Heaven Adjacent Review & Giveaway

Heaven Adjacent (Paperback)


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Catherine Ryan Hyde has an ability to teach her characters something in every novel she writes, all while leaving the reader feeling hopeful at the turn of the last page.  Her newest is no different.

This one is the story of Roseanna, a NYC lawyer who leaves her job and home behind after the death of her coworker and friend.  She settles in a small farmhouse in the country where she meets her squatters, a group of people who won’t seem to leave the property.  Expecting peace and solitude, she is disrupted by their presence and tries to figure out the best way to get them to go.

I definitely appreciated the message of this novel.  Compared to her past few books, this one lacked a little bit of plot for me.  But that didn’t take away from that feeling of wanting to run away from it all.  I’m sure many with a high-stress job will find this book relatable.

I also love how she incorporates animals into every story.  They become as much of characters as their human companions.  And I appreciated how this story was not wrapped up with a big velvet bow.  The situations were realistic and there were still life lessons to be learned.

My thanks to he publisher for the review copy.

About the author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-three published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts, as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. An avid equestrian, photographer, and traveler, she lives in California.

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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Boardwalk Summer Review & Giveaway

Boardwalk Summer: A Novel (Paperback)


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Having read and reviewed Meredith’s debut, The Dressmaker’s Dowry, I was eager to get my hands on her newest.  Might I say I enjoyed this one even more?  You guys, this is the perfect beach read.

Alternating between Santa Cruz in 2007 and 1940, we are first introduced to Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen with a troubling secret.  In 2007, Marisol Cruz, a single mother and waitress, is doing everything in her power to preserve the town’s history when she first notices a photograph of Violet.  Her research leads to some startling discoveries.

I was completely swept up in both stories and couldn’t wait to find out more background.  It was obvious that a lot of historical research was done and the author had me hooked from the first chapter.  I felt all the characters were fully formed and made the right choices given their backgrounds.

For me, and what kept me from a full 5 stars, was just the coincidence of how a few storylines played out.  Instead of it being a surprise, I just felt it was too convenient and unrealistic.  I don’t want to share more as to avoid spoilers.  That being said, I will be thrilled to continue reading Meredith’s work.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is such a light read and would be perfect for a beach bag or plane ride.  In fact, I started it on the plane and would have finished if not for my lack of sleep the 3 days prior.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

About the author: USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

 

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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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.

The Real Michael Swann Review & Giveaway

The Real Michael Swann: A Novel (Hardcover)


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This new release about a man missing in a terrorist attack after an explosion in Penn Station is not quite a thriller but rather a fast-paced novel dealing with the aftermath.

Julia Swann speaks to her husband on his way home from an interview, only to have the call dropped.  Fearing the unknown, Julia does everything in her power to make contact again.  When the news reports a terrorist attack, she is gripped by fear and uncertainty as to if her husband, Michael, survived.

I will say that it took me about a quarter to one-third of the book before I was completely invested.  However, once I was, it seemed the pages were turning themselves.  The story alternated between Julia and Michael.  It was also a story of a marriage, and the readers were treated to their connection before kids as a way to come to grips with the current reality they are both facing.

I think my favorite part of this novel was the epilogue, where Reardon was able to insert political commentary, all the while remaining true to the fictionalized story and the thoughts of the characters.

Book clubs will also find this to be an engaging read with lots of hot topics to discuss.  It’s timely, especially given our political climate, and I imagine everyone would act differently if they were in Julia’s shoes.

My thanks to Dutton for the review copy.

About the author: Bryan Reardon is the author of the New York Times best selling novel, Finding Jake. For the past decade, he has also worked as a freelance writer specializing in medical communications, and as a ghost writer. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and Cruel Harvest. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for over a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.

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

Campaign Widows (Paperback)


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When I first heard this was a mash between Sex and the City and The West Wing, I was sold.  The wittiness of one matched with the binge-worthiness of the other?  I will tell you it favors the former.  More like if Sex and the City was set in Washington DC.

Campaign Widows switches narration between several campaign widows, those who are left in Washington DC while their significant others travel on the campaign trail during election season.

I will be honest.  I had a little trouble keeping track of all the main characters along with the supporting players, especially at the beginning.  There are a lot.  My suggestion is to give yourself a good chunk of pages when you get started so you can get through everyone a couple times and absorb it all.

My favorite character was Reagan, a speechwriter/mommy blogger trying to navigate the current election with her husband on the road while she chased after twins.  She was completely relatable and I loved her witty one-liners.  You could tell the author has a writing and pop culture background.

I did enjoy reading about all the highs and lows of the campaigns, especially given the current political climate in the U.S.  This story is pure escapist fun and would be perfect for a beach read or your summer vacation.  I could easily see this as a TV show or miniseries and it would be a lot more fun to watch than the news we are seeing these days.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: A former “campaign widow,” Aimee Agresti is the author of the Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. She’s also an entertainment journalist—who’s interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Angelina Jolie—and a former staff writer for Us Weekly, where she penned the coffee table book Inside Hollywood and continues to contribute to the magazine’s series of stand-alone collector’s issues on stars ranging from Taylor Swift to Princess Diana.

