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25 Sense Book Cover 25 Sense
Lisa Henthorn
Fiction
Sparkpress
May 24, 2016
Paperback
181
Publisher via BookSparks

Claire Malone didn't mean for this to happen when she moved to New York. She just wanted to live the city life and gain experience in television writing, her dream career. It's not like she meant to reciprocate when her married boss, Sean Vared, sent her flirty e-mails. And you can't blame her for coming into the office on the weekend when Sean told her he was going to be there . . . alone. She didn't mean to sleep with him but hey, she wanted to experience the city life, so no big deal, right? Wrong. By the time Claire wakes up on her 25th birthday, she's very much in love with Sean. At work, she struggles to hold it together when he passes her desk the very desk that they used to make love on. Soon Sean has turned his affection to the show's starring actress, and Claire is devastated. Can she break away from Sean without ruining her barely started career? Will someone find out what happened? Will she ever grow up and stop making stupid mistakes? 25 Sense is about the time in a young woman's life when the world starts to view her as a responsible adult but all she feels is lost.

My review:

This would have been a much better read for me if I was younger. I've found myself reading several books lately that, while well written and interesting, just don't work for me. I'm a whole generation removed from a book about a 25 year old trying to make her way in the world. Unfortunately, this one also involves an infatuation with a married man.....another one of my pet peeves. Even though the plot didn't work for me, this was actually very well done. The part I did love was the way the chapters were headed and the bits of twitter jargon at the beginning of each. So very clever! I liked that the story focused on not giving up on making something of your life even when things seem to be getting in the way. The main character was well drawn, and the writing flowed very well. This was a quick read at under 200 pages, and I thought the ending was satisfying.

A good read for those in the age range that can relate a bit better than I did to the main character. Nicely written, clever chapter breaks, but just not my kind of plot.

This book is one of the BookSparks summer reading challenge picks. Click the link to follow along all summer with the book choices for each month. Also follow #SRC2016 and #BestSummerEver on social media for more reviews.

BookSparksJune2016

 

 

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Saving Abby Book Cover Saving Abby
Steena Holmes
Fiction
Lake Union Publishing
May 31, 2016
Paperback
274
Publisher via BookSparks

All children's book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own. Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they've been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby's life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child's? USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Steena Holmes brings us an unforgettable story of one woman's courage and love.

My review:

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. The reason why I didn't love it precludes me from giving it the most fair review, but I'm going to give it a shot and hopefully my readers can make up their own minds. The main character in this book wants a child. Not just a child, but her OWN child, and herein lies the rub. I am an adoptive mom. When it was discovered that I would not be able to have children, my husband and I turned to adoption, without hesitation. A child is a child! Claire goes into a major depression because she can't have a child, even though her husband suggests adoption (and seems, like us, to be perfectly comfortable with it). If you don't like the main character in this story, it kind of loses its appeal. I did understand the huge burden of how to deal with the pregnancy once her illness is diagnosed (and I'm not saying I would not have handled things in the exact same way), but by this point she just annoyed me and I never got on board. What I did like about it was the fact that they wrote and illustrated children's books. This was a fun career to think about. Despite my misgivings about Claire, I loved her husband Josh, and the end of the book definitely tugs on the heartstrings.

I'm sure that this book will have a lot of appeal to those who may not be quite so close to the subject (and quite so judgemental!), so please read some other reviews before you take my word for it.

This book is one of the June picks for the BookSparks summer reading challenge. Follow the link to join in the fun this summer!

BookSparksJune2016

 

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Before the Fall Book Cover Before the Fall
Noah Hawley
Fiction
Grand Central Publishing
May 31, 2016
Hardcover
400
Publisher

On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

My review:

Great premise and plot for a book! I was hooked from the beginning as we follow the story from just before take-off to the crash and subsequent rescue of the only remaining survivors. It was well written, it was suspenseful, it had me turning pages to find out what would happen. I was completely absorbed in the story, but then about halfway through, it lost my interest. It wasn't so terrible that I didn't want to finish, but I was a bit let down when the intensity fell away. I think I would have liked more interaction between the two survivors instead of the parts where we learn about their lives separately. I also did not enjoy the flashbacks to the victims on the plane. There was not enough information for me to really care about them, and I think enough about the cause of the crash could still have been gleaned from the recovered plane. I would have preferred to have more story about them, or none at all. The ending was satisfying enough although perhaps wrapped up a bit quickly.

All in all this is worth the read. The first half is wonderful, the ending is satisfying, the middle is a bit weak, but not enough to not recommend it.

This book is one of the She Reads books of summer. Visit this link to find out more about their picks. Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book to review. As always, my opinions are my own.

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One True Loves Book Cover One True Loves
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Washington Square Press
June 7, 2016
Paperback
352
Publisher via BookSparks

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My review:

Probably one of the best  opening lines ever:

“I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.”

