General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Romance

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1) by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane #1)Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First book review of 2019! And it’s a good one!!

How could I NOT love a Kristin Hannah book? Honestly.

After reading The Nightingale, The Great Alone, Home Front, and Night Road (so much goodness), I figured Firefly Lane was the next logical choice. And my girl Kristin Hannah did not disappoint yet again.

Firefly Lane was something entirely different from the heaviness of the aforementioned titles. It (for the most part) was a coming of age story about friendship above all else. Beginning in the 1970’s and spanning into present day, Kristin Hannah tells the tale of fourteen-year-old quiet, reserved Kate who meets her new neighbor… life-of-the-party, “it girl” Tully. In time, Kate and Tully become best friends, seeing each other through important life events, supporting each other through obstacles, and sometimes fighting as friends often do. As time goes on, Kate and Tully’s lives split along two separate paths but they always seem to come back to each other. I hate to give more of the plot away because that’s the brilliance of the story so I’ll leave it at that.

To be honest, when I started reading this book I thought to myself, “This is not a typical Kristin Hannah. I don’t have this deep, emotional feeling that I’ve come to love from her writing.” But, boy was I wrong. Wait for it. Wait for it. BAM! It just hits you in the face like a runaway train. And I thought to myself, “There it is!” The magic. The thing that keeps me coming back for more. And of course, the tears. All the tears.

This review would not be complete without mentioning the nostalgic elements that Hannah so perfectly placed throughout the prose. There were tiny glimpses into 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop culture that weren’t too in your face, but caught me reminiscing about my own childhood in the 90’s and stories my mother told me about her childhood in the 70’s. I loved those little touches.

This is the first in a series of two books, the second titled Fly Away. Trust me, it is in line to be read very soon so I can continue experiencing this magnificent story.

If you haven’t read Kristin Hannah before, this is a great first choice. Or any of the books I’ve already mentioned. Or all of them. I won’t judge.

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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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General Fiction (Adult), Romance

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

The Husband HourThe Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I won this book in a giveaway many months ago and I absolutely try my hardest when I have time between ARCs (advanced reader copies) to read and review my giveaway books. The publishers and authors don’t just give them away for them to sit on your bookshelf unread. The hope is that you will read it, review it, and spread the word. So here I am (albeit a little late considering this was published in April 2018) but better late than never!

This was my first time reading Jamie Brenner. It won’t be my last.

Even though it is December, this is the perfect summer read. I was transported to the beaches of the Jersey Shore and loved living in that world for a bit.

The Husband Hour is the story of Lauren, the widow of an NHL star and American military hero, who moves to her family’s summer home to get out of the spotlight of being the “famous widow.” She needs to be alone to think, to recover, to grieve. But years later when twenty-something-year-old Lauren is still living the life of a hermit, her mother decides she will come to the beach house to spend the summer with her (along with her father and her estranged sister). Meanwhile, Matt Brio, a documentary filmmaker is looking to tell the story of Rory Kincaid and has been trying to track down his widow for years. When he finally finds her holed up at the Jersey Shore he descends upon the town on a mission for a story.

This book is truly a book about family dynamics, relationships, heartbreak, regret, guilt, redemption, grief, and forgiveness. It was really interesting and I enjoyed how Jamie Brenner weaved all the elements of the family together.

There were a few times throughout the book where I felt like it could have been 50 pages shorter. It didn’t feel that long, but there were several chapters where I knew where the book was headed and I was willing it to get there. The big “shocker” of the book in particular could be seen coming for about 50 pages before it was really divulged, which may have taken away a bit of its shock value. That being said, the twist was incredibly well thought out and was definitely the most integral and intriguing element of the story, so even though it took a little while to fully unfold, it was worth the wait.

I would definitely read Jamie Brenner’s work again. It reminded me of one of my favorites, Kristy Woodson Harvey, who writes the Peachtree Bluff series (Slightly South of Simple and The Secret to Southern Charm). So if you’re fans of Harvey’s work, The Husband Hour would be a good choice for you.

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