Thursday, September 28, 2017

{Review} WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOR by Robert K. Tanenbaum

ISBN #: 978-1476793221
Page Count: 384
Copyright: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books



Goodreads Summary:

Butch Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi must stop a radical organization of armed militants bent on the cold-blooded murder of uniformed on-duty police officers. 

When a cop shoots down the son of a respected inner-city Baptist preacher, the community rises up in anger and demands to have the officer prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But there's something more than a call for justice at work here: a plot to bring down the city s police force through a conspiracy so vast and malicious only Butch Karp and his band of truth-seekers can untangle it.



Mandy's Review:

 
I could not finish this novel. I got about halfway through, reading every word, when I just couldn't do it any more. I skimmed my way through the second half just so I could see how it ended.

I understand that when a writer writes about racial events, slurs and derogatory remarks will be used. I expect that. Otherwise, the subject matter wouldn't feel real. There are slurs, derogatory remarks, and hatred for other races depicted in this novel. Okay, fine. I can deal with that. The way it was written, though, reminded me of a poorly written and directed 80s film.


** SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT AHEAD **

Another issue I had was the attempted shooting of Officer Kim. The crime scene was investigated the night it happened. No trace of a bullet was found and the window Kim was standing beside when being shot at wasn't broken by a bullet. They concluded the window wasn't open because the residents were ordered to leave the windows shut to prevent dirt and dust coming into the complex. Okay, cool. My issue? I don't think the crime scene analysts did a thorough job. Maybe it's because I watch too much Criminal Minds or NCIS but not once (unless it was said in the second half of the book I skimmed through) did they use a computer simulation program to play devil's advocate on where the bullet could have gone. I just think there was a missed opportunity there.

And, dear God, the acronyms. I kept thinking about the readers who aren't as familiar with them as I am. If a person isn't familiar with law enforcement lingo, they'd have NO CLUE what DA, DAO, BOLO and ADA meant. I know this is a long shot because it seems that everyone is familiar with these terms ... but what if they're not?

For me, the story progressed too slowly and it seemed the writer stayed in his head too much. He wrote it in a way that was familiar to him because he lives with these characters. He knows them. I think he needs to take a step back and re-read his work with the view of knowing nothing about any of his characters. I bet he would rewrite some chapters to make it more accessible to his readers' imaginations.



*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

{Blog Tour: Review} SUGAR PINE TRAIL by RaeAnne Thayne

ISBN #: 978-0373803682
Page Count: 384
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Summary from Goodreads:

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…



Mandy's Review:

Sugar Pine Trail is one of those quick, easy reads where what you expect to happen happens. Julia has taken over ownership of her parent's Victorian mansion and has rented out the upstairs set of rooms to a man who needs a place to stay for a few weeks while his condo is being finished.

Jamie has agreed to rent the rooms sight unseen on the recommendation of his sister, an acquaintance of Julia's. When he arrived at the house, Julia shows him his rooms and gives him his set of keys. Jamie's first impression of Julia wasn't very favorable. Julia seemed a bit stodgy and uptight, not Jamie's type of female at all.

Over time, Julie and Jamie see different sides of each other. What they see about each other causes some unwanted affections to begin growing. Eventually, unknown to each other, they fall in love but are determined to not let the other know because they each have something in their past that's difficult for them to get over ... something that they believe has caused them to not deserve the love and affection of another.

If you're a fan of Harlequin romances, then this book is for you. Heck, this series is for you. Although this book is number seven in the Haven Point series, this novel can be read as a stand-alone. I've never read the first six books of this series and I was able to follow along just fine. There were relationships mentioned in this novel, though, that I figured were part of the first six novels and it kind of made me want to go back and read them.

Oh, and if you're one of those who don't enjoy a bunch of sex scenes, then have no fear. There was really only one scene in this novel and it was VERY mild compared to some others I've read. This was more geared towards romantic feelings rather than sexy romantic romps.

Sugar Pine Trail was a very sweet story that I enjoyed despite its predictability.


*An ecopy was provided by Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review for this tour.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

{Review} IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU, WOULD I HAVE THIS LOOK ON MY FACE?: MY ADVENTURES IN THE ART AND SCIENCE OF RELATING AND COMMUNICATING by Alan Alda

ISBN #: 978-0812989144
Page Count: 213
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 6, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

Alan Alda has been on a decades-long journey to discover new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? is the warm, witty, and informative chronicle of how Alda found inspiration in everything from cutting-edge science to classic acting methods. His search began when he was host of PBS's Scientific American Frontiers, where he interviewed thousands of scientists and developed a knack for helping them communicate complex ideas in ways a wide audience could understand--and Alda wondered if those techniques held a clue to better communication for the rest of us.

In his wry and wise voice, Alda reflects on moments of miscommunication in his own life, when an absence of understanding resulted in problems both big and small. He guides us through his discoveries, showing how communication can be improved through learning to relate to the other person: listening with our eyes, looking for clues in another's face, using the power of a compelling story, avoiding jargon, and reading another person so well that you become "in sync" with them, and know what they are thinking and feeling--especially when you're talking about the hard stuff.

Drawing on improvisation training, theater, and storytelling techniques from a life of acting, and with insights from recent scientific studies, Alda describes ways we can build empathy, nurture our innate mind-reading abilities, and improve the way we relate and talk with others. Exploring empathy-boosting games and exercises, If I Understood You is a funny, thought-provoking guide that can be used by all of us, in every aspect of our lives--with our friends, lovers, and families, with our doctors, in business settings, and beyond.


