General Fiction (Adult)

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

The Last ResortThe Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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

At a couple’s therapy retreat in sunny, beautiful Mexico run by a celebrity power couple a man is missing following a deadly hurricane. Rewind to a week earlier when the couples descend on the resort and journey through the drama. Because things aren’t really what they seem and the couples are in for an experience beyond what they signed up for.

I wish I could say I loved this book. Unfortunately, it was just okay for me. As a whole package, I enjoyed the content and how the story eventually came together. There were a lot of important, relevant, and timely issues presented throughout the prose which I found wonderful. But, I had some issues in the details.

First, I struggled with authenticity and believability. Some of the decisions the main characters made just didn’t feel realistic. I found myself wanting to smack a few of them in the face and tell them to use their brains. It made me frustrated more than anything.

The other thing that bothered me was that the transitions were awkward at times. This may have been due to the fact that I read an ARC and the formatting wasn’t yet complete. But one story line would end and the next story line would begin without a gap in paragraphs or a change in chapter. So there were times I was reading and found myself confused until I realized I was in another character’s story. There were also some parts told in transcript as well as use of TMZ articles to illustrate elements of the story, and while I thought these were useful and instrumental pieces of the book, they needed to be physically differentiated from the rest of the prose (i.e. on another page) rather than running into the rest of the story. Again, perhaps in the finished, published version of the book these issues will all be addressed, but in the ARC they were extremely distracting.

I did enjoy the ending and felt like Marissa Stapley did a good job of bringing everything together and tying up loose ends. I was a bit confused about the relevance of Grace’s brother, Garrett, in the story and felt like the book could have done without his presence. But otherwise, I understood the points Stapley was trying to make with the other story lines.

At the end of the day, this one was just okay for me. But I feel like I tend to always struggle a bit with domestic dramas. So if you’re a fan of the genre, I would definitely give it a try and see if you like it for yourself.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Marissa Stapley, and Graydon House Books for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult)

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

The Last RomanticsThe Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw the cover for this book all over the place last year and have wanted to read it for quite some time. After many weeks of patiently waiting at the library, I finally got my hands on it.

The Last Romantics is a story about a family. Plain and simple. It tells about the life of a widowed mother raising her four young children. The trials and tribulations they face while growing up and further into adulthood. How they overcome their demons. How they lean on each other to survive in a life that is sometimes complicated but also beautiful.

I must say that I loved the first half of the book. It sucked me in immediately and I was completely entranced by the family. Tara Conklin developed unique and relatable characters that were realistic and drew me in. However, somewhere around the halfway mark I have to admit I found myself getting bored. There wasn’t really much excitement in the story. Not that a story always needs to keep me on the edge of my seat, but it does have to continue to hook me and keep me invested. Toward the end I was kind of just waiting for it to be over. And while it was a sweet and endearing story, for me, it lacked that “stand out” quality.

Did I dislike this one? No, not really. It was perfectly fine. It just didn’t really shine in my opinion. But tons of people have really loved the story, so I would encourage you to read and form your own opinions!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

MontaukMontauk by Nicola Harrison

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Out June 4th! Pre-order from Amazon here!

The thing that drew me to this book was its cover! Admittedly, I am one of those judge-a-book-by-its-cover people. But the bright blue accents against the muted gray background caught my eye immediately.

Montauk is set in 1938. Beatrice and Harry are a married couple living in New York City. Harry is working his way up the business ladder and Beatrice is expected to be the trophy wife on his arm, keeping up appearances at social events. But behind closed doors, their marriage is anything but perfect. When all of the social elite descend on the tiny town of Montauk for the summer, the men will travel back to the city during the week to work while the women plan and engage in social events, waiting for the men to return every weekend. But Beatrice quickly learns that she finds herself more comfortable in the company of the Montauk locals than in her fancy social circles.

I adored this story. Nicola Harrison wrote a story that was extremely captivating. I fell in love with Beatrice right away and was rooting for her from start to finish. I felt like the story was completely authentic and the characters could have leaped off the pages.

