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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Winter Solstice (Winter #4) by Elin Hilderbrand



Blurb from Goodreads:
Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn. 

It's been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that's about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they've experienced in years. And Bart's safe return isn't the family's only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she's finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn't be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love--and some of the things we endure--about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best. 
My Review:
 
I remember reading the first two books in this series and being absolutely unable to put them down.  The third book wasn't as good for me as the first two and it was supposed to be the conclusion to this series.  When it ended on a cliffhanger, I was half apprehensive/half excited for a fourth book.  And while I think the series concluded sufficiently, it was rather melancholy as opposed to the first three books and what I kind of come to want from Elin Hilderbrand.  Granted, she doesn't always give us a happy ending but this one left me a bit blue.  I love the Quinn family she created in these books and I love the Nantucket setting in winter but I couldn't help but want a bit more from this ending.  That being said, I still recommend this series - now that they are all out, it would be perfect to binge read them during the holidays!
Winter Solstice comes out next week on October 3, 2017, and you can purchase HERE
The first weekend of December on Nantucket is Christmas Stroll. It has been this way Bart's entire life, but he never cared, barely noticed, and didn't think to celebrate. 
Until this year.  
Because this year he's in love.  
He's in love!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi



Blurb from Goodreads:
Set in the capital city of the world’s happiest country, a comedy of manners about depression, the pressures of marriage, and the possibility of falling in love again, from the bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers.

Sanya was always the perfect wife, but after a breakdown at her office, it’s her husband Harry’s turn to step up. His proposal? A temporary move to Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city. He needs to be there to close a business deal and figures the change of scenery will do her good. Soon Sanya goes from hiding under her duvet to hiding in plain sight—a dark-skinned Indian American in a city of blondes.

Within Copenhagen’s glamorous high society, one man stands out—not only because of his intriguing scar but because he sees Sanya in a way Harry hasn’t for years. Anders Ravn owns the company Harry wants to acquire, and soon Sanya begins to fall for him. As allegations of white-collar crime arise, she learns of Harry’s infidelity, and having an affair with Anders seems ever more tempting. Surrounded by old money, smoked fish on dark breads, and way too many bicycles, Sanya slowly moves from breakdown to breakthrough, but where will she end up—and with whom?
My Review:
 
Copenhagen is one of those cities that I loved visiting but I know that I would living there even more so I was necessarily intrigued to read this book.  I was so pleasantly delighted by this book - not only did I laugh out loud but I really loved Sanya.  She was such a well developed character in the book that I never questioned her motivations or felt unsettled even when she surprised me.  I think this book perfectly set the tone of this city but also this feeling of a certain age in this world in which we now live.  I read this pretty quickly and can't wait to discover more form this author.

The Copenhagen Affair comes out next week on September 26, 2017 and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this one for fans of literary fiction, I enjoyed this one immensely!
It's a common mistake to assume that emotional baggage will disappear if one changes geographies. There are many who think that a change in weather is all that is needed to set everything that is wrong with a person right. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mini Reviews: Battle of the Opposites Attract Romances



Blurb from Goodreads:
Fairy tales aren't ever what they seem . . . 

Tuesday Knight's dream of Broadway stardom has flopped, leaving her unemployed and brokenhearted. Ready to quit kissing frogs and make her own happily-ever-after, she takes a job as a princess in Everland, Georgia's historical amusement park. 

Mayor Beau Marino lives an unenchanted existence-all work, no play-which is fine by him. After his marriage ended in disaster, the last thing he wants in his life is more drama. But Everland's new free spirit has a talent for getting under his starched collar. 

When the town's beloved but bankrupt park might be shut down, Tuesday and Beau face a choice. Can they join forces, save the day-and each other? Or will their fierce battle of wills destroy any chance of a fairy-tale ending? 
My Review:

I really tried with some one and ended up stopping around 51%.  Something about this felt super off-putting to me and I can't even put my finger on it. It is centered around an amusement park where Tuesday plays a princess.  So that was a bit weird but hen this business intrigue and espionage sort of revealed itself and I just didn't buy Beau and Tuesday being into each other.  I like opposites attract romances but this one just felt totally inauthentic.  Unfortunately this was my first book by this author and I've seen such good reviews of her other works.  Hopefully this one was just an anomaly and I will definitely try something else by her!
Tuesday had always vaguely assumed she'd have kids until two years ago, when a friend from high school had called to cry in desperation about her sleepless, sexless life. After that Tuesday had moved that particular life goal from her "Must do" list to "Maybe." Might be time to downgrade it to "Nope."




