4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things
by Julie Buxbaum

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Copyright: 2016

Pages: 336

Read: April 29 – May 5, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library e-book

 

Blurb: What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week as a junior at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short) offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?


Review:

My mom once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: the ones who love their high school years and the ones who spend the next decade recovering from them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, she said.

But something did kill her, and I’m not stronger. So go figure; maybe there’s a third kind of person: the ones who never recover from high school at all.

–p. 12

This book is the May selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I thought it sounded like a decent read and I saw that I could get it in an e-book through my library. I figured if I didn’t like it after so many pages I’d just turn it back in and that would be that. But what I wasn’t expecting was to be really taken by this book! I don’t know why I say that – more often than not I really enjoy the books selected by Anne.

This book took me right back to high school. I personally didn’t have the greatest high school experience (I moved schools in 7th grade and the day I graduated high school I was still known as “the new girl” even though I had been there for over 5 years at that point). So I totally understood what Jessie was going through with that new school thing. I only wish I had had a “Somebody Nobody” to guide me through those early few days, weeks and months.

Enough reminiscing about high school, back to the book. I found it to be easily readable. And even though I am far removed from high school I still enjoyed the book. I was anxious to see who SN ended up being – and I had it totally pegged correctly. So while that part wasn’t necessarily a surprise, I personally thought the ending was just right.

It’s a cute book. I’m glad I gave it a shot. And I still find it amusing that every time I read a young adult I enjoy it – even though I never would have touched a young adult book when I was actually part of the target audience for that genre. It’s a fun and easy read. It’s really just a cute, sweet book. It didn’t feel fake – the teenage voices felt “real” to me. So yeah, I’d recommend it!

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer
by Eliza Maxwell

The Shadow Writer

 

Copyright: 2019

Pages: 341

Read: April 24 – April 28, 2019

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: TLC Book Tours

 

Blurb: Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was originally pitched this book for review one phrase stuck out most of all in the blurb: “influential book blogger.” I mean, I felt like I wouldn’t be a very good book blogger myself if I didn’t read a book about a book blogger, right? So yeah, that’s basically what drew me to this book to begin with.

Overall, I found this book to be a really interesting read. My number one “complaint” (if I can even call it that) is that really it was almost 150-175 pages before I felt like anything of value had really happened. It was readable and enjoyable to that point, but I just didn’t feel like things were progressing like they should have been by that point in the book. Of course now that I have finished the book I realized just how wrong that assumption was (!!) – those first 150-175 pages were a lot more important than I realized at the time.

This book was a slow burn book; things were revealed little by little until the conclusion rushed at you and practically left me with whiplash. I never really did care for any of the characters, but that really didn’t affect my overall thoughts on the book. I knew there was something strange about Graye, there was enough information about her past to really leave me with a lot of questions, but I had no idea just how off Graye really would end up being.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It read easily and I found it to be a thrilling ride. Don’t let the first half of the book stop you from reading this one to its conclusion – it’s definitely worth the wait to find out just how crazy some things can end up being! Definitely recommended!!


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Eliza

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours, U-V-W

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

About Only Ever Her

Paperback: 298 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 7, 2019)

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.

Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?

Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?

As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?

While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

When I was pitched this book for review I was really taken by the cover. I’m not much of a cover person, but I just felt like this particular cover was just so pretty! Plus the storyline sounded interesting, so I eagerly snatched up this opportunity.

I found this book, overall, to be a fast read. It was quick and enjoyable. However, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters who had a voice in this book. I struggled at first to keep them all straight. What made it even worse was that I never really felt like any of the characters were fully fleshed out.

Speaking of the story, I was a little bit let down by the overall storyline. When it was finally revealed as to what happened to Annie, it just didn’t feel necessarily “right”. I felt like the author was going one way with the story and then a hard left turn was made and it went another direction. It wasn’t necessarily a bad direction, just not one that I was really expecting. And that hard left turn made me really scratch my head trying to understand why one particular character was even included in this book at all.

