Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Skim

Week of 7/21/2019:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:


Friday, July 26, 2019

Julie's Review: Meet Me in Monaco

Author: Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Series: None
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Romance with a dash of history added in
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Summary: Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique to fend off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy. James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love. 

Review: Grace Kelly and her visit to the Cannes Film Festival is the catalyst for Sophie Duval and James Henderson meeting but she is not responsible for the sparks that fly between them. She brings them together by trying to outwit James by coming into Sophie's parfumerie and hiding in the office. By happenstance they meet again only to cause Sophie to start questioning why she's always been a non-risk taker. Does she have what it takes to save her business, her passion?

Sophie has been happy to create her perfumes in her factory/lab in Grasse but it's the sales part of the business she struggles with in Cannes, until Grace Kelly commissions one of her fragrances for her wedding to the Prince of Monaco. Will she be able to capitalize on her notarity? Will she also take Grace's advice and follow her heart.

James is battling his own issues at work. He's too gifted of a photographer to be working in a newspaper. So when the opportunity to work for a gallery and do the work he truly wants to do arises, he takes the matters into his own hands. It doesn't hurt that the gallery puts him in great proximity to Sophie.

It is the romance between James and Sophie that you get caught up in. How they get to know each other between their letter correspondences while they are apart. How they fall in love with who the other is before even having a proper kiss. I feel that there is something to that in these days of instant gratification. Their loved developed on pages before they had a chance to spend time together.

One thing I was missing was the true essence of the friendship between Grace and Sophie. I wanted their friendship to bloom outside of correspondence and I didn't get that. I do feel that there was a mutual appreciation and affection but friendship is a stretch. Grace Kelly is the backdrop to the story that is James and Sophie.

If you are looking for a romance in a beautiful location, then definitely pick up Meet Me in Monaco.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Julie's Review: How to Hack a Heartbreak

Author: Kristin Rockaway
Series: None
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 352
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Romance
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: More than a Romance novel 
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Summary: Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster. By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers--"Hatchlings"--who can't even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she's matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr. But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It's called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight. Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez--the only non-douchey guy at Hatch--has no idea she's the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

Review: Let the Girl Programmers reign begin and last long! So, so many great things about this novel but mostly it’s about empowerment and taking control of the things you can and letting go of the things that aren't within your control.  Melanie works at a company that is all bros and it’s wearing her down.  She is verbally harassed daily with no backing of her boss or the CEO. Well that and the fact that the dating app Fluttr keeps disappointing her with the men that seem to respond to with pictures of their junk or standing her up.

So, when she gets tired of it and creates #JerkAlert she feels that things are turning around for her. Will #JerkAlert be the answer to her dating and work problems? Or will it just create more issues for her.  Not to mention her love life is starting to look up when the guy she's mooned over at the office seems to be interested in her as well.

But just as things are turning around things fall apart just as easy but it is how Melanie responds to it is what makes her resilient and innovative.

I kept cheering Melanie and her awesome friends on throughout the course of the book. This is all about women supporting women, female empowerment and finding your place in the world. I highly recommend this one! This is one that you will want all your friends reading the rest of the summer.

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,

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Skim

Week of 7/14/2019:


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?

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. 

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.


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

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.

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.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday Skim

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


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.

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

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.

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!

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

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?

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.