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?

4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

4/5 stars

I was almost done with this book and I thought: I am so grateful that Abbi Waxman has another book coming out in July (and I actually have that book in my Netgalley queue right now!!).

I absolutely love Abbi Waxman’s unique, quirky voice. She is witty and funny and sarcastic and with that she tackles difficult topics. She shows how we have to keep breathing and walking and moving forward and laughing even when life is hard and messy.

The Garden of Small Beginnings is the story of Lillian, whose husband died in a car accident in front of their house almost four years previous. She had an infant and a toddler at the time. She fell apart. She had to be hospitalized. Thank God for her sister who swept in and took care of everything. She and her sister are super close (as I was reading the book, I kept hoping that my girls will have a relationship like Lillian and her sister Rachel do when they are adults).

Lillian is an illustrator and even though the textbook publisher she works for is going under, she manages to land a job illustrating an encyclopedia of flowers and vegetables for a seed company. She agrees to take a gardening class taught by one of the seed company’s owners. She can bring her daughters and her sister wants to tag along, too. At the class they meet an assortment of people: a retired banker, a surfer, two retired teachers and a single mom from the projects. The teacher takes a liking a Lillian and she realizes that she is attracted to him as well, but she is not sure if she is ready to date yet. Together with their teacher, they form a bond, helping each other plant gardens at each of their homes, and being there for each other through big life events. It made me long to take a gardening class and hope I would become friends with all of the other participants.

If you have a sense of humor, you will like this book. If you are a mother, you will like this book. If you like books about messy life stuff, you will like this book. I really enjoyed it and I would not mind being friends with Abbi Waxman — I bet she is a blast to hang out with!!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld

4 stars

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When Becca was 15, she had cancer and her friends made her a tape where they all acted out Saturday Night Live-type skits to cheer her up.  Now it’s 25 years later and they have a reunion, each friend is in a different plant with different issues.

There were things about this book that I LOVED: I loved when Becca and Nolan first met; I loved that the book takes place in and around New York City, which is where I love.  I thought Becca and Nolan’s characters were very realistic and very well developed and brought up some very interesting points regarding what a spouse has a right to say and have an opinion on and when they just need to be supportive.  I thought Seth’s character and Lexi’s characters were also very real and believable and sympathetic.

This book was different than anything I had read before and my husband and I had some interesting conversations because of it.


Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis

3/5 stars – a Perfect Beach Read

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From the Publisher:

A trio of college friends who reunite aboard a cruise ship experience an unforgettable vacation in this compelling novel from the author of The Summer of Good Intentions,which was hailed as “everything a summer read should be” by Elin Hilderbrand.

Three college roommates are celebrating a twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Bermuda. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will be celebrating her wedding anniversary in style, even as she and her husband keep a secret from the group. Ambitious career woman Caroline happily anticipates several stress-free days away from her magazine job with her boyfriend, Javier, who may or may not be finally inspired to propose. And single mom Lee (annoyingly gorgeous and irresistibly popular in college) hopes she’ll win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has inexplicably become a little bit of a monster.

As the balmy pink shores of Bermuda come into view, tensions simmer, and old jealousies flare, sending the temperature from soothing to scorching in this engrossing tale of three best friends on a vacation they won’t soon forget—but not for the reasons they expect.

My Thoughts:

This was a sweet summer read that set a nice tone for summer.  I wanted something to read that put me in a summer state of mind and this did the trick!  This book will have you dreaming about pink sand beaches and clear water!

This is a character driven novel about friendship, marriage, family, life and love.  It is told from multiple points of view.  Abby, who is celebrating her twentieth anniversary with her husband Sam and has twin boys, has a secret which is revealed in the second part of the book.  Caroline, who has a big career as a magazine writer, wants her boyfriend to propose–I found the way she carried on about it to be shallow and immature.  Lacey is a single mom struggling with her relationship with her college-age daughter; Lacey was my favorite character and the one that I found least annoying and most relatable.  What Lacey really needs is to focus on herself.  As a mom of two girls about to start college, I think that revelation is very spot on.  As moms we spend years focusing on our kids and when they grow up we feel empty, we don’t know what to do with ourselves (so we start a book blog!) or in Lacey’s case, realize we need to focus on ourselves.