Mandy's Review:

I don't usually agree to read non-fiction books because I often find them boring. The only reason I agreed to read this one is because of the author. I remember watching M*A*S*H with my grandfather. Hawkeye, played by Alan Alda, was one of my favorite characters in the television series. I knew he portrayed his character with sarcasm, humor, and wit so I was curious to see how he wrote his books.

If I Understood You is an interesting read. Alan explains how simple improvisational exercises can help a person become more empathetic and a better communicator. The 'Mirror' exercise teaches two people to become so aware of each other that their actions become simultaneous. The 'Yes, And' exercise, my favorite exercise of the book, teaches you to take what a person gives you and add to it. The exercises, and there are more than just the two I mentioned, are simple yet challenging. It is a little difficult to believe they produce such amazing results, but I guess one won't know until one actually tries them.

Towards the end of the book, I felt like the same point was being repeated in different formats. The first 3/4 of the book was informative, thought-provoking, and insightful. I can see where these scientifically-proven improvisational exercises can help a wide range of individuals, from corporate executives to salespeople to teachers to two people in a relationship. I plan on trying some of these exercises with my husband to see if they'll make us more in sync and better communicators.

If you enjoy learning new methods of becoming a better person and communicator, I would recommend this book. I would especially recommend this book to you entrepreneurial types who have just started your own business. If you think you'd like to try it but don't have the time, don't fear. The book is less than 200 pages (minus the Acknowledgements and Index) so it reads quickly. Enjoy!

*A hard copy was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 22, 2017

{Review} SIRACUSA by Delia Ephron

ISBN #: 978-0399165214
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Release Date: July 12, 2016


Goodreads Summary:

New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn; his wife, Taylor; and their daughter, Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities, past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none will see coming.


Kathy's Review:

This book is told from the perspective of the four adults in the novel. Each of them provides pieces of the plot, as well as their own skewed version of the truth. Each of the four narrators is not exactly a saint. Lizzie still harbors feelings for Finn; Finn picks up random women in bars after his wife and child go to bed; Michael is cheating on Lizzie; and Taylor is a next-level helicopter mom who has mentally damaged her child, Snow, with her overprotectiveness. Each of them see themselves through a filter where they aren't necessarily responsible for their own actions. They blame the others.

Siracusa takes us through a chain of events that occurs while the two couples are vacationing together in Italy. Alternating chapters with varying POVs, we see the same scenes but with additional information layered on from the various narrators until we finally have the whole picture.

It's hard to talk about what happens in the story without revealing major spoilers, but it revolves around Michael cheating on Lizzie, and Snow's fondness/obsession/crush on Michael. I was surprised by the plot twist, just as the book summary promised. I enjoyed the writing, and I liked reading the different perspectives. I come away from the book not really liking any of its characters, but still intrigued and fascinated by the plot. It's an interesting way to unfold a narrative.



*A physical copy was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

{Review} THE FIRE SERMON (The Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig

ISBN #: 978-1476767185
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015


Goodreads Summary:

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha - physically perfect in every way - and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.

With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world's sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.


Lupe's Review:

Wow. That was so much deeper than I thought it was going to be. The thought that twins are always born and that one literally can not live without the other seemed to be an easy peasy storyline and plot. But Haig turns it into so much more.

Cass is the Omega seer twin of ambitious Alpha Zack, whom she split from very late in life. From there, she is sent to an omega outpost to live with other omegas. Suddenly, she is taken away from there on her brothers orders many years later and forced to stay in the Keeping Rooms. This leads to many other issues revelations, not including the discovery of a place even worse than that. Cass dreams of the Island, a mythical place of Omega resistance and knows that's it's real. She wants to find it, has to find it, before the Council and her brother does. But what will happen when she does?

This was seriously epic on an epic scale I had not anticipated. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to finish it but holy smokes am I glad I did. I have the second one too, so I am ready to dive into the next part of the story with Cass and see where it leads. I was really impressed with this work. Apocalyptic fiction can be hard, especially when trying to set up the world (in this case, the Before and the After) but Haig did a masterful job of that. Really good work.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

{Review} WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS by Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki

ISBN #: 978-0399591686
Page Count: 384
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: The Dial Press


Goodreads Summary:

From the courtrooms to the battlefields to the alleyways of Paris, with cameos from infamous figures in French history, the Patakis have crafted an epic, action-packed novel of the French Revolution as it has never been seen before. Three years after the storming of the Bastille, Paris is enlivened with the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy has been dismantled and a new nation, for the people, is rising up in its place. Jean-Luc, a young optimistic lawyer, moves his wife, Marie, and their son to Paris, inspired by a sense of duty to contribute to the new order. André, the son of a former nobleman, flees his privileged past to fight in the unified French Army with his roguish brother. Sophie, a beautiful young aristocratic widow and niece of a powerful, vindictive uncle, embarks on her own fight for independence.

Underneath the glimmer of hope and freedom, chaos threatens to undo all the progress of the revolution and the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. As the demand for justice breeds instability, creates enemies out of compatriots, and fuels a constant thirst for blood in the streets, Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie are forced to question the sacrifices made for the revolution. Liberty proves a fragile, fleeting ideal, and survival seems less and less likely—both for these unforgettable individuals, and indeed for the new nation itself.


Mandy's Review:

This was definitely an interesting, action-filled novel covering the French Revolution. As with all revolutions, it began with the people feeling oppressed and wanting to break free from their rulers. Getting what they want didn't wind up as great as they thought. Oh, it took a while for them to realize that of course, but realize it they did. Whenever a group of people appear to be floundering around with no direction, a leader or group of leaders will emerge. Add that to the zealousness of the people and you have the makings of chaos.