At around 400 pages, this book was on the longer side. And let me tell you…. I’m not usually a fan of long books. But that’s because I feel like sometimes they are just long for the sake of being long even if the book would have been just as good if it were 100 pages shorter. Montauk is the exception. All 400 pages contributed to the overall story and added value. I adored how the story unfolded.

I was a tad surprised by the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting and seemed a little rushed for how long the rest of the story was, but I appreciated that Nicola Harrison gave the reader an ending that wasn’t predictable.

I would highly recommend this one to anybody who enjoys historical fiction or is a fan of women’s fiction. It’s kind of a mixture of the two. I’m honestly a little sad it is over.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Nicola Harrison, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult)

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

The Scent KeeperThe Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out May 21st! Pre-order from Amazon here!

Where are all my Crawdad lovers? Chances are if you were a fan of the smash hit Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, you are going to love The Scent Keeper by Eric Bauermeister!

It’s funny because as I was reading the book, I started making the connection, and I was curious if anybody else felt the same. Until I went onto Goodreads and saw so many reviews from readers who drew the same conclusion. The main character, Emmeline, had so many similarities to Kya from Where the Crawdads Sing and I loved it! I would also mention that there were pieces of the story that reminded me of Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. As Hannah is my favorite author, I’d say that’s quite the compliment.

The Scent Keeper starts with Emmeline and her father, living on a remote island, living off the land, foraging for food (except for the times her father tells her mermaids have dropped off supplies), and surrounded by hundreds of glass bottles. Within the glass bottles? Scent papers that hold precious smells that invoke memories of Emmeline’s past. What follows is Emmeline’s journey from the island, the only place she has ever called home, into the modern world.

This is one of those books where I can’t give a synopsis that is very complete because it will ruin the fun. Just trust me that the story is magnificent.

My favorite part of the book was Emmeline’s warped view of the world and her subsequent enlightenment. The way Erica Bauermeister wove this tale and the way Emmeline’s character evolved as the pages advanced was nothing short of extraordinary.

If I had one complaint it would be that the ending felt somewhat abrupt. It was almost as if it was missing a last chapter or could have benefited from an epilogue, although I can appreciate that the author may have wanted to end on a thought-provoking note. That being said, although the ending was sudden, it didn’t take away from the magnificence of the preceding 300+ pages so I would still give it 5 stars overall.

Prepare to be transported to another time and place. Prepare to have the scents Bauermeister describes jump off the pages and ignite memories of your own past. Prepare to fall in love with The Scent Keeper.

Highly recommended for those who enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing and The Great Alone.

Be sure to stop by on Saturday, May 18th for my Author Q&A with author Erica Bauermeister where she’ll answer some questions for you about her experience writing the book.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Erica Bauermeister, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!

Eleanor Oliphant lives a mundane life. Her activities are scheduled. Her food choices are consistent and predictable. She is perfectly put together and proper. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Until she’s not….

That’s it. That’s all the description I can provide without giving away key pieces of the story.

Let me start off by saying that the first half of this book was incredibly boring. It seemed to be done on purpose to illustrate the unremarkable and routine nature of Eleanor Oliphant’s life. And while I appreciate that strategy conceptually, I’ve got to be honest. I probably would not have finishing this book if it hadn’t been a pick from Reese Witherspoon. I likely would have closed the front cover and walked away.

Now before you throw stones at me…. I did finish the book and the second half was extraordinarily better than the first half. The back end of the narrative is where we see everything unravel, getting into the meat of the story, providing some clarity into Eleanor Oliphant’s actions, and seeing her come to terms with events in her life that have led her to where she is today.

Without giving too much away, there is a large focus placed on mental health in this book. And I think that overall it was successful in painting a picture of how crippling and life altering some mental health disorders can be without proper treatment.

From an audiobook perspective, I thought the narrator was spot on in giving Eleanor Oliphant a voice that portrayed her prim and proper nature and I could envision her personality perfectly. I would recommend giving this one a listen, although I’m sure it would be just as good in print.

At the end of the day, I’m glad that I powered through. There were moments when I didn’t think that I would be able to make it, but the conclusion is worth trudging through the slow beginning.

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