Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Blurb from Goodreads:
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. 
My Review:
This was a good one!  I really loved the Maine setting and I loved the friendship between Evvie and Dean . . . it definitely wasn't an easy road but the book was so satisfying.  It also felt so real - no one was perfect, no one always did the right thing but everyone learned.  I also was so happy with the ending - again, not because it was perfect but because it felt right for this story and the characters.  Definitely will read more by this author!

Evvie Drake Starts Over comes out later this month on June 25, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  I definitely recommend this one - such a great summer read!!
Evvie's Scandinavian grandmother had claimed that young women dream about the husbands they want, old women dream about the husbands they wanted, and only the luckiest women, for a moment in the middle, dream about the husbands they've got.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Blurb from Goodreads:
Follow New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand back in time and join a Nantucket family as they experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a 1960s summer.

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It's 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother's historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha's Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

In her first "historic novel," rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.
My Review:
I loved this book set on Nantucket in the Summer of 1969, the summer in which Elin Hilderbrand was born!  It certainly was an eventful summer and Elin weaved actual events with the Levin Family's summer.  I couldn't put it down and I already want to read it again.  I know I've said this before but Elin Hilderbrand means summer to me and this book takes you right to Nantucket.  I loved the story and the characters and know I will re-read this often.  

Summer of '69 comes out next month on June 18, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  There's a reason why I look forward to Elin Hilderbrand's books every summer - and this one is certainly not exception!  I hope she considers more historical books in the future! 
When the Selective Service notice comes for Tiger, Kate's first instinct is to throw it away. Surely this is every American mother's first instinct? Pretend it got lost in the mail, buy Tiger a few more weeks of freedom before the U.S. Army sends another letter--by which time, this god-awful war in Vietnam might be over.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Review: The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

Blurb from Goodreads:
J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine meets the works of Elin Hilderbrand in this delicious summer read involving three strangers, one island, and a season packed with unexpected romance, well-meaning lies, and damaging secrets. 

Anthony Puckett was a rising literary star. The son of an uber-famous thriller writer, Anthony’s debut novel spent two years on the bestseller list and won the adoration of critics. But something went very wrong with his second work. Now Anthony’s borrowing an old college’s friend’s crumbling beach house on Block Island in the hopes that solitude will help him get back to the person he used to be.

Joy Sousa owns and runs Block Island’s beloved whoopie pie cafĂ©. She came to this quiet space eleven years ago, newly divorced and with a young daughter, and built a life for them here. To her customers and friends, Joy is a model of independence, hard-working and happy. And mostly she is. But this summer she’s thrown off balance. A food truck from a famous New York City brand is roving around the island, selling goodies—and threatening her business.

Lu Trusdale is spending the summer on her in-laws’ dime, living on Block Island with her two young sons while her surgeon husband commutes to the mainland hospital. When Lu’s second son was born, she and her husband made a deal: he’d work and she’d quit her corporate law job to stay home with the boys. But a few years ago, Lu quietly began working on a private project that has becoming increasingly demanding on her time. Torn between her work and home, she’s beginning to question that deal she made.

Over the twelve short weeks of summer, these three strangers will meet and grow close, will share secrets and bury lies. And as the promise of June turns into the chilly nights of August, the truth will come out, forcing each of them to decide what they value most, and what they are willing to give up to keep it. 
My Review:
I really enjoyed this fast read and could not have loved the setting of Block Island more.  There are many POV but they all worked and I really looked forward to the pace of this. Although there are a lot of secrets this didn't feel contrived at all - as though the secrets were just used to create drama.  Instead, it flowed really well and wasn't perfect, which made it feel all the more real.  Throw this in your beach bag this summer!

The Islanders comes out next month on June 11, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  Definitely recommend this for fans of Elin Hilderbrand - the Block Island setting is so good!
Lu didn't remember a single thing about her baby shower except for a feeling of near-panic that came over her in waves. Jeremy's mother had planned the whole thing, and there were so many people there that it took two full hours to open the gifts. The day had made Lu feel unnecessarily extravagant and spoiled. Also, she hated to be the center of attention, unless there was a judge and jury involved, so by the end of the vent her fact hurt from smiling so hard and so insincerely.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: Into the Jungle by Erica Ferencik

Blurb from Goodreads:
In this pulse-pounding thriller from the author of the “haunting, twisting thrill ride” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) The River at Night, a young woman leaves behind everything she knows to take on the Bolivian jungle, but her excursion abroad quickly turns into a fight for her life.

Lily Bushwold thought she’d found the antidote to endless foster care and group homes: a teaching job in Cochabamba, Bolivia. As soon as she could steal enough cash for the plane, she was on it.

When the gig falls through and Lily stays in Bolivia, she finds bonding with other broke, rudderless girls at the local hostel isn’t the life she wants either. Tired of hustling and already world-weary, crazy love finds her in the form she least expected: Omar, a savvy, handsome local man who’d abandoned his life as a hunter in Ayachero—a remote jungle village—to try his hand at city life.