The novel flips between focusing on Jean-Luc and his family and Andre and his family, so we get to know both men pretty well. They're both fighting for the revolution but get caught up in the zealousness of the men desiring to be leaders of the revolution causing them to join forces and fight together. I liked both men. They were noble and had a sense of morality that they didn't back away from.

Overall, WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS was well-written and entertaining. I will admit that I grew tired of reading it towards the end because it seemed to drag out a little bit. Despite that, I would recommend this novel to history buffs and those who are drawn to the French Revolution.


*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

{Review} THE ATWELLE CONFESSION by Joel Gordonson

Goodreads Summary:

After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town. 

Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII's dispute with the Pope over the King's divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town. 

Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession.


Mandy's Review:

I agreed to read and review this book because the premise of it is in my wheelhouse of stories that interest me. Also, the cover looked creepy and evil and I loved it. The cover above is not the same as the cover on the ARC I received. My cover is below ...


So, what we have here is a mystery spanning centuries connected by some carved gargoyles inside of a church. Each gargoyle is different and hints to part of the past of the two families who helped build the church. Why in the world a gruesome story is depicted inside of the church is something Don and Margeaux is trying to figure out. Are the gargoyles cursed? Is someone just using the symbolism to conduct their deadly deeds?

There wasn't really any depth to this story. The reader only catches glimpses here and there of some of the characters' pasts. I cannot think of one character I got to know at a really personal, emotional level. This read like a story a person would tell around the campfire.

Not all of the conversations were awkward in the book but enough of them were to make me wonder about the quality of the editor's handiwork. Also, some of the scenes in the book felt staged, like an old black-and-white movie. The example I want to give you is towards the end of the book so I won't post it here to prevent any spoilers but when I read it I was like, "Really?! That isn't believable at all."

I started out intrigued and excited to read this novel only to end up disappointed by the lack of character depth and cheesy situational flow. I didn't hate this book but it's also not one I'd go out of my way to recommend, which means this book will only get two stars from me.


*A physical copy was provided by the publicist, FSB Associates, in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

{E-Book Review} HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOK SHOP by Veronica Henry

ISBN #: 978-1409146889
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Orion
Release Date: June 16, 2016


Goodreads Summary:

Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve?

Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books she sells - Emilia's customers have their own tales to tell.

There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . .

And as for Emilia's story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?


Mandy's Review:

Maybe it's because I'm a book nerd but ... how amazing and romantic would it be to find love in a bookshop? I mean, you're already in a place surrounded by your loves and then to find a human in that same place and to fall in love with them ... *sigh* ... So, that's what drew me in: the title and my own imaginings.

Every person has a story. While I love to hear (and read) everyone's story, sometimes it can be a bit much when there are a bunch of stories being told at one time. That's one of the issues with this book. At one point, I almost made a list of characters and how they were connected with Emilia because it was starting to become a bit congested. What I would have LOVED was to have "How to Find Love in a Book Shop" be the title of the series and then each book be based on a couple who met in Nightingale Books and fell in love. Instead of Emilia being one of the main characters, let Nightingale Books shine as the main character in the series.

Okay, I'll stop with my critique of what the author should've done and just tell you about what I read. This really was a good story with a lot of hope and happiness thrown in. There was a bit of sadness here and there but it wasn't at all overwhelming. Emilia's father, Julius, bought the bookshop when Emilia was a baby. He grew the business into the success it was at his death. When Emilia took over the business, she saw that the success was customer-based only. The finances were almost nonexistent. So, with the help of some of her friends and acquaintances, Emilia struggles with updating the bookshop and almost gives in to a businessman to sell the place for a profit. Over the course of these ups and downs, some bookish matchmaking happens with very promising results.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop is, of course, going to have a happy ending for all involved. If that's a bit of a spoiler for you, I apologize, but it's to be expected with these quick, easy, romantic reads. Isn't it? I did enjoy my time at Nightingale Books. It was a fun, light-hearted read that I'd give 3 stars.


*An e-book was made available through NetGalley by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

{Re-Read Review} IT by Stephen King

Goodreads Summary:

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.



Mandy's Review:

I chose to re-read this novel before the first movie comes out September 8th. My first reading of IT was when I was 13 and, maybe because a large portion of the story centers around children close to my age at that time, it resonated with me. My re-reading of IT did not diminish my love for this novel. It enhanced it.

If, for some ungodly reason, you have never read IT and have no clue what it's about, I'll give you the gist of it. Basically, there is a cycle of evil that takes place every 25 to 27 years in Derry, Maine. (Side Note: The new movie comes out 27 years after the horrendous television mini series. Coincidence? I think not.) In 1958, through (seemingly) preordained circumstances, seven children form a group and are known as the Losers. The bond between them felt more than just the bond of friendship, it felt almost supernatural. Despite their fears, they are determined to face down the evil residing in Derry and kill it. Only when they're called back to Derry 27 years later in 1985 do they realize they only hurt it the first time. This time, they won't stop until they're dead or IT is.

Most people who have not read this novel don't want to read it because of the clown and their fear of it. The evil in Derry manifests as a clown BECAUSE people have a fear of clowns, but the evil in Derry is a shapeshifter. The reason it mainly preys on children is because of a child's innate belief in all that is fantastic and strange. So, when a child hears something scary in the dark, they relate that sound to something (a werewolf, or mummy, or a rat, etc.) and whatever they BELIEVE the sound to be coming from that's what the evil in Derry transforms itself to.

