5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild was the first romance book I read.  I was blown away by the chemistry between Calla and Jonah.  After I finished the book, I walked around for three days feeling as though I had just fallen in love. Over the last year, I have been making my way through K.A. Tucker’s backlist.⁣⁣

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I was so excited for Wild at Heart.  Instantly upon starting this book, I was swept up in the chemistry between Calla and Jonah – there is just something about these two characters!  Wild at Heart picks up where The Simple Wild left off (you really do need to read that one first), Calla and Jonah move in together, in Alaska and they start a business together that keeps Jonah away from home a lot and challenges Calla in ways that make her grow and make me like her more and more and more (I almost put The Simple Wild down because Calla annoyed me so much, but she continues to grow as a character and I now want to be her friend!).  ⁣⁣

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Wild at Heart is the story of what happens AFTER Happily Ever After… Wild at Heart is the real heat and raw energy of a relationship.  It’s the frustrations of working together and giving so much of yourself and trying to make something work with someone else.  It’s about compromise and real life.  It’s about facing challenges with your partner and sacrificing for your partner’s happiness and drawing the line at where you sacrifice and where you tell your partner what you need.  Relationships are SO MUCH MORE than physical attraction and snarky banter, Wild at Heart tells the story of Calla and Jonah’s relationship beyond getting together and giving in to the heat.  Wild at Heart tells the story of a real couple facing life and challenges together, making sacrifices for each other and learning to ask for what they need.⁣⁣

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There is something really special about the chemistry between Calla and Jonah and I felt like I was leaving two friends when I finished the book.  I hope K.A. Tucker more books and tells more and more of their story. ⁣⁣

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR, K.A. Tucker and Atria books for my copy.

5 star reviews, activism, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

Mercy House by Alena Dillon

Let me tell you about the book I am reading!⁣⁣
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I love Mercy House by alena.dillon . It’s about nuns who run a shelter in Brooklyn for abused women and girls. The backstories on the girls show how they came to be in the bad situations that they were in and is appealing to the side of me that wanted to be a social worker or therapist. Sister Evelyn has her own upsetting backstory. ⁣⁣

I was raised Catholic and I attended Catholic school. I had some experiences with nuns which I still reflect on, some good, some bad. I have been sharing my experiences in my stories. This book feels very cathartic in terms of my experiences.⁣⁣
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Something I did not know, which takes place in the book, is that Pope Benedict XVI, sent bishops to investigate nuns and make sure they were upholding doctrines of the church and not being “too feminist” in a time when the Vatican was covering up pedophilia accusations for priests.⁣⁣

Blog Tour, historical fiction, Women's Fiction

The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart

This book is absolutely fascinating and beautifully written.

Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser’s daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she’s concerned, moonshine caused her mother’s death a dozen years ago.

Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth—one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school’s gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the “monster” inside Jessie.

Resenting her father’s insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie’s loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths—and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.

Trigger Warning: Eating disorders

Memoir, Women's Fiction

Life’s Accessories: A Memoir by Rachel Levy Lesser

Do you remember what you were wearing when certain events occurred in your life?  Maybe you remember the dress you were wearing when your husband proposed or the scarf you had on when your brother asked you to be in his wedding.

Rachel Levy Lesser does remember what she was wearing when every significant event occurred in her life.  Life’s Accessories is a quick read – I read it in an afternoon – that feels a lot like talking to a friend about life, love, family and fashion.  The idea of this book is really cute, but the observations about life are relatable as we share in the author’s happiness, sadness, difficult times and absolutely wild times.

5 star reviews, activism, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

We have been having kind of a crappy week around here, so last night, after dinner, my daughters ran to Whole Foods for some Abe’s Vegan Blackout Cupcakes and Cashewmilk ice cream. Because sometimes you just need to change the energy, do you know what I mean? You need something good to happen to chase away the bad.⁣

When I originally heard this book, If You Want to Make God Laugh, was about apartheid, I thought it would be upsetting and depressing and I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. But after so many people raved about it, I decided to try it and I’m so glad I did! The writing is like putting on a comfy sweater, it envelops you and cocoons you and you never want to stop reading this story of two estranged white sisters and a young poor Zulu girl in South Africa in 1994, just as Nelson Mandela wins the election and apartheid ends. Politics play a small role in the book, it’s mostly about friendship, caring for those you love and being true to yourself. There is an abandoned baby. The AIDS epidemic touches the lives of the characters in a beautiful and human way. There are power play politics. I learned more about canned trophy hunting (which is something I’d already been vehemently opposed to). This book is anything but depressing, this book makes you glad to be alive. It makes you remember the importance of family. It makes you remember that even with the bad in the world, there is still good.⁣

Book reviews, romance, Women's Fiction

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Would you forgive someone for doing the wrong thing for the right reasons?  Is it ok to do something bad if your reasons are good?

That is what Tate and Sam must confront in Twice in a Blue Moon.  They had met as teens in London when they were both on vacation with their grandparents.  Tate had confided in Sam and he had betrayed her confidence and her life was irrevocably changed.  Years later they meet again and the chemistry is still there, just as strong and Sam explains to Tate why he did what he did.  He hurt her badly, but he did it for a noble reason.  

Rating: 3.5 stars

I liked the moral dilemma and the second chance romance.  I felt the chemistry between Sam and Tate. But, I will be honest that I didn’t like either one of them very much and for me, that is a big thing.  I need to like them and/or at least be able to relate to them and I did not with these characters, they felt a bit one dimensional to me.  

