Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Confessions

Normally, I would consider only reading/listening to four books this month as a big epic failure on my part, but considering what is going on in this world, I am going to applaud myself. I have been having a really hard time concentrating when I am reading.  I am still reading everyday, but not nearly as much as I normally do.  All of this news has really got me down, so my mind wanders. Anyone else experiencing this too? I am gravitating towards more TV shows (sadly) to help me escape the horrible news cycle and while being stuck at home.

What about you guys? Are you reading more now that you are home or are you having problems focusing? Let me know in the comments. I hope all of you are staying safe and and healthy.  

Books Read in March:
1.  In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (Adult Fiction) - 4 out of 5 stars
2.  Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman (Adult Fiction/Audio Book) - 4 out of 5 stars
3.  You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (Adult Fiction) - 4 out of 5 stars
4.  And They Called it Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton (Adult Historical Fiction) - 4.5 out of 5 stars

Children's Literature/Chapter Books:
1.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (a re-read with my oldest son)

1. Favorite Book:  I adored And They Called it Camelot, because I love all things Jackie Kennedy Onassis as well as the Kennedy family. I thought it was well-researched and a great glimpse into the life of Jackie, who is an utterly fascinating person.

2.  Biggest Surprise:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a surprise to me in a way, because I hadn't read it in many, many years, but re-reading it with my son was magical and experiencing it all over again with him has been special.   

3.  Biggest Disappointment: There were no disappointments this month, but I will say You Are Not Alone wasn't as good as their other novel, The Wife Between Us.  Did you read it? Let me know what you think?

4.  Favorite Post:  Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR List

5.  Favorite Part of March:  Even though we have been quarantined, it was still fun to celebrate my birthday with my favorite boys.  Plus, the weather was gorgeous and we had a lot of time outside and I got some gardening in.  It's the little things, right? One thing is for sure, it will be a birthday I always remember.  

What's your favorite book that you read this month? Let me know in the comments below. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Pages: 343
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's 
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Authors: The Wife Between Us
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "You probably know someone like Shay Miller.  She wants to find love, but it eludes her.  She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.  She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.  You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.  They have an unbreakable circle of friends.  They live the most glamorous life.  They always get what they desire.  Shay thinks she wants their life.  But what they really want is hers. 

Shay Miller witnesses a suicide on the subway platform and this impacts her life greatly.  It stays with her; it haunts her daily to the point where she can no longer ride the subway.  She finds out the address of the dead woman and even visits her house, but only to leave flowers.  Then she takes it a step further and decides to attend the woman's funeral and while there, she befriends the dead woman's friends. That's where things start to get confusing.  Shay meets the Moore sisters, who are the opposite of her in every way.  Where Shay is not sure of herself and jumps from job to job, the Moores are confident, successful, and know all the right people.  Shay instantly gravitates to them and in turn, the Moore sisters take Shay under their wing. Do they feel pity for her or is there something more sinister at play here?  Readers will also be guessing if Shay is a bit of a stalker to look into the dead girl's life, or if perhaps the Moore sisters were seeking her out all along.  You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a thrilling suspense that will keep readers guessing.

At first, you really feel for Shay in You Are Not Alone.  She isn't very successful and isn't quite sure of herself. She can't shake the suicide that she witnessed at the subway, but can we really blame her?  When she immerses herself in the dead girl's world, we still make excuses for her, because maybe she just needs closure?  Once the Moore sisters take an interest in her things start to get a little tricky for Shay. The makeover they give her and the job they hook her up with makes readers, as well as Shay, start to question just exactly who is the good guy is.  

The Moore sisters are fascinating in You Are Not Alone.  They are beautiful, have all the right clothes, the perfect hair, the perfect expensive purse, and have an army of well connected women at the palm of their hand.  Slowly, readers figure out what they are all about. I love that they are female-centered and try to get revenge on guys who, quite frankly, deserve it, but as things unfold, readers start to question their true intentions, especially when it comes to Shay.  Shay starts to question this as well, because she isn't a fool, but by the time she does, she realizes she is already caught up in their web.

Just as in Hendricks and Pekkanen's other novels, You Are Not Alone will have readers guessing and flipping the pages way into the night.  While I thought this was a very entertaining novel, I didn't enjoy it as much as The Wife Between Us, mostly because I didn't connect with the characters very much.  Reading You Are Not Alone was like watching a very complex chess match and seeing who would come out on top, but not being overly invested in either side.  If you love psychological suspense that's female centered, give You Are Not Alone a try this spring. One thing is for sure, it's definitely an escape from reality.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stacking the Shelves (121)

Can't Wait Wednesday: Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore
Giveaway: Crave by Tracy Wolff
Audio Book: Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman 

I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on You are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkannen.  It wasn't as good as their other books that they collaborated together on, but still pretty entertaining.  I'll also be getting ready to take a blog break for the Easter holidays. In the midst of the chaos, it's crazy to think that Easter is almost here. 