So, yet again, I have laughed, sat in suspense, and have been heartbroken by this novel. When I got near the end of the book last night, I was thinking to myself, "NO! No, I have to go back! I have to go back to when they were kids playing in the Barrens and forming their circle of friendship. I don't want this to end!"

To those who wonder how in the world I can be heartbroken by a horror novel, I'll tell you: the same way you (and I) were heartbroken over Harry Potter. Like Harry Potter was about more than just magic, IT is about more than just an evil clown. It's about a child's guileless belief in all things, it's about how adults grow up and become adept at glancing over evil happening right in front of them, it's about how as children grow they forget the wonderful magic they were tapped in to, and it's also about how we often forget those that helped us the most during our darkest times. To say IT is about nothing but evil and horror is not doing this novel justice. It's also about love, faith, beauty, simplicity, and power. It's about something outside of us yielding its power over us, whether it be evil or good. God, I could talk all day about this but I'll stop now. You just have to give this a chance if you haven't read it before. Look beyond the obvious and see IT for what it really is.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

{Blog Tour: Excerpt & Review} DINNER CONVERSATIONS by Jason Reid




About the Author:


Jason Reid is an entrepreneur by trade and a dad by passion. He currently lives in Murrieta, California with his wonderful wife and amazing four children. Over the years he has written numerous business books, a novel, and children’s The Protector Bug book series.

SOCIAL LINKS





Book Blurb:

You are going to LAUGH! You are going to then wonder if these conversations actually happened. You are going to wonder what kind of guy would actually say these things to his family.

The answer is simple—yes, these conversations did actually happen. They occurred over a period of roughly 5 years, mainly at my dinner table.  I took them verbatim and posted them on Facebook so that all my friends could get a good laugh.

I must be honest with you, some of you are going to laugh and say things like “…that sounds like something I would say or want to say” others are going to think that I am a horrible parent. I am ok with either thought process.

What I hope is that after laughing, scratching your head and wondering what is wrong with Jay Reid, you realize that you need to create more of your own Dinner Conversations.

Please join me @ www.Facebook.com/ DinnerConversations to read more and post your own.

Order Your Copy:



Description from Back Cover:

If you are a parent that ever wished you could just say all the things that pop into your head, well you can, and I do. I’m the guy who, for better or worse, has always said whatever happened to pop into his head and frankly so do my kids.

If you want a break from raising your kids and just laugh at how I raised mine you will love, Dinner Conversations!

This book is a simple collection of actual conversations I had with my wife and 4 children over the years around our dinner table.

I guarantee you will laugh or better yet you will feel like you are "The Father or Mother of the Year", in comparison. If your children disagree with you or your parenting style, just have them read this book. They will walk away from it with a new eye-opening perspective and suddenly be very thankful for the great job you did raising them.


Book Excerpt:

Kids
"You have to pay how much in taxes?!?"

Jay
"Yep, half or more of my money goes to pay taxes, the rest goes to pay for you guys. I have almost nothing left over."

Kids
"That's crazy!”

Jay
"I agree, but I am stuck with all of you."



Charlene's Review:

Dinner Conversations is not a "story" book. It is a series of conversations, spanning several years, that took place with his wife and kids around their dinner table. In his intro, Mr. Reid describes his parenting style and his emphasis on two rules he would like to see other parents copy (paraphrased):

            1) If home, all family members sit down to a family dinner (except on parent date nights)  
            2) Dinner should be fun, you should laugh and not be afraid to speak your mind        
   
Mr. Reid then gives us examples throughout the book, of his family’s banter, such as:  

pg. 200 Cat Games - I get home from work to find Ryan pointing a laser pointer at the ground and Kyle trying to catch it.

Jay - "What are you doing?"
Ryan - "The Cat wont play with us, so Kyle is pretending to be the cat and catch the laser"
Jay - "Cant you go play video games like normal kids?"
Kyle - "Video games rot your brain"
Jay - "Oh... Judging from what I am seeing, the damage is already done." 

Dinner Conversations is a light, fun-filled read, but my favorite part of the book is at the end where Mr. Reid outlines 13 Tips for Creating Your Own Dinner Conversations. It’s about time we all go back to the basics of family, and this book can help you appreciate that.


*A physical copy was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review for the purposes of the blog tour.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

{Review} THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock

ASIN #: B00Y6Q9BB8
Page Count: 240
Publish Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Amazon (Kindle)
Summary on Goodreads:

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.


Charlene's Review:

The Smell of Other People's Houses is an artfully crafted story of varying character lines that intersect in a brilliantly heartfelt story of familial angst and the overwhelming power of perseverance. Each of the main characters has a secret, a burden, and a story, all their own, and are all looking for a hero, amid the sometimes brutal and poverty-stricken areas of Alaska. As the story unfolds, and the characters' paths become entwined, they begin to rescue each other.

Ms. Hitchcock has a tremendous talent with words, invoking emotion through short, powerful statements. She captures the fragility and despair of the human condition in its most bare and painful reality, while allowing the reader to glimpse the hope and love secreted away underneath the surface. I can't recall the last time I cried reading a book, and the blows that caused the tears were swift and fleeting, but long-standing in emotion.

The Smell of Other People's Houses is a study in love, as misguided, skewed, and full of faults as it can be, and the power of being loved despite our unworthiness.


*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


** Review was originally posted on February 29, 2016 on the Collected Works site.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

{Review} THE FLIGHT OF THE PICKERINGS by John Grayson Heide

ASIN #: B01AE2NDR0
Page Count: 320
Publish Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Amazon (Kindle)
Summary from Goodreads:

Guy Pickering is a good man and good husband to his wife Dorothy who grows wackier every day with dementia. Guy sees the end coming and wants to be in control, but Life has other plans. His most private moments spiral out of control as a nosy neighbor intrudes, a rebellious teenage grandson shows up and finally a fame-hungry reporter spotlights them in front of a world-wide audience.