When Omar learns that a jaguar has killed his four-year-old nephew in Ayachero, he gives Lily a choice: Stay alone in the unforgiving city, or travel to the last in a string of ever-more-isolated river towns in the jungles of Bolivia. Thirty-foot anaconda? Puppy-sized spiders? Vengeful shamans with unspeakable powers? Love-struck Lily is oblivious. She follows Omar to this ruthless new world of lawless poachers, bullheaded missionaries, and desperate indigenous tribes driven to the brink of extinction. To survive, Lily must navigate the jungle--its wonders as well as its terrors—using only her wits and resilience.

Primal, gripping, and terrifying, Into the Jungle features Erica Ferencik’s signature “visceral, white-knuckle” (Entertainment Weekly) prose that will sink its fangs into you and not let go.
My Review:
This wasn't very thrilling but it did feel unique.  A bit frenetic is how I would describe it more than an actual thriller but I was interested and I loved the setting and its description.  It did feel a bit surreal and unlikely to me but that's not necessarily a criticism. This book is definitely descriptive, which puts you in the place in which it's set but the plot was a bit lacking and haphazard.

Into the Jungle comes out soon on May 28, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  For something with a similar feel but better, I would recommend Fill the Sky by Katherine A. Sherbrooke or Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright.
Of course, I looked nothing like Tia; I don't look like anyone. Well, I guess I did look like a miniature version of my real mom, who I'd never known. Same curly red hair, blue yes, but I lacked her glamorous length of bone; she stood six feet in flats, while I'm just five one. Small and small boned. A social worker once told me my mom--who overdosed when I was a baby--had been a poet; in my fantasies, she was a brilliant one, too brilliant to live, like Sylvia Plath.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review: The Dark Bones (A Dark Lure #2) by Loreth Anne White

Blurb from Goodreads:
She’s come back to solve the mystery of her father’s death and confront her own dark past.

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.
My Review:
Loreth Anne White is a queen! I have fallen so in love with her Angie Pallorino series (reviews HERE) and now this series.  She truly excels at thrillers that are multi-faceted and headed up by strong women.  I also love the various Canadian settings she writes about - I am always immediately sucked into her books and this latest is no exception.  You do not need to read the first book in this series to enjoy this one but it would help you understand some of the secondary characters and the setting better. I can't wait for more!

The Dark Bones comes out soon on May 21, 2019, you can purchase HERE!  
"Oh Jesus, Becca." He surged back up to his feet. "I wanted you. I needed you. Touching me. Your hands in my blood, inside my pain, fuck it. Your care-- I wanted your care. Whitney was finally gone. I wanted to drown in you. Just you." Emotion burned back into his eyes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review: It's Hot in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson

Blurb from Goodreads:
In the Hamptons, no rules apply, especially in matters of money—and the heart…

Raised in East Hampton, Caroline never thought she’d be one of the “city people” who spent summers and weekends at the beach. But, once her husband’s business takes off, a job stint transplants the couple permanently into Manhattan life—where the phrase When you marry for money, you work for it every day, reflects her neighbors’ lives. And where entitled husbands, like hers, embark on affair after affair with little consequence.

Time for the wives to get even.

When Caroline’s friend Annabelle suggests they experiment as their wayward mates have, Caroline resists at first. That is, until a scroll through an iPad makes her reconsider…and a pact between two friends is made.

The agreement quickly turns serious when Caroline begins to confront the man her husband has become, or perhaps always has been. Will a summer affair give Caroline clarity or make her lose hold on the reins of her life? And, when an old lover returns, is she ready to risk all for a chance at happiness…
My Review:
So I read this author's last book, also set in the Hamptons . . . the books are not related despite similar titles. While I wasn't in love with her last book, this one was not nearly as good as even that book. The premise was simple - two friends both decide to have summer affairs in the Hamptons and then spend the entire book fretting about getting caught.  I was bored and troubled by the indulgence, casual wealth and vapid thoughts of these characters.  I would skip this one.

It's Hot in the Hamptons comes out soon on May 21, 2019, and you can purchase HERE. I would instead read this author's other Hamptons' book, It Happens in the Hamptons, or something by Jamie Brenner if you're in the mood for a summer book, especially one set in the Hamptons.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: The Southern Side of Paradise (Peachtree Bluff #3) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Blurb from Goodreads:
From internationally bestselling author and “rising star of Southern fiction” (Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author) Kristy Woodson Harvey comes the third novel in her Peachtree Bluff series, in which a secret threatens the tight-knit bond between a trio of sisters and their mother.

With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).
My Review:
I have to admit this was a bit of a disappointing ending after reading and loving the first two books in this series.  I still think the setting is great and the characters are so well developed but this one felt a bit lacking in moving the story forward and instead was riddled with over the top and unnecessary drama.  I think it could have benefitted from some editing and time.  That said, I do like this series a lot and will definitely read anything in the future from this author!!

