Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Skim

Week of 6/23/2019:


 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!


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!!!!!
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
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! 


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
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
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.

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!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday Skim

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


 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?


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.

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:
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
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.

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.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Skim

Week of 6/2/2019:


I can't say enough about Ms. Belle's writing abilities with this one. She had me guessing up until the end.

Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

Slow reading week due to a very busy schedule of baseball and getting ready for vacation! I will be spending the next week by the pool or on the beach. So I'll have a lot of reviews the week of 6/17!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Julie's Review: The Favorite Daughter

Author: Kaira Rouda
Series: None
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 368
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon

Genre:  Memoir
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: Predictable but unreliable narrator
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library

Summary: Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change. It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed? The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

Review: You know how you read a book and you want it to be more than it was? That was my experience with The Favorite Daughter. It felt like Ms. Rouda was trying a bit too hard to make her narrator unreliable. There are some good things about the novel though, the matriarch Jane is twisted and delusional. Granted she suffered a huge loss of her daughter a year ago and her husband is a lying ass wipe but she still has one daughter who needs her. Although as you start to get deeper in the novel you just wonder how unhinged she really is. Jane is a trip. She’s completely wrapped up on her own world and view of things. You are never quite sure if she’s full of truth or full of shit. She definitely falls along the line of unreliable narrator.

The cast of characters including her husband and daughter, Betsy are ploys in her bigger plot. Somehow though you know she's not telling you the full truth and that maybe there's a reason her husband has been cheating on her and her daughter hates her.  Something is just a bit off with her and it isn't her grief.

The ending was expected and not at all surprising in the scheme of things. If you are looking for a thriller, then I suggest going with Best Day Ever.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Julie's Review: The Unbreakables

Author: Lisa Barr
Series: None
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 352
Obtained: Great Thoughts, Great Readers Book Salon
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Great escapism
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime… It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret on-line dating site for married and committed couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed…including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town. Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers her essence with painful honesty and humor, reawakening both her sensuality and ambitions as a sculptor. As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever...and what it means to be truly unbreakable.

Review: What would you do if you found out your marriage was a sham? That your husband was a serial cheater? How would you confront him? For Sophie her daughter's distress and heartbreak comes with good timing, so she can flee to France to try to forget and try to find herself. Her first priority though is to help her daughter, Ava, get through whatever emotional toil she's going through.

She leaves Ava to go and look to reinvent herself. She finds a small town in France and sets up shop there in a hotel. She experiments with her sexuality and gets back into the art scene. I love the art aspect of this novel. I’m sure I order to write Sophie the way she did, she researched what it takes to be a sculptor. I loved the intricacies that were woven in this story.

Here's my thing, there was nothing wrong with Sophie in the first place that she needed to run away and find herself, reinvent herself. Sure it made a fun novel but how many women have the means to really do this. They can't flee to France or Europe to rediscover themselves. Sophie just needed to put herself first which is hard when you are a mother and wife. We are nurtures by nature so putting ourselves first goes against our DNA.

This is a good, quick read. You will feel for Sophie and want to find herself. Her relationship with her daughter is one of the best things of the novel. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Julie's Review: Lost Roses

Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Series: Lilac Girls #2
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Ballantine
Pages: 448 
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Solid look at WWI and the White Russians
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: It is 1914, and the world has been on the brink of war so often, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanovs. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia: the church with the interior covered in jeweled mosaics, the Rembrandts at the tsar’s Winter Palace, the famous ballet. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortune-teller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming, she fears the worst for her best friend. From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and aristocratic countryside estates to the avenues of Paris where a society of fallen Russian émigrés live to the mansions of Long Island, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways. In her newest powerful tale told through female-driven perspectives, Martha Hall Kelly celebrates the unbreakable bonds of women’s friendship, especially during the darkest days of history. 

Review: When Historical Fiction is done right, you learn something about history that you didn't know previously or you knew about it but just on the surface. For me it what the revolution of the Bolsheviks and the overtaking of the government. I find Russian history fascinating and extremely complex, you definitely need a flow chart at times. Ms. Kelly keeps it simple by focusing on one family that are a part of the White Russians and even the inner circle of the royal family. 

I enjoyed the story-line of Sofya and her family as they tried to flee to the Russian countryside from the Revolution in the city but unfortunately the countryside is no safer and maybe more dangerous than the city. They are out of the protection of the guards and are out in the open. Sofya's husband is away fighting for the royal Army so that leaves her and their young son to fight off the mercenaries that threaten their existence. What she didn't expect was that the young village girl that she hired to help her with the care of her son would bring the biggest danger to her house and affect her life in ways she never imagined. 

Sofya is a strong woman who suffers much loss before she finally finds her peace. She is resilient in a way that a privileged young woman, let alone a wife and mother, ever find out they need to be. She fights for her safety and the safety of her family.

I felt that the story of Eliza Ferriday took a backseat to Sofya's trials and tribulations. It's not that Eliza didn't suffer her own losses but she also didn't have the tragedy that Sofya had. She never stopped looking for her friend and did help many women and families that fled Russia during the revolution. She looked for ways she could make a difference and fight for those who lost everything. She gets this from her mother who was/is a champion for women rights.

Lost Roses is a great historical fiction novel but can be a bit slow at times depending on the pace of book you are looking for. I definitely can't wait for the 3rd in this series. 


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Skim

Week of 5/26/19:

Very different books that I finished this week and the reviews will be up throughout the week.

Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

I'm tired this Sunday. It's been non stop last week and it will be the same this week as we prep for a week of vacation. We have 3 baseball games this week and I'm taking my daughter to her first concert as well. That week of beach and pool time it looking even better.  Hope you have a wonderful week!