Filled with tender moments and comic twists, this book engages the reader in one family’s journey, a final voyage that all of us will take, sooner or later. The Flight of the Pickerings is a love story that touches on the right for self-determination while infusing deep humanity and humor.


Kathy's Review:

The best word I can think of to describe this book is “quirky.” I went into it thinking it would be depressing, describing a woman with dementia and her husband’s decision to end both her life in his. However, nothing goes as planned for Guy Pickering in his attempt to put an end to Dorothy’s discomfort. A series of off-the-wall events takes place, each thwarting his plans.

The book also jumps back and forth in history – from the day that Guy and Dorothy met to their late teens/early 20’s. However, the book fails to really tell their love story once they got together.

And then, probably the most strange piece of this novel … sometimes, inanimate objects have thoughts/feelings on what is happening in the book. Guy’s car, for instance, and the airplane. The cat has one brief paragraph. Other random characters are thrown in, and didn’t seem central to the story, so I largely ignored them.
Mostly, I read to the end to find out if Guy was successful in his quest. I won’t give anything away here, but I would say that the book wraps up nicely and on a hopeful note.

Author John Grayson Heide certainly has an interesting point of view, and was able to provide a light-hearted take on a very difficult topic, so kudos to him for that!


** Review was originally posted on January 19, 2017 on the Collected Works site.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

{Review} THE LEGEND OF THE DAGGER PRINCE by T. A. Gallant

ISBN #: 978-0997244700
Page Count: 182
Published: April 8, 2016
Publisher: Timotheos Press
Summary on Goodreads:

In the days of King Tsedecc, the seventh generation after Qccesed the Great, a kidnapping shatters young Prince Korbin's idyllic world. In short order, everything he knows is called into question as he hears horrifying things about the world around him. In the deadly aftermath, nothing can ever be the same. A twisting tapestry of virtue and intrigue, The Legend of the Dagger Prince is much more than a coming-of-age tale or an adventure story, although it could aptly be described as both. This carefully-woven medievalesque fantasy is a rich journey toward redemption, exploring hard lessons regarding the cost of loyalty and honor-and the price of deceit. Eminently quotable and flavored with a subtle Old World literary feel, The Legend of the Dagger Prince is the opening salvo in T. A. Gallant's exciting new series, The Annals of Adamah.


Lupe's Review:

Ok. This was a book blog review so honesty is required. And I think the story could have been much stronger. And I hated the ending. I didn't understand who the narrator was supposed to be.

*edit* After careful reading, I get it now!

However, the plot of the story was great and paced well. I did like the main character, Prince Korbin, though I wish we could have seen more of the antagonist, whose name I will withhold for spoiler reasons. The twist at the beginning was not what I expected and I appreciated the flow of the story and the treachery and mayhem and justice and hope sprinkled within. That being said, if you like quick, low fantasy (no magic or anything here, sorry, just real kingdoms and fighting), then this is for you. If you like more high fantasy or something with more detail or even romance? Then steer clear.


*A hard copy was provided by the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.

** Review was originally posted on April 23, 2016 on the Collected Works site.

Monday, August 7, 2017

{U.S. Giveaway} EASTMAN WAS HERE by Alex Gilvarry

Summary from Goodreads:

An ambitious new novel set in the literary world of 1970s New York, following a washed-up writer in an errant quest to pick up the pieces of his life.

The year is 1973, and Alan Eastman, a public intellectual, accidental cultural critic, washed-up war journalist, husband, and philanderer; finds himself alone on the floor of his study in an existential crisis. His wife has taken their kids and left him to live with her mother in New Jersey, and his best work feels as though it is years behind him. In the depths of despair, he receives an unexpected and unwelcome phone call from his old rival dating back to his days on the Harvard college newspaper, offering him the chance to go to Vietnam to write the definitive account of the end of America's longest war. Seeing his opportunity to regain his wife s love and admiration while reclaiming his former literary glory, he sets out for Vietnam. But instead of the return to form as a pioneering war correspondent that he had hoped for, he finds himself grappling with the same problems he thought he'd left back in New York.

Following his widely acclaimed debut, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, Alex Gilvarry employs the same thoughtful, yet dark sense of humor in Eastman Was Here to capture one irredeemable man's search for meaning in the face of advancing age, fading love, and a rapidly-changing world.


ISBN #: 9781101981504
Viking Release Date: August 22, 2017
Price: $27.00
Also available as an e-book
For more information visit www.penguin.com or www.alexgilvarry.com



About the Author:


Alex Gilvarry is the author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, winner of the Hornblower Award for a First Book, named Best New Voice 2012 by Bookspan.  He has received fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center and the Norman Mailer Center. He is a professor at Monmouth University where he teaches fiction.


Giveaway Info:

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Sunday, August 20th. TWO winners will be chosen and contacted for their mailing address. Winners will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen in their place.

Good Luck!!!







Q&A with Alex Gilvarry

Q: EASTMAN WAS HERE, your second novel, follows Alan Eastman—a washed-up writer, public intellectual, cultural critic, and philander—whose marriage has just fallen apart. In part to win back his wife and to revive his writing career, he sets off to Saigon to cover the end of the Vietnam War. What was the impetus for writing this particular story?

