General Fiction (Adult)

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The IdenticalsThe Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first experience with Elin Hilderbrand happened just recently when I read The Perfect Couple and absolutely loved it! So when the library had The Identicals available, I had to download it.

The Identicals is about (you guessed it) identical twins, Tabitha and Harper. Years ago their parents divorced and they each went to live with one parent in Parent Trap fashion. Tabitha lives on Nantucket with her fashion designer mother Eleanor, while Harper lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her father Billy. They haven’t spoken in years. Until Billy passes away and their lives come crashing back together.

The Identicals is a tale about second chances, guilt, redemption, family dynamics, and the love of sisters. While I really enjoyed this book, I feel like it might end up being somewhat forgettable in the mix of all the other books I’ve read this year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a stand out for me. I love Elin Hilderbrand’s writing and her ability to transport you to the shores of Nantucket, and this would make wonderful summer reading.

And let’s talk about that cover! Elin’s covers are always stunning and make you want to whip out your bathing suit and sip a margarita poolside.

This is the perfect lighthearted beach read. Put it on your summer reading list!

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General Fiction (Adult), Thriller

The Man She Married by Cathy Lamb

The Man She MarriedThe Man She Married by Cathy Lamb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excuse me but… holy crap!

The first couple chapters of this book hooked me straight off the bat. Dare I say the first few chapters of this book were some of the most exciting first chapters I have ever read? It’s definitely up for debate!

I had no idea what was happening in the most amazing way for the first 30 – 40% of this book. Cathy Lamb came out swinging from the start and continued to keep me engaged all the way through.

The Man She Married begins with Natalie realizing that her husband Zach is not who she thought he was. His name is really Devon and he is a murderer (P.S. this is NOT a spoiler because you learn this information in the first 5 minutes). He warns Natalie that they need to run because somebody is after them. Natalie runs all right…. right away from Zach/Devon. And BAM! Somebody slams into her car, sending her into a “locked-in” type coma. Much of the first part of the book is told from Natalie’s perspective while she’s in her coma which was borderline genius. And kind of hilarious at times. Cathy Lamb was able to take a subject which is so serious and inject little bits of humor which were gold.

I won’t say anymore about the plot because that’s half the fun of this book…. discovering what happens next. But I will say there are lots of surprises along the way.

I really enjoyed this book overall. The writing itself was five stars. It was super entertaining and held my attention from start to finish. There were some elements of the plot that I didn’t find particularly relevant (most of the story surrounding Natalie’s best friends to be honest) which could have probably been removed entirely without affecting the outcome of the story. While I enjoyed the characters, I felt like the book realistically could have been shorter and more concise if some of the extraneous plot line was edited out.

That’s me being extremely picky though. It was a fantastic thriller/fiction and totally worth the read. If you’re looking for a gripping, heart-pounding, humor-infused, well-written fiction novel, this is the book for you.

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Audiobook Review, Holiday, Romance

One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in DecemberOne Day in December by Josie Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for December, y’all! I love my girl Reese and try to read all of her book club picks because I’ve never met a pick I didn’t like. And One Day in December is no exception.

This book in several words… cute, charming, Hallmark-esque, perhaps a tad cheesy, and heartwarming.

So what’s this book about? Girl on bus sees boy on street and it is love at first sight. Bus drives away and girl spends the next year of her life pining over stranger we shall refer to as “bus boy.” I know… I know… super unrealistic but bear with me. Girl gets introduced to best friend’s new boyfriend. And you guessed it! Bus boy. Girl and boy spend years in angsty (dare I say slightly depressing) turmoil waiting for their lives to align so they can finally be together.

Funny that the author, Josie Silver, should mentioned the movie The Holiday at the beginning of this book because it was similar in nature. The main character reminded me of Kate Winslet and her slightly sad, depressing life until Prince Charming (Jack Black) walks in. And it continues to be a little sad and depressing until she finally gets her fairy tale ending.

