The Songbird Review & Giveaway

The Songbird (Hardcover)


New From: $18.29 USD In Stock
Release date: December 4, 2018.

buy now

I started this book in the midst of a super blizzard through the Chicagoland area.  Snow coming down about 1-2” per hour and all I could see was white.  Just the cover was such a sight.  It made me dream of warm weather and spring.  All the light colors and fresh green turned my frown upside down, as they say.

Marcia Willett is a new-to-me author and was put on my radar by the kind publicity team at St. Martins Press.  Reading this novel reminded me of why I love Maeve Binchy books.  The characters are fully fleshed out, the setting, so descriptive.  These characters felt like they could walk off the page to my home, and we could sit down to tea and have a lengthy conversation.

The story starts with Tim, who confides in his coworker Mattie that he needs a sabbatical from work and home.  She recommends her family’s estate of Brockscombe.  It’s where her sister’ lives with her husband and child and his parents reside.  Tim finds immediate comfort and quickly becomes an extended family member.  As you read along, you discover secrets these characters are holding.

I will say that this is not a plot-heavy or plot-driven novel.  Yes, things happen, secrets are revealed, and we learn more about the characters.  It’s a gentle read, perfect for curling up in bed with a cup of tea over the weekend.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: The Songbird is MARCIA WILLETT’s eighteenth novel to be published in the U.S. Her novels are available in seventeen countries around the world. She lives in Devon, England.

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

Go On, Girl Review & Giveaway

Go On, Girl (Paperback)


New From: $12.99 USD In Stock
buy now

There seems to be a new genre of books being published lately.  Ones with moms being the central focus.  All of the drama and cattiness that you’d see in a kindergarten classroom I’m reading about in fiction among mothers.  But it’s realistic as can be.

Liane Moriarty brought it back in Big Little Lies and Laurie Gelman made it laugh-out-loud funny in Class Mom.  Hilary Grossman’s new novel brings it center stage as the Forest River PTA dishes out more drama than you’d find in a Meryl Streep movie.  For those without children (yes, you’ll enjoy it too), I’m almost afraid to admit that some moms do act this way.

Go On, Girl tells the story of Sydney Clayton who is basically coerced into joining the PTA or else she runs the risk of her daughter losing her friendships.  Welcome to a drama-filled year.  Amidst it all, there are touching moments between friends and relationships built.  I really enjoyed the dialogue between Sydney and her husband, Craig.  It felt so relatable to me since I am also a working mom dealing with the kids  AND everything that goes with that — after-school activities, sports, homework, etc.

This is a perfect book to read while waiting in the carpool line or in between doctors’ appointments.  It was a nice palate cleanser between some heavier reads.

You can now read all of Hilary’s books digitally for $3.99 or less!

My thanks to the author for a review copy.

About the author: By day, Hilary Grossman works in the booze biz. By night she hangs out with her “characters.” She has an unhealthy addiction to denim and high heel shoes. She’s been known to walk into walls and fall up stairs. She only eats spicy foods and is obsessed with her cat, Lucy. She loves to find humor in everyday life. She likens life to a game of dodge ball – she tries to keep many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. She lives on Long Island. To find out more of what Hilary is up to check out her Facebook page  or find her on Twitter.

Thanks to the author, I have one ebook copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Click on the Rafflecopter to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Rush Review & Giveaway

Rush: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $16.26 USD In Stock
buy now

Mix together The Help and Erin Brockovich and you are presented with Lisa Patton’s newest tale, taking place in 2016 at the University of Mississippi during sorority rush.

When I was in college, I personally chose not to pledge.  However, many friends did and reading this book gave some clear (and fun) insight into how the process works.  It was entertaining to see it from the point of view of the pledges, as well as sorority staff and pledges’ parents.

I love how this book is told through the viewpoints of Miss Pearl, longtime African-American housekeeper of the Alpha Delts house; Cali Watkins, a new freshman trying to find her way; and Wilda, Cali’s dorm neighbor and close friend’s mother.  Through their viewpoints, we meet the remaining staff of the sorority house as well as other pledges and their families.  You’ll find a character you love to hate, always a pleasure.

This book will translate so well to screen.  Miss Pearl just came alive off the page.  As I was reading, I felt as if I was watching the movie in my head.  We may as well just call Viola Davis right now, save the casting director a step.

If you want to relive your college days or are just looking for the next great Southern novel, I recommend you stop the search because you’ll find it in Rush.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after finishing.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Lisa Patton, best selling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie, and Southern as a Second Language, is a Memphis, Tennessee native who spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South. She has over 20 years experience working in the music and entertainment business, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. The proud mother of two sons, eight bonus children, and eleven grandchildren, Lisa lives in the rolling hills of Nashville with her husband and their four-legged furry daughter named Rosie.

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

Heaven Adjacent Review & Giveaway

Heaven Adjacent (Paperback)


New From: $6.99 USD In Stock
buy now

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Boardwalk Summer Review & Giveaway

Boardwalk Summer: A Novel (Paperback)


New From: $10.99 USD In Stock
buy now

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Campaign Widows Review

Campaign Widows (Paperback)


New From: $14.04 USD In Stock
buy now

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.

Before I Let You Go Review & Giveaway

Before I Let You Go (Paperback)


New From: $11.59 USD In Stock
buy now

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hot Mess Review

Hot Mess (Paperback)


New From: $10.99 USD In Stock
buy now

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.

The Family Next Door Review & Giveaway

The Family Next Door: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $14.82 USD In Stock
buy now

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway