Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Five Star Reads

     2017 is about to be over!? I have mixed feelings about that but mostly I'm ready to start a shiny New Year.  Here's hoping 2018 is better!  
     I kept thinking of doing a "Best of..." but it seemed a bit daunting so I settled (for now) for only listing my five star reviews.  I feel that I am pretty stingy with my five star reviews but I ended up with eleven this year! Thirteen if you count the two re-reads.  
      I really have to be wowed by a book to give it five stars.  It has to be a book that I devoured and did not want to put down.  There seems to be no formula for what works for me and I think it really depends on my mood and the timing. Looking back on some of these now, I might not give them 5 stars at this time but when read, they definitely hit the right notes with me.

*Just a warning that I doubt any of these are on the typical "Best of.." lists as I rarely agree with the Literary Snobs on anything! At least I know I am not alone, check out this post from Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves. 

The Trespasser by Tana French

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

All Over The Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Reading People by Anne Bogel


Five stars but re-reads:

 Whiskey Sour by JA Konrath
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This is a crazy mix of genres and all amazing books so I hope this list helps you find something new to read and love!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger


     Enger tells the story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and its remarkable conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates.
   "Here's what I saw," Rube warns his readers. "Here's how it went. Make of it what you will." And Rube sees plenty.

My Thoughts:

     This is the December pick for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and a book I probably would have never picked up if not for the club.  This story is all at once dark, cold, hopeful and filled with love and miracles.  
     The voice of Reuben reminds me so much of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. His viewpoint is perfect for this story as he is both a naive eleven-year-old but also sometimes wiser than he should be.  There were many instances where you can feel the despair and discouragement of the Land family but also so many times they had me smiling and laughing out loud.  
     There were times the bleakness of the North Dakota winter felt like they were right outside my window and it was, in places, overwhelming.  The characters and this story are so strong though that, for me, Peace Like a River was worth the read. 3.5/5 reads

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan


When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu and will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts:

     Lydia is hiding from her past and her life is quiet, ordinary and (she thinks) fulfilling until a regular patron of the bookstore she works in commits suicide and makes sure she is there to find him.  What happens after this devastating incident forces Lydia to revisit her past for reasons she (and you) will be surprised by.
     Lydia is a very believable character and I found her story and feelings to be relatable even though the plot of this story is full of twists and turns most of us will never experience in real life.  The secondary cast of characters were also touching and funny. I especially enjoyed Plath, Lydia's co-worker and friend. 
     I found this book to be intriguing and even though I figured out the "who dunnit" part it was at the very last second and Lydia was right behind me.  This book is dark and had a slightly surprising twist that I did not guess and I am so glad I picked this one up to read.  4/5 stars

*I read this book for my 2017 Reading Challenge-A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste.  This one was recommended by a friend in my book club and since it was already in my Pile, I went with it.  I only have two more left-can I do it??????

Author's site:

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Cool Kids by Jason Pellegrini


     Growing up, Kevin Ford was never considered one of the cool kids. He was the unathletic son of a father who had been the star of his college football team and the scrawny younger sibling of two brothers who loved to torment him. To his peers, he was far from being considered popular.

     Kevin had two best friends, though. One afternoon in the summer of 1994, they showed up unannounced at his front door with a secret mission. What Kevin figured was going to be an average summer day with his friends turned into an adventure like no other. The three of them entered the woods and sought out a forgotten ancient myth.

     Now, nearly a quarter century later, Kevin finds himself reminiscing about that August day. As he’s about to enter a new stage of his life, he looks to his past to help give him the strength to face what lies ahead.

My Thoughts:


     At first, when I started The Cool Kids I thought this is going to be an adventure story involving a few preteen boys/best friends reminiscent of Stand By Me with a little fantasy thrown in. While this is true in a way, the story turned and still surprised me. 
     What followed was a story of childhood and friendships and how even though you may grow up (and apart) that bond is always there.  Kevin and his two best friends aren't considered "cool" but they grow to realize that doesn't matter.  I think we can all relate, in some way, to the boys.
     This story is short, around 100 pages, and I tend to not enjoy short stories but this story of Kevin and his buddies was funny, touching, imaginative and nostalgic. 4/5 stars

Favorite quotes:

"I lived through an era before the technology boom.  I know what kind of world exists without technology, and how wonderful and boundless it is."

"It's something about that bond of friendship you share with your lifelong friends that can't be matched.  No matter who you befriend later on in your life, it's just not the same."

Author's site:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finding Grace by Warren Adler


The chilling new drama that gets to the heart of brainwashing and its power to corrupt and control.

When their twenty-three-year-old daughter goes missing, divorcees Harry and Paulie are forced to leave behind their newly constructed lives to track Grace down. But Grace isn’t lost, not physically at least. They find her seemingly unharmed in California on a sunny farm the other residents call “Camp Star.” But nothing is as it seems…

Sinister motives lurk behind the smiles of those at the camp and the two soon learn that Grace is in the clutches of a notorious cult. Under the spell of mind control, she denies Harry and Paulie as her family and shuns their love, leaving them to search for answers in the most desperate of places. 

Scrambling to piece together their shattered lives, Harry and Paulie race against the clock to bring Grace back home – but will she ever be able to return? How do you help someone who doesn’t know they’re lost?

My Thoughts:

     I was intrigued initially by the premise of this book.  I thought reading about a girl taken in by a cult and her parents struggles to get her back would be an excellent read and it would have been had this book actually been about cults and parental love.  Unfortunately, Finding Grace was more about her divorced parents and their bizarre, obsessive love for each other and how their relationship came about and then fell apart.
     I found all of the characters to be immature, self absorbed and truly unlikable.  I forced myself to read about sixty percent of this book before I gave up hoping that the story would actually turn into what I thought it was going to be, it never did.  This was a DNF (Did Not Finish) for me!


Monday, December 4, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love. 

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

My Thoughts:

     Hmmm, where to begin....this is definitely a page turning thriller with plot twists that will make you do a double take but for some reason it didn't click with me quite as much as I had hoped.  Good Reads is filled with rave reviews and I was very excited to read this one but I never really connected to Nellie and it left things feeling flat to me.
      Nellie comes off  as naive and trusting. Vanessa seems bitter and delusional. The dual narration makes the story very interesting but unreliable narrators and an attempt at an ambiguous ending left me wishing the story had ended a few chapters earlier.
     Don't get me wrong, this will be a hit with many and will probably turn into a huge hit on best seller's lists.  I feel like the first 75% of the book is on point for a great thriller but the wrap up is twisted so many different ways it ends up being Too Much.  3/5 stars.

Link for more info like audio sample and video promos:

*Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the promo materials!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Reads

     November is gone and I am partially happy. Happy because the holidays stress me out but now we are into December and the biggest, busiest holiday is coming. Oy, I'm tired already!
     As predicted I did not get much reading done this month and I just know that December will be even worse BUT, I am about to hit my Good Reads Reading Goal of 75 for the year! So there's that to be happy about reading-wise.

November's books:

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware: I loved her other books but I am not sure how I felt about this one.  I was still thinking about it days later but it was a little predictable and not as thrilling as the others. 3/5 stars

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall:  A childhood favorite's memoir that had me giggling and misty-eyed.  My full review can be found here.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover:  A crazy family with crazy secrets that explode from hiding.  All my thoughts are over here.

Origin by Dan Brown:  Another author that I have greatly enjoyed in the past but their latest didn't thrill me like it has before.  Full thoughts and info here.


Coming in December:

I'm about to finish this one.....
and then there will be this one....

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Origin by Dan Brown


     Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
     As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
     Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

My Thoughts:

    I have been a big fan of Dan Brown for years.  I loved The DaVinci Code (one of my all time faves) and have read it multiple times. I think it is because I've always been very interested in learning about religions and the history stuff they didn't teach us in school.  Art intrigues me but I don't know much about it but Mr. Brown always brings in the history behind pieces which make it more meaningful to me.
     I recently got to see Dan speak during his tour for Origin and he spoke a lot about the research for the book and it was very interesting. He is very intelligent and articulate and very passionate about his subject matter.  You can look on his website for a video and more info on some of the sights mentioned in the book.  He said the basis for this book came down to "Can God survive science?" and that is a very timely question.
     Origin is very intriguing and you will learn a lot but while it is interesting, and kept me turning the page for more, it was not as thrilling as his past works.  There was a lot to take in and occasionally the story is bogged down by very heavy science.  The science is deep and definitely a learning experience but at times it was over my head and I admit that I skimmed.  I do still love the character of Robert Langdon and hope for more stories with him.
     I think this was a good story but not great. And while I never would have guessed what the big scientific part of the mystery was I did figure out the rest fairly easily so that was a bit disappointing.  Again, learned a lot about modern art and the history and beautiful architecture of Spain but I felt overwhelmed at times by the deep science.  3.5/5 stars

Favorite quotes:

"Well science and religion are not competitors, they're two different languages trying to tell the same story.  There's room in this world for both."

"Love is from another realm. We cannot manufacture it on demand. Nor can we subdue it when it appears.  Love is not our choice to make."