This book is a perfect beach read.  The characters have issues, but it’s like Disney, you know everything is going to be ok in the end.  I did enjoy the characters and watching them evolve and come to terms with things.  Getting caught up in these women’s lives and friendships as they cruised the Caribbean waters and enjoyed life aboard a cruise ship was a nice way to spend a few summer evenings!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

4/5 stars

“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s this: the past is never really gone.  It’s one long chain linking the present and also the future…” ~ Dr. Emma Colley in Kimmery Martin’s The Queen of Hearts

Ultimately, this book is about forgiveness.  Forgiving ourselves and others so that we can move on and not have to live with “a fire inside us” as Zadie says.IMG_1786

From the Publisher:

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

My Thoughts:

I put this book on hold for my daughter, who loves Grey’s Anatomy and any medical drama.  But then I started hearing a lot of good things about it and my daughter was reading something else, so I decided to give it a try.  I was really not sure if I would like it, because medical dramas are not my jam.  But I was sucked in by the writing and the charismatic, very likable character of Zadie, who is struggling to manage four kids – the youngest, Delaney is an absolute trip and I loved every scene she was in!  Although I could not relate to the medical aspect of things, I could relate to Zadie as a mom and I loved that even though her husband had a demanding job and traveled a lot, she was not bitter about that or angry about it, she accepted it and they made it work.  They modeled what truly supporting your partner means.

It took me a while to get into Emma – Zadie’s best friend since college – I found I could not relate to her and I didn’t feel her character was as well developed in the beginning of the book.  But then her character started to come into focus about halfway through.

I had read in reviews that Nick was not a nice guy, so I went in to the reading thinking that, but I think that is totally wrong.  NICK IS A VERY NICE GUY.  Sure, he made some mistakes, but he learned from them.  I think being an attractive med student that all the gurls had crushes on went to his head and he abused that, but when he shows her the photo and tells her why he has carried it around for almost twenty years and when Emma confesses everything…I had to say I think Nick was a nice guy in the end.

Ultimately, this book is about forgiveness.  I have always heard and even experienced that forgiving is more for us than the person who wronged us.  We forgive so that we don’t have to carry around the bad feelings of being angry and hurt, having vindictive thoughts, etc.

I understood why Emma did what she did.  I have felt like the awkward person that always says the wrong thing, I have felt jealous of the person why everyone likes who always says the right thing.  I don’t think I would ever do what Emma did, but I do understand her jealousy.

I also understand why Zadie did what she did.  I have been hurt by people – I even had a friend keep me from a guy I was interested in (in our case, however, we met up again a year later and he asked for my number, I gave it to him and we started dating and got married, had two beautiful daughters and built a wonderful life together and will celebrate 22 years of marriage in August).  So I agree completely with Zadie that everything worked out the way it was meant to.  I think she was a really big person to forgive Emma and I think it speaks volumes of Zadie’s character, why everyone loves her and her love for Emma in that she was able to forgive Emma.  And I do think that after over 20 years of friendship it is realistic that she would forgive this rather large transgression because as Zadie said, the friends you have as an adult – your mom friends and your work friends – it’s not really like the friends you had when you were younger–the stay up all night, do totally crazy things, know everything about each other kind of friendship just doesn’t exist when you meet someone because their kid is in your kid’s class or you work together.

I thought this was a great book.  The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is that I thought Emma’s husband seemed cartoon-like and not real enough and it took a while for Emma to become a real character for me in the book.  Otherwise, I think the author did a great job of exploring lifelong friendships and how people evolve over time and the roles of love, kindness, understanding and forgiveness in friendship as well as an excellent job of showing how partners in a marriage can truly support each other.