Wednesday, February 20, 2019

9th Blogoversary and Giveaway


9 years! I can't quite believe it, but here we are. I remember like it was yesterday when I first started this blog as a professional development opportunity.  I am so thankful I have stuck with it through the many changes in my life as well as the many changes in the book blogging world.

I'm also so thankful for this community of book lovers and the many publishers, PR firms, and other bookish professionals that I have had the opportunity to work with through the years.  I am most appreciate of you guys though!  I appreciate every email, note, recommendation, and comment. Truly I do! Thank you for sticking with me all these years.

To celebrate, I am giving away TWO books and there will be two winners. One giveaway will be for ARCs and the other for a book of the winner's choice.  (The lists are below.) This giveaway is for US readers only due to shipping costs. Please remember to refer to my giveaway rules before entering.  Thank you again for the BEST nine years. I love talking books with you guys and I hope that never changes.



ARCs:

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle
Freedom Trials by Meredith Tate
Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan
Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler
Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons
Afterimage by Naomi Hughes
Home and Away by Candice Montgomery
It Should Have Been You by Lynn Slaughter
Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
No Place Like Here by Christina June
Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne



Finished Copies From My Stash:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
One Small Sacrifice by Hilary Davidson
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
The Similiars by Rebecca Hanover
Vendetta by Iris Johansen
Tradition by Brendan Kiely
The Final Six by Alexandria Monir
Bright Ruin by Vic James
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter
Double Blind by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon
The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis





a Rafflecopter giveaway   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and thank you for 9 great years!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book Review: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 28, 2019
Publisher: Park Row Books
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "1946, Manhattan.  Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.  Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.  Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances."

Grace lives in New York City and the year is 1946. She is starting over as her husband, a soldier, has died in an accident.  While at Grand Central Station, she encounters a peculiar suitcase and she feels compelled to investigate further. Upon searching the suitcase, she finds interesting photos of different young women.  For some reason, she takes the photos as she is really drawn to them, but leaves the suitcase.  She comes to find that the suitcase's owner, Eleanor, has recently been killed in an accident.  The story then jumps to Eleanor during the war who works with the Britain to send female agents to France to essentially help the resistance by transiting radio intelligence.  One of their most recent "finds" is Marie, who speaks fluent French, which makes her the perfect agent.  Marie leaves her daughter behind with family and attends training, which turns out to be extremely rigorous.  Upon graduation from training, she is sent to France to get started with her top secret work.  Meanwhile back in 1946, Grace discovers more about Eleanor and what exactly happened to Marie and the other women that worked as secret agents during a very dangerous time.  The Lost Girls of Paris is a compelling historical fiction highlighting the often overlooked, but nonetheless important role that many women played in the resistance.

I was immediately drawn to the character of Grace in The Lost Girls of Paris. I felt badly for her as she is now widowed and starting over after the war.  I couldn't quite understand why she felt so drawn to the suitcase and the pictures as Jenoff really doesn't flesh that part of the story out it other than blame it on Grace's sheer curiosity, but I, along with Grace, wanted some answers as well.  The more that Grace finds out about Eleanor and Marie, the more interesting it gets although I felt the different narratives to be a bit confusing at times.

Marie's chapters in The Lost Girls of Paris were probably the most compelling parts of the novel as that's where most of the action lies.  Marie is training as an agent, which is entertaining in itself and then she's dropped, quite literally, into France to work on a mission without much explanation.  How could I not be flipping the pages?

I love wartime fiction and Jenoff does a great job capturing the time period in The Lost Girls of Paris.  I loved that she highlighted females in this novel and the often overlooked roles they had in the war, especially the female operatives in the resistance.

This novel is perfect for fans of The Alice Network and The Nightingale; however, it didn't pack quite as strong as an emotional punch for me like the other novels did.  The Lost Girls of Paris  ended up being a fun adventure that I am glad I went on, but it didn't stand out to me as one of the best historical novels of the year.  Nonetheless, if you are a wartime fiction fan, check it out this winter; you will surely be entertained.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (90)


Book Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
Can't Wait Wednesday: Just My Luck
Audio Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 



This coming week I'll be celebrating my 9th Blogoversary (WHHHATTTT?!?!) and I'll be hosting a fun giveaway for that, so keep your eyes peeled. Also, I'll be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff. It was an engaging historical fiction, but it lacked that something extra special to make it truly stand out for me. I'll also be hosting a giveaway for The Girls in the Picture, so keep your eye out for that giveaway as well! 




