Friday, April 26, 2019

Julie's Review: The Wedding Date


Author: Jasmine Guillory
Series: None
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 336
Obtained: library
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Good fun! 
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Summary: Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend... After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other... They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want... ~amazon.com

Review: I don't typically read romance but what I'm finding these days is Romance = Rom-Com. I do love my Rom-Com movies. What I love about these books is they make you feel happy. The remind you what it's like fall in love and be vulnerable. It can also make you roll your eyes because well it is Rom-Com.

When I picked up The Proposal I didn't realize it was a series and then I thought The Wedding Date but I was wrong.  So yea I read the first 2 out of order but it really doesn’t matter.  What is great about Ms. Guillory's writing is that you instantly get caught up in the story and in the characters. She doesn't play around with a lot of building up to the story but just jumps right in.

Since I did read The Proposal first I have a vague idea of Drew and Alexa but I didn't know their story. I enjoyed reading about how they met, denied their feelings for each other and eventually admitted they did in fact fall for one another. I really liked Alexa and her being vulnerable about how she looked but being with Drew gave her a confidence she didn't know she had.

Ms. Guillory doesn't write stereotypes and this is refreshing since she is writing about minorities. She doesn't pigeonhole her characters into something they don't need to be.

I'm extremely excited for the next book in the series, The Wedding Party, to come out on July 16th.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Julie's Review: The Last Year of the War


Author: Susan Meissner
Series: None
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: A story of friendship that spans decades
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity. The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences. But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her. The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Review: Elise Sontag led an idylic life in Davenport, Iowa with her mother, father and brother. As World War II heats up though things go terribly wrong. Her dad is a chemist at a company and being of German descent, he's arrested and sent away to an interment camp in North Dakota. Things quickly go south and Elise tries to keep her family together but it gets harder with each passing day. They soon get word that they will join their dad in Texas. 

As Elise starts to learn the ropes of the interment camp, she meets Markiko Inoue at school. They form a quick bond even though many people try to keep the German part of the camp separate from the Japanese part. They seem to understand each other and love spending time with each other. 

Elise and Mariko get split apart by Elise's family being sent back to Germany and Mariko's going back to Japan. Their lives go on and eventually they grow apart but their thoughts are always on each other. 

As the In the end this is a story about hope, Love, redemption and friendship. Mariko and Elise meet when they both part of an internment camp in Texas during WWII. They form a swift bond that can never really be broken through years and separation. 

As a part of our history that is not talked about I always find it interesting to learn something new.

Ms. Meissner always does her research and writes with a big heart as well.









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Monday, April 22, 2019

Sunday Skim - Better late than Never



Week of 4/15/2019:


Finished:



The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth is more about complication family relationships than it is about murder. The Witch Elm was a great book but this is the first time I thought that Tana French needed editing. 


Currently Reading:



Looking Forward To:





I hope everyone had a nice Easter and I know my kids enjoyed the beautiful weather we had all weekend. It was nice to have them out of the house as well! I even got some reading done! 

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Julie's Review: The Mother-In-Law

Author: Sally Hepworth
Series: None
Publication Date: April 26, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon 
Genre:  Mystery
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Not your typical MIL book
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library

Summary: From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they'll never have the closeness she'd been hoping for. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law. That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something...From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships. ~goodreads.com 

Review: I really enjoyed this book and the characters of Lucy and Diana. I almost felt like the rest of the characters weren't needed except for context. Lucy lost her mother when she was a young girl, so when she meets Ollie's mom, Diana, she wants to connect with her to have that motherly bond. Except Diana, isn't very open to that, in fact she pretty much blows Lucy off. 

We get both points of view from Lucy and Diana which are interesting because we see how these two women could bond if they would only let their guards down, more so Diana but Lucy begins to freeze her out as well. 

The book also switches back and forth between the past and present which allows the reader to have some context into the complexity of these relationships. I like complex relationships and what couldn't be more complex than a mother in law and daughter in law?! 

Ms. Hepworth does a great job of keeping you guessing until the end. I will say as the book went along I didn't see the twists coming except for who did in Diana. 

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Julie's Review: Queenie

Author: Queenie
Series: None
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Eye opening look at mental health
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Summary: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her. ~amazon.com

Review: What a book!! Queenie is a strong, brave and fierce female; she is also black. She also has some baggage at 26 that is now hampering her relationships. In fact, she’s starting to fall apart having panic attacks and making extremely terrible choices. Here’s the thing, she decides to get help and deal with those things, even if it's the toughest thing she's ever done. You see it goes against her family's beliefs and culture. 

It is quite a feat for a book to take on many issues including self-esteem, mental illness and what it means to be black. At times it felt like it was reaching to cover all of those things but it does hit home in many ways. If it helps one person feel like they aren't alone, then it's accomplished something.

Queenie is a heroine that I won’t soon forget. I actually hope the author does a sequel. I’d like to know she’s ok.