So my overall thoughts? I’m kind of torn. On the one hand I liked it. It was a quick and easy read. And yet, I don’t feel like it really lived up to what it could have been. I’m not entirely sure to be completely honest. It was good, but not great. A decent read that kept me entertained. But it definitely had way too many characters for less than 300 pages. And unfortunately it’s probably not a book that I will remember anything about in a few months. Decent enough, but not outstanding.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of When We Were WorthyThe Things We Wish Were True, and five previous novels. She speaks to women’s groups around the United States and is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads (www.shereads.org). Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-seven years and are the parents of six children. Marybeth divides her time between the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the coastline of Sunset Beach, North Carolina. You can find her at www.marybethwhalen.com.

Connect with Marybeth

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

tlc tour host

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar’s Girl
by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Liar's Girl

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 332

Read: April 3 – April 24, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

Blurb: Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin’s elite St. John’s College-and Ireland’s most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city’s Central Psychiatric Hospital.

Freshman Alison Smith moved to the Big Smoke to enrol in St. John’s and soon fell hard for Will Hurley. Her world bloomed … and then imploded when Liz, her best friend, became the latest victim of the Canal Killer-and the Canal Killer turned out to be the boy who’d been sleeping in her bed. Alison fled to the Netherlands and, in ten years, has never once looked back.

When a young woman’s body is found in the Grand Canal, Garda detectives visit Will to see if he can assist them in solving what looks like a copycat killing. Instead, Will tells them he has something new to confess-but there’s only one person he’s prepared to confess it to. The last thing Alison wants is to be pulled back into the past she’s worked so hard to leave behind. Reluctantly, she returns to the city she hasn’t set foot in for more than a decade to face the man who murdered the woman she was supposed to become.

Only to discover that, until now, Will has left out the worst part of all …


Review: This book was the April selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads program. Sometimes the books interest me and sometimes they don’t. This particular book really caught my attention so I was excited to give it a go!

I had never even heard of this author before, but I could not get through this book fast enough. I found it really difficult to not be able to read enough of this book every time I picked it up. First thing I did every single morning when I woke up was to open up my Nook app and read that day’s chapter(s). It was really tough and honestly, had my library had it available (either print or e-book) I definitely would have gone and checked it out just so I could read it faster! It was that good of a book for me!

Let me just say that when the ending was finally revealed it was a kind of like, “whoa!” I didn’t really see it happening the way that it did, but I felt like it was a good way to end the book. Intriguing is the word I would use for the ending – but it was satisfying as well.

I’m definitely glad that I got a chance to discover this author and I look forward to following her work in the future!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019, S

Review: John Adams Vol. 2 (1784-1826) by Page Smith

John Adams Vol. 2 (1784-1826)
by Page Smith

John Adams (Smith)

 

Copyright: 1963

Pages: 537

Read: March 21 – April 19, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: abebooks.com

 

Review: This book is the second in a two-book series by Page Smith. Volume 2 covers Adams’ life from the point when Abigail joins him in Europe during his overseas diplomatic years until his death on July 4, 1826.

I personally felt like this book was the stronger of the two books. I think that was more because I had a lot more interest in the time period it covered than the first book. I can say that I enjoyed learning more about his vice presidency and presidency.

Overall, I enjoyed reading these two books. It gives a lot more detailed information on Mr. Adams. There were times when it wasn’t necessarily easy reading, but I thoroughly appreciated getting a more in-depth look into John Adams, his personal life and public career.

Even though these books were written in the 1960s, I feel like they are still easily read and highly informative and enjoyable. I would definitely recommend these two books for those wanting more information on John Adams than a single volume can provide.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, L, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 308

Read: April 15 – April 17, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Book of the Month Club

 

Blurb: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one hot summer night they are invited to a dinner party next door, and a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the Contis’ curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family – a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.


Review: This book was a Book of the Month Club pick back from like September of 2016. It’s definitely my M.O. to let books sit unread for years. This is just one of way too many that fits that bill.