 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren - Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery 
The Royal Secret by Lucinda Riley - Thanks to NetGalley and Atria



  

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase - Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine
The Fever King by Victoria Lee - Thanks to Skyscape






Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.







Thursday, February 14, 2019

Book Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Pages: 365
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Pub. Date: January 22, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Pushing the Limits 
and Dare You To
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 


Goodreads says, "Jesse Lachlin is cursed.   So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.  Scarlett Copeland is psychic.  Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.  Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…"


Jesse Lachlin grew up believing that his family is cursed. His mother told him that he would be ok as long as he never leaves the Lachlin land and she made him promise to always stay.  Jessie grew up spending his days with Scarlett, a young girl whose property abuts his land, and although they are drastically different, he has always remained best friends with her. That is until high school and their big falling out.  Things have changed since they were spending their days in the woods and playing among the trees. Scarlett has become an "ice queen" and part of the affluent group of high school students whereas Jessie is the polar opposite and struggles to get by.  They haven't spoken in years and their paths definitely don't cross.  Then Jesse's grandmother dies and leaves the family land to him but there's one catch.  He must win over the approval and trust of various people including Scarlett whom he hasn't spoken to in years. Scarlett's life isn't what you would expect though.  Her father is a complete control freak and keeps a tight leash on her.  She wants to go away to college, but he won't let; plus, he is not a nice guy and is downright abusive.  Things aren't aways as they seem and Jesse realizes this as he starts to reconnect with her.  Katie McGarry's gritty YA novel, Only a Breath Apart, is a quick read that truly captures the beauty in opposites attract and also it's a story about forgiveness.

Scarlett, at first glance, seems to have it all in Only a Breath Apart. A gorgeous house, perfect parents, and an adorable little sister, but as you dig deeper you see that she is truly held prisoner in her own life. Her dad is extremely overbearing and his mother allows various forms of abuse in the house.  Her mother makes excuses for her father, which I find it be infuriating.  It's not just the physical abuse that he inflicts on Scarlett's mother, but there's also emotional abuse to the rest of the family members. His tight leash on Scarlett, his guilt trips, and his overbearing nature made me feel like I was suffocating as I read her parts of the novel. I can't imagine living with someone like that day in and day out.  The depictions of this kind of abuse truly broke my heart and I think it's a good reminder of how we truly don't know what people are hiding.  They may appear to have it all from the outside, but that isn't always the case deep down.

Jesse is another character I immediately liked in Only a Breath Apart His back story will also break your heart, but I loved his strong relationship with his grandmother and his ability to stay focused on his goals.  His small group of friends and his cousin, despite their reputations, always have his back and that was nice to see.

I loved Jesse and Scarlett's relationship, which was obviously rooted in friendship since they have been friends since they were children. I loved to watch it blossom despite their being in two separate groups in school and I also adored how they helped each other overcome various obstacles in their lives.

Be forewarned though. Only a Breath Apart is a gritty YA read that isn't for the faint of heart or the younger YA readers. As I mentioned, there's various forms of abuse, so you must be ready for it. In fact, the scenes with Scarlett and her father gave me some anxiety, but if you can get past that, there's much more to this story than a Southern romance.  I liked how it focused on forgiveness (both towards others and yourself) as well as doing what is best for oneself.

If you like your YA novels on the darker side, definitely check out Katie McGarry's. Have you read any of her novels? Let me know which one is your favorite.



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: Just My Luck

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Just My Luck by Jennifer Honeybourn
Pub. Date: July 16, 2019



Goodreads says, "Marty has terrible luck and she knows exactly why. While working as a housekeeper at the ritzy Grand Palms hotel in Maui, Marty made it a habit to steal small items from the guests. What better way to stick it to the rich snobs they have to clean up after? Marty knows how to turn her luck around -- she just has to return all of the items she stole.  When Marty meets Will, a new guest who is staying for the summer, she does the one thing she always promised herself she'd never do -- fall for an out-of-towner. But Will's special, different from the other guests at the hotel. Maybe Marty's luck is finally turning around.  After a string of misunderstandings and accidents threaten Will and Marty's relationship, Marty has to find a way to fix her luck for good -- or say goodbye to Will forever."

You had me at Maui! It sounds like a great beach read. What do you guys think?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Audio Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Pages: 327
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 19, 2017
Publisher: Paula Dorman Books
Source: Personal Copy/Audio Book
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says,"No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.   Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.   But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.  Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .   The only way to survive is to open your heart."