A: I was reading Norman Mailer a lot because I was invited to his house in Provincetown for the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony. Before going, all I knew about Mailer was that he liked to battle feminists on television and that he once wrote a very problematic essay I read in college called “The White Negro.” Doesn’t the title alone just make you shiver? So I started reading him to do my homework. The Armies of the Night (very good), The Executioner’s Song (twice as long as it needs to be, but good), An American Dream (just awful), The Prisoner of Sex (embarrassingly bad), and Harlot’s Ghost (gave me tennis elbow). It was very hard to find the sympathetic Mailer, but I was entertained by his transparent feelings in his work. Just counting all the phallic imagery he uses can entertain you for one summer. Machismo, envy, homophobia, sexism—he couldn’t mask anything, and because of the era, why would he?!

In one of his biographies I found a very interesting tidbit that stuck with me. That the New York Herald Tribune wanted to send Mailer to Vietnam in order to write dispatches on the ground war. The deal never happened, supposedly because the Herald’s owner didn’t like his out-spoken attitude against the war. I imagined Mailer would have turned his dispatches, had he written them, into a book, like he did with so much of his journalism.

What would that book have been like? I wondered. Perhaps it’s a book that’s supposed to be about Vietnam, but then it turns out to be all about its author and his love life. I was going through a really bad break up when I was thinking about this book and I had my own crazy feelings that I needed to purge. So that’s how Alan Eastman was born.

Q: The author Liz Moore described EASTMAN WAS HERE as a “wry throwback of a novel that… [is] in the tradition of satirists like Kurt Vonnegut.” Your first novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, was also told through satire. What in particular draws you to this method of storytelling? 

A: My heroes were Woody Allen and Steve Martin. Then later Gary Shteyngart and Mordecai Richler. Donald Barthelme, too, a great satirist. You are what you eat. But what draws me is the emotional state humor, and laughter, can place you in. Especially in the written form. You are somewhat vulnerable after laughing. Therefore couldn’t I break your heart, next?

Q: Eastman has self-aggrandizing and self-crippling notions of masculinity. Can you describe what it was like to channel such a misogynistic protagonist?

A: Well, a misogynist can never be funny, himself. Nor does he deserve to be considered interesting. The humor comes out of watching his ignorance and blindness. He is a fool. We are laughing at him, not with. And to see the fool through a certain lens, going about his life, thinking of himself as a great lover and thinker of his time, I found this to be compelling, and a way to showcase a certain truth about an era. Certainly the truth of gender discrimination. In the book, Eastman lectures a central character, Anne Channing, a war journalist, on masculine writing versus feminine writing. And on how women are perceived as writers, through the male gaze of a Man author. Or as Mailer would put it, a “major” writer, which always meant male. And I find this attitude still exists in our readership and book buying practices. I found certain prejudices in my own reading habits. This is a point made much better by Siri Hustvedt in her essay “No Competition” from A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women. I’m not going to mansplain what women have known for ages. Read Siri’s essay.

Q: The female characters in the novel are arguably more successful, more driven, and certainly more emotionally mature than Eastman, exposing and threatening his hypermasculinity. In this way, your novel is a nod to feminism and just one of the ways you puncture some of the romantic illusions still attached to the 60s and 70s. Can you elaborate on the role female characters play in EASTMAN WAS HERE?

A: I found that some of the best writing on the Vietnam War was done by women, particularly Gloria Emerson and her book Winners & Losers. A must read. It won the National Book Award in 1978. It was Emerson who I had in mind when I was creating the character of Anne Channing in the novel. I wanted to place Eastman up against great female characters, who are very strong and together, and Eastman can’t always see this about them because he’s too busy reducing them to sexual objects. But I do this on purpose to show just how ridiculous he is, and men of his kind. And the women in his life do threaten him in a variety of ways. Professionally, personally, romantically. Feminism was such an integral part of this era, and men, like Eastman, were very threatened by it.

Q: Even though the novel takes place in 1973, it feels completely relevant and in tune with what’s happening in today’s tumultuous cultural and social landscapes. Let’s face it, America elected a man who sounds less presidential and more like Alan Eastman every day. While writing EASTMAN WAS HERE, were you consciously thinking of what was happening in this country?

A: Not so much with the election. I set the action at the end of the Vietnam War, where America is withdrawing from an occupation. So I was very much thinking of the end of our presence in Iraq. But why Vietnam when there are so many books about it? That answer is more subliminal. My father was in the Vietnam War and stationed at Than Son Nhut airbase. Yet he’s a very anti-war individual, an intelligent man when it comes to world conflict. I grew up with his stories and like many boys of my generation, a desperate need to please him. Maybe that’s why I engage with this stuff.

Writing, I thought about how Vietnam very much shifted into Cambodia with US involvement and the Khmer Rouge, just as the focus in Iraq has now shifted into Syria with ISIS. I hoped I would learn something from these parallels. The results have been costly and disastrous now, just as they were then. But this is only the social milieu, the backdrop, for what is essentially a love story set in two cities. New York and Saigon. Nothing blows up in this book. Eastman barely leaves his hotel, the Continental, that mysterious place where Graham Greene stayed and all the war correspondents in Vietnam after him.

Q: In the book, you simultaneously celebrate and dismantle the romance attached to the 1970s New York and its literary lions, like Mailer, Roth, Bellow, and their kin. In your opinion, how should we evaluate the legacy of those writers?

