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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Review: #SkinandBlisters by Linh Le James

by Linh Le James

Thank you to the author for this copy!

Publish Date: July 1, 2020
Kindle Edition
400 Pages
Series: #Toots #2
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Jess drives herself insane, trying to prove her husband's affair. Timing his trips to the shops? Check. Looking for burners in the toilets' cistern? Check. Can she stop herself before she breaks her own marriage?

Louise pretends to be vegan, spiritual, and teetotal. Only vino and fags can ease the stress of wedding preparations, but she bravely decides to give up on her vices. Can she turn into a saint before her fiancé finds out who she really is?

Carla is falling for her very young assistant. Will she follow her heart or her head?

Emily is a magnet for psychos and losers. Her new, normal, seemingly-nice boyfriend asks for a break. Will she get back with him? Or at him?

If things can go wrong, they will. Luckily, there's nothing that cocktails, lousy sisterly advice, and friendship can't fix.

My Review:

This story continues from book one, #Toots and once again we get these women that I still want to throttle.. but am also finding myself invested in. Dang it. They got me! ;)

Definitely some more laugh out loud moments - especially in the situations of misunderstandings. Oh my. I am laughing again just thinking about them. I do appreciate all the humor thrown in as these women tend to be annoying with their insecurities! But again, you grow to love these quirky characters. Some of the dialogue felt a little bit stilted at times and it took a little bit to get used to the writing style. Sometimes it felt like the character was speaking right to me and telling me exactly what was happening rather than showing me. The decided times throughout the day of location and activities happening.... HOWEVER, once I got used to this, I quite liked the cadence of how the story was being laid out.

If you're looking for a quick read full of entertainment and crazy women, this is the pick up that you need. I do recommend starting with book one, #Toots, as it'll help lay the foundation for these characters.

#ATBR2020 Review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale @sourcebooks #PipDrysdale @jessmapreviews

The Sunday Girl 
by Pip Drysdale

Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for these copies.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: May 19, 2020
288 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle, he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.

So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step — one that will change her life forever.

Things start to spiral out of her control — and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

My Review:

Hahaha - oh this book.  Immediately you can't like Taylor... and she's the main character.  But then I took the book with a grain of salt and really ended up loving it for what it is.  This cat and mouse of two terrible people doing terrible things to each other - I was actually cracking up at a few of these horrendous acts.  I just couldn't help myself.

I think the author gave too much credit to Angus, including his name, for him to be such a dickish piece of shit.  But... that's also what made the back and forth between these two almost comical... and so much fun.  I was definitely hooked and needed to know what was going to happen.  Who would come out on top and how this story would end.  It may have taken a little left turn towards the ending, but I liked that it continued in this trajectory. 

I couldn't help but have a great time with this thriller.  Abuse, control, stupid decisions with fatal results - I mean, you like thrillers, right? 😉


Jessica's Review:

This is one of those thrillers that's just fun to read. Who doesn't love a good revenge story? Pip Drysdale's THE SUNDAY GIRL is exactly that, and I think there will be a lot of readers that have fun with this one. Two horrible characters that are doing horrible things to each other but that's the kind of drama we want in this genre.

Taylor has just been dumped by her boyfriend, Angus. To pour salt in the wound, he then publicly posts a sex tape of her, and the final nail in the coffin is when he takes his new girlfriend on the trip THEY were supposed to be going on together. Well, hell hath no fury, right? I did enjoy that Taylor was getting her inspiration from THE ART OF WAR, and that the author included little excerpts throughout the book. Of course, the path to revenge never goes as smoothly as you imagine it to be, and Taylor quickly realizes the dangerous turn things can take. 

All in all, I had fun reading this one. It was a really quick read, nothing overly complicated, and I was dying to find out how it was going to end. I definitely plan on picking up more from Drysdale and would highly recommend this one. As a warning, it does deal in abusive relationships, so that's always good to know when starting.

4 stars

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