Only Ever Her Review


Only Ever Her (Paperback)


New From: $10.37 USD In Stock
Release date: May 7, 2019.
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With such a long winter here in the Midwest, it was the cover of this novel that first intrigued me. It drew out feelings of warmer weather and sunshine and having previously enjoyed The Things We Wish Were True, I was eager to dive in.

This one took a little longer to draw me in. Maybe it was my confusion over how all the characters related or some of the secondary storylines. The premise is perfection — a bride disappears days before her wedding. Is it cold feet or foul play?

Whalen writes the story as we get closer and closer to the big day. We follow different characters’ viewpoints as to what happened to Annie Taft. I love the idea of small secrets bubbling to the surface with Annie missing and how they play off each other. When finished, I felt like some seams were still left undone and some plot points didn’t get enough “air time” while others had too much.

I will say this was a quick read and the second half moves at a much faster pace. Once you get a feel for the characters, you’ll yearn for the conclusion. The small town feel works well within this novel and if you’re looking for a good mystery to grab for a plane ride or a day away, you’ve found it.

My thanks to the publisher and Little Bird Publicity for the review copy.

Sunset Beach Review


Sunset Beach: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $17.39 USD In Stock
Release date: May 7, 2019.
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If you are looking for the ultimate beach read this summer, look no further. Mary Kay Andrews brings her sandy beaches and charm to her newest release, out now.

Listen, I read my fair share of heavy thrillers. I can also go to the other extreme of what some might refer to as “chick lit” or romance. This is the perfect blend of both. In fact, for those who enjoy cozy mysteries, this is one you’ll definitely want to pick up.

Drue Campbell is down on her luck with the loss of her mom and a string of bad jobs that are not helping with her income. When she receives an offer from her estranged father to come work for him, she heads to Florida’s west coast.

I loved the characters in this and what a kickass heroine Drue was. Her interactions with her family (blood and step) had me grinning and it was a read I looked forward to getting back to each night.

This one is on the longer side but the story moves quickly and hopefully you are as eager as I was to follow Drue as she tried to solve two mysteries, all while balancing her new job and relationships.

My thanks to Tandem Literary and the publisher for a review copy.

Thanks to their generosity, I have one copy to share with a lucky reader. U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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CONNECT WITH MKA
Website: https://marykayandrews.com
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GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21387.Mary_Kay_Andrews

The Night Visitors Review


The Night Visitors: A Novel (Paperback)


New From: $11.07 USD In Stock
Release date: March 26, 2019.
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The Lake of Dead Languages was my first introduction to Carol Goodman. She sure knows how to weave a tale of suspense that quietly lures you in until you reach the conclusion. And her newest mystery is no different.

Alice is fleeing her abuser and ends up in the care of Mattie, a social worker sent to pick her up from the bus station. Since the impending weather is blanketing the roads with snow, it only makes sense to bring Alice and Oren, the 10-year-old boy traveling with Alice, back to her house.

If you are the type to make sure your doors are locked before settling in bed for the night, I guarantee you’ll want to double-check they are. Twice I looked over in bed to make sure my hubby was there as I got more invested in the story. You can anticipate the dread all the characters feel as night looms on Mattie’s old house located in the middle of the woods. Think creepy old house, a horrendous snowstorm, and a power outage.

What’s even better is how this tight-knit living arrangement leads to secrets revealed. Everyone’s past comes to light and affects how the entire story plays out.

Seeing how his book takes place over just a few days, it will translate incredibly to film. It definitely has an M. Night Shyamalan vibe so fans of his movies will really enjoy this read.

My thanks to JKS Communications and the publisher for the review copy.

Best Books of 2018

It seems as though every year the caliber of writing only gets better.  The storylines, more gripping.  I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

Literature & Fiction

    

    

    

    

   

 

Mystery & thriller

    

    

 

Historical fiction

   

 

Nonfiction

   

   

Which of these have you read this year and loved?  What are your favorites not on this list?  Please leave me a comment.  Happy 2019!

 

The Lost Family Review

The Lost Family: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $15.38 USD In Stock
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What a treasure this was.

Peter Rashkin survived Auschwitz but lost his wife and twin daughters.  Now he runs a successful restaurant dedicated to his wife’s memory.  When he meets the young and glamorous June, he quickly realizes she may be the woman he wants to start his life anew with.

