and womanizing hero who's never had a relationship.  I liked the sound of the premise of this book but it pretty much just went through the motions.  The ending was cute but most romance endings are cute.  I don't know, I remember recently reading in LL's newsletter that she is taking a bit of break and I think that may be a good thing.

Hot Asset comes out soon on May 22, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  
My love life's not exactly what you'd call thriving. My longest relationship was last year, lasted five months, and ended with about as much excitement as it started, which isn't saying much. 
Let's just say life as an SEC agent doesn't seem to spark much chemistry on the romantic front. Even when I do manage to put work out of my mind, I think guys smell the workaholic on me. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Blurb from Goodreads:
Allie’s second husband is killed tragically when his 18-wheeler crashes into the rocks near their home in Cape San Blas—the tanker was full of fuel and the explosion could be seen on overhead satellites. She’d already lost the beloved waterfront restaurant her parents started and now losing her husband, no matter how unfulfilling their marriage was, might just push her over the edge.

Joseph’s time in Vietnam left him with scars that never seemed to heal. No matter how he’s tried to love or what he’s tried to do since then, he can’t pull himself out of the wreckage of his former life. His trust and security shaken, he isolates himself in a cabin. But every morning, he faithfully pours two cups of coffee, drinking his while he sits with the second, and then pouring out the full cup.

It’s no small coincidence that Joseph found a mother and her two young children lost in the woods near his cabin. Or that when he helps them return to family in Florida, he’s near enough to see that explosion. Near enough to know it’s close to home. Near enough to know that his childhood sweetheart needs him.

The years have built so much distance between them, but it’s the secrets that may be their final undoing. Send Down the Rain reminds us of the beauty of truth . . . and the power of love to wash away the past.
My Review:
Roll every cliche in and about contemporary womens' literature into one book and you would probably have a pretty close facsimile to this book. I was expecting more after reading and loving The Mountain Between Us (read the book, don't bother with the movie) but this was so cheesy.  I also didn't like its "message" that you are a horrible person and traitor if you disagree with and/or protest war.  This book was like one long commercial in support of the military, which is not a bad thing but things are not always so black and white.  I also didn't like the treatment of immigrants and found portions of this book to be quite insensitive to people of color. I would not recommend it.

Send Down the Rain came out earlier this month on May 8, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.
The military would fly me home to deliver my men to their families.  Sometimes it was just me and one casket. One time it was me and twelve caskets. I'd leave over there, fly thirty-six hours, deliver my friends, or their pieces, to their loved ones, fly thirty-six hours back alone, land, hope on a helo, and they'd drop me back in the jungle. Somewhere in the process the place in my heart that felt things like love and desire died. It just quit feeling.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Blurb from Goodreads:
From Jessica Knoll—author of Luckiest Girl Alive, the instant New York Times bestseller and the bestselling debut novel of 2015—comes a blisteringly paced thriller starring competitive sisters whose dark secrets and lies result in murder when they sign onto a reality TV show.

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today’s America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.
My Review:
I was late to the Luckiest Girl Alive game.  It was so hyped and declared the next Gone Girl that I was reluctant to even bother.  I ended up getting the audiobook from the library and was immediately captivated. I don't think it was like Gone Girl at all.  Yes, there was a twist but it was much more psychological in nature than thriller. That being said, Jessica Knoll's latest book also felt very fresh to me! I was glad I read it cold, meaning that I didn't read the synopsis prior to diving in.  I loved the characters and was immediately sucked in.  I don't watch TV, and especially not reality TV, but this felt so real to me.  Jessica Knoll has a real knack for getting inside a character's head and having them self-explain in a way that feels so real.  I loved this one!

The Favorite Sister comes out next week on May 15, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  I've loved both of Jessica Knoll's books and can't wait for more from her!
I can tell you what does not appeal to me. The very idea of motherhood feels like a hangman's noose around my neck. Just another set of hands, tugging at my hemline, a tinier voice hawing, but what about me? A baby is an emotional burden and I am emotionally burdened enough. I spent my childhood in service of my mother's anxiety, of pretending like it was unremarkable to be one of three black students in my graduating class. I've spent my marriage emotionally and financially supporting my husband's lazy ambitions to become the next Ryan Gosling. I've spent my life overprepared, overdressed, mostly sober, and voluntarily undersexed, because one clipped red light and I'm being dragged away in handcuffs from a beamer that couldn't possibly be mine. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Blurb from Goodreads:
The romance of Stephanie Perkins meets the quirk of Maureen Johnson, then gets a Bollywood twist in this fate-filled debut that takes the future into its own hands. 

