General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Me for You by Lolly Winston

Me for YouMe for You by Lolly Winston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expected publication March 12th! Pre-0rder from Amazon here!

Book #3 “in the books” for the Booksparks Winter Reading Challenge! #WRC2019

Eek. I’m not having the greatest luck with these Winter Reading Challenge selections. Sorry!

Caution: there may be some spoilers as it’s challenging to share my thoughts on this one without some more detailed discussion of the plot.

Me for You is a charming story of a middle aged man named Rudy who wakes up one morning to find his wife lying beside him dead, having passed away in the night. Of course he freaks out, calls 911, and tries to revive her but there’s nothing that can be done to save her. Fast forward a year later and Rudy is still trying to navigate through his grief and figure out how to move on from losing the love of his life. In walks Sasha, his lovely coworker who he’s had a mild crush on for years (yes, even while he was married) and a romance begins to develop. But, despite his feelings for Sasha, he still struggles emotionally with grief, depression, and survivor’s guilt which lands him a first class ticket to the medical/psych ward at the hospital for some targeted therapy.

I think I enjoyed the first half of this book more than I enjoyed the second half. It showed a lot of promise early on and I liked where I thought the story was headed. And then it kind of pivoted in a completely different direction. There was this detective mystery angle in the beginning when Rudy’s wife’s death was being investigated as a murder and then it was like the author just gave up on that idea and said “scratch that… I changed my mind.” The whole murder subplot disappeared into thin air which I found really odd.

Then there was this back story with Sasha’s previous marriage to an abusive husband and the tragic loss of her daughter. While I understood how Sasha’s struggles helped Rudy to navigate through his grief, I still felt like there were a lot of unanswered questions with this particular plot line.

I guess what I’m saying here is that there were a few too many plot lines and, honestly, not a whole that transpired in the grand scheme of things. Many of the subplots were introduced but never really felt resolved or fully addressed.

My favorite part? That Rudy’s wife was a hospital pharmacist! So fun to read a story about a character who shares my job. But if that was my favorite part, that’s not all that promising.

While I think this book had a ton of potential and I appreciated the author’s attempt to write a book about the painstaking journey through the grieving process (with a powerful message about overcoming tragedy), the execution was really off for me. The author incorporated a few too many ideas that didn’t really come to fruition in my opinion. That being said, I always say that no two people read the same book. So if you have a particular interest in grief management or need an inspiring read about overcoming tragedy, I would encourage you to give it a try.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Lolly Winston, and Gallery Books for the opportunity to review.-

On to Book #4 of the Winter Reading Challenge, The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton!

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General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

If, Then by Kate Hope Day

If, ThenIf, Then by Kate Hope Day

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication: March 12th!

Congrats to Kate Hope Day on a successful first novel. I simply adored the concept as well as the telling of If, Then.

Do you ever think about how your life would have turned out if you made a different decision somewhere along the way? This book challenges the reader to stretch their imagination and consider their own alternate realities while experiencing the journeys of several characters in a sleepy mountain town. Each of the various characters in this book have a story to tell and each of them struggles with inner demons. But, when they begin experiencing some paranormal activity in the form of what they think are hallucinations, they wonder if they’re catching a glimpse into what could have been or if they’re just going crazy.

I really enjoyed this entire book from start to finish. It is relatively short so makes for a quick read. And I felt that the characters were all distinct and relatable. It was easy to envision each person trekking their way through life, overcoming their daily struggles, discovering themselves. And the way each of their stories interconnected was done wonderfully.

I would characterize this more as a “slow burn” as it wasn’t terribly fast moving. But while it was on the slower side in terms of movement, I never found myself bored. Kate Hope Day was able to strike a good balance.

Overall, this was a very solid novel with some interesting philosophical content. I would recommend to anybody who tends to like books that make you think on a deeper level.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Kate Hope Day, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay so I’m having a super hard time rating this book because the writing was actually really, really good. But, the content was just not for me. So let’s just say, I would give the writing itself 4 stars but the content only 3 stars.

So let’s start by talking about the cover. Look at it. It’s sweet isn’t it? A nice quirky font choice. A play on mathematics with the illustration. A cute little couple kissing. Looks like a cute, quaint love story. Like even maybe suitable for young adults, right? WRONG! I felt like I was listening to soft core porn. I would classify this more as erotica than romance which is definitely not my typical choice of genre.