Eleanor Oliphant keeps to herself at work and doesn't have any friends.   Then she heads home to her solitary night filled with pizza, alcohol and phone calls with her mother. She keeps to herself in all facets of her life and that's ok for her.  Her life changes though when Raymond from the IT department tries to befriend her and they help save an elderly man together.  Slowly Eleanor opens up.  She even has a crush on a local musician, but we know that isn't going to go far.  But she's branching out and slowly readers find out why Eleanor acts the way she does and more about her upsetting childhood.  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a quirky sort of novel that had me laughing out loud one minute and cringing the next at Eleanor's social awkwardness.  It's an emotional story with a lot of heart.

At first, Eleanor and I did not vibe at all in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. She was interesting in a quirky sort of way, but she was just painful to listen to as she is so very socially awkward and way too honest to a fault.  Her observations were usually spot on, but I would think to myself, "oh my god, did she just say that?"  Her relationship with her mother was just horrific and I cringed during their daily phone calls. What a horrible woman her mother is! I slowly I started to understand why Eleanor may have built up these walls around herself like a fortress.

I thought the audio book's narrator, Cathleen McCarron, did a great job bringing strange Eleanor to life and really captured her quirky side as well as the dry humor.  Her British accent was soothing and McCarron's tone really worked for this type of novel. I also appreciated the different voices she used for various characters.

Why I didn't rate Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine a bit higher is because despite the fact that it was well-written, I was taken back by how dark the undertones of the story are.  I didn't expect it to be so thoroughly depressing and while I was rooting for Eleanor to overcome some of the horrible things in her life, I couldn't help but find this book to be a bit too sad even considering the ending. So, be prepared! You have to be in the mood for this type of story.  

If you are looking for an unconventional heroine that you can't help but love, check out Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.  While I expected a little bit more from such a hyped novel, I did enjoy her journey and I'm glad I read it before it is Reese Witherspoon's company makes it into a movie. Did you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 




Thursday, February 7, 2019

Book Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Pages: 375
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Library
Other Books By Authors: The Wife Between Us
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.  Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?  But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.  Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?  As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.  Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?  From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone."

Jessica has left her suburban town to try and make it in New York City.  She is a makeup artist and she is struggling to get by.  When she is applying makeup for a young client, she overhears her talk about an appointment she has with a psychologist and in turn she will get paid $500 to take her survey.  Jessica feels that's a lot of money for one simple questionnaire and not only would that extra money help pay her rent, it would also help pay for her sister's appointments as she is special needs.  So, Jessica goes to the psychology appointment posing as one of her clients and in turn realizes that this study is, ironically, all about morals.  The questions are about lying, guilt, cheating and they challenge Jessica to examine her past as well as her lifestyle.  But it's worth it, right? Chapters are also from the doctor's perspective, as she is the one running the study. Dr. Shields quickly picks up on the fact that Jessica has lied to be there and in turn is greatly intrigued.  As the story continues, we realize that Dr. Shields has some serious plans in store for Jessica and ultimately, Jessica is wondering if this is truly worth all the extra money. Is she in too deep now?  Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's An Anonymous Girl isn't the psychological thriller I was hoping for, but it was a fun ride.

Jessica is one of those characters that you aren't quite sure about in An Anonymous Girl.  She is lying to attend the study right off the bat, so that's not a smart move, but readers can empathize as to why she is going. Money for her family is a big motive and slowly we realize more of her past, which in turn helps us to understand why Jessica not only wants to try and make it in the big city, but also wants to help financially support her sister.  Jessica is one of those characters where you are thinking, "NOPE. Don't do it" and they inevitably make the worse decision possible.  Consequently, Jessica finds herself in a bit of a jam in An Anonymous Girl.  Then there's Dr. Shields.

I don't want to give too much away regarding Dr. Shields, but she is quite a character. She kept me guessing and kept me on my toes. She is complex and someone I didn't trust right off the bat. As readers peel back her layers, more and more shocking information is revealed.

But here's the thing. I didn't find Jessica or Dr. Shields to be believable in the very least. An Anonymous Girl requires so much suspension of my disbelief in order to just enjoy the crazy ride, so for me, this was a major downfall.  I also didn't care about Jessica or Dr. Shields either. I was entertained by them, but they were too tragically flawed for me to truly care about them.  So, in all, I didn't find An Anonymous Girl to be as compelling as The Wife Between Us.

An Anonymous Girl is one of the most talked about books of 2019, but I have to say I just thought it was ok.  Not great, not awful...but yes, somewhat entertaining.  To be honest, I expected so much more from these two powerhouse writers.

Did you read An Anonymous Girl? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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