In addition to Us, her work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and Headline News.
She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

We Own the Sky Review

We Own the Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)


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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

Only Child Review & Giveaway

Only Child: A novel (Hardcover)


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If you combine the young narrator in Room with the thought-provoking message in Wonder, you have this captivating debut.

Debut author Navin allows the reader to be a fly on the wall with the Taylor family while they grieve their family’s loss from a school shooting.  Heartbreaking, yes, but allowing 6-year-old Zach to narrate the story brought innocence and a unique perspective to what could have been a very depressing tale.  I often forget how a child’s brain, no matter the age, processes what adults process extremely differently.  Navin perfectly captures this age in Zach as he tries to understand what is going on with his family.  I was impressed she didn’t play down his vocabulary because he was young.  I found him to be very believable.

Aside from losing his brother, he needs to understand the feelings among the other adults, ones he has trusted his whole life.  You will find yourself rooting for one parent over another and possibly even change viewpoints over the course of the book.

This was a solid first book from Navin.  Given its subject matter, I still felt hope and optimism by the end of the story.  I look forward to whatever drama she dreams up next.

About the author: RHIANNON NAVIN grew up in Bremen, Germany, in a family of book-crazy women. Her career in advertising brought her to New York City, where she worked for several large agencies before becoming a full-time mother and writer. She now lives outside of New York City with her husband, three children, and two cats. This is her first novel.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.  They also sent another ARC for a lucky reader!  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Here We Lie Review & Giveaway

Here We Lie (Paperback)


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With each book Paula writes, she keeps getting better.  I really enjoyed the hook in last year’s The Drowning Girls.  But with Here We Lie, I couldn’t stop reading this timely novel.

As the book starts off, we have one woman attending the press conference of another.  So as not to give the story away, Paula then moves back in time to the childhood home of Megan, a high school student in Kansas trying to deal with the soon-to-be loss of her father.  Then we meet Lauren, the youngest from a well-to-do family in Connecticut.  All the reader knows is something happened 14 years ago that changed everything.

Most of this book takes place while the girls are away at college.  Since their college years coincided with mine, I really related to the circumstances and experiences.  Bits of the story reminded me of Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare.

I love an author who can make me feel for the characters on page 1 and Paula did that here.  I was emotionally invested in the story and its outcome that I was plowing through 100 pages at a time.  If you’re intrigued by stories with female friendships, especially those with an underlying mystery, be sure to pick this one up.

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

About the author: Paula Treick DeBoard lives with her husband Will and their four-legged brood in Modesto, CA. She received a BA in English from Dordt College, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and a practical education from countless students in her English classes over the years. She is the author of The Mourning Hours, The Fragile World and The Drowning Girls.

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Oliver Loving Review & Giveaway

Oliver Loving: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I tend to avoid a lot of literary fiction because I am a reader who prefers a fast-paced story with a plot that moves and characters that leap off the page.  This is not that story.  However, it is beautifully done and patiently unravels the truth behind a small town tragedy.

It is wordy.  I will be the first to admit that.  But underneath lies this compelling tale of a family, one trying to piece together the broken fragments of their past so they can become whole.

Oliver Loving was a high school student when he became a victim of a school shooting.  He has been in a coma for the past 10 years, while his family has struggled to come to terms with their survival, as one of their own is incapacitated.  Father Jed is an alcoholic.  Mother Eve is a shoplifter and no longer parents her other son, Charlie, a struggling writer trying to survive in Brooklyn.  The story takes turns being  told from everyone’s point of view, including Oliver, which I felt was a unique approach.

For those interested in neurological science, there are scenes from this book that are utterly fascinating, as everyone is trying to communicate with Oliver.  Each character is fleshed out so well that I felt like I knew the Lovings personally and was spending time with them.  The setting has a Friday Night Lights feel, small town Texas where everyone knows everyone.

Usually when you read about a tragic event, you read a story about that event.  I really loved how this book was the aftermath of that and how everyone was coping (or not).  It takes a talented writer to keep a reader interested when a story is so much about its characters.  Block proved he is that talent.

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

About the author: Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting, won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction. The Storm at the Door is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.

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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At Wave’s End Review & Giveaway

Seeing how the weather has been nothing but frigid in Chicago these past couple weeks, it was a nice escape to head to the beach town of Wave’s End on the Jersey shore in Patricia Donovan’s newest novel.  While a hurricane displaces homes and people, New York City-based chef Faith and her mother, Connie, step in to do what they can to provide food and shelter at their inn, The Mermaid’s Purse.

Relationships between many are broken apart, forged tighter, and even discovered in this women’s fiction novel.  I loved following the different storylines of all the characters that ended up at The Mermaid’s Purse.  Since they all come from different backgrounds and phases of life, you will easily relate to one or more.

And for those looking for hidden secrets, I can promise you a surprise here and there.  One of the best parts of this novel was the food and cooking descriptions as Faith prepared meals at the inn.  Don’t read while hungry because you’ll be constantly licking your lips and wishing the book came with a taste.

While the hurricane left a path of destruction in the town, this sweet story of a town banding together is sure to warm your heart and put a smile on your face.  A great read to start 2018 off right.

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

About the author: Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband, with whom she has fond memories of raising their young family abroad in France.  Learn more at www.patriciaperrydonovan.com

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader. U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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