I will say that I devoured this book. I read it as fast as I possibly could – sneaking in pages as often as I could. It was compulsively readable. As a mother I couldn’t fathom leaving my 6-month-old baby alone in a crib while I was next door – baby monitor or not.

I was suspicious of everyone in this book at some point in this book. And I was really liking where the book was going … until it hit a really strange curve. And then it kind of went from “holy cow” to “um… yeah … no.” It just kind of veered off course to me personally and I felt like it wasn’t necessarily believable. It was just too much of a stretch in my opinion.

I felt like the first 3/4 of the book was really good and then the last 1/4 was just a little lacking. Overall I still enjoyed the book, but I felt like it could have been a little stronger in places. Still a good and entertaining read though.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs
by Stuart Woods

Shoot Him If He Runs

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 376

Read: April 9-13, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Teddy Fay, the rogue agent last seen escaping from an imploding building in Iron Orchid, has been considered dead for some time. But President Will Lee thinks Teddy may still be alive. In a top secret Oval Office meeting, Stone Barrington learns that he and his cohorts, Holly Barker and Dino Bacchetti, are being sent to the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Marks, courtesy of the CIA, to track down Teddy once and for all.

St. Marks is a vacationers’ paradise, but its luxurious beach clubs and secluded mountain villas are home to corrupt local politicians and more than a few American expats with murky personal histories. Stone and Holly soon discover that on St. Marks everyone is hiding something – and that Teddy Fay may be hiding in plain sight.


Review: This is the 14th book in the Stone Barrington series. These are total brain candy books for me and this one fit the bill perfectly for that.

I have not read Iron Orchid. I didn’t know how that would affect my enjoyment of this book. I can tell you that I had little to no trouble to following this story line. Sure, I didn’t know much background on Teddy Fay, but the way that this story was set up, you really didn’t need to.

I think this is the third time that Holly Barker has made her way into a Stone Barrington book. And now we’ve got Will Lee entering into the Stone Barrington series. I don’t know, I just don’t really care for character cross-overs in series books. I don’t care for it in TV shows either, so I think it’s just a personal preference of mine. Either way … the way this book ends, Teddy Fay may make another appearance in a future book.

Overall, this book was good. As usual it read quickly and easily. It kept my attention throughout. The plot line was interesting. A good solid installment in the Stone Barrington series. I’m definitely looking forward to #15!

 

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here
by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here.jpg

 

Copyright: 1990

Pages: 320

Read: April 3 – April 8, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library (e-book)

 

Blurb: Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy–and her human companion, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen.  Small towns are like families:  Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets.  Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder.  Crozet’s thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her.  When Crozet’s citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message “Wish you were here” on the back.  Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues.  Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her.  If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs–and before Harry finds herself on the killer’s mailing list.


Review: I did something that I never ever do – I checked out a library e-book solely for the purpose of fulfilling a Goodreads challenge. I needed a book with a cat on the cover. I have over 500 physical books on my shelves at my house and if you can believe it, not a single one of those books has a cat on the cover. Who knew?! So off I went in search of something easily obtainable that sounded somewhat interesting that would fulfill this challenge requirement. I knew that I would likely be looking for a cozy mystery, but I was ready for something a little lighter than my usual reading. This book is the one I found. It sounded interesting enough and I could immediately download it to my iPad for reading. Win-win in my book.

What I was not prepared for was to love the book! Like, seriously! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I found myself sneaking in pages when I shouldn’t have been, ha! And considering how much I dislike reading e-books, I know this book was good.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I really loved them all. They all had a quirk (or two) and I loved the small-town vibe that the book has. The overall mystery itself was interesting – and I didn’t have the murderer even on my radar as the killer. It wasn’t necessarily a shock, but I was convinced it was someone else. Wrong! I loved the little conversations between Mrs. Murphy, Tucker and the rest of the animals in this little town. It’s not something that I ever would have thought I would enjoy, but it really worked for this book. I will say that while this book is technically a cozy mystery, there is some pretty strong language throughout it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a complete whim and I’m really glad that I did! I hope I can continue on with this series sooner rather than later (I know, I know … I always say that). A good book that I’d definitely recommend.

