Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Skim



Week of 5/19/19:


Finished:



Two very different books but both equally as good. I really enjoyed Lost Roses for the Russian History lesson. Watch Me Disappear is a great mystery that steers you in several directions before revealing the truth.


Currently Reading:



Looking Forward To:



I hope that you are enjoying a nice Memorial Day weekend even if it is as hectic as ours is due to another baseball tournament. It's a good thing he loves this game and we love all the families we play with. It makes 8 hours at a ballpark much more enjoyable. The other time over the weekend will be getting the house ready for my husband's parental unit visit for our daughter's 8th grade graduation. So I'm hoping to get some time to read this weekend, even if it's sneaking in time.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Julie's Review: Mine


Author: Courtney Cole
Series: None
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Interesting twist on the cheating husband storyline
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Summary: Tessa was prepared for the hurricane. Lindsey was the storm she didn’t see coming. When Tessa Taylor unlocked her husband Ethan’s iPad to discover nude photos from a twenty-six-year-old bombshell named Lindsey, her seemingly perfect life came to a screeching halt. With a hurricane barreling toward Florida and Ethan stuck on a business trip, Tessa finds herself imprisoned in her own home with a choice to make: Does she ride out the storm until she can confront Ethan in person, or does she take matters into her own hands? Increasingly restless and desperate for revenge, Tessa resolves to act. And when she lures Lindsey over a few hours later, there’s no turning back. What ensues is a battle of wills between two well-matched opponents, blinded by love for the same man but driven by demons of their own. Like storm-ravaged Florida, neither woman will be the same when the skies clear. He’s mine. Both wife and mistress would stake their lives on it. But only one of them can be right. 

Review: While in many way, Mine is your typical husband cheats novel it's atypical in the way that it works through the issue. This isn't a wife exacting revenge on her husband but it's her taking the situation into her own hand and dealing with the mistress. It's not often a book dealing with cheating pits woman vs. woman. The fights were as much psychological as they were physical.

As a reader you immediately know that something is a bit "off" with Lindsey and that she's not exactly trustworthy in her view of her relationship with Ethan. She's desperate for a man to take care of her and will use her looks to hook him. She's definitely a hard worker, working full-time and going to nursing school at night. She's also sacrificing time with her family to obtain her goals. She is smart but is letting herself get wrapped up in finding the perfect man. 

Tessa, on the other hand, is pulled together, successful and already has what see needs in life. Her family and her job are her priority. It wasn't until the realization of Lindsey that she though her marriage was in trouble. She knew things weren't great but they weren't bad either. When she finds out she loses all control and sets a plan in motion that she can't slow down on, even if she wanted to.

The whole novel takes place over the course of an evening with a swing of emotions. The ending isn't something I imagined when starting this book but it was worth it in the end. 

Definitely a book to soak in while you are lounging somewhere this holiday weekend. 


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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Julie's Review: When We Left Cuba


Author: Chanel Cleeton
Series: None
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: How do you follow your heart when it leads you two ways?
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Summary: Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez—her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost. As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future—but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything—not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...~amazon.com

 Review: I loved Chanel Cleeton's Next Year in Havana but she out did it with telling Beatriz Perez' story. Love, loyalty, spying and family are at the center of this novel. Beatriz is what most people would classify as a femme fatale. She's got the looks, the attitude and the smarts but can she take on her nemesis, Fidel Castro.

Beatriz Perez has never been really good about following the rules but when her family escapes Cuba just before Fidel Castro takes power and moves to Palm Beach, she really feels like a caged animal. Her mother is trying to find a way in with the society there but they are outsiders and they are beautiful, so it's not as easy as it seems. Plus their father is trying to rebuild his fortune so they are considered new money. While this is boring to her she makes due and through Eduardo, her deceased brother's best friend, she meets up with a man in the CIA who promises her that she'll get her revenge on Castro.

What Beatriz wasn't counting on was falling in love with a very powerful man who has political aspirations and becoming his mistress. She knows that it won't end well but she can't deny herself this one positive thing in her life. When things turn around for her and Nick, she's so focused on the take-down of Fidel that she has to let him go. She refuses to compromise herself and her goals.

Things don't always go as planned for Beatriz but she handles them well. She lives the life she wants to live and has some regrets but they never hold her back.