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Author's site:

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My Thoughts:

     Colleen Hoover has no problem tackling tough issues but she weaves her story so well that you sympathize instantly even if you have no experience with the topic.  Just like her last book, It Ends With Us, you are reading and loving it but you also can't help but to think about the story long after you put the book down.  She makes you think and feel as if this were happening to you.  
     I also think CoHo is the only author I know who can take totally bizarre families and/or situations and make them enthralling and completely believable.   The Voss family is a hot mess and full of issues yet you don't really ever doubt their crazy situations.  The most unbelievable thing was this entire group of people with the most bizarre names you'll ever hear.   I don't know who she does it but she pulls you in from the start every time.  I  am not much of a YA reader but I always enjoy Colleen Hoover! 4/5 stars

Author's site:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Rock Solid, an all-new sexy and romantic standalone by Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde is LIVE!!


Rock Solid by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde Publication Date: November 14th, 2017 Genre: Contemporary Romance

Connor Prescott doesn't do one night stands (yes, ladies, he's an anomaly) so when he meets a beautiful woman during a snowed in night at the airport who wants to forget her heartache, he makes an exception. Their night together is incendiary, and by morning Connor wants more . . . except his sexy stranger is gone. He's pretty sure he'll never see her again, until three and a half years later she finds him, and changes his entire world with three little words . . . You're a daddy.

Read Today!

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RockSolid_Teaser3-AN.jpg Meet Carly Phillips:

Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels, including the Indie published, Dare to Love Series. She is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.

Connect with Carly Phillips:

Sign up for Carly’s Newsletter at: Sign up for Blog and Website updates at: Sign up for Text Updates of New Releases: Friend Carly on Facebook: Hang out at Carly’s Corner! (Hot guys & giveaways!) Instagram: Twitter: Website:
Karen & Janelle Promo Photo.jpg

Meet Erika Wilde:

Erika Wilde (aka Janelle Denison) is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances for multiple print publishers.

Connect with Erika Wilde:

Sign up for Erika's Newsletter at: Join Erika's Private Fan Page - Books & Exclusive Giveaways! Friend Erika on Facebook: Twitter: Erika's Website:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshal


     Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way.

     My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

      Throughout it all, from her childhood spent tap dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of Laverne & Shirley, Penny lived by simple rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, My Mother Was Nuts reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.

My Thoughts:

     I don't read much nonfiction and only read memoirs/biographies if it is someone I really admire. That being said, here is why I read this book; as a child I loved Laverne & Shirley! I wanted a big "S" to put on my shirts like Laverne's L. I might have been slightly nerdy...
     I did not know much about Penny Marshall's life outside of what television shows made her famous and that she became a director later in her career.  Her story is fascinating and full of funny and touching moments.
     She is unapologetically honest about her past and how a bit of nepotism got her a start.  Penny also holds little back in admitting her drug use, her rocky relationship with her parents, her lackluster abilities as a mother or her grumpiness when she was a cancer patient.  She knows her faults and doesn't try to sugarcoat them or brush them off. She is also hilarious, loving and an amazing director.  After reading My Mother Was Nuts I have a deeper respect for Penny.  4/5 stars

Favorite Quotes:

"Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"

"I was learning that I didn't have to have everything figured out. Often the point was to live and see what happened."

"If you can't always provide a new life, why not do little things that simply help improve someone's life? I know it's cliché, but after getting so much, it felt good to give back."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

✮ ✮ ✮ NOW LIVE!✮ ✮ ✮

Hooking Up by Helena Hunting is AVAILABLE NOW!

Grab your copy today! 
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Amazon UK➜
Google Play➜

Add to GoodReads➜

Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical. 

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October 2017 Reads

     October is over!?!? Can you believe this?  I feel like I say this every month but it just seems like time is flying and I am REALLY not prepared!  I actually read 7.5 books this month which is pretty good for me.  I have a feeling that November and December are not going to be as productive book-wise but a book nerd can always hope!  I know that gift cards for bookstores will be high up on my Christmas wish lists, how about you?

October Reads:

Bourbon Sins by Meghan Quinn: A new cover and a re-edit of her old series prompted a new round of reviews and I was lucky enough to be included.  Not my fave of hers but still good-see all the info here.

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick: An interesting read with three strong female characters-all the details here.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak:  Lesson learned-just because it has a great cover doesn't mean family dramas are for me.  Full review is here.

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben:  If you love a good page-turning mystery with sarcasm and laughs look no further than one of my all time faves, Harlan Coben! All my thoughts are here.

Nadya's War by C.S. Taylor:  Great side of war that we don't often hear about but too much technical and not enough personal.  See the full review here.

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton:  Kinsey Millhone will go down as one of my all time favorite detectives.  I have been pals with her for decades and will cry a little the day I finish this series. 4.5/5 stars

Think Smart Not Hard by Roy Huff:  Realistic advice for anyone's life no matter their goals.  See my full review here.  

                           November preview:

I may have both of these books in my TBR pile and I may have met both of them earlier in the fall...