General Fiction (Adult), Holiday, Romance

Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

Christmas at the ChaletChristmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Out today!

The first thing that drew me to this book was that gorgeous cover! I mean, look at it. Who wouldn’t want to be snuggled up in a little mountain chalet drinking hot chocolate in front of a warm fire while reading this book? Yes, please!

The second thing that drew me: Christmas! Yes, I know it’s not even Halloween yet and I’m all about the spooky reads right now but I’m preparing myself for the holidays, okay?

Anita Hughes gives us three stories in one with this book. A charming wedding dress designer whose long-term relationship is crumbling, a up-and-coming fashion model trying to get her divorced parents to cooperate for the sake of her wedding, and a glimpse into the past at those parents and their journey from love to disaster.

So… this book was essentially a Hallmark or made-for-Netflix holiday movie in book form. It was cute and enjoyable. It made me happy to read and I would totally love to curl up with it on a cold winter day. That being said, it was not the most well written and was kind of basic. Most of the character interactions were pretty cheesy and weren’t really believable. I don’t know if I can get on board with a character falling in love in a matter of days or with two divorced parents who hate each other magically reconciling overnight. Again, Hallmark. If you can see past all that though, it’s a great “feel good” story and at 288 pages it’s a breeze.

The other thing I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of Christmas spirit. While I totally got the Swiss Alp/ski lodge feel this book was going for, I didn’t really feel like it screamed “Christmas.” Yes, it took place over the Christmas holiday but otherwise was more of a “winter” read than a “Christmas” read.

All of that being said, if you’re just looking for a light hearted, quick read for winter, this is your book.

-I was gifted an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Anita Hughes, and St. Martin’s Press (faves!) for the opportunity to review.-

View all my reviews

Thriller

The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra

The Spite GameThe Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out October 30th!

Looking for your next guilty pleasure? Here it is.

I won The Spite Game in a Goodreads giveaway and was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. I would liken it to a cross between the movie Mean Girls and the TV show Revenge with a dark and sinister edge.

Ava is relentlessly bullied in high school and she wants to teach all the students who bullied her a lesson. But, she won’t address the problem head on. Her sneaky, stalker-ish approach will make your spine tingle.

Ava is a character you love to hate and hate to love. I can’t say that she handles her problems in the most mature fashion, and the girl definitely needs therapy. But, I enjoyed following her story.

The Spite Game wasn’t the most amazing book I’ve ever read, but it is an easy, enjoyable, and quick read if you’re looking for something that doesn’t take a ton of thought. I enjoyed it.

Anna Snoekstra will keep you guessing up until literally the very last page. I found myself less than 10 pages from the end of the book still not knowing how it would end. So sit back and hang on for the ride. It’s a wild one.

View all my reviews

Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you have not read Beartown, go do it. If you have read Beartown, you need to read Us Against You!

Fredrik Backman has such a unique writing style and beautifully presents difficult, real life topics with ease and grace. Beartown was a story about rape. It’s impact on the victim. But, furthermore, the fallout on a grander scale as people choose sides in a “he said, she said” atmosphere.

Us Against You in the continuation of that discussion, but explores the community’s response. Who will stand with Beartown and who will run to the neighboring communities in search of new beginnings? Old friends become enemies. Families divide. Life is forever changed.

Having developed relationships with the characters in the first book, the second book allows the reader to get more in depth. The characters’ emotional connections are deeper and more profound.

It is hard to compare, but I do think Beartown is still my favorite of the two books. It had some very philosophical and enlightening commentary and quotes that are unrivaled with Us Against You. Backman still captures the same essence, and while it was close, it just wasn’t as impactful for me the second time around.

I do wonder if there will be a Beartown #3 and hope to see one in the future. I’ve come to love this small, rural, hockey town and it’s band of misfits. I would love to see what Backman can come up with next for them.

My review of Beartown can be found here.

View all my reviews

Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for your next great WWII historical fiction, here it is. This book was recommended to me by a friend based on how much I loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and it did not disappoint.

I honestly don’t want to give away what this book is about because it will completely ruin the ending, but suffice it to say that there is a piece of WWII history that I’m guaranteeing most people have never heard which is represented by this book. Told through the perspectives of four fictional characters, this book is based on true events.

I loved the ultra-short chapters because it made for an extremely quick listen. And from an audiobook perspective, having each of the four characters portrayed by a different narrator made the experience feel more authentic and real.

I don’t pretend to be a WWII history buff, and this book definitely had elements which I found somewhat confusing just because I didn’t have the appropriate background knowledge. There was a lot of discussion of various countries and their ties to the war (Lithuania, Poland, Prussia, Yugoslavia, etc.) and prior to this book I didn’t have a good knowledge of how the people of those countries were affected. But, the author did a good job of explaining enough that I could follow. (Also, there is an Author’s Note at the end that helps clear some things up so just stick around for that).

Overall, the characters were done very well. I felt a connection with each of them and understood the motivation behind their actions. I found myself rooting for (most of) them along the way.

If you’re looking for a good historical fiction that is on the shorter side and isn’t too bogged down with historical detail, this is a superb read. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Nonfiction

I’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends by Kelsey Miller

I'll Be There for You: The One about FriendsI’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends by Kelsey Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out October 23rd!

I think it’s only fair to disclose before this review that I’m a complete and utter Friends freak! My cat’s name is Chandler, my Roomba-knock-off vaccum’s name is Gunther, I rescued a cat and named her Phoebe, I have the Friends picture frame that I hung over my apartment’s peephole, and I have watched all of the seasons too many times to count. I make references on the regular and expect that everybody around me is going to *get* them (they usually don’t…). You get the point.

Okay, back to the review. How could I give any book about Friends anything less than 5 stars? Honestly. But low and behold, this books stands on its own merits! I can truly give it 5 stars because it’s just a great book.

Kelsey Miller did a great job portraying the history of the series, the producers’ journey to get there, how the show was cast, the challenges they went through to keep it on the air, and the overwhelming influence it had on pop culture. It tries to explain why Friends was and still is such an overwhelming presence in American households and why people continue to gravitate towards the characters and their stories.

The unique thing about this book is that it references current events that were taking place while the show was airing (i.e. September 11th and its impact on the show). It also at times toes the line into political territory so be prepared to be open minded about political viewpoints that May differ from your own. For the newer generation that were young while it was airing live, it is interesting to get fresh perspective on the happenings in the 90’s.

The quality of the writing is great for a nonfiction book. It reads very smoothly and has a conversational feel which makes for a quick read.

Funny sidenote… I kept watching the completion percentage at the bottom of my Kindle as I read and was surprised at how long the book was while I was reading it. I kept thinking, “Holy cow is this book long!” But, when I got to about 70% in the ebook, it ended. The last 30% is footnotes and references. So it may seem long but it is an illusion! I actually devoured it in two days.

Speaking of footnotes, Kelsey Miller added little morsels of information throughout that didn’t necessary fit in the body of the book but we’re interesting tidbits. And at times she added bits of humor that were appreciated.

Highly recommended for all my Friends freaks out there (you know who you are). But also is relevant for those who even have a marginal relationship with Friends.

Could this book BE any better?

d9a5fba635c167b08ed51f3edddefbb0

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Kelsey Miller, and HARLEQUIN for the opportunity to review.-

View all my reviews