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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Skim


In the vain of trying something new here on the blog, I thought I might start with some Sunday posts summarizing what I've read, what I plan to start and upcoming books I'm looking forward to.

Week of 4/8/2019:


Finished:

I love stories that make you think about being in someone else's shoes and Queenie is one of those books that does that. I won't soon forget her and her struggles.


Currently Reading:






Looking Forward To:




Do you have a rule or a desire to read outside your comfort zone or experience a new genre? If so, how do you find those recommendations? I'm finding I want to experience voice and experience that are different than mine own, so I'm going to start searching those out.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Julie's Review: I'm Fine and Neither Are You

Author: Camille Pagan
Series: None
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publisher
Pages: 260
Obtained: Great Thoughts Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: If we could all just be more honest, relationships would be better
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Summary: Honesty is the best policy…except maybe when it comes to marriage in this brilliant novel about the high price of perfection from bestselling author Camille Pagán. Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career. Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty. What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy? ~amazon.com  

Review: What would you do if you found out your best friend was struggling but never confided in you before she died? How would that affect your marriage and your life? Would you make changes to how you viewed and loved your life?

After Penelope finds out her best friend died and of an overdose she looks at her life and wonders how she can make it better. So she decides that between her and Sanjay need to be completely honest with each other. So they make lists on the things they want to change about the other one. What happens though when her husband tackles his list with gusto and she can't even think about working on the list he gave her? 

Sometimes you need to look at yourself and make yourself happy before you can make others around you happy.

These are the issues that Ms. Pagan tackles in this well written and thoughtful novel. A novel about friendship, marriage and what it takes to make both work
.


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Monday, April 8, 2019

Julie's Review: The Girl He Used to Know

Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: None
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Obtained: Great Thoughts For Great Readers
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Well dang, wasn't expecting that
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Summary: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people's behavior confusing, she'd rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.
Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone. Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She's living the life she wanted as a librarian. He's a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. ~amazon.com
Review: Holy cow what an emotional book. These characters are unlike anything I have read in recent years. I always love stories about people who are in love, break up and then find themselves back in each other’s orbits. This is what happens to Annika and Jonathan; together in college but split up afterwards, 10 years later they fine each other again.

Annika was her own worst enemy in college and while she has worked on the things that are socially inhibited for her; she still gets in her own way at times. She doubts who she is and if she's worthy of anyone's attention or love. Jonathan is many ways is still reeling from his divorce and is understandably hesitant to get involved again with her. 

The story is told from both of their points of view from the past and the present. I loved the way this moved the story ahead while still understanding what their previous relationship was like. Why they broke up and if they will stay together in their present relationship. 

I know that my words aren't doing this book justice but I really did fall for the characters. It doesn't hurt that the setting is my favorite city, Chicago and I'm familiar with the place they discuss and visit. This book will make you laugh and cry. It will make you appreciate how hard some social situations are for people. Not everyone likes group settings or social interactions.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who remembers their first love and the intense feelings it evoked. 

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sunday Skim


In the vain of trying something new here on the blog, I thought I might start with some Sunday posts summarizing what I've read, what I plan to start and upcoming books I'm looking forward to.

Week of 4/1/2019:


Finished:



Honestly, I can't say enough about the 2 books I finished this week. They were moving, hopeful and gut-wrenching but in very different ways. The Girl He Used to Know is about rekindling first love and the obstacles you face when you've changed and I'm Fine and Neither Are You is about getting real with those you love even if it's a bit painful at first.


Currently Reading:




Looking Forward To:



I love it when I have a really good reading week. It makes the hectic schedules seem less that way. My audio-book is Tana French's newest standalone and the first one I'm listening to. I'm not that far in but I am intrigued to see what she does with this one. Can't go wrong with a family secrets novel. Who is an author that you've read their books but haven't tried in audio? Would you be willing to try?


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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Julie's Review: Run Away

Author: Harlan Coben
Series: None
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Action packed, mind-blowing thriller
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: You've lost your daughter. She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found. Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble. You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs. And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on. ~amazon.com  

Review: If you have read this blog with any regularity you know I love Harlan Coben and his books. I've read him for years and I really try not to miss any of his new releases. I pretty much say with each of his books his writing gets sharper and more pointed. Run Away is definitely his best so far and I say that loving his Myron Bolitar series.

What would you do if you saw your daughter in a park when you've spend months looking for her? Would you go after her? What if she ran from you? What if she was a junkie and your wife told you to stop looking for her? Can a parent ever give up on their child? This is what Simon Greene is dealing with as he sees his daughter take off.

Simon quickly learns that nothing is as it seems when Paige goes missing. Why is she missing? What is she caught up in that could be worse that drugs? Is she selling? Did she get mixed up with a cartel? Simon's hunt for his daughter has many down stream effects on his family. He becomes obsessed with finding her.

What ensues is pretty much every parents nightmare but with some twists and turns. No one does twists like Harlan either.  I was pretty much blown away by the ending of this one.

If you've never read Mr. Coben (why not?), Run Away is a great one to start with but beware you will want to read his back list pretty quick!

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