I have a special place in my heart for a family saga, and this story definitely fit the bill.  I love how each section was told from a different character’s point of view.  But being told chronologically, the switch still propelled the story forward and gave us insight to each member of the Rashkin family.  They all struggled, yet for different reasons, and you’ll quickly learn not one was a good communicator.

I thought Blum did a tremendous job of writing these characters as three-dimensional.  The descriptions of people and places were top notch that is was so easy to picture them.  When this translates to film, the casting and costume department will have no trouble setting it up because of how well they were written.

‘This book is a page turner in the sense you want to see how everything plays out and what happens in the Rashkins’ lives, but it was so beautifully written that you want to savor every sentence.

I truly enjoyed The Stormchasers by this author and now need to go back and read Those Who Save Us since so many people said that was her best read.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: JENNA BLUM is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORMCHASERS and the novella “The Lucky One” in the postwar collection GRAND CENTRAL. Jenna is also one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers.

Jenna’s debut novel THOSE WHO SAVE US was a New York Times bestseller; a Boston Globe bestseller; the winner of the 2005 Ribalow Prize, adjudged by Elie Wiesel; a BORDERS book club pick, a perennial book club favorite, and the # 1 bestselling novel in Holland. Jenna’s second novel, THE STORMCHASERS, is a Boston Globe bestseller, a Target Emerging Authors pick, and a bestseller in Holland and France. Jenna’s newest work, her novella “The Lucky One,” was published in anthology GRAND CENTRAL, published by Penguin in July 2014.

Jenna has been writing since she was 4 and professionally since she was 16, when she won Seventeen Magazine’s National Fiction Contest with her short story “The Legacy of Frank Finklestein.” Jenna is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A., English) and Boston University (M.A., Creative Writing); she taught creative writing and journalism for Boston University for five years, was editor of AGNI literary magazine, and has taught fiction for 20 years for Boston’s Grub Street Writers, where she currently teaches master novel workshops. Dividing her time between Boston and the Midwest, Jenna has written the screenplay for THOSE WHO SAVE US and is writing her fourth novel. Jenna loves to visit book clubs in person, by phone, and via Skype. Please contact her on Facebook (Jenna Blum), on Twitter (@jenna_blum) and on her website, www.jennablum.com.

Best Beach Reads of 2018

This summer’s list is a bit longer than normal as it’s been an amazing year of incredible reads.  Here are my most recommended for your 2018 summer!

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

Taking place on the Jersey shore,  Brenner seamlessly tackles many tough subjects ranging from grief to CTE to deployment to guilt.  You will easily lose yourself in this story.

 

Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

A story of the 1940s entwined with one of today, Jaeger knows how to grip her audience from the very first page.  I loved the scenes from Hollywood and the sweet underlying love story.

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Just when you think you know how this one will play out, Hunt pulls the seat out from under you.  Read my full review here.

 

 

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock

I laughed out loud at the situations these friends found themselves in.  Between chaos at their bakery and their attempts at love, this relatable debut is one not to be missed.  Read my full review here.

 

Slider by Pete Hautman

Yes, this is a middle grade novel but adults will find the undertones of the importance of family endearing while the kids will think the antics of competitive eating are hilarious.  A great story for the whole family.

 

Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

A multigenerational book that alternates between past and present, this engrossing debut will have you hoping the author is at work on a new novel.  Read my full review here.

 

Say Nothing by Brad Parks

I am all for a breakneck thriller that has me turning the pages and this one delivers.  Full of surprises, Parks masters the tension to make this storyline plausible and fun.

 

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Now that school has ended for the summer, you will appreciate the snark in Gelman’s debut even more.  Read my full review here.

 

 

What have you packed in your beach bag this summer?  Please share your favorites.  This post contains affiliate links.

We Own the Sky Review

We Own the Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $14.84 USD In Stock
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I knew when I turned the first page of this novel and read the author’s note, it would be a heart-wrenching read.  And it was.  However, the end left me with hope and an uplifting message.

From back cover: Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

What I loved so much about this book is that Allnutt does an exquisite job of writing a man’s perspective.  It’s so rare to see this from a male writer outside of a thriller.  Of course Rob had flaws like any human, and they were shown, but I believed in his love for his son and for his family.