A: Man, I love this period. New York still had Book Row and Elaine’s and Paris Review parties at George Plimpton’s house. Book deals were made at parties. Books were sexy, and had plenty of sex in them. You know what else was sexy? The Upper East Side. Go figure. I think the writers you mention have all said regrettable things or have had periods of scandal, and they all lived to publish another book, win a Pulitzer or National Book Award, no matter how bad their behavior got, personally or publicly. Of course things turned out fine for them—they were men! I address this very issue in the novel when Eastman meets Anne Channing, a real war reporter, good at her job, better than him in every way. She makes him face all of this male ugliness. But the book isn’t a reprimand or a chastising of WMNs (“White Male Narcissists” to quote David Foster Wallace). It’s a love story.

Q: When authors like Mailer, Bellow, or Gore Vidal were at the height of their popularity, they were not only writers, but public intellectuals, constantly debating the day’s issues—Vietnam, civil rights, etc.—on TV and through op-eds. For better or worse, we don’t really have an author today quite like Mailer. As an author, do you feel you have a responsibility to take up profound social issues? Should authors be more publicly outspoken?

A: I think I have a responsibility to capture the time I live in, and many of our novelists take up social issues. If there’s something that bothers me, like Guantanamo Bay remaining open, I write about it. Sure, I wish some of our major novelists would dig in a little more and get dirty. However, Mailer and Vidal and Mary McCarthy and Susan Sontag weren’t only novelists, they also wrote compelling non-fiction, reportage, social criticism. It was during a time when magazines would send writers, sometimes novelists, into dangerous places like Vietnam. Mary McCarthy went to Vietnam for the New York Review of Books. James Jones reported on it for the New York Times Magazine. What they wrote made them public intellectuals of a certain kind, first. Then came television. And it wasn’t always very successful. Just take a look on YouTube at Mailer’s appearance with Gore Vidal on the Dick Cavett show. It was a disaster!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

{Review} SUITCASE GIRL by Ty Hutchinson

Description from back cover:

In the first book of the Suitcase Girl Trilogy, Agent Abby Kane discovers an unlikely connection with a little girl found outside the offices of the FBI.

In an effort to learn where the child came from, Abby brings the girl home with her, thinking a family environment might jog the girl's memory. Abby's efforts pay off as the investigation points toward human trafficking. Only it doesn't end there.

As Abby continues to dig, indicators suggest there's something more, something unthinkable ... and quite frankly, unexplainable.


Charlene's Review:

Abby is back, again, in knee-deep in a multi-faceted mystery. What appears to be a case of human trafficking turns into more than Abby and her partner bargain for when a girl is left inside a suitcase outside FBI headquarters. Abby brings the girl into her home and sets off a series of events that could change Abby's life forever.

I am an admitted fan of Mr. Hutchinson's work, and this may very well be his fastest-paced Abby Kane novel yet. The mystery and suspense were palpable in Suitcase Girl, and as is usually the case, a quirky secret is found that keeps you guessing all the way through, and into, the next book of the series. There is little to be said that doesn't include a spoiler, except READ IT! The ending is explosive and I was greatly disturbed to be left hanging - great move Ty! I will be anxiously awaiting Book 2: The Curator.


*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

{Release Day Review} MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES by Julie Lawson Timmer

Summary from Goodreads:

Markie, a fortysomething divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not.

What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness.


Mandy's Review:

This was a slow-starter for me. Not because of the writing or the story-telling, both of those were done very well. The reason I found this to be a slow-starter was thanks to Markie, the main character.

Markie was raised by parents who were concerned with how things looked; keeping up with ... scratch that ... surpassing what the Jones' had was a vital way of living their life. They were comfortable hobnobbing with the elite society and abhorred anything that caused the slightest wrinkle in their societal blanket. So, needless to say, Markie's divorce put a stink in their nose they couldn't get out ... yet they had to play the part of the dutiful parents while making sure Markie caught the hints they threw her way of HOW MUCH they were "helping" her. I can understand why that would make her want to break away and marry someone COMPLETELY different from what she was used to.

Kyle was flighty and non-committal at best. Markie kept his appointments straight, made sure he knew who was who and put complete trust in him to handle all of their assets. She ignored the lipstick-stained collars, ignored the strange perfume smells coming off of him when he came home late ... you get the idea. Because Markie was raised to maintain a certain societal status, that status often requires a wife to turn the occasional blind eye to her husband's wanderings. The problems really surfaced when Markie found out Kyle had diddled one of the other moms in the little club Markie was a part. From there, things went downhill fast; Markie found out Kyle had extended all their loans to maximum number of limits allowed. Markie lost her husband, house, friends, status, all of it.

After the divorce, when Markie moves into the new bungalow in a different town, she meets Mrs. Saint. Okay, maybe 'meets' is the wrong word. Markie was overtaken by Mrs. Saint.

Mrs. Saint is a tiny woman with an enormous personality. She takes one look at a person and knows what they need to become better, to solve their problems. It's a gift, really, but an unwelcome one where Markie's concerned. I loved Mrs. Saint. Yes, she probably could've worked on her overbearing nature a bit but the woman totally means well and wants the best for everyone.

So, why was Markie the main reason this novel was a slow-starter for me? Her attitude. I could not stand it. She blatantly turns a blind eye to her husbands comings and goings. Then, after the divorce, she allows her son to do whatever he wants and REFUSES to believe he's doing anything wrong ... until the police show up at her door late one night. Markie always stayed annoyed and mad at Mrs. Saint while thinking the worst of her every suggestion and action. She frustrated me so much I could only read one chapter at a time before closing the book angrily. It wasn't until about half-way through the novel that I FINALLY was able to read more than one chapter at a time.