If that doesn't make you want to keep reading, right? This book was great. This author has yet to let me down with her books, which always have a great plot, emotional situations, and some really great quotes! This was definitely a novel that made you think what would you do if facing the same type of situation? Really well written (did I mention the quotes?), great flow, and characters. I'm not sure that Emma didn't start to annoy me toward the end with her waffling, but it ended very satisfactorily for me, so I'm going to forgive that small flaw. I loved that this really brings home the point that where you are in your twenties (emotionally and goal-wise) is not necessarily where you will be a few years later. People change, and does love always change with them? Great thought provoking questions abound in this gem!

Perhaps a bit schmaltzy for some, for me this is a wonderful read about what constitutes true love, and is it possible to have more than one in your lifetime?

This is part of the BookSparks June picks for their summer reading challenge (SRC2016). Click the link for more info, and to follow along this summer.

BookSparksJune2016

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The One That Got Away Book Cover The One That Got Away
Leigh Himes (narrator Kristin Kalbi)
Fiction
Hachette Books
May 31, 2016
Audiobook
12 hours 31 minutes (384 pages)
Publisher via Hachette audio

In this irresistible debut novel, a freak accident allows a wife and mother to explore the alluring alternative of the Road Not Taken. Abbey Lahey is a married, harried working mother of two, struggling to make ends meet in a blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia. When a tumble down a Nordstrom escalator lands her in an alternate reality, Abbey finds herself happily married to the one who got away--a dashing Philly blueblood she met briefly years earlier--and living a Cinderella life of privilege and luxury. It's everything Abbey ever dreamed of. Or is it? At first dazzled by the clothes, the penthouse, the nannies, and the glittering social functions, Abbey begins noticing troubling flaws in her new fourteen-karat life . . . and wonders what happened to the people she left behind. Torn between two vastly different realities, Abbey takes increasingly dramatic steps to reclaim herself---whoever that may be.

My review:

A cute read about what might have been. This was a solid story, marred for me mostly by the fact that I've read its premise before. I have read In Another Life and The Bookseller within the past year (click links for my review), so that definitely had an effect on my enjoyment of this novel. Having said that, I don't want to discourage others from reading this as it's entertaining (albeit not a new theme). The characters were well formed. I actually thought the main character was a bit shallow, but some of the supporting characters were spot on. It was a great glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, who don't always appear as they seem. Mostly it was a well done commentary on how our lives, while they might not seem great in that moment, are exactly where we should be. Lots of pop culture references in this book, particularly when it comes to fashion.

I listened to the audio of this book, and thought the narrator did a good job with all the voices. My only complaint was that I can't change the speed on itunes, and felt that it was slow compared to the speed at which I could have read it. A problem with the media outlet, not necessarily the narrator.

A fun look at what might have been, my only real issue was that I wish it had a different spin that wasn't already explored. Thanks to Hachette audio for the audiobook. My opinions, as always, are my own.

 

 

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Appetite Book Cover Appetite
Sheila Grinell
Fiction
She Writes Press
May 17, 2016
Paperback
326
Publisher via BookSparks

When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this beggar Jenn has brought home who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life. In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work, one that Maggie could help him meet, if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?

My review:

Good book with an interesting premise. What to do if you are not sure about your child's impending marriage, specifically if you think their intended does not "fit the bill"? Well written, if a bit plodding at times, this was essentially about the fallout of a family when one event (in this case an impending marriage) tips the balance. The characters were all believable, and well drawn. I could relate to their issues, although I wasn't particularly enamored with any of them. At first the title confused me, since this doesn't have much to do with food or eating, but then I realized that it's more of a play on words for what each character needs.......essentially their appetites in life. It was very interesting to watch the progression of each character as the book wore on. How far should we go when we disagree, and when is it time to step back and let the chips fall where they may? One of my small issues with the book was that there was some infidelity, which I'm honestly not a fan of except under certain circumstances (that I felt weren't really warranted in this particular book).

Interesting idea, with a good message about our appetites in life. Overall a good first attempt by the author. I'll be interested to see what she comes up with next.

This book is part of the May summer reading challenge by BookSparks. Click on the link to learn how you can participate.

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The House of Bradbury Book Cover The House of Bradbury
Nicole Meier
Fiction
Sparkpress
May 10, 2016
Paperback
280
Publisher via BookSparks

Mia Gladwell's life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiance Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she's living in her sister's carriage house unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author's home will inspire her to create her best work yet. Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who's keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia's life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury's house was a big mistake but maybe not.