This was a quick, fun read. I love anything that has to do with spying though but there's enough romance and family drama throughout as well.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

Julie’s Review: The Southern Side of Paradise

Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Series: Peachtree Bluff #3
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Gallery
Pages: 400
Obtained: author
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: A great ending to one of my favorite series;
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Summary: 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. ~amazon.com 

Review: I devoured this book when I was on a work trip and my flight got delayed (shocker!). Not that I wouldn't have anyway but traveling allowed me some me time without a kid asking me 100 questions. I'm always sad to see a series end but I will miss this family something fierce. Each of the books in the series has focused on one of the Murphy sister's plus their mom, Ansley. This time it's Emerson's turn as the baby of the family. It's also about long buried secrets that have a way of coming to light when you aren't exactly prepared. 

Emerson is her own person and she's fighting to be independent while living up to her fiance's expectation of their roles in their upcoming marriage. She wants to continue her acting career more than anything but her fiance has a business to run in Georgia and well there aren't a lot of acting gigs in their neck of the woods these days. She believes that it will all work out on it's own. 

As she starts to look to herself and the life she wants to live, she starts to question if she's doing the right thing. As secrets long held by her mother start to come to light, she wonders where she really does fit in.  

I loved how Ms. Harvey finished up the series but kind of did leave the door open for possible future books. With the Murphy girls there's always some sort of drama going on but they always resolve it even if it takes awhile.

If you have never read this series, then you should start. They are the perfect summer read. 



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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Skim



Week of 5/5/2019 and 5/12/2019:


Finished:






Look this week for reviews on each of these novels. I've been reading so much and catching up on reviews, I don't want to repeat myself.

Currently Reading:




Looking Forward To:




I have been flying through the best books lately. I really do feel that 2019 has been a fantastic year for publishing so far. I've got some great books to finish up for May and then it will be onto June reads! What do you guys think about 2019? Do you feel like you've read some particularly great books?


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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Julie's Review: Drawing Home


Author: Jamie Brenner
Series: None
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 368
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Sometimes you have to fight for what is yours
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Summary: 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. ~amazon.com

Review: Throughout the course of this novel you really feel for both Penny and Emma but your empathy is really low for Bea. You understand where she’s coming from but your frustration as a reader comes from her lack of wanting to see the other side.

Emma's doing the best she can raising Penny as a single mom but it's tough with managing the front desk at the American Hotel, she can't always be every where. Up until this year Penny has been reliable and amiable but she's rebelling in a way that Emma can't even imagine. Penny is thrown by the death of Henry, her inheritance and trying to get her OCD under control. She's also trying to fit in and find her way in a small town.

Things go downhill for Emma quickly between Bea coming in to town and fighting the will of Henry and then her ex suddenly shows up to spend time with Penny. Emma is starting to wonder if being if being positive all the time is advantageous. At times you want Emma to wake up and be more aggressive than passive. 

I’m not quite sure she ever saw Emma and Penny’s POV it she came around because she finally understood what Henry was telling her through her drawings.

Ms. Brenner has a way with her words that lets you feel like you are in the room with these characters. She transports you to the settings of her novels in a way that you smell the ocean. I enjoyed how she brought Penny's OCD into the story and how she showed how she struggled to keep it at bay and how at times she couldn't.

I loved every moment I spent reading this novel.


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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Julie's Review: Waisted


Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Series: None
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 288
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: 
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Summary: Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them. Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight. The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary. The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands. ~amazon.com

Review: Waisted is a thought provoking novel about how women view themselves regarding beauty but the true focus is on weight. How far will each of them go to attain her ideal weight? How will it effect her psyche? Her relationships?

Alice is a smart, loving woman who struggles with her weight and her ass of a husband doesn't help. You see he met Alice when she was getting over her first real heartbreak, so she wasn't eating and at her thinnest. So after having their daughter, she gained weight and was having trouble keeping it off. He never complimented her and seemed embarrassed to take her anywhere. His image was very much tied to external beauty and therefore she didn't fit that image. So instead of losing weight for herself she does it to please him which leads her to binge.

Daphne is a brilliant make-up artist that doesn't live up to her mother's sense of beauty because she's overweight. Her mom is always making comments and cutting her down. It has penetrated every inch of Daphne's being and is affecting her marriage to her wonderfully supportive husband.

Alice and Daphne meet when they join a "camp" to get themselves in shape. Pretty quickly they lose the weight but what else are they giving up? Will they lose their sense of who they really are?! How do you reconcile yourself when so much of yourself has been wrapped up on a number on the scale?!

Ms. Myers has written a novel that every woman should read. She hits this subject matter on so many levels that it will resonate with everyone, thin or not so thin. It made me cry at some points because it hit home. I don't think weight is a strictly female issue but it is strictly female in how society views women with a few extra pounds on her frame.

This will be a book that I will push on people to read. I really can't recommend it enough.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Julie's Review: Park Avenue Summer

Author: Renee Rosen
Series: None
Publication Date: April 20, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 368
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: An interesting look at a woman who was ahead of her time
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Summary: New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss, who leaves her small midwestern town to chase her big-city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for the first female editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown. Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller Sex and the Single Girl, and confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands. When someone tries to pull Alice into a scheme to sabotage her boss, she is more determined than ever to help Helen succeed. While pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown's world, a woman can demand to have it all. ~amazon.com 

Review: Coming into this book I didn’t know much about Helen Gurley Brown’s start at Cosmopolitan. I can tell you that in my house growing up it was a bit too racy and I wasn’t allowed to throw it in grocery cart. 😉 As an adult it wasn't really on my radar either. Having said that I do love reading about women who break the mold and become successful in-spite of people trying to hold them down. That's exactly what Ms. Brown does and did well for decades. 

Alice was the perfect narrator for this novel. She's come to New York because that's where she feels she can pursue her photography and well her dad got remarried. She gets a job as Helen Gurley Brown's secretary and very quickly becomes protective of her and what she's trying to accomplish. She quickly learns the joys of corporate working when she's asked to spy on Helen for Hearst. 

There is much correlation between the growing pains that Cosmopolitan is going through and Alice's own growing up. She learns much about herself, what she wants and how she wants to get it in the time she spends with Helen.

Lovers of A Devil Wears Prada will thoroughly enjoy this novel.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Julie's Review: Swimming For Sunlight


Author: Allie Larkin
Series: None
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary 
FictionRating: 5/5
Bottom Line: How do you fix yourself when you feel like you've been broken for so long?
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Summary: Aspiring costume designer Katie gave up everything in her divorce to gain custody of her fearful, faithful rescue dog, Barkimedes. While she figures out what to do next, she heads back to Florida to live with her grandmother, Nan.

But Katie quickly learns there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Nan—like the fact that in her youth Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside attraction show, swimming and dancing underwater with a close-knit cast of talented women. Although most of the mermaids have since lost touch, Katie helps Nan search for her old friends on Facebook, sparking hopes for a reunion show. Katie is up for making some fabulous costumes, but first, she has to contend with her crippling fear of water. 

As Katie’s college love Luca, a documentary filmmaker, enters the fray, Katie struggles to balance her hopes with her anxiety, and begins to realize just how much Bark’s fears are connected to her own, in this thoughtful, charming novel about hope after loss and friendships that span generations.

Review: I kind of want to be a mermaid in a fantastic costume made by Kay! The descriptions of the costumes were so vivid, I felt like I was in the room with her when she was sewing.

Kaitlin, Katie, Kay has been through a lot. She was in a marriage that didn't really work for her and gave up everything in the divorce to keep her dog, Barky. She drives back home to Florida to live with her grandmother while she gets back on her feet. The thing is, I'm not sure she knows what that really means. Katie has been an anxious soul since she was a kid when her father died in front of her. She's dealt with it by closing herself off to most people. Except now her anxiety is affecting her ability to function and in a lot of ways her dog. I could also feel Kay and Barky’s anxiety as I read the words used to describe her fears. Her fears of losing the people closest to her. You can lose what you push away, right? 

The friendships that are threaded through this novel are special. I hope that when I’m an older lady, I have friends like that around me. They keep pushing Kay out of her shell so that she can deal with her fears, especially the one that revolves around water. You can't make costumes for mermaids if you don't understand how things move in water. 

Ms. Larkin does a fantastic job of making you understand anxiety and fears. How our experiences shape us as an adult and how mental illness needs to be recognized and dealt with. This is a very special novel and I can’t recommend it enough.


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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sunday Skim on a Tuesday



Week of 4/21/2019 and 4/28/2019:


Finished:








Currently Reading:





Looking Forward To:







The best thing about business travel is that I can fly through books, which as you can see is what I pretty much did. Now not all of them were business trips books but 2 of them were. Although sometimes it's just nice to watch whatever you want on tv! Do you like to read on business travel? I find I get more reading done then than on a vacation with the family.



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