The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill - Thanks to Mira and NetGalley
Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz - Thanks to DC Ink


The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth  - Thanks to Kristin @ Always with a Book
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer - Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd - Thanks to Viking and NetGalley
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull- Thanks to Mira and NetGalley

Rebel Spy by Veronica Rossi - Thanks to Delacorte and NetGalley

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

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Audio Book Review: Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Audio Books
Pub. Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Mira Books
Other Books By Author: The Lieutenant's Nurse
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When her husband mysteriously disappears and rumors swirl about his loyalties, a mother must rely on the remarkable power of friendship in war-torn Hawaii.  It’s 1944, combat in the Pacific is intensifying, and Violet Iverson and her daughter, Ella, are piecing their lives back together one year after her husband vanished. As suspicions about his loyalties surface, Violet suspects Ella knows something. But Ella refuses to talk. Something—or someone—has scared her.  Violet enjoys the camaraderie of her friends as they open a pie stand for the soldiers training on the island for a secret mission. But even these women face their own wartime challenges as prejudice against the island Japanese pits neighbor against neighbor. And then there’s the matter of Sergeant Stone, a brash marine who comes to Violet’s aid when the women are accused of spying. She struggles with her feelings of guilt but can’t deny the burning attraction—or her fear of losing another man when Stone ships out for Iwo Jima.  Set amid the tropical beauty of Hawaii, Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers offers a fresh perspective on World War II as it presents timeless depictions of female friendship, the bond between a mother and her child, and the enduring power of love even in the darkest times."

Violet Iverson and her daughter, Ella, live on the beautiful island of Hawaii. The year is 1944, so her life isn't one long tropical vacation. Her husband disappeared mysteriously a year ago and rumors are still circulating about why he left and where his loyalties lie.  The setting is war torn Hawaii, so things are getting very serious.  With her husband gone, Violet relies on her female friendships more than ever and they decide to open a pie stand for some income as well as the happiness of the soldiers on Hawaii.  Despite the women's best efforts, suspicion now falls on them, not to mention the prejudice that is running rampant towards the Japanese on Hawaii.  Violet meets Sergeant Stone, who has come to her aid more than once, and despite her best efforts, she starts to have romantic feelings for him.  Once he is sent on a secret mission to Iwo Jima, she is starting to panic even more, because what if he doesn't return and she is left alone again?  The audio book of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman is a vivid escape to wartime Hawaii and the novel depicts the powerful relationships between females during this time period.

Violet is a character that I immediately was interested in.  She is now a single mom since her husband mysteriously disappeared and at this point, she doesn't expect him to return.  There are some suspicions around his disappearance, but she doesn't have any leads whatsoever.  Violet and Jean, her best friend, open a pie stand for the soldiers on Hawaii to help support themselves.   When she meets Sergeant Stone, her life changes forever.  I really loved the ups and downs of their relationship and I could feel for Violet when she realizes that he has to ship out for a mission to Iwo Jima.  There's so much uncertainty, but Violet knows she can count on her girlfriends and the love for her daughter in Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers.  Together they can conquer whatever comes their way.  

Then there's Ella, Violet's daughter. Every other chapter is narrated by her and I enjoyed the varying point of view in Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers.  Readers have an inkling that Ella knows something about her father's disappearance, but doesn't want to divulge the information.  Slowly readers put together the pieces of the puzzle.  Also, I appreciate how this novel highlights how the war impacted Hawaii through a child's eyes, especially when it comes to the suspicion around the Japanese on the island and their treatment.

Ackerman does a wonderful job depicting Hawaii in Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. I can count on her to take me to such a lavishly beautiful island despite the fact that the war is upon its shores.  Her descriptions are so vivid and authentic; I felt like I was there. Also, Carly Robins and Devon Hales, did a satisfactory job narrating the audio book of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Both of their narrations truly brought Violet and Ella to life. 

If you love WWII fiction, especially novels that take place in the Pacific theater, give Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers a try.  I know I am definitely going to pick up Ackerman's next novel Red Sky Over Hawaii, which is due out this June.

Are you a fan of WWII fiction and historical fiction audio books? Have you read any of Ackerman's novels? Let me know in the comments below.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday: Two Truths and a Lie

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

Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore
Pub. Date: May 26, 2020

Goodreads says, "From the author of The Islanders comes a warm, witty and suspenseful novel filled with small-town secrets, summer romance, big time lies and spiked seltzer, in the vein of Liane Moriarty.  Truth: Sherri Griffin and her daughter, Katie, have recently moved to the idyllic beach town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Rebecca Coleman, widely acknowledged former leader of the Newburyport Mom Squad (having taken a step back since her husband’s shocking and tragic death eighteen months ago), has made a surprising effort to include these newcomers in typically closed-group activities. Rebecca’s teenage daughter Alexa has even been spotted babysitting Katie.  Truth: Alexa has time on her hands because of a recent falling-out with her longtime best friends for reasons no one knows—but everyone suspects have to do with Alexa’s highly popular and increasingly successful YouTube channel. Katie Griffin, who at age 11 probably doesn’t need a babysitter anymore, can’t be left alone because she has terrifying nightmares that don’t seem to jibe with the vague story Sherri has floated about the “bad divorce” she left behind in Ohio. Rebecca Coleman has been spending a lot of time with Sherri, it’s true, but she’s also been spending time with someone else she doesn’t want the Mom Squad to know about just yet.  Lie: Rebecca Coleman doesn’t have a new man in her life, and definitely not someone connected to the Mom Squad. Alexa is not seeing anyone new herself and is planning on shutting down her YouTube channel in advance of attending college in the fall. Sherri Griffin’s real name is Sherri Griffin, and a bad divorce is all she’s running from.  A blend of propulsive thriller and gorgeous summer read, Two Truths and a Lie reminds us that happiness isn’t always a day at the beach, some secrets aren’t meant to be shared, and the most precious things are the people we love."
I really enjoyed The Islanders, so I am excited to check this one out. It sounds like the perfect beach read. What do you guys think?

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