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Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: Fly For Both Of Us by E. Mellyberry

Fly For Both Of Us 
by E. Mellyberry 

Thank you so much to the author for this copy.

Publish Date: March 3, 2020
346 Pages
Genre: Contemporary

Fifteen-year-old Ben Leung can’t believe a girl like Kai Gupta would want to be his friend, let alone his girlfriend. They have absolutely nothing in common. He’s Chinese; she’s British Indian. He’s a Star Trek nerd; she’s a model.

When Kai is offered a modeling career that requires her to move overseas, she persuades Ben to come along. They hatch a plot. They pinky promise.
Everything is running according to plan… until it isn’t.

Can a young love survive 7,235 miles between Hong Kong and Los Angeles?
Theoretically, it can.

My Review:

First things first - I'm pretty sure you cannot read this book and walk away NOT hungry! OMG, I need a surprise-here's-your-lunch date(s)!  But honestly I'm more like Ben, I like what I like and this would also terrify me!

What a delightful read.  This spans a few years as the force of first love gets torn apart when one flies to potentially fulfill a dream while the other stays behind.  Both lives change dramatically and as we all very well know, long distance is just HARD.  But that first love *always* sticks to you in one way or the other.  Especially when it's saturated with heartache.

Itt took a little bit to get used to the writing style and particulars in dialogue but once I was used to that, it became SUCH a part of the book that I smiled at all the quirkiness.  And uff….. I became so involved with Kai and Ben and rooted for them the entire way.  And I love how the author took us on this journey - dealing with culture, loyalty, family, first loves, heartaches, forgiveness and the true meaning of being there and taking care of someone.

OH Mellyberry, you're making my heart melt.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin @jessmapreviews

Happy & You Know It 
by Laura Hankin

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: May 19, 2020
Kindle Edition
Genre: Contemporary

A dark, witty page-turner about a struggling young musician who takes a job singing for a playgroup of overprivileged babies and their effortlessly cool moms, only to find herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets....
After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for wealthy infants on New York's Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.
There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her flawless life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the stylish women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.
Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood – exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women – while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.

My Review:

I ended up having more fun with this book than I thought I would.  I think maybe it would've resonated better if I was a mommy in a mommy group? As such, I think I related more with Claire than with anyone else, since she was basically on the outside of this and just trying to figure things out.  Boy did she get more than she bargained for!

I read this a bit as a satire but I do think this book touches on some interesting topics.  The image to look perfect... especially via social media.  The need, as a parent (or woman in general) to do it all and still look perfect.  To be the wife of a wealthy man and either losing your own identity or thinking of how the hell you can get out without losing the lifestyle you're used to. 

The beginning really drew me in and then lost me a little bit with all the characters and background information.  Then I stayed because I was super curious on how it was all going to unravel.  How will she learn about her and how will they learn about that and where will they all end up?!  From watching 10 seasons of Housewives, I felt like I was reading about the Mommy Elite and the first season just ended!

Maybe there's a bit more fluff than substance but this is a highly entertaining read.  Moms of upper-class Manhattan unite!  And it's a good lesson that we ALL have problems - no matter our monetary status.  Don't let social media fool you. 


Jessica's Review:

Going into this, the synopsis really intrigued me and for some reason I was almost anticipating a thriller. This definitely falls in the women's lit or contemporary fiction category, which isn't bad! I do think this could have worked as a thriller as well. HAPPY & YOU KNOW IT was my introduction to Laura Hankin and I did enjoy her writing style!

Right off the bat, I found myself completely invested in getting to know our group of Manhattan moms. Claire is musician hired to sing to infants in a play group and she finds herself in the middle of a completely new world. The moms are all extremely wealthy and all over social media with the seemingly perfect lives. We all know that's never the case. Plenty of secrets and drama to go around.

Towards the end it was starting to lose me. I'm not quite sure where that switch happened, but there were some parts that I was starting to lose interest, but I was invested so I had to see where it was going to end. No matter what, this was an entertaining read and I would definitely pick up more from this author. It just felt like there was something missing, but I couldn't quite place what it was.

