Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Julie's Review: The Two Lila Bennetts

Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Series: None
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 320
Obtained: Publisher/Authors
Genre:  Suspense
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: What lines have to be crossed to be a good person doing bad things?
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Summary: Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally. In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time. Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

Review: Don’t we all have those decisions we wish we could undo? A path that would could have taken and wonder what could have been? Liz and Lisa explore this dichotomy in this novel but give it a twist with domestic suspense.

Lila Bennett has made some questionable choices and one of those choices gets her kidnapped and locked away. Unfortunately for Lila, there’s a huge list of people who might want to harm her. Her career as a high profile criminal defense attorney doesn’t help nor do the personal life choices she’s made. I mean she's not exactly the nicest person but does that make her unlikable? Don't some people who do bad things deserve a chance to redeem themselves?

My question is will Lila really change? Will she redeem herself in the end, even though she's already lost those closest to her? And should she change who she is? Maybe how she approaches things and coming at decisions differently but I don’t think she should change her drive and ambition. That shouldn’t be the message we send to women, although stepping on people will eventually lead to your downfall.

I liked the dual story-line and was excited to see which one would play out and if all her truths would come out. I didn't mind Lila and her suspect morals because I do feel like she felt remorse but didn't have the tools to deal with those emotions. In order to make some major changes she will need some therapy but I think she can do it.

I would have liked a bit of a stronger ending or an epilogue to see how Lila changed her life and how they have changed her life,

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Skim








Week of 7/14/2019 and 7/21/2019:

Finished:





Currently Reading:




Looking Forward To:



And with playoffs the weekend of 7/12 we are done with baseball season; well for 3 weeks. So I'll have a bit more time for the pool on weekends which means some more reading time! Also, tomorrow I leave for a business trip to Delaware so I'll be getting in some good reading then as well. I'll be spending the rest of this month on July releases. We are 1/2 way through summer, any goals or specific books you want to get to before 9/21 is upon us?

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Julie's Review: We Came Here to Forget

Author: Andrea Dunlop
Series: None
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 352
Obtained: Publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Angst, first love, true love, tragedy, redemption with fantastic characters
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Summary: Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold. But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair. With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colorful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons? In alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve—and what’s left behind after it all disappears. ~amazon.com 

Review: What can shatter someone so much that they literally get on the next plane out of town? What made Katie give up her dream of Olympic gold when the destruction wasn't caused by her own actions? The answer is guilt. Guilt that she could have done something, didn't see what she should have, etc. 

So Katie leaves for Buenos Aires and reinvents herself at Liz Sullivan who is running away from heartbreak, apparently like all the other expats she happens upon. She immerses herself in the culture by taking Spanish lessons to become a tour guide and then decides to take tango to put her body back to use. 

What she finds is that everyone is dealing with heartbreak in some way and that everyone has their own way of dealing and healing. She has to find her own way back and dealing with the hurt and pain. Once she opens up to her new friends and herself she begins to heal and understand that not all things are within her control she can let go.
 
What I loved about this book was that it was raw, emotional and real. You feel for Katie especially when it's revealed what it was that sent her into distress. You want her to find her way back to the things and people she truly loves while maintaining what she learned during her time in Buenos Aries. 

Ms. Dunlop does an excellent job of pulling the story together with writing that is superb and  character development is spot on. She is an author that I look forward to reading her next book.


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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Julie's Review: Girls Like Us


Author: Cristina Alger
Series: None
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Publisher: Putnam Books
Pages: 288
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 4.75/5
Bottom Line:
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Summary: FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn't been home in ten years. Nell and her father, Homicide Detective Martin Flynn, have never had much of a relationship. And Suffolk County will always be awash in memories of her mother, Marisol, who was brutally murdered when Nell was just seven. When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up in so that she can spread her father's ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father's partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young women in Suffolk County. The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect--and that his friends on the police force are covering his tracks. Plagued by doubts about her mother's murder--and her own role in exonerating her father in that case--Nell can't help but ask questions about who killed Ria Ruiz and Adriana Marques and why. But she may not like the answers she finds--not just about those she loves, but about herself. ~amazon.com

Review: Ah, complicated families that don't talk for years but are yet in similar lines or work make for great novels and Cristina Alger's Girls Like Us is no different. Nell and Martin have been estranged for the better part of 10 years besides the quick calls around birthdays and holidays, so when he dies in a motorcycle accident she returns home to her childhood home which was anything but happy.

As she asked to get involved with 2 local missing girls cases things don't start to look good for her dad's reputation after his death. In fact it looks like he might have been involved in the crime of those 2 girls. As Nell digs deeper into the cases that are seemingly linked she only becomes more suspicious of the local police force.