4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 307

Read: March 29 – April 3, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound – and by her wealthy Catholic father who, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a university professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom, about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood, between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.


Review: This is the April selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I picked this one up quite hesitatingly. First, it’s billed as young adult, which is not my normal reading. But add on top of that the setting of Nigeria and then religious aspect and it’s really outside of my comfort zone. Let’s just put it this way – I would have never picked up this book on my own. But I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Long story short … it was good, but difficult reading. I struggled with the abuse described. I couldn’t believe the kind of household Kambili and Jaja were living in – they never even smiled/laughed, that just flabbergasted me. And I really struggled with the religion angle to the story. I’m not much on organized religion to begin with, but I just cannot accept a man who treated his family that way hiding under the guise of religion. Just. No. I also have trouble classifying this is young adult literature. To me it’s an adult book with teenage characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the middle section of this book, it was definitely the strongest point. The beginning was slightly slow and the ending felt rushed. I would have liked to have seen the ending be fleshed out just a little bit more, but at the same time I can appreciate the fact that the book didn’t have unnecessary padding. I struggled with some of the Nigerian words scattered within this book. In some spots I couldn’t even decipher what the word even was. I understand why they were included in the text, but I didn’t feel like they helped me as a reader at all. I also had an issue with the relationship between the priest and Kambili. She was a fifteen-year-old girl, he was a grown man (and a priest!) … I can understand her “crush” on him, but I didn’t like how it was quite obviously reciprocated by him.

I’m not sure what else to really say about this one. I can definitely see where it makes a great book club selection – I am definitely looking forward to the forum discussions. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can really appreciate the story for what it was. I’m glad I read it, it got me out of my comfort zone and I’m learning that my reading interests go a lot farther than I had would have ever expected.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Women's Murder Club

Review: 15th Affair by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair
by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

15th Affair

 

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 351

Read: March 25 – 28, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased at Goodwill

 
Blurb: Lindsay Boxer has a beautiful baby daughter and a husband she loves unconditionally. Always focused on her career as a San Francisco police detective, she never wondered what domestic bliss might feel lie, but she’s never been happier. She can’t imagine that a brutal murder at a downtown luxury hotel and the disappearance of a gorgeous blonde woman from the scene would have anything to do with her own life and marriage – yet Lindsay can’t ignore disturbing clues that hit very close to home.

When an explosive tragedy plunges San Francisco into chaos, Lindsay is pressed to investigate a criminal plot that stretches around the globe, and she again finds herself following signs that lead to her own front door. Fighting powerful enemies trying to protect their operatives and conceal the truth at all costs, Lindsay turns to the Women’s Murder Club for help as she desperately searches for the elusive and deadly blonde … before she loses her husband for good.


Review: This is the 15th book in the Women’s Murder Club series. Overall I’ve enjoyed these books, so I was looking forward to jumping back in with Lindsay and her crew. To be completely honest, I picked this one up because I wanted a quick and easy read near the end of March that I could finish before the start of April. I can always count on Mr. Patterson for a fast-paced thriller that I can fly through.

This particular installment … I don’t know. Like, I enjoyed it, but I also really struggled with it. As a mother of two young children and a woman who works outside the house, I can’t imagine working the kind of hours that Lindsay does. And then she didn’t have Joe in this particular installment to help her out and a lot was falling on her next-door nanny. And I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the twist that happens between her and Joe. It definitely puts a big question mark onto her relationship with him and the book leaves a big hole in regards to that as well (darn cliffhangers!).

I think it all boils down to the fact that I really miss the earlier books in this series – when the Women’s Murder Club was an actual thing. With those ladies banding together and solving the cases. That just doesn’t happen anymore in these later books. And I get that characters (like people in real life) do grow and go different ways in life, but I also feel like this particular series was really founded on that and now that that particular part of the series is gone it’s leaving something missing.