Mrs. Saint should've been the main character of this novel. Her and her defectives is what the book should've revolved around, not Markie. Markie could've still had her divorce and issues and moved in next door - but as the antagonist, not the protagonist. If it was written from that perspective, I would've likely given this book five stars. They way it is now,  I'm giving it three stars ... all because of Markie.


*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publicist, Goldberg McDuffie Communications, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

{Review} THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis

Summary from Goodreads:

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children. 

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda--Camden's biological great-granddaughter--will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. 

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages--for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City--and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich--and often tragic--as The Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden--and the woman who killed him--on its head. 

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives --and lies--of the beating hearts within.



Mandy's Review:


Y'all, I am a little blown away by this book. First of all, it has one of the things I love the most in a novel: two time lines from two different centuries but they're connected in some way. Secondly, this story does not play out in all of the ways you think it will.

I. LOVE. That.

Our experience begins by getting to know Sara and the situation she's in. She was formerly a seamstress who left her position after having a run-in with her boss' husband ... who was a little handsy. When she left there, she went to work at a fancy London hotel working her way up to head housekeeper. While in that position, she notices one of her guests' child getting ready to climb up on an open windowsill, about four or five stories up. Sara runs to the room and pulls the little girl off the ledge just in the nick of time. Her heroic act garners her a job offer at a new hotel being built in New York.

Sara is unsure about traveling across the pond to an unknown territory and starting her life over. Then she looks at her mother and considers the life her mother has had ... and that decides things for Sara.

Fast forward to the fabulous 80's and we meet Bailey, an alcoholic and drug user fresh out of rehab. Bailey is bound and determined to start her life anew but there's a problem. All of her old friends are all users and there's NO WAY Bailey can be around those people or she'll be using again in no time. With only one option left, Bailey contacts her cousin Melinda, future heiress to the Camden fortune.

As Bailey helps Melinda remodel the Dakota, she gets to learn about the history of the place and falls more in love with it in the process.

I don't want to tell you everything that goes on but just know this book has everything. Love, desire (more implied or insinuated - it's very clean, no vulgarity), mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, ups, downs ... this is truly a roller coaster ride that I will gladly ride again and again. It is VERY rare when a book surprises me and gives me something I wasn't expecting. This novel did that and more.

In case you couldn't tell ... this is a 5 stars out of 5 for me. Brava, Ms. Davis! Brava.


*A physical ARC of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Teaser Tuesday


Time for us to join the land of memes again! =) Teaser Tuesday (hosted by The Purple Booker) is great for finding new books to add to your TBR pile and it's really simple to play along. Just ...

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


This week, our teaser comes from the soon-to-be-released novel, THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis



"Theo strode into the room but stopped when he spotted Sara. For a moment the two remained frozen, their eyes fused on each other, before the young girl rushed to him."


Ooohhh ... I just started reading this novel so I haven't gotten to this part yet but I can feel the tension. Is it anger? Sexual? Whatever it is, I can't wait to find out! - Mandy

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments below!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

{Review} CRIMES AGAINST A BOOK CLUB by Kathy Cooperman

Hey, everyone! Real quick I (Mandy) just wanted to apologize for not posting anything the past couple of weeks. The hubs and I are trying to get the eldest ready to leave for grad school while dealing with another surgery I had to have last week. I plan on scheduling some posts on here so be on the lookout.

Hope everyone had a great 4th! Now, let's get into this review, shall we?


ISBN #: 978-1503942981
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Summary from Goodreads:

Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another.


Mandy's Review:

So, first, I was intrigued by this novel because of the title. Anything referencing books or book clubs and I want to know what it's about ... and the fact that there were supposedly crimes against a book club? Uh, yeah. I was hooked and definitely wanted to know more.

Annie and Sarah are each other's antithesis. Sarah is tall, beautiful, with a handsome, brilliant husband and high-powered corporate job. Annie is short, a little frumpy, with an intelligent, OCD-driven husband. Annie has three children where Sarah has none, but she wants to have them. Sarah is adept enough to become friends with anyone in any social situation; whereas Annie struggles with being posh enough to fit in, even in a book club. Sarah embodies L.A.-living. Annie's content in La Jolla's suburban, touristy landscape. The two really have nothing in common except for the fact they slightly envy each other. Annie would love Sarah's figure and social aptitude. Sarah would love a husband who's home every time she needs him and children running around the house. You would think Sarah would be the main character and Annie the sidekick but it's actually reversed, which gives this Character Writing 101 a bit of a twist.

Annie is the brain behind the new anti-aging cream. It's her idea to start the business, her idea for the formula, and her idea on how to sell it. The availability of the special ingredient and how Annie came to acquire some was a bit ... unrealistic. It's a little difficult for me to believe that, with as moral as Annie seems to be, she would have kept this special ingredient in the house with her for as long as she did without disposing of it sooner.

Sarah, being a lawyer and Annie's best friend for 20 years, should have known that Annie was hiding something and sniffed it out of her at the beginning of their enterprise. Again, another small unrealistic scenario that if it didn't happen we wouldn't have had a novel to read. In spite of that, even I found myself drawn to Sarah like the ladies in the novel. I wanted Sarah to be my friend and to hang out with her.

In the end, things do turn out well for Annie and Sarah at the expense of another. Don't be upset with them, though. The person being sacrificed made the decision all on their own and actually insisted upon it.

If you don't consider the events too closely (as I tend to do sometimes), then this novel would be a fun, quick read. I'm not sure I found the hilarity in it, although there were a few amusing tidbits thrown in towards the latter part of this novel. Overall, for me, I'd give this about 3 out of 5 stars.


*An ARC was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.
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