3 stars

Review: The Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms

The Bright Side of Going Dark 
by Kelly Harms

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: May 12, 2020
348 Pages
Genre: Contemporary

As one of the most popular influencers on social media, Mia Bell has lived her life online for years. With her celebrity dog and gorgeous fiancé, she is planning the ultimate virtual wedding—expensive, elaborate, and entirely paid for by sponsors. But off-camera, her world is far from picture perfect. After being jilted by her fiancé and faking her nuptials to please her sponsors, Mia finally has had enough. She heaves her phone off a cliff, ready to live—and maybe find love—offline for a change.

Mia’s sudden absence doesn’t go unnoticed, especially by techie loner Paige Miller, who hacks Mia’s account and begins impersonating the internet celebrity. Paige has her reasons. Her half sister, Jessica, idolizes Mia and desperately needs something to believe in. If taking over Mia’s online persona is Paige’s only means of connecting to her sister, so be it.

Creating a like-worthy life is more fun than Paige expected. But when she grows too bold and is caught in the act, a fiasco ensues that could forever change Mia, Paige, and the people who love them. Because somewhere amid the chaos is an invaluable lesson—one that only real life can teach.

My Review:

We are definitely seeing more and more books coming out with storylines associated with social media.  With social media being such a powerful force in our day to day, this isn't surprising.  Here we have a story about one girl's life tied to social media - it's her foremost thought from the moment she wakes up to the time she goes to bed.  Her bills are paid in sponsorships and her relationship is what is making her popular enough to get paid.  So what happens when things fall apart and she throws her phone off a cliff?

I feel like I'm on social media way more than I probably should be and while my screen time has actually gone down lately, I still fee the effects of it all the time.  Who doesn't want to have a following but when you get it, do you know what you potentially could be giving up?  How authentic can you keep being when so much starts to be expected of you?  

This was a fun read in terms of dealing with all of the above.  I also never knew there was a job in the tech industry to flag offensive or questionable posts.  How very interesting!  (I think we all know by now that nothing put on the internet is ever actually private.)  I kept waiting for the take over to begin.  It seemed to take quite a while to get to that point and in that, I felt my interest in the story wane from time to time.  And then it seemed to quickly wrap up and a bit too neatly for me.  *shrug*
Overall a cute story in the social media age that also touches on the important subject of suicide and social ideation. 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon @harlequinbooks @HannahMMcKinnon @jessmapreviews

Sister Dear 
by Hannah Mary McKinnon 

Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: May 26, 2020
Kindle Edition
368 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.

My Review:

After reading The Neighbors last month, I read this book side eyeing everything.  My mind kept churning and I had to force myself to try and not figure it out because when it comes this author's books, you NEVER know what's going to happen!

The beginning of this book is incredibly sad and had me missing my father and all his dad jokes.  "What do elves learn in school? The elfa-bet."  "What do you call Santa when he takes a break? Santa Pause." tee hee.  🤎

I felt a lot for Eleanor and everything she was going through but I was also highly frustrated with her throughout most of the book.  It took a while for the foundation to get laid with this one and then we get the BOOM in the last few chapters.  I don't know why but I did NOT see that coming.  All these little peeks led to an eye opening revelation and personally, I was here for it. 

I think some people will have issue with her character but gimme all the characters to hate when it's done so humanly.  And that ending... well, let me tell you, I'm one of those readers that love to be surprised and not have it be all tied up nicely in a bow.  Crazy Lifetime movie type of read... GIVE IT TO ME.  This book just brings out the natural craziness that's inside of us ALL … and if you're gonna deny THAT, then you just haven't tapped into yours yet... but don't worry, you will. 😉


Jessica's Review:
This is my third book by McKinnon and she hasn't let me down yet! After reading THE NEIGHBORS last month, I was so ready for another twisty and crazy ride with SISTER DEAR. Her books all have one thing in common, they are so addictive and once you start, you really don't want to have to put it down.

We get an emotional opening followed by plenty to keep you on your toes and she kept me guessing until the end. Eleanor is definitely a character that you can't find yourself loving, but hey, you can't love them all so we might as well enjoy hating some! You do have to feel for her in the fact that she found out some bombshells about her family that turned her world upside down, but it really ends there. It's amazing what jealousy and envy will push a person to do. 

While I would probably classify this as more of a slower burn type thriller, the writing is so absorbing that you'll find yourself flying through it. McKinnon knows how to intricately weave a story and give us little reveals strategically to keep pulling us along. All the family drama and a final reveal I wasn't expecting - she remains an auto-buy author for me and I can't recommend her books enough.