A big thank you to Libro.fm for my copy of this title. Have you heard about librofm?  Librofm allows you to support independent bookstores when you buy audiobooks.  They have several different plans.

5 star reviews, activism, Book reviews, Non-fiction, Women's Fiction

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Rating: 5 stars

Were you outraged when Brock Turner got 6 months for raping a girl on the Stanford campus?  Did you want to throw your phone across the room when you read that the judge said Brock “had a promising future and he didn’t want to derail it” with a longer sentence?  

The message: a boy, especially one who is white, an athlete and wealthy means more than a girl.  

The press had called her Emily Doe, a name given to her by the prosecution to secure her identity, something she embraced for a while because it helped her compartmentalize her pain.  But now she is taking back her power and her name is Chanel Miller and she is making a difference.

This book is gorgeously written.  Chanel is a likable, relatable, flawed character.  I want to be her friend.  

I was upset by the humiliating procedures she had to endure after the rape and although I understand it is necessary, there has to be a better way.  Although Chanel was the victim, she was the one that was humiliated in court and the one who had to answer for everything she had ever done, while Brock was lauded as a star athlete and good student at a school with a 4% acceptance rate.

I was so upset and annoyed by the way Chanel was treated by the court system and the comments people made on articles.  I am glad she wrote this book. I applaud her for the final chapters where she talks about the different issues in our society, a President who says vulgar things on camera to Billy Bush and how these things need to change in our society.  Girls lives and bodies are worth just as much as boys. The idea that boys can’t control their sexual urges degrades boys, they are not animals, they can control themselves and should be expected to and held accountable. I was raised to believe that boys only wanted one thing from girls and that I had to be wary of being alone with boys.  I did not raise my girls that way. I told them to be careful, to be aware, but I told them that boys are human too, with feelings and emotions and complicated layers, just like girls.

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

4.5/5 stars

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I love books about people on the autism spectrum.  I feel like their personalities magnify universal truths that we can all relate to.  Annika meets Jonathan when they are both students at the University of Illinois.  She is on the autism spectrum, but she doesn’t know it.  Social situations behoove Annika, but both she and Jonathan are aces at chess and they fall in love.  Jonathan doesn’t mind if she’s a bit different.

He graduates and moves to New York to be a stockbroker.  He eventually marries someone else, while Annika is still in Illinois, pursuing a Master of Library Science degree.

Ten years later, they meet again, and try to have a relationship once again.

The author did a tremendous job of showing the reader what someone with autism goes through, how they want to be loved and accepted and just don’t always understand how social situations work and how that is very difficult.  This was a lovely story, with plot twists that I never saw coming.  This is not just your average love story–there is A LOT MORE HERE.

I recommend this to anyone who loved Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison.

I received this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

contemporary fiction, thriller, Women's Fiction

The Liar’s Child by Carla Buckley

3.5/5 stars

This is the first ARC that I wrote away for and received!! Thank you, Ballantine Books – Random House!!

The first book I read by Carla Buckley was The Good Good-bye and I loved it so much that I ordered her other three books and read them all too! She writes about families in peril, families with ill children, parents who take their eyes off the road for a second and tragedy strikes, major flu epidemics and how that effects families. As a mom, I relate to her characters and their issues.

This is a powerful story of how mental illness effects families, how sometimes it may look like someone is not doing their job, but they are doing the best with what they have, the best they can in their situation. It’s about a father’s love, that doesn’t necessarily look the way we think it should. And, ultimately, it’s about how far we will go to protect the people we love.

The Liar’s Child is about a family where the mother is mentally ill and in addition to her mental illness, she has a shopping addiction which leaves the family with little money. They live in a crappy apartment building and the kids are often left to their own devices. The 12 year old daughter, Cassie, gets into a lot of trouble and the 6 year old son, Boon, is emotionally distraught. The father does the best he can, but must work long hours to pay the families’ bills, much of which the mother spends on online shopping.

Sara Lennox is in the witness protection program and the government puts her in the apartment next door to Cassie and Boon. She observes their family and how the kids are left to their own devices. When a hurricane is heading toward the Outer Banks and the kids are left alone, Sara takes her with her as she tries to escape the island and more.

Book reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller, Women's Fiction

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

3/5 stars

My Review:

Molly and Liza have been friends for a long time.  After Liza moves away, things are strained between the two women.  While Molly’s husband is away on business, the two women agree to Facetime each other one evening after Molly puts her kids to bed.  When Molly leaves the room to check on one of her kids, Liza sees a man in a mask enter the room where Molly is and then her screen goes black.  Liza drives all night to get to her friend to help her, but Molly is cold and unappreciative when Liza gets there.

This book explores a friendship that was close at one time, but has changed over time.  It also explores a marriage that has some issues.  This book explores the things that go unsaid in a relationship and how that can be isolating and effect what was once a close relationship.  I thought it was good, but it got weird in some parts in a way that I didn’t find believable, which is why I am giving it 3 stars.

I would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

From the Publisher:

Molly and Liza have always been close in a way that people envy. Even after Molly married Daniel, both considered Liza an honorary member of their family. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat over wine after the kids are in bed. But when Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child, a man in a mask enters, throwing Liza into a panic—then her screen goes black.

When Liza finally reaches Molly, her reply is icy and terse, insisting everything is fine. Liza is still convinced something is wrong, that her friend is in danger. But after an all-night drive to help her ends in a brutal confrontation, Liza is sure their friendship is over—completely unaware that she’s about to have a near miss of her own. And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me exposes the wounds of people who’ve grown apart, against their will. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain. The man in the mask will change things for them all.

But who was he?

And will he be back?