As she gets closer to the truth, she ask for help from her co-workers at the FBI. The case is quickly bigger than they think and has it's tenticals everywhere. The deeper she goes the more her life is in danger.

What I liked about Nell is that she was vulnerable while still being capable and strong. She has issues but doesn't let them set her back. She's smart and great at her job.

For fans of Meg Gardiner's books you will definitely want to read Cristina Alger's novels.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday Skim








Week of 6/30/2019 and 7/7/2019:


Finished:



Meet Cute is exactly what the title says, it's cute but with depth. The main characters are endearing and brave. The Chef's Secret is a great historical fiction that will leave you hungry.

Currently Reading:



Looking Forward To:


When you are at a baseball tournament with the whole team in the Wisconsin Dells, you don't tend to get a lot of reading done but what you do get is some great time with the boys on the team and their parents. We had a great time and I definitely enjoyed my week off. Now it's back to reality.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Julie's Review: The Chef's Secret

Author: Crystal King
Series: None
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour (hfvbt)
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Have snacks handy because this will leave you hungry
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Summary: When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair. As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes. With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion. ~amazon.com

Review: When you sit down to read this book beware that you will be hungry and you will want to go to Italy immediately. This is a story of lust, love, food and family and how they are all interwoven.

Giovanni is the heir apparent to the great cuoco Bartolemeo Scappi and therefore becomes the next cuoco for the Vatican upon the death of his dear Uncle. He is supposed to destroy the journals that his Uncle left behind but of course curiosity gets the best of him and he starts to read them. He's on a mission to figure out what the it all means but at what cost.

What he finds is that his uncle wasn’t who he said he was in many ways and leads him down a rabbit hole of lies and deceit but eventually truth. He has to decide whom to trust and whom to beware of in his quest to learn about his Uncle's past.

Ms. King does an excellent job of weaving together the history, historical figures and the fictional events. The characters are robust and 3 dimensional and are written in a way that fits within their time period.

I really enjoyed this gem of a novel with all of its history of the Popes, the food, the mystery and intrigue. I also loved reading about the magnificent feasts.

I definitely recommend this one!


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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Julie's Review: Meet Cute


Author: Helena Hunting
Series: None
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 384
Obtained: library
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Fun romance with some serious tones
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Summary: Kailyn Flowers was always calm, rational, and controlled--until she ended up sprawled all over Daxton Hughes, the former actor she totally crushed on as a teenager. Then she did the unthinkable: She became a mortifying fangirl in five seconds flat, which may or may not have included professing her undying love. And oddly, he didn't run away. In fact, their meet cute led to a friendship she never saw coming. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming, either...Now Dax needs her help. As guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister, he's in way over his head. And though Kailyn hasn't forgiven Dax, she isn't heartless enough to make him fend for himself, either. Soon their friendly meetings turn into flirty dinner dates, and Kailyn can feel their chemistry is as explosive as ever. But how can she possibly let down her guard again to a guy who has heartbreak written all over him? ~amazon.com

Review: There is so much to love about this book. It's a fun, quick and definitely cute novel but there are also some serious subplots to the novel as well. We are introduced to Kailyn as she literally runs into Daxton Hughes on the quad of law school and subsequently has classes with him their entire 3 years until he screws her over. Enter 5 years later, when Daxton and his parents walk in to her office to set up a trust for his sister. She thought that would be the end of their meetings but that wouldn't be the case.


Daxton is confused to as to why he's getting the cold shoulder when he thought that they had a connection in law school. He's still definitely interested. Kailyn is gun shy, I mean Daxton screwed her over before what if he does it again? Plus there's his sister to consider as she become more attached to her and develops a strong bond with Emme.

What ensues is the misunderstanding that gets blown out of proportion but is resolved. Let's be honest we don't read these books because we won't twists and turns, we read them exactly for what they give us: romance and sex.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Skim



Week of 6/23/2019:


Finished:



 The Kiss Quotient is a great modern romance that is HOT! Beware you might blush a bit. You Are A Badass is a great novel to make you think about about how we self-sabotage.

Currently Reading:


Looking Forward To:


I feel that summer should be reading by the pool or beach all day, everyday and then I wake up. LOL I realize that I'm an adult who works fulltime (I love my job) and I have kids who aren't fully dependent on my are enough that it doesn't really workout that way. I sneak it in when I can. I have this full week off and they'll be at camp!! So maybe I will go to the pool, hide in a corner and read!


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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Julie's Review: The Kiss Quotient

Author: Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 352
Obtained: Library
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: HOT!!!!!
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Summary: Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position... 
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
Review: What I am loving about all these "romance" novels lately is that they are real and have characters that you can identify with. No one needs rescuing in that old traditional way but instead needs a little help with self-realization. The sex isn't forced and is natural and well in the case of Helen Hoang's books, it's HOT!! 

