Audiobook Review, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club, Romance

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The ProposalThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve seen Jasmine Guillory’s book covers all over social media. From The Proposal to The Wedding Date and The Wedding Party, the playful cover art has been grabbing my attention. The Proposal was a Reese Witherspoon pick from a few months back that finally dropped onto my shelf from the library after a while of waiting.

Nik and her boyfriend go to a Dodgers baseball game where he (after 5 months of dating) proceeds to propose to her on the scoreboard in front of thousands of fans. She is mortified and embarrassingly declines his proposal. FYI – this is not a spoiler…. all of this happens in the first chapter of the book. After her BF stomps away, Carlos and his sister (strangers and fellow Dodger watchers) feel awful for Nik as everybody stares in her direction and decide to save her. Cue the “meet cute” because the rest of the story is essentially a love story between Nik and Carlos after their unconventional meeting.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book is that it was a love story that involved persons of color, which I have found is somewhat rare (at least in the books that I have read lately). So I liked that Jasmine Guillory incorporated characters of multiple races and also tied in cultural elements from their backgrounds as well. It was a nice change of pace and added some flavor.

The story overall is pretty simple. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. There is some climactic tension and a satisfying ending. So it’s not anything mind blowing in terms of the content itself. But it’s a light, easy, and fast read, which would be good for somebody who’s just coming off of a dark or heavy book and needs some reprieve.

Cute. Fun. Flirty. Romantic. All in all, a perfect feel-good romance for the summer.

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Mystery, Thriller

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House GuestThe Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out June 18th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Megan Miranda is so masterful at delivering thrilling and suspenseful novels time and time again.

After reading All the Missing Girls last year, I found that I really enjoyed her writing style and the way she develops her characters and stories. And when I saw this cover, something about it really drew me in.

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Littleport, Maine is your typical Hamptons-esque vacation town. Avery and Sadie are besties, despite Avery being a local and Sadie being an elite summer visitor (not your typical friendship). But when Sadie’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff after an apparent suicide, Avery’s world is turned upside down. Fast forward a year later and strange things start happening that lead Avery to believe that Sadie’s death may not have been a suicide after all. And when evidence starts pointing at her as a suspect, she’s in a race to discover the truth before she’s charged with murder.

I really liked the idea of this book. I was totally invested in the characters, particularly Avery who had a pretty terrible and tragic past. There were lots of mysterious elements to the story along the way that kept me guessing right up to the end. And while I thought the ending was good, I did feel like it was a little bit far fetched and unbelievable. But despite it’s far fetched nature, I still did enjoy it very much and remain a Megan Miranda fan.

If you’re looking for a good summer thriller about a mysterious vacation town, this is the book for you. It’s definitely worth giving it a read.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Megan Miranda, and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The CactusThe Cactus by Sarah Haywood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

June 2019’s Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!

I always love a good Reese pick, so I was excited to get my hands on The Cactus so quickly from the library this month.

It’s tough to say what this book is about. It is so reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine that I was mildly distracted by the similarities. There is a woman who is a little uptight and quirky who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. Having never thought she would have children, she begins this adventure of discovery in her own quirky way. And she may find love along the way as well.

I think I enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant as a character a bit more than the main character from this book. And I didn’t enjoy the subject matter quite as much here either. Overall, it was just okay for me. It was a perfectly fine book but didn’t wow me.

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of these quirky characters that seem to be on trend right now so I’m probably not the best audience for this book. If you absolutely loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or even , you would probably enjoy this one.

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General Fiction (Adult)

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

The Favorite DaughterThe Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so excited to win The Favorite Daughter in a Goodreads giveaway. I have been swamped with ARCs that I’ve requested lately, which always trump my reading schedule so I wasn’t able to get to this one before June 4th when it published. But better late than never!

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Lena is getting married to Walter. She wants a small wedding, but her family insists that she must have a huge celebration. So she allows her sister Hallie to plan the wedding for her. On the morning of the wedding Hallie is nowhere to be found, until Lena finds her behind Door #1 making out with… Walter (i.e. the-groom-to-be). Lena is obviously devastated and runs away to New York City to mend her broken heart and escape the utter humiliation. Fast forward 10 years later and Lena must return home to take care of her father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Which means she must face Hallie (who is now married to Walter) and a past she wishes she could forget.

This book is entirely about memories. Lena’s father is devastated at the thought of losing his memories. Meanwhile, Lena wishes she could forget. There is a nice juxtaposition here that I enjoyed. Patti Callahan Henry’s writing transported me to the Carolinas and I felt like I was in the small family town, sitting at the Irish pub, interacting with the locals. I could envision it all.

The story wasn’t anything crazy. It is the simple story of a complicated family. But it was written so beautifully that I couldn’t put it down. I empathized with the main character. I could feel her anger and her struggle with letting go. I could feel her turn herself off to the world and retreat into her protective shell.

I enjoyed the surprises we learned along the way, the author slowly revealing the Donohue family secrets. And I enjoyed the overall message this book is trying to send to its readers about love, loss, and forgiveness. This is a really solid family drama that I would highly recommend.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Goodreads, Patti Callahan Henry, and Berkley Publishing for the opportunity to review.

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Audiobook Review, Memoir/Biography, Nonfiction, Reese Witherspoon's Book Club

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding HomeFrom Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

From Scratch came recommended by Reese’s Book Club. I always read her recommendations and usually resonate with them, but this one wasn’t my favorite. This book is advertised as “A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home” but I would add “Loss and Death” to that list. Given the lovely photo on the cover, I was expecting something uplifting and romantic. But, this book was far more depressing than I was anticipating.

Tembi Locke tells the story of her and her husband (who died from cancer), their journey to overcome racial and cultural barriers, their struggle with illness and death, and her quest to move on.

I will say that Tembi Locke can write beautifully. I felt like I was in Sicily and her descriptions made me feel like I was in her world. The writing was wonderfully executed. Where I struggled was in the structure of the book (or lack thereof). There wasn’t really a defined beginning, middle, or end to the story. It skipped all over the place from past to present with random stories peppered in between. And the lack of a defined literary path made it difficult for me to connect with the story or the characters.

I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Tembi’s descriptions of her husband’s struggle with cancer and his ultimate death were heartbreaking and I felt for her. But after his death, the story kind of dragged on and felt a bit repetitive in places.

I know a ton of people have really loved this book. And I will admit that while I do read memoirs, they’re never the genre that I gravitate to naturally. So if you’re a fan of memoir, you may absolutely love this one. If you pick it up, I would highly recommend listening on audio as Tembi’s narration is superb.

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