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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Audiobook Review, Thriller

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

The Kind Worth KillingThe Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four words for this book: So. Incredibly. Messed. Up.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Peter Swanson reminds me so much of Karin Slaughter. Or Karin Slaughter reminds me so much of Peter Swanson? There’s a little bit of a chicken or the egg situation going on here, but either way, their writing styles are so similar and I love them both.

I just recently finished Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson and it was fantastic, but I think The King Worth Killing is better. It’s kind of hard to describe this book because it’s very convoluted and a complete mind f*ck. In a nutshell, man meets woman on plane. Man jokes with woman that he could kill his wife. Woman nudges man to go through with it. A bunch of really crazy stuff happens. We don’t know who to trust. Sheer chaos…

The best thing about this book was the unexpected. There were so many times when I thought the book was headed in one direction only to be rerouted 180 degrees at the drop of a dime. Peter Swanson did such a fantastic job keeping the reader on their toes while not creating too much confusion that it was hard to follow. All of the characters are just purely awful people doing awful things to each other. I don’t think you’ll find a likable character in this book, so if you’re looking for a good-natured protagonist, this is the wrong book for you.

I listened to this book on audiobook. One more reason it reminded me of Karin Slaughter is likely the fact that they share a narrator. Kathleen Early is a superb audiobook narrator who performed Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls as well as The Good Daughter. She also narrates a portion of The Kind Worth Killing and she does such a great job keeping a sinister edge and suspenseful tone throughout the book.

Overall, great read for a thriller. It is pretty graphic and disturbing so not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach.

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Bookish Happenings

Adventures at Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee)

So we are doing something a little different on the blog this month.  I have typically just used this as a space to share book reviews (which is still the case), but I’d like to branch out to other bookish topics as well.  And there’s no finer way to start than documenting my recent trip to Parnassus Books in Nashville!

Co-owned by Ann Patchett, author of books Commonwealth, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and many others, Parnassus is a book lover’s dream.  Walking in, the first thing you notice is the earthy and soothing smell of books.  And then you look around!  Floor to ceiling shelves covered in colorful paperbacks and hardcovers, festooned with decorative notes and tidbits, Parnassus is a sight to be seen.  I adored the way the books were displayed sporadically in both parallel and perpendicular orientations on the shelves, giving the store a less clinical and more homey feel.

The selection of books was superb, with so many outstanding authors represented.  From fiction to biography to children’s to young adult to romance, this store had it all.  I even came across a shelf displaying the month’s picks from local book clubs in the area and a display of books written by local authors, which added some small town charm in a big city bookstore.

Oh and did I mention, I made a new friend!  Since I’ve started this book reviewing journey I’ve engaged in several different social media groups teeming with fellow book lovers.  Imagine my surprise when in one of the smaller groups I’m a part of, I came across a gal who said she lived in Nashville and was hoping to check out some of the local bookstores.  Cue Kristine, fellow book lover and brave-random-stranger-meeting soul.

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I’m always amazed to think of all the people out there I’ve met that still enjoy reading.  It’s not dying people!  It’s thriving!  You just have to know where to look.  Put down the video games and join us in the stacks.

Speaking of stacks… I obviously had to buy something while I was visiting.  So I picked up a signed copy of Parnassus co-owner and author Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage which was Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick in November 2017.

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Since I’ve recently joined the Hello Sunshine train (the name of Reese’s book club for those who aren’t familiar), this seemed like the obvious choice.  Now just to find the time to read it in between the other 50 or so books I have on my list.  So I better get to reading!

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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Mystery, Thriller

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect (Kate Waters, #3)The Suspect by Fiona Barton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let me start off by saying, I love Fiona Barton. Both The Widow and The Child were such amazing books that really solidified my love for Barton as an author. So when I saw that The Suspect, book #3 in the Kate Waters series, was coming out, I had to read it.

I have grown to love “The Reporter” Kate Waters and her sidekick, “The Detective” Bob Sparks. I think they make such a winning pair. So when two young girls go missing during a trip to Thailand and are later found dead, Kate and Bob are on the case (because the Thai police sure aren’t…). And imagine Kate’s surprise when her son, Jake, is investigated in connection with the murders. What happened to the girls? Who killed them, and why?

I was pleased to see that the characters of Kate Waters and Bob Sparks were kept consistent. I continue to enjoy their relationship and the development of each character throughout the series. But, I have to say, this was not my favorite book by Fiona Barton. While I did enjoy it at a high level, I struggled through some of the details. There were times when I felt like it was somewhat long and drawn out, waiting for something to happen. And there were times when I felt like the “whodunit” answer was pretty obvious, not leaving much to the imagination.

All of that being said, I’ve read several reviews from others and I seem to be in the minority, so please don’t let my opinion sway you away from this book. If you’re a Fiona Barton fan, I think you should definitely give it a try and see if you experience something different. Perhaps I had hyped this one up too much in my mind (which always seems to lend itself to a let down).

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