Blurb from Goodreads:
Everest. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere. Maybe even New York, where Ruthie Knox takes her charming rom-com style to new heights.

Beneath her whole “classic English beauty” appearance is an indomitable spirit that has turned Rosemary Chamberlain into something of a celebrity mountain climber. But after an Everest excursion takes a deadly turn, Rosemary is rescued by her quick-thinking guide, New York native Kal Beckett. Rosemary’s brush with death brings out a primal need to celebrate life—and inspires a night of steamy sex with the rather gorgeous man who saved her.

The son of a famous female climber with a scandalous past, Kal Beckett is still trying to find himself. In the Zen state of mind where Kal spends most of his time, anything can happen—like making love to a fascinating stranger and setting off across the world with her the next morning. But as their lives collide in the whirlwind of passion that is New York City, the real adventure is clearly just beginning. . . . 
My Review:
  
This book was unique and wonderful! Rosemary and Kal couldn't be more opposite but somehow their coupling felt natural and organic. It starts off while they are both on Everest, Rosemary trying to summit and Kal as an ice doctor with mixed feelings about being back on Everest.  I won't tell you what happens next but it all felt very real.  My only complaint is that the conflict resolved a bit too easily for me and the ending came up quick.  I think a few other areas could have been shortened to develop the ending a bit better.  That being said, this was enjoyable and I highly recommend this entire trilogy.  You can read my review of book 2 in this trilogy HERE (note: they can definitely be read stand-alone!)
He would miss her face. He would miss seeing her when he woke up in the morning, spending time with her, hearing what she thought about things. Kal was no Buddhist, but he had enough of a basic grasp of chains of causation to understand that the fact that he'd invited Rosemary into his life, promised to help her with her book, and taken her home to meet his mom meant that for reasons he couldn't being to understand, this was what he wanted. Every action he'd taken since Everest had been leading him to this moment, the chain of causation a gigantic arrow pointing Kal toward the obvious reason why a man would upend his life for a woman, invite her into its messiest corners, want to tell her everything even when he couldn't quite bring himself to, want her to stick around, want her in his bed, want to buy her coffee. 
Well there was a definitely winner in this battle between opposites attract contemporary romances! The Corner of Forever and Always and Completely come out next week on September 26, 2017.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Sleep Like a Baby (Aurora Teagarden #10) by Charlaine Harris



Blurb from Goodreads:
In the latest installment of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden series, Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe's mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu. 
One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe's brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside... but it isn't Virginia's. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle - who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia? This heart-pounding and exciting next installment of the Aurora Teagarden series will leave fans happy and hungry for more.
My Review:
 
A few months ago I came down with the worst summer cold right before I had to travel across the country and give a huge presentation. I relegated myself to the guest bedroom for bed rest and remembered I had gotten an alert earlier in the day notifying me that my hold for the first book in the Aurora Teagarden series was finally available at the library.  I immediately downloaded it to my kindle, hoping it would suck me in and distract me from blowing my nose every 30 seconds.  IT DID! I spent the next three days reading books 1-9 in succession and devouring each and every word!  Perfect cozy mystery!  So when I heard that the 10th book was coming out shortly thereafter, I was stoked!  If you like this series, you will not be disappointed in this latest installment - Roe is Roe is Roe.  I love her so much! And it was fun to see her step into her new role as a mother. I won't divulge more but this one was great!

Sleep Like a Baby comes out later this month on September 26, 2017 and you can purchase HERE. I definitely recommend this series - it was so fun to read them all in sequence!
For just one moment, I was the only adult in the room. In my arms was the most important person in the world, Sophie Abigail Crusoe, two hours old. She's perfect, I thought, marveling. I'm the luckiest woman in the world. My daughter had just been presented to me as a swaddled bundle. I'd barely caught a glimpse of her as she emerged from her nine-months residence. Yielding to an irresistible urge, I unwrapped her just to make sure every part of her was present and in order.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: Enigma (FBI Thriller #21) by Catherine Coulter



Blurb from Goodreads:
After Savich stops a crazy man from harming a pregnant woman, the man unexpectedly falls into a coma. Doctors discover a drug in his blood they can’t identify, and his only identification is a yellow wrist band marked E 2. Did this John Doe escape from a mental hospital? And why was he at the pregnant woman’s house? When her newborn baby is kidnapped from the hospital Savich realizes there’s a connection between the kidnapping and the unconscious John Doe. DNA tests uncover a startling fact: his cells are unlike any other—he’s an Enigma.