I would call this book a combination of Fifty Shades of Grey (sans the S&M) mixed with Pretty Woman mixed with Crazy Rich Asians. Stella has Asperger’s. She’s a genius but she struggles socially. So what does she do? Obviously she hires a hot escort to teach her how to date and how to have lots of amazing S-E-X. Cue the erotica.

While this isn’t my typical genre, I did really enjoy Helen Hoang’s writing. It was light, airy, and charming with a naughty side. Had it been all light and airy, I would have loved it. The naughty side was outside of my comfort zone. Call me a prude! But, overall it was a nice chick lit book that I think a lot of women would really enjoy. It’s definitely a good summer book to put on your list for poolside reading.

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General Fiction (Adult)

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann StreetThe Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Out February 5th! Pre-order at Amazon here.

4.5 stars. I am so incredibly happy that I requested this book from NetGalley. I have such a long list of ARCs to read that I was contemplating taking one more right now, and I do not regret it. This is a book that will stick with me for a while.

I’ll share this from the publisher because I think it speaks volumes about the book:

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Take a deep dive into the life of Anna Roux, an aspiring dancer diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, as she journeys through treatment for her disorder. If you have ever wanted to understand the mindset of a person with an eating disorder, this book speaks volumes, and is sure to give you insight.

I have never read anything by Yara Zgheib but she has made a new fan. Along with being incredibly touching, raw, and real, it was an extremely easy read. The dialogue was simple and eloquent. I felt Anna’s struggle throughout the entire story from start to finish. I very much enjoyed the juxtaposition of Anna’s personal experience in treatment with the clinical notes of her medical team’s treatment plans. It gave the story two very different, but equally important, perspectives.

This is such a minor point because the book was fabulous, but I would have liked to have had more plot line devoted to Anna’s interactions with her fellow roommates at the treatment facility. At times I felt like I got a surface level look at the relationships (some were more pronounced than others). Based on the prose, they played a large role/had a large influence on her, but sometimes I wish I would have felt that more from the dialogue.

Overall, this is such an important book. Not enough people talk about mental illness and eating disorders. It tends to be a somewhat taboo subject but this is an intimate look into what over 30 million Americans struggle with every day.

-I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Yara Zgheib, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife (A Heart of a Hero, #1)The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out February 5th!  Preorder now on Amazon here!

I got home from work a few days ago and to my surprise, this book was waiting for me in the mailbox, a nice little present from St. Martin’s Press. I love when they send me books from authors I’ve never read. It’s how I’ve discovered some incredible authors I wouldn’t have otherwise had the pleasure of reading.

Anyway, back to the review. Right off the bat, I was drawn to this book simply from the cover. The cover is breathtaking, light, airy, and gives me joy. It’s definitely a book that would draw my eye on a bookstore shelf.

So what’s it about? Harper Lee Wilcox is a widow. Her husband, Noah, died in the service 5 years ago and she is still recovering from the shock and devastation of losing him. Luckily she has the support of several other military wives on whom she can lean. In her interactions with the wives, Harper finds that several of the wives are craving a purpose outside of their wifely duties, prompting a unique business opportunity and a chance to heal Harper’s wounds. Meanwhile, Harper crosses paths with one of Noah’s Navy SEAL brothers, Bennett Caldwell. And their lives become intertwined in an unexpected way.

Complex, devastating, uplifting, real, and beautifully written, Laura Trentham’s latest book is a testament to the challenging lives our military members live and the sacrifices their spouses make along the way. There are so many important topics explored throughout this novel. PTSD. Grief. Loss. Love. Guilt. Redemption. Forgiveness. Second chances. This book has it all. But amazingly, it was not overwhelming. The story lines fit together beautifully and despite being jam packed with content, the story did not get convoluted at all.

I honestly could not put this book down. Laura Trentham is a new author for me. Although she has written a series of romance novels, this is her first in the women’s fiction genre. And in my eyes, this is a fantastic debut in a challenging and competitive genre. I must say I was pretty excited when I saw this denoted as “A Heart of Hero #1″… bring on the next in the series!

The writing really reminded me of one of my other faves, Kristy Woodson Harvey. If you’ve read and enjoyed the Peachtree Bluff series (Slightly South of Simple or The Secret to Southern Charm), you would love this book. It comes highly recommended.

-I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Laura Trentham for the opportunity to review.-

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