I will say this book wasn’t super mind blowing in its content. It’s a simple holiday romance novel that I could see being made into a made-for-Netflix movie one day. But it was a super quick read and perfect reading for the holidays.

Reese strikes again! Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a nice wintery, holiday romance.

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Romance, Southern Fiction

The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2)The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect summer read! But if you read it in the winter like I did, you will give yourself reprieve from the cold weather and envision yourself lying on a beach somewhere (which is fun too!).

When I read Slightly South of Simple (Peachtree Bluff #1), I actually didn’t know it was the first in a series of three. Kristy Woodson Harvey hadn’t published the subsequent two books yet and I thought it was a stand alone. I will admit that I typically don’t read series because by TBR list is so long that I generally can’t dedicate the time to multiple books in a series. However, I just happened to come into these series mid-publication so there was no pressure to read all three at one time. So, for me, they kind of felt like stand alones.

Anyway, The Secret to Southern Charm (Peachtree Bluff #2) was a flawless follow up for the Murphy family. A story centered around three sisters and their mother, the first book was told from the perspective of Caroline, the oldest. This book was told from the perspective of Sloane, the middle child. And the final installment, The Southern Side of Paradise, (expected in May 2019) will be told from the perspective of Emerson, the youngest. The only constant story is that of the girls’ mother, Ansley, who is featured across all three books.

Kristy Woodson Harvey has this way of creating such a real dialogue for extremely difficult and tragic content, while keeping the story light, airy, and hopeful. Much of the content could be depressing if left in the hands of another author, but Harvey creates an atmosphere of positivity, a story of triumph in the face of hardship. A story of the importance of family and sticking together through difficult times.

There is something so simple about these books yet so complicated. I just can’t get enough of the Murphy family and their relationships with each other. It’s almost like you want to be their friend. And the quaint little town of Peachtree Bluff is the perfect setting for a southern fiction with its small town shops, sandy beaches, and everybody-knows-their-neighbor feeling, it is like stepping into a Hallmark movie of happiness and sunshine.

And let’s talk about these covers! They are gorgeous and just make you want to read them.

 

Bravo to Kristy Woodson Harvey yet again. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Southern Side of Paradise to see what she comes up with next!

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Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I’ve heard about everywhere but never got around to reading…. until now. With the upcoming release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s next book, Daily Jones and the Six (which I can’t wait to review), I figured I would read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo first.

Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood icon. Now in old age, she is a symbol of “Old Hollywood.” Over the years she has starred in countless movies, has been tagged the party girl, and has been married seven times. An easy target, the press has loved to write about her life over the years. But now Evelyn Hugo contacts young Monique, a pretty junior reporter at a magazine, and invites her to do a “tell all” of her life. The catch. It won’t be published until her death. But she will spill every detail that the public doesn’t know about her life.

I am hesitant to give away any more than that because a huge part of the story involves a couple plot twists that I absolutely didn’t see coming. Suffice it to say, Evelyn Hugo has a secret or two, and she’s ready to tell the world who she really is.

I loved the old Hollywood vibe of this book. I felt like I was transported back to the elegant 1950s and walked this journey with Evelyn. I will say I was very invested in the story of Evelyn’s past. When the story flipped back to the present, I wasn’t as excited (until the end of course… then the present story line all comes together). There were times when I felt like the story dragged a bit or became slow in the middle, and I had to push through to garner a little excitement. But Reid always delivered. Just when there was a lull in the action, something exciting happened to draw me back in.

The ending was completely unexpected with a true plot twist. Not that I’m the resident expert in plot twists, but nowadays you can see most of them coming. The twist in this book was expertly executed and I think it would be difficult for anybody to really unearth it before its reveal.

The audiobook was done very well, flipping between the voices of Evelyn (present), Evelyn (past) and Monique. The narrator definitely held my attention.

For those of you looking for something unexpected, this book is for you. It breaks boundaries and tells a bold story. If I could tell you more without ruining the surprise I would, but you will just have to read it for yourself to see!

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