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

Before I Let You Go Review & Giveaway

Before I Let You Go: A Novel (Paperback)


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Oh, this book has my heart.  What a compelling, emotional journey I just returned from.

Lexie receives a call at 2:00 am that nobody is prepared to hear.  Her sister, Annie, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, is in trouble.  Lexie rushes to her aid and finds her living in a dirty trailer, addicted to drugs, and pregnant.  Having always rescued Annie in times of trouble, Lexie makes it s point to make sure Annie gets help again.  But with the law working against her, it isn’t as easy this time.

I loved how addiction, while a main focus, wasn’t the only issue brought up in this novel.  Rimmer also confronts abuse, religious sects, death, legal battles, learning to be an adult before you’re ready, and the struggles of balancing it all.  There are so many subjects to foster a great book discussion here, so if your book club is looking for new fiction, this would be a perfect choice.

If you’re a fan of heartbreaking, yet heartwarming fiction and enjoyed books such as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, this is one you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.  And I guarantee it will quickly become a favorite

Be prepared to shed some tears.  For me, the cry was a cleansing, and I felt better after having finished it.  Hug your sisters and your brothers and your mothers and your fathers and your children a little tighter today.  And then tell them they need to read this book.

I received an advanced copy from Little Bird Publicity and the publisher.

About the author:

I write contemporary women’s fiction. My novels, Me Without You, The Secret Daughter, When I Lost You and A Mother’s Confession have been published by Bookouture.

You can find some more information about me at www.kellyrimmer.com.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Hot Mess Review

Hot Mess (Paperback)


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Good girl + bad boy + the food scene in my favorite city, Chicago = an entertaining and fun read.

Perfedtly titled, as it describes the characters and plot, Hot Mess focuses on 25-year-old Allie Simon, an up-and-coming social media guru dating Chicago’s ultimate bad boy chef, Benji Zane, a genius in the kitchen with a drug addiction in his past.  When Benji and general manager, Angela, want to open a brand-new restaurant, Here, they convince Allie to invest, just to get them started.

I loved the planning and prep part of the story for when Allie and Angela were focused on getting Here ready to open.  I learned so much about what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant, everything from sourcing vendors to ordering dishes and hiring staff.  Belden had great dialogue so that I learned a lot while still getting a kick out of everything happening.

I wish Allie wasn’t so naive.  Granted, she’s young, and I absolutely appreciated her growth throughout the novel, but she still made some less-than-smart choices.  The romance added a little sizzle to the story.  Given today’s obsession with Instagramming your entree and Tweeting your experiences, I loved how Belden incorporated all of that into the running of Here.

This would be a perfect read for a trip to the beach or a long plane ride.  The antics of the characters along with the trials and tribulations of opening a restaurant will keep you happily turning the pages.

About the author: Emily Belden is a food journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novels Hot Mess and Husband Material, and of Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. After she tiled her bedroom floor in over 60,000 pennies – all heads up for good luck – she was a guest on The Today Show and her story was covered by media outlets across the country. A Chicago native, Emily lives with her rescue dog in the West Loop, conveniently close to many of the city’s best restaurants.  You can reach Emily on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews!  My thanks for the review copy from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

Promise Review & Giveaway

Promise: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I love a good natural disaster.  When I was in college studying to be a broadcaster, I took many meteorology classes because of how fascinating I found hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornados.  How they came on so suddenly and the damage left in their wake.  When I first read the premise for Promise, I couldn’t wait to read the story.

Author Minrose Gwin grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, the site of an F5 tornado in 1936, one that leveled half the town.  It’s on record as the fourth deadliest in the history of the United States.  What fascinated me was that even then, they didn’t count African-Americans in the total death or injured count, basically erasing them from history.

While this story is fictional, it’s based in fact and follows two protagonists, Dovey, an African-American great-grandmother and washwoman, and Jo, a white teenage girl trying to find her place in her family.  As the tornado destroys their homes, they realize they might be connected by more than just tragedy.

Faced with tremendous loss, both women need to be strong in piecing their lives back together.  But racial tension in this town is thick, even after everything that’s happened.