The Southern Side of Paradise comes out next week on May 7, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  You can read my review of the first book in this series, Slightly South of Simple, HERE, and my review of book two in the series, The Secret to Southern Charm, HERE.  Although I liked books one and two better than the finale of the series, I definitely recommend this series as one you should read this summer at the beach!
Kyle sat down on the bed beside me. "Em, are you all right? Because you don't have to do this, you know." He paused. "I mean, I don't want to overstep, but you are  . . . " He looked down at the duvet cover, running his finger down my forearm just like he had the night we met. He looked me straight in the eye. "You are everything, Emerson. Don't give away any of that to make anyone else happy. Ever." 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

Blurb from Goodreads:
An unexpected inheritance, a promise broken, and four lives changed forever: the newest page-turner from USA Today bestselling author Jamie Brenner.

Summer has started in idyllic Sag Harbor, and for Emma Mapson that means greeting guests at the front desk of The American Hotel. But when one of the town's most famous residents, artist Henry Wyatt, dies suddenly, Emma learns he has mysteriously left his waterfront home - a self-designed masterpiece filled with his work - to her teenage daughter, Penny. 

Back in Manhattan, legendary art patron Bea Winstead's grief at her lifelong friend and former business partner Henry's passing turns to outrage at the news of his shocking bequest. How did these unknown locals get their hands on the estate? Bea, with her devoted assistant Kyle in tow, descends on Sag Harbor determined to reclaim the house and preserve Henry's legacy.

While Emma fights to defend her daughter's inheritance, Bea discovers that Henry left a treasure trove of sketches scattered around town. With Penny's reluctant help, Bea pieces them together to find a story hidden in plain sight: an illustration of their shared history with an unexpected twist that will change all of their lives.

Drawn together in their battle for the house, Emma and Bea are forced to confront the past while facing a future that challenges everything they believe about love, fate, and family.
My Review:
Jamie Brenner is quickly becoming a favorite of mine for summer/beach reads a la Elin Hilderbrand, which is high praise! I really loved the setting of this one, different form her other books, in Sag Harbor.  I was instantly transported to Sag Harbor when reading this one and I longed for summer.  Also, I unequivocally love Penny as a character - she felt real to me.  Bea was such a complex character and I honestly wasn't sure what was going to happen.  If you love beach reads involving art, I would also recommend High Season.  

Drawing Home comes out soon on May 7, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  You can read my review of this author's book from last summer, The Husband Hour, HERE, and my review of her book from the summer before that, The Forever SummerHERE -- She is definitely becoming a must-read for me! 
Sometime after midnight, his group dispersed and he asked for her number. She wrote it on a bar napkin. She watched him slip it into his pocket, certain he would never call. To her surprise, he did, and she didn't even have to wait twenty-four hours. They met for coffee the following day, and by the time he asked for the check, she was in love.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Blurb from Goodreads:
The internationally bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish follows that success with an addictive novel filled with shocking twists about the aftermath of a brutal high-society murder.

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.
My Review:
Guys, this was not good!  I liked but didn't love The Last Mr.s Parrish but I also thought it had some good parts.  This book felt like a sad eighth grade attempt at a thriller.  It was so overwrought, so cheesy and so poorly written.  This needs serious editing, serious help with the plot and just . . . really is not ready for release.  I was bored, I was incredulous and I was ultimately just let down by this one.

The Last Time I Saw You comes out soon on May 7, 2019, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

Blurb from Goodreads:
Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco—a compelling, heartwarming romance between two strangers from completely different worlds, and a poignant exploration of cultural assimilation, identity, and the meaning of the word home.

Only in a family like the Rajes could San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon be considered the black sheep. Dr. Trisha Raje has developed groundbreaking technology and won the respect of her peers and the life-long gratitude of her patients. Still, her large, close-knit family—descended from old Indian nobility—has certain rules to uphold. Trusting outsiders is frowned upon. Disloyalty of any kind is unacceptable. Trisha never intended to jeopardize her brother’s political aspirations, yet her long-ago actions inadvertently did just that. At last she has a chance to turn that around.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before—people who judge his background and find it lacking, who put pedigree above character. He may need the lucrative, career-making job the Rajes offer, but he has little time for Trisha, especially when he learns that she’s the arrogant surgeon who wants to perform an untested procedure on his sister, Emma.

As the two continually clash, their assumptions shatter like spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts.  Drawn to DJ’s steadiness, humor, and passion—as well as his extraordinary food—Trisha begins to reexamine her view of the world, while challenging his beliefs about the nature of family. But there’s a past to be reckoned with before they can hope to savor a future bursting with delicious possibility. 
My Review:
This was kind of an unsatisfying retelling of my beloved P&P. I liked the characters just fine and the sentiment of P&P was kind of there but the ending felt a bit flat to me.  This also felt like a long read even though it wasn't long but I just didn't really enjoy reading it. The food part of it would have interested me but it was a bit short and could have used more description.  It looks like this will be a series and I will definitely read more books - the concept is good and I think this author is on a good path, I just really enjoy another recent retelling, Unmarriageable, more than this one.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes out next month on May 7, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  
"What is all this "karma's a bitch" nonsense!" Ma loved to say. 
The entire "what goes around comes around" thing was a backward view of karma. Karma was simply Sanskrit for action, and the theory was that your actions are the only thing under your control, as opposed to the fruits of your actions, which are not. And since actions always bear fruit, you were better off focusing your energy on your own actions, rather than worrying about the results you wanted them to produce. 
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