My review:

After a couple of books that weren't really all that I had expected them to be, this one was a pleasant surprise. It had some interesting elements to it, the  one being that the main character purchases a home once belonging to famous author Ray Bradbury. Kind of cool right? Add to that fun premise the addition of a whole cast of characters that I got caught up in, and this was a really good read. The writing was good, not literary award winning good, but entertaining story good. It flowed well, and there were not any spots that I found to drag. The protagonist has her share of problems, but most of them are believable (the sketch thing was a bit weird, but it was interesting to see where it went). This was a fast read, but one that hit the spot in an otherwise dismal week reading wise.

A lovely story with a great premise and an eclectic cast of characters. Great for a weekend read, with a nice flow and not too taxing on the brain.

Thanks to BookSparks for the copy of this book. This is one of their May reads for the Summer Reading Challenge. To find out more, or to read along, visit their page here. As always, my opinion is my own.

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Will You Won't You Want Me? Book Cover Will You Won't You Want Me?
Nora Zelevansky
Fiction
Macmillan
April 19, 2016
Paperback
320
Publisher via BookSparks

When Marjorie "Madgesty" Plum's life falls apart, she learns it's time to quit being a queen and time to start living. Marjorie Plum isn't your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.When her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.Ultimately, though, she is the one who must decide: who is the real Marjorie Plum?

My review:

Hopefully you didn't just look at my star rating and move on, because this book does have a lot to offer, for the right reader. Unfortunately that reader just wasn't me. I have a funny relationship with books about twenty-somethings still trying to find themselves. More often than not I'm not a big fan (hated The Interestings), but once in a while I find a gem (The Ramblers). This book fell somewhere in between, but not for any other reason than I just couldn't relate to the main character, and really didn't like her. The writing was good, the plot was engaging enough (it's a common theme, but it was well executed), and the book flowed fairly well (perhaps just a bit sluggish in spots).  The one huge bright spot within the book was the character of "Belly", who was wonderfully drawn. The ending was satisfying and not too rushed or forced. In other words, this is a fine book if you like stories about millenials trying to find their place in the world.

Face it, I was just too darn old to enjoy this book....sigh. If you liked either of the aforementioned books, or enjoy stories about a character trying to make his/her way, then I think this would be an enjoyable read for you to pick up. There are many, many great reviews on Goodreads about this one, so don't take my word for it, do some research before you decide.

Thanks to BookSparks for a copy of this book to review. As always, my opinions are my own.

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Don't You Cry Book Cover Don't You Cry
Mary Kubica
Psychological Thriller
MIRA
May 17, 2016
E-book
320
NetGalley and Publisher via BookSparks

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

My review:

This is the third book by Mary Kubica, and she is one of my go-to authors. I have read and been riveted by her other two novels (The Good Girl and Pretty Baby), and this one is no exception. The pacing, wording, and story telling of all of these novels is just superb! This one is two separate stories told concurrently, and you spend the whole book knowing they are going to connect, and trying to figure out how! As always, Ms. Kubica is a master at the big climactic reveal, and they are always flat out fantastic! Even though the ending is the wow factor, the two stories were wonderfully told, and the characters so well done, that I almost didn't want to reach the end, and not keep these characters going for a while longer. My only tiny negative was that I felt the ending was maybe a bit too rushed. There were a couple of minor things that were never resolved that are still bothering me days after finishing the book (I'm so worried about what happens to Alex's father!).

Once again, Mary Kubica does not disappoint. If you liked her other books, you will be a fan of this one as well. If you have not read her others, please do. The Good Girl is one of my top 5 books of all time (most jaw dropping ending EVER!).

This book has been picked as one of the BookSparks summer reading challenge books for the month of May. You can follow along with the challenge by visiting their facebook page.

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A Girl Like You Book Cover A Girl Like You
Michelle Cox
Fiction
She Writes Press
April 19, 2016
Paperback and Ebook
290
Publisher via BookSparks

Henrietta Von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago's northwest side. It s 1935, but things still aren't looking up since the big crash and her father's subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall and just when she's beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead. When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him and is plunged into Chicago s grittier underworld. Meanwhile, she's still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector's investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.

My review:

An enjoyable read overall, but not without some things I could have done without. First, the cover is lovely. I loved the old-timey sepia tinted picture. I loved the mystery aspect of the story. It was fun to try and figure it out given the various clues along the way. I thought the author captured the feel of the times, and was interested in learning about the show halls that were plentiful during that era. The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed their relationships, except the one between Henrietta and Inspector Howard. Which brings me to what I didn't particularly like about this book. I'm not big on insta-love, or when an author forces a romance upon the reader. I wasn't crazy about the relationship between the two main characters, and felt like I was just rolling my eyes and wanting to get back to the mystery during their romance phases.

A good book with a interesting plot, and a great time period to get engrossed in. If you like romance along with your mysteries, you will enjoy this more than if you do not.

It'sRainingBooks

Thanks to BookSparks It's Raining Books spring promotion for the chance to read and review this title. As always, my opinions are my own.