Fans of The Help and Calling Me Home will find much to love in this novel.  The writing is beautiful, yet propels the narrative along.  Even though the story takes place over a few days, I felt like I had spent years with these families.

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

About the author: Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra. She has written three scholarly books, coedited The Literature of the American South, and teaches contemporary fiction at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

 

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Family Next Door Review & Giveaway

The Family Next Door: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I am a people watcher.  I will be at a park, mall, doctor’s office, anywhere really, and want to know all about the people I see.  What is their story?  If you are anything like me, you must read Sally Hepworth’s newest story, a suspense-filled book about the neighborhood of Pleasant Court.

Our three main characters are:

Essie, mom of two young girls, who is questioning her sanity on a regular basis since she is barely sleeping with a newborn.  At least her mom, Barbara, is always available to lend a helping hand.

Fran, former lawyer, harnessing a big secret neither her husband nor her closest friends know.

Ange, the neighborhood queen bee with two boys and perfect husband.

Everything between these friends  is perfectly fine until a new neighbor, Isabelle, moves into the neighborhood.  Her presence becomes unsettling to the women as lives are forever changed.

How relatable was this?  First-time mothers struggling with their newborns, just trying to function on lack of sleep.  Husbands gone at work so their wives couldn’t get a break.  New mysterious neighbors that seem to have an agenda.  I guarantee you’ll find something to relate to in this book.

The short chapters made this story compulsively readable.  I needed to keep flipping to gain more insight.  And just when I thought I knew where it was going, I was thrown for a loop.  The dialogue and settings reminded me of a Liane Moriarty novel so fans of hers should definitely pick this up.  I’m glad Hepworth tried her hand at suspense and I hope she writes more in the genre.

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

About the author: SALLY HEPWORTH is a human resource professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is the author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, and The Mother’s Promise.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a signed copy to give away to one lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers Review & Giveaway

Not since Moloka’i have I been transported to Hawaii through a book.  The setting and descriptions were vivid and breathtaking.  Never having been there myself, I imagined I was on the beach as I was reading.  I loved the authentic language and settings and was definitely surprised by the amount of rain!

Sara Ackerman’s debut has something in it for everyone: a mystery, WWII history, romance, and unforgettable characters.  Violet is a schoolteacher who is reeling at the disappearance of her husband, the school principal.  Her daughter, Ella, hasn’t been the same since he’s been gone.  When Violet’s roommate, Jean, finds out her brother Zach is training for a secret mission along with other Marines, the women learn that friendship will get them through this trying time together.

Even though this tale takes place during the 1940s, many of its themes still ring true today.  Given the current events we’ve been faced with, I still need to hear “love is love,” and I was thrilled to come across it in the book.  Bits of this story, especially Violet’s infatuation, reminded me of Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris.  If you want an endearing story with a sprinkle of sugar, be sure to pick this book up.

I have to say one of my favorite characters was Roscoe.  I’d really love to learn the true story behind his appearance that the author mentions in her note at the end.  I promise you he is one surprise you’ve never come across before in fiction.

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

About the author: Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.

 

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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Girl Unknown Review & Giveaway

Girl Unknown: A Novel (Hardcover)


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We’ve all read a book or seen a movie about someone appearing in someone’s life intent on destroying it.  What I loved about the premise of this book is that this person is a long-lost child, one our protagonist, David, never knew about before she shows up.

David is a college professor trying to move up the ranks all while dealing with his aging mother, wife Caroline’s return to work, and two kids.  Things are finally falling back in place with him until Zoe shows up.  Being the father that he is, he welcomes Zoe into their lives and home, hoping she fits right in.  But what are her motivations?  Who is hiding what?

The beginning of this book had a great pace, and the fact that the story alternated characters telling it between David and Caroline made it move quickly.  The ending sizzled.  I just felt the middle got a little bogged down.  And even when it finished, I was left with several unanswered questions.

I was surprised to discover that even when I thought I knew how things ended, the authors threw me another twist.  This is a dark tale, perfect for those who want to know more about the characters of a thriller.  With each chapter, we unravel more and more about what makes them tick and how easy it is to make them crumble.

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

About the author: Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unkown.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).

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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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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