Savich and Sherlock and an FBI team of experts must find the kidnapped baby, uncover the link, and find out what bizarre drug was used on John Doe and, most important, why.

Meanwhile, Liam Hennessey, aka Manta Ray, a convicted bank robber, escapes from the Federal Marshals on his transport to a federal penitentiary. He and his “handlers” are seen going into the Daniel Boone National Forest. Savich sends Agents Cam Wittier and Jack Cabot after them.

Why break out this violent criminal? Or did the safe deposit box he stole and hid before he was captured contain something critically dangerous to someone? Wittier and Cabot are in hot pursuit. What they discover turns the case sideways.

Coulter's latest dual-plot thriller will keep you guessing as Savich, Sherlock, Abbott, and Wittier uncover surprise after surprise in this race against the clock until the shocking conclusions.
My Review:
 
Twenty one books into this series and you have to feel like it would be staid and predictable. And to a certain extent, it is, but I still enjoyed this one and its twists and turns.  I wasn't as surprised by the climax of it or the ending but it was a solid thriller.  What I don't love about the turn that this series has taken is that the romance has dropped out from it. This used to be one of my favorite romantic suspense series but now I would just call it a thriller series because there is truly zero romance. I am sure this is by design but I long for the earlier books and the romance along with the thrill.
Enigma comes out next week on September 12, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. This made up for a few of the last books in this series that I haven't loved but still isn't comparable for the first 15 or so books in this series that I couldn't put down.  You can read my review of book #20 in this series HERE.
"You really do look like a vampire in the moonlight," Cam said. "I could suggest using a tanning bed occasionally, might help keep people form trying to stake you."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy, Translated by Sam Taylor



Blurb from Goodreads:
On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript? 
My Review:
 
This book was apparently popular in France and translated from French but something was certainly lost in its translation because I can't help but feel that this book has no soul. It could have been written by anyone, anytime and it read like bad fanfiction inspired after seeing Roman Holiday or Notting Hill.  I made myself finish this and I'm not sure why - nothing about it was redeeming.  The writing was fine, if simple, but I didn't care for the stories nor did I feel that the author was able to successfully write from a woman's POV.  His misogyny and lack of understanding pervaded the book.  I can't say I'd recommend this one.

P.S. from Paris comes out next week on September 1, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
In the mornings, they ate breakfast at Moustache's cafe and chatted. In the afternoons, they strolled around Paris. Paul bought all sorts of useless objects--kitchen utensils, knickknacks, clothes he would never wear, books he would never read, and gifts for his godson. Arthur tried to curb his sudden shopaholic tendencies, but to no avail.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel



Blurb from Goodreads:
Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . . .
My Review:
 
I will read any book that labels itself as a Jane Austen retelling - especially a retelling of Persuasion! So I was excited for this one and it really just fell flat.  I suppose you could say the plot very loosely followed Persuasion but it was missing all of the emotion and spark from that book.  To me, that book is about yearning more than anything. This book was about . . . pettiness and little bit of reminiscing.  I didn't long for the characters to reignite, I was just bored while reading this one. The book is told between past and present and I don't think the author did a good job at those transitions. I found myself read for this to end rather than wanting to keep reading.  Overall, I would skip this and re-read Persuasion.

The One that Got Away comes out next week on August 22, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. I think there are way better JA retellings out there than this one but, if you do read this, hopefully you will have a better time!
I hadn't had white toast since Bush was in office--I'd forgotten how completely, utterly perfect it is. Definitely squats tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Ready to Run (I Do, I Don't #1) by Lauren Layne



Blurb from Goodreads:
The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.
My Review:
 
This is probably my least favorite LL that I've read so far but I still liked it because her books are just that good.  I'm trying to put my finger on what didn't quite work for me in this one and I think it was the chemistry, or lack thereof.  I am used to LL's books having insane chemistry between the love interests and the chemistry between Luke and Jordan wasn't what I expected. While there were flashes of LL's usual stellar chemistry created between Jordan and Luke, there was not enough of those although it could just be that I have very high expectations for LL's book after reading and loving quite a few of them  What did work for me were all the secondary characters and the setting.  LL is a genius at sidekicks, for lack of a better word.  You know that person that the MC can bounce all his or her thoughts and feeling off of and who's the most amazing friends? She excels at creating just such characters. I can't wait to see where this series goes next!
Ready to Run comes out next week on August 22, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.  
His fingers spread wide over her waist as his mouth opened over hers, and Jordan's fingers gripped his shirt, holding him close. 
It was a bit like being a teenager again, where you thought you'd die of the frantic want, where you didn't care that you were in a parking lot, pressed against a car, probably getting dirt on your blouse, because all that mattered was the boy.  
Except this was not a boy. 
The guy pinning her to the truck was all man, and his hands and mouth absolutely knew what they were doing. 
Someone whistled as he walked by, and Jordan broke away with a gasping laugh. "Is this how you got three women to agree to marry you? Kissing them against your truck?"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: Things That Happened Before the Earthquake by Chiara Barzini