It is also great because her lead characters have something unique about them but it's really what makes them that much more enjoyable. Take Stella, she's so into her work that she'll go into the office on a Saturday without thinking that maybe she should be doing something else. She's a bit awkward socially but is getting a ton of pressure from her mom to date and find a guy. So with her being socially awkward, it makes dating hard for her. That is until she decides to hire a male escort. Using her math skills, she finds the perfect one. Enter Michael Phan. He's sexy, polite and really does make her knees buckle a bit. Michael isn't perfect though, he's got his own issues he's grappling with and trying to figure out. 

I mean let's be honest with these books you know they will end up together but the journey to get there is a fun ride. That's not to say that these characters don't have issues and obstacles but even then you know they'll figure it out. 

I really can't wait for her next book in the series because I'm sure it'll be just as hot! 


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Monday, June 24, 2019

Julie's Review: The Unhoneymooners

Author: Christina Lauren
Series: None
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 416
Obtained: library
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Delightful fun
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Summary: Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas. Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo. Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be. ~amazon.com

Review: You don't read Romance books because there's going to be some twist and the two protagonists don't end up together. You read them because you know they will but you want to see how the journey goes for them. How do they deal with life obstacles? So when Olive declares her hate for Ethan, you just know that they'll end up together. It seems to take Olive a little longer to realize that her hate fest was just one sided. That she was seeing things through darkly covered glasses as she has most of her life.

I wouldn't say that Olive was in competition with her twin, Ami but there was a definite feeling that she was the "unlucky" twin because Ami was always the lucky one. Ami and Olive were as different as night and day and according to their mom it's been that way since day one. So when a bit of bad luck hits her sister and she can't take the honeymoon she planned, she makes Olive take it but there's a hitch it's with Ethan her now brother-in-law's brother.

Although it starts to occur to Olive that maybe Ethan isn't as bad as she thought especially with that rockin' body of his. As they start to spend time with each other and actually talk they find out that they aren't so different.

This is the perfect pick me up book when you need a little light and laughter in your life. I mean some days, who doesn't. Plus that cover is like sunshine all by itself!


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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday Skim



Week of 6/9/2019 and 6/16/2019:

Finished:



 Vacation reads were great and I continued it this week with The Unhoneymooners. Daisy Jones and the Six was a fantastic audiobook.

Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:


Not as much downtime on vacation as I had hoped but I still managed to read some wonderful books. Due to our baseball schedule it took me a little longer to read The Unhoneymooners. We have a baseball tournament this upcoming weekend and then I'm off for another week so I'm hoping to get some quality reading time in. How's your summer reading going?


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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mini Reviews

I started this book before we went on vacation but quickly finished it on the 2-hour flight to our destination. This has everything a summer read should be: fun, sentimental with a big heart. Both Kai and Esme are endearing characters who need each other more than they know. I giggled and tear-eyed up during this book. If you haven't read it, you should. I can't wait to read her first one, The Kiss Quotient. 
I've been a fan of Jane Green's since I was in my 20s and it was nice to have her characters in her new book to be in my age range. We see the friendship between the three of them through the eyes of each of them throughout the years. We see how each of their decisions has a ripple effect on their friendships and strains them in ways they weren't even conscious of. I did feel that she fell into some women's fiction pitfalls with this one but it was still worth the read.




Like Jane Green above, I've been reading Jennifer Weiner for years. She never fails to disappoint me in her fresh view on what some might say are constant women's fiction story-lines. She tells the story of Bethie and Jo through decades of change and frustration for women. While this might not be my favorite of her novels, it is definitely still well worth the read.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Julie's Review: Dear Wife

Author: Kimberly Belle
Series: None
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Park Row Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: Great Thoughts for Great Readers Salon
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line:
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Summary: Beth Murphy is on the run… For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning—one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her. Sabine Hardison is missing… A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play. As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. ~amazon.com

Review: What a ride!! From the moment the books starts, Ms. Belle does an excellent job of crafting the story of Beth and Sabine. What you know is that Beth is on the run from an abusive husband and that she's planned it for months. She knows her husband will keep looking for her until he finds her. So she acts like a scared rabbit to keep herself alive.  Beth’s fear is palpable as is her resilience.

She keeps you on your toes throughout the entire novel wondering if Beth is Sabine and if Sabine is Beth. Is Jeffrey really the abuser that we are given the view of? I mean he did lose his cool and hit Sabine. 

This is a well crafted book of cat and mouse but who is the cat and who is the mouse? 

The men in this book are creeps and have major control issues. In stark contrast to the women who are strong, brave and heroic.

This is a book you won’t want to miss.





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