And, yes, the tears flowed.  But they were cleansing tears.  Hard to read but worth it for the outcome.  Definitely warning those who won’t want to read a book about the loss of a child.  I’m thankful I have never experienced this myself, but the story seemed so genuine.  All of the situations and relationships did.

My thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Luke Allnutt is the author of Unspoken, a Kindle Single about the death of his father. His debut novel, We Own The Sky, will be published by Orion (U.K.) and Harlequin/HarperCollins (U.S.) in 2018. He grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke

Website | Twitter

The Last Mrs. Parrish Review & Giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $14.27 USD In Stock
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At 400 pages, this was a longer read for a thriller, but I raced through it.  When I started this book, I didn’t read any synopsis because I wanted to see where the story took me.  And to be honest, even halfway through I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but it was an addicting page-turner and still took me by surprise.

The tag line for this book and written across the cover is “Some women get everything.  Some women get everything they deserve.”  And with two reliable narrators of this story, you don’t know who specifically this is referring to.  Is it Amber, a young woman with a hidden past whose main goal in life is stealing the husband of her new friend, Daphne?  Or is it Daphne, so used to wealth and privilege as a Connecticut socialite?

The second half of the book had elements reminiscent of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, filled with tension.  There were also parts which reminded me of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  So if you enjoyed either of those books, I recommend picking this one up.

I think the story will be more enjoyable if you go in without reading much about it first, which is why I didn’t regurgitate much of the plot here.  The night I finished, I still had a third of the book left but refused to sleep until I finished, eager to find out how it ended.  I can’t wait to see what this writing duo comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers (Paperback)


New From: $9.93 USD In Stock
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This book grips you with its first sentence and never lets go: “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

As the book continues, we are on Elspeth’s journey with her, as she comes to terms with her mother’s death and all the family secrets that are ready to bubble to the surface.  She most eagerly is trying to figure out her mother’s connection to the Seekers, a cult-like religion that is reminiscent of Scientology.

This novel does not let you off easy.  We are dealing with rape, murder, betrayal, and family dysfunction in such a way you will be extremely thankful for your own mother.  In fact, it’s easy to think this could be a memoir in the way the timeline is handled and how real these characters act.

Sorell writes beautifully, but it’s not a case where you will get bogged down in the language.  It’s a fast read, and you’ll want to race through to reach its conclusion.

Sign me up for any future books from Sorell.  I know the prose will be fluid and the story convincing, if it is anything like her debut.  My thanks to Goldberg McDuffie and Prospect Park Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Something Like Happy Review

Something Like Happy: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $18.35 USD In Stock
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Do you ever have a day where everything seems to be going wrong?  You overslept, can’t find matching socks, car won’t start, you spill your coffee on your lap?  The list goes on and on.  That is how Annie Hebden is when we first meet her.  Except her day is her life.  She can’t catch a break and she is just miserable.

Polly Leonard is the opposite.  She is full of so much personality that she can barely contain it in her body.  She swoops in to rescue Annie from herself and is determined to make her happy.  And she sets a goal of 100 days to do it.  Why?  Because Polly only has 100 days to live.

I went through every emotion while reading this book.  I laughed.  I cried.  (I did.)  I got angry.  The author really fills the book with a cast of vibrant characters that will have you giggling one second and aching the next.

And while their friendship lasted only a short bit of time, I completely bought in to it.  I’m sure we all have experiences of meeting someone new and heading full bore into a new relationship, whether it’s a friendship or something more.  It’s so easy to get attached quickly.

Fans of Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep will find a lot to love in this story.  And if you enjoyed Allie & Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde ($1.99 as of this post), I was reminded of a similar personality clash between the two friends as started off in that book.

This book is being published by new imprint Graydon House.  It is their first release, one of four for this year, that Harlequin is aiming to work as book club selections.  And it is full of discussion in each character’s choices, motivations, and how they interact with others.

My thanks to Little Bird Publicity for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: 

Eva Woods was born in Ireland but now resides in London and has published two women’s fiction novels with Mira UK and also writes crime fiction for Hodder UK as Claire McGowan. In addition to writing novels, she teaches creative writing and has written for Glamour, You magazine, the Guardian, the Dublin Herald, and more. Something like Happy marks her North American debut.