5 stars

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker @atriabooks @kathleenatucker #BuddyReadToDieFor #BraveTheBacklist @jessmapreviews @shereadswithcats

The Simple Wild 
by K.A. Tucker

Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: August 7, 2018
Kindle Edition
400 Pages
Series: The Simple Wild #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

City girl Calla Fletcher attempts to reconnect with her estranged father, and unwittingly finds herself torn between her desire to return to the bustle of Toronto and a budding relationship with a rugged Alaskan pilot in this masterful new romance from acclaimed author K.A. Tucker.

Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago.

It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

My Review:

ALL THE YES!!  Ah, a contemporary romance that is so much more.  If you haven't read K.A. Tucker by now, I kinda suggest that you start immediately.

The beginning of the book, I was in Calla's corner, getting acquainted and feeling for her.  Then she gets to Alaska and I start seeing her in a different light and was eye rolling quite a bit and then it all melds together and well.... I LOVE HER.  I LOVE JONAH.  I LOVE ALASKA! Haha.  Ok that might be overdoing it, but it's also true. 

Somehow Tucker brings us a love story with steam scenes that aren't over done.  Heart tugging moments mixed with laugh out loud hilarity that brings some levity to what could otherwise be a very somber read.  I loved this mix of reconnecting, learning a different culture, being outside your comfort zone and breaking down of walls.  I got very emotional as I was reminded of my relationship with my own father.  This center story was extremely precious and truly fun to read through.

So glad we chose this as our May #BuddyReadsToDieFor group read.  Looking forward to jumping into the next book and continuing Calla's journey.


Jessica's Review:

The May selection for the #buddyreadstodiefor group read and this was exactly what I needed! This is my third book by K.A. Tucker and I absolutely loved it. Picking up so many thrillers and mysteries in a row can get old and the change of pace was perfect. 

Calla is leaving behind her life in the city to connect with her father in a small Alaskan town. Jonah is a pilot that works for her dad and is convinced that she won't be able to cut it in the wilderness. Calla and Jonah just grow on you as the book progresses and I ended up absolutely loving them both! And the author drops you right into that beautiful wilderness that is Alaska. So atmospheric and some of the scenery is so vivid. 

We get a mix of emotions here, some sad moments balanced with some hilarious ones, and of course, the budding romance. While this is a contemporary romance we get so much more than that. This is about family dynamics, getting out of your comfort zone, and all in the beautiful setting that is Alaska. I can't wait to see where Calla's journey goes from here! 

5 stars

Review: The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

The Wife Stalker 
by Liv Constantine

Thank you Harper Books for these advanced copies.

Publisher: Harper Books
Publish Date: May 19, 2020
320 Pages
Genres: Domestic Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Breezing into the tony seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

My Review:

Grab those kernels and pop that corn because this is one popcorn thriller you're gonna need extra butter and salt for. Pop, poppoppop, POP!

I am legitimately torn and ping ponging star ratings in my head.  I flew through the first 100 pages and was loving the craziness of this domestic thriller.  I am one to suspend reality ALL DAY LONG but sometimes enough is enough and there were definitely a lot of eye rolling, ugh inducing "NUH UH" moments that I almost dislocated an eye ball.   HOWEVER, I appreciate the brilliance in why it seemed that way once the ending made the cloudiness a bit more clear.  TORN.

I did find that the middle did lull a bit before ramping up into a bit of an explosive ending.  There were also moments where some of the dialogue fell completely flat.  And did we ever get an answer on why.... shhh, no spoiling here... I feel like I'm leaving with more questions than answers but still reeling from the answers that I got.  Again, TORN.

Listen, for pure entertainment with a side of eye roll, this was an absolute fun read.  I think it just stepped a little TOO far over the line.  If you enjoy suspending belief, insane and unreliable narrators and a lot of popcorn, I would definitely recommend this as a solid quickie.  Don't let the rating fool you, I enjoyed the read but I had more issues with it than I did not.  I couldn't finish her last novel, The Last Time I Saw You, so this author just may not be the one for me.  However, 10/10 I will still read The Last Mrs. Parrish that I still have on my TBR.