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there's Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she'd pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

My Review:
So, so cute!  Even if you aren't that familiar with Bollywood, you will love this YA romance.  It's witty, fun and I just loved the characters so much.  This felt real but also wasn't trying too hard. This is just one of those books that reads effortlessly - I started it and finished it before I knew it.  This is rare for me with YA lately and I was so happy to devour this in less than a day.  I definitely can't wait for more from this author and highly recommend picking this one up for a delightful, fast summer read!

My So-Called Bollywood Life comes out next week on May 15, 2018 and you can purchase HERE
According to Google, a grave was supposed to be six feet deep, but Winnie Mehta didn't want to put that much effort into digging. Besides, it wasn't as if she was dumping an actual body or anything.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: Limelight: A Novel by Amy Poeppel

Blurb from Goodreads:
In a smart and funny new novel by the author of the critically acclaimed, “big-hearted, charming” (The Washington Post) Small Admissions, a family’s move to New York City brings surprises and humor as their lives merge with the captivating world of Broadway.

Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.

Allison learns that New York is unruly and bewildering, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.

When Allison has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.

In a book that delivers laughs, warmth, and delightful wish fulfillment, Poeppel dives into celebrity culture and modern motherhood with her trademark “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life) style. 

My Review:
This was fun - part moving to NYC, part being an assistant to a celebrity.  Definitely a fun, fast read.  I really like the characters - the first part felt a bit tedious with all the adjustments and everything falling apart but it ended up working.  I think all of the characters were well-written, well-developed and felt very intuitive.  I am definitely excited for more from this author because I've really liked both of her books that she's released so far.

Limelight comes out next week on May 1, 2018 and you can purchase HERE. You can read my review of Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel HERE, which came out last year and which I also really liked! As an aside, I really love the cover of this one and her last, too.
"Yeah, so I'm calling for the asshole who smashed into my BMW. Call back or even better just get your insurance information over here, so I can deal with it. Fifteen Central Park West. ASAP, got it?"

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Blurb from Goodreads:
A dazzling collection of short stories from the New York Times bestselling author of Prep, American Wife, and Eligible

Curtis Sittenfeld has established a reputation as a sharp chronicler of the modern age who humanizes her subjects even as she skewers them. Now, with this first collection of short fiction, her “astonishing gift for creating characters that take up residence in readers’ heads” (The Washington Post) is showcased like never before.

Throughout the ten stories in You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld upends assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided. In “The World Has Many Butterflies,” married acquaintances play a strangely intimate game with devastating consequences. In “Vox Clamantis in Deserto,” a shy Ivy League student learns the truth about a classmate’s seemingly enviable life. In “A Regular Couple,” a high-powered lawyer honeymooning with her husband is caught off guard by the appearance of the girl who tormented her in high school. And in “The Prairie Wife,” a suburban mother of two fantasizes about the downfall of an old friend whose wholesome lifestyle-brand empire may or may not be built on a lie.

With moving insight and uncanny precision, Curtis Sittenfeld pinpoints the questionable decisions, missed connections, and sometimes extraordinary coincidences that make up a life. Indeed, she writes what we’re all thinking—if only we could express it with the wit of a master satirist, the storytelling gifts of an old-fashioned raconteur, and the vision of an American original.
My Review:
I am always skeptical about short stories but this is one collection about which I can say, READ THIS! So good, so true.  Not only did I laugh out loud but it all felt so real.  Each story is pretty short and the entire collection is an easy read in an afternoon.  But I am still thinking about these stories and I know I'll re-read this collection, often.  Curtis Sittenfeld has this crazy talent and ability to express your inner most-cringeworthy thoughts and feelings in a way that feels like you wrote it yourself and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  I love these stories.

You Think It, I'll Say It comes out next week on April 24, 2018, you can purchase HERE!  Definitely give this is a try even if you don't love short stories!!
Their deliberately childless life, their cat, Converse (named not for the shoe but for the political scientist), their free-range beef and night sand weekends of reading and grading and high-quality television seriesit was fine and a little horrible. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

Blurb from Goodreads:
Major Motion Picture Already in Development with Temple Hill Entertainment

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.
My Review:
UGH. In one sentence, wait for the movie.  And it pains me to say that because movies NEVER compare to books but this one almost felt like it was written just to become a movie rather than to be a book for its own sake.  Maybe I didn't fall in love with this because it was too much like real life to me.  I went to England and lived there for two years for graduate school, and in English literature (although our time periods varied). Without giving too much else of the plot away, I also know was Ella had to go through.  I don't know - this just took too long in some parts and then sped up in other parts, glossing over important plot points.  I think it will be better done as a movie.  The question is whether I will even bother to see it?  Right now, the jury is still out.

My Oxford Year comes out soon on April 24, 2018, and you can purchase HERE.  
I wish I could say that Oxford smells like parchment and cinnamon or something poetic, but right now it just smells like city: bus diesel, damp pavement, and the aroma of French roast wafting form the coffee shop across the street. 
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