Blurb from Goodreads:
Welcome to LA? Nineties' Hollywood gets an Italian makeover in this poignant and ruefully funny coming-of-age novel featuring a teenage girl who's on shaky ground in more ways than one.

Mere weeks after the 1992 riots that laid waste to Los Angeles, Eugenia, a typical Italian teenager, is rudely yanked from her privileged Roman milieu by her hippieish filmmaker parents and transplanted to the strange suburban world of the San Fernando Valley. With only the Virgin Mary to call on for guidance as her parents struggle to make it big, Hollywood fashion, she must navigate her huge new public high school, complete with Crips and Bloods and Persian gang members, and a car-based environment of 99-cent stores and obscure fast-food franchises and all-night raves. She forges friendships with Henry, who runs his mother's movie memorabilia store, and the bewitching Deva, who introduces her to the alternate cultural universe that is Topanga Canyon. And then the 1994 earthquake rocks the foundations not only of Eugenia's home but of the future she'd been imagining for herself.
My Review:
 
This book took me nearly a week.  I kept putting it down and had to force myself to pick it back up every time.  I did not want to finish it but I did so out of guilt.  It actually picked up about 75% in but it was never what I would term "enjoyable." It wasn't that the writing was bad or even the plot, really, but I never connected with this.  It was written in a narrative style and jumped around a lot. It was supposed to be linear but there were weird gaps of time that threw me off.  I appreciated the reflection of LA in the 90's and the fish out of water first person POV but that was about it.  The whole thing felt too fantastic to me even though every word could have been true.  This might really sing for some people, especially if you have a real nostalgia for the LA of the early 90s but it didn't quite come together for me.  One tip: throw your hopes for political correctness out the window if you do read this.
Things That Happened Before the Earthquake comes out next week on August 15, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
When I told my Roman schoolmates we were moving to America they all gasped. I should refuse to move to an imperialist country. America was evil. That was the bottom line. Ours was a politically active institution. Every year students conducted a sit-in on the school grounds to protest government decisions about public education. The real activists printed pamphlets and screamed communist slogans into megaphones. The rest of us like the excuse of sleeping away from home. We camped in sleeping bags inside the freezing gym, smoked hash, and talked about "the system." Nobody washed for days. Halls were littered with cigarette butts, posters, and empty cartons of pizza-our only sustenance. Most of the boys had anxious Italian mothers who snuck home-cooked meals through the gates. They didn't want to look like mama's boys so they ate their food alone in the restrooms.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber



Blurb from Goodreads:
Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie...is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.
My Review:
 
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the first season of Serial so I thought the premise of this thriller sounded so good. And the similarities to Serial were pretty well done - the book vacillates between the first person narrative of Josie and each episode of the podcast reconsidering her father's murder a decade before, with a few reddit posts and tweets concerning the podcast in real time thrown in. Use of faux social media in books is becoming more prevalent every day and I generally like it. This book wasn't necessarily bad but it also wasn't very thrilling.  It started out pretty good and I could sympathize with Josie who has tried to create a new life for herself after her father's murder, her mother's disappearance into a cult and her twin sister's betrayal.  Obviously, the popularity of the podcast reconsidering whether the man in prison after being convicted of her murdering her father actually did murder him is upsetting, to say the least.  All of this had the set up and making of a great book but it just fizzled out.  There were too many threads and the author went out of her way to make the journalist authoring the podcast absolutely atrocious. I didn't get a better sense of Josie or any of the characters in the book any better than I did in the first chapter.  I think this was an interesting read but it could have been so much more.  Hopefully you have better luck!
Are You Sleeping comes out next week on August 1, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
Nothing good happens after midnight. At least that's what Aunt A used to tell us whenever we begged for later curfews. We would scoff and roll our eyes and dramatically pronounce she was ruining our social lives, but over time I cam to see the wisdom in her words. Trouble is the only thing that occurs between midnight and morning.
 
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