Blog Tour, Book Reviews

Blog Tour and Review: Make Me: A widow, single mom romance (Blue Collar Romance Book 3), by Evelyn Sola

Make Me: A widow, single mom romance (Blue Collar Romance Book 3), by Evelyn Sola

Publication: September 17, 2021

About:

Make Me is part of the Blue Collar Romance series, a multi-author series of standalone novels. Welcome to Oak Bend, where blue-collar hotties work hard and love even harder, especially when it comes to landing their happily ever after.

Laci Hogan isn’t looking for love when she moves back to Oak Bend. Coming home is all about Laci gaining the independence she once lost. Besides, getting over a rocky past and losing her husband is more than enough for her to juggle while raising her two-year-old daughter but old acquaintance – Cooper Stevens can be persistent when it comes to getting what he wants.

No stranger to hard work, he’s willing to do all it takes to prove to his new neighbor Laci that she doesn’t have to do life alone and that with the right person, a relationship makes life better – oh so much better.

Will Cooper make her see that this could be all the happiness she never knew she was looking for?

Welcome to Oak Bend where blue-collar hotties work hard and love even harder, especially when it comes to landing their happily ever after.

*My Review*

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Evelyn Sola’s Make Me, the second in The Blue Collar Romance series!

In this book, we get Cooper and Laci’s stories who went to high school together while Laci was temporarily living with her aunt. Laci’s unique, mixed-race looks made her an outcast and subject to mean-girl Candace’s bullying, but Cooper was immediately taken with her. Fast forward several years later, Laci and her young daughter, Ivy have moved into Cooper’s rental home right next door to him. As soon as Ivy spots Cooper’s dog, they become fast buddies while Cooper tries to figure out how to get Laci to trust him and give him a chance.

First of all, it was a rocky road getting Laci and Cooper together because he had off and on dated Candace who still as adults, constantly bullied Laci. Laci was reluctant to give him a chance because of his connection to Candace and for fear of getting her heart broken down the line. However, once they finally got together the chemistry was off the charts with these two! Besides being incredibly sweet and caring, Cooper was about as sexy as a girl could dream for. Swoon….

Anyway, there are some possible triggers in the book involving both weight shaming and racism but only from the villain, Candace, so it almost just makes you pity her for being so insecure rather than “feel sorry for” Laci. I think Laci is an amazing role model for any young woman being “fat-shamed” or made fun of about their skin color in that she handled herself with grace while her inner dialogue indicated that she felt good about her body weight and figure. So go Laci!

This is overall, a feel-good romance. Cooper and his family were wonderful, Laci and her daughter were wonderful, and it just felt so right with them all together. There is some heavy conflict involving Laci’s mother and the history of their relationship, in addition to, the drama with Candace. But overall, this is a fantastic read with the perfect balance of sweet and sexy!

*Thanks to The Indie Pen PR for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Book Reviews

Release Tour and Review: A Place to Belong An Opposites Attract Romance (Blue Collar Romance Book 2), by Alexa Rivers

A Place to Belong An Opposites Attract Romance (Blue Collar Romance Book 2),

by Alexa Rivers

Publication: September 10, 2021

About:

From Alexa Rivers comes an opposites attract romance packed with humor, emotion, and a sizzling happily ever after.

Horror author Felicity Bell moves to the charming town of Oak Bend after being shunned from the last place she called home. When she walks in the door of her new rental, she doesn’t expect to find a half-naked man standing in her kitchen. There’s just one problem: Wyatt Dawson seems to think it’s his kitchen. Misunderstandings aside, her new neighbor is lumberjack hot, and his grumpiness only makes her more determined to bring a little joy to his life, even if he’d rather be left alone.

Burned by his past, Wyatt isn’t about to let the cheerful free spirit next door into his heart only for her to crush him when she flits out of town again. But with his well-meaning, matchmaking, mother on the case, these two end up spending far too much time together and things between the unlikely pair quickly heat up. It may be true what they say—opposites do attract, but only if their relationship can survive Wyatt’s interfering ex-girlfriend and Felicity’s fear of history repeating itself.

A Place to Belong is part of the Blue Collar Romance series, a multi-author series of standalone novels. Welcome to Oak Bend, where blue-collar hotties work hard and love even harder, especially when it comes to landing their happily ever after.

**My Review**

Welcome to my review for the release tour of Alexa Rivers’ A Place to Belong!  This is the second in the Blue Collar Romance series and is about horror writer Felicity and brick mason Wyatt. Felicity has moved around her entire life, always running at the sight of unpleasantness, but has recently moved to the quaint small town of Oak Bend where, of course, she lives right next door to Wyatt. He wants nothing to do with Felicity or any relationship after being cheated on by his ex, but Felicity keeps inserting herself into his life with hopes of helping him find happiness. 

Fans of small-town books will love A Place to Belong because it is an idyllic small town with a diner, coffee shop, town square, and nosy/meddling residents. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, but these are also the people that will drop everything to help out a neighbor. Felicity appears to fit right in with her constant flow of sunshine and happiness, quite the opposite of Wyatt’s constant moodiness, but the reader quickly learns about Felicity’s fears and insecurities, as well as, Wyatt’s. As far as their sexy scenes these characters had amazing chemistry and I also loved how the author wrote the scenes, making them swoon-worthy yet realistic all at once. But out of the bedroom, I just wasn’t convinced. 

Which brings me to my criticism… 

I was not crazy about how the author developed Felicity and Wyatt’s relationship because it felt as if she bugged him and bugged him until he finally decided, “what the hell, I’ll kiss her and see if I like it.” Both characters had numerous internal conflicts going on at once, but it just seemed that Felicity put all of the effort into the relationship while all Wyatt did is constantly freak out about her moving away.

A Place to Belong has an incredible setting and a wonderful cast of characters. I did enjoy this novel overall, just struggled with some things with the main character. I look forward to the next in this series!

*Thanks to Indie Pen PR for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

 

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Book Review: The Trapped Wife, by Samantha Hayes

The Trapped Wife,

by Samantha Hayes

Publication:  Bookouture; September 8, 2021

About:  I thought I had it all. The perfect job. The perfect house. The perfect family. But everything changed the night my husband disappeared…

I can’t remember what happened that night in the hotel, and now you’re here and I can’t escape.

If I don’t smile, pour your drinks, laugh at your jokes, pretend you’re the only man in our lives, you say you will tell everyone the truth about what happened the night before my husband disappeared; that you will destroy my family.

So I play my part, dance to your tune, bide my time as I quietly put together the pieces of what really happened that night.

Because just when you think you are safe, that you have got everything you ever wanted from me and my precious family, you will finally see.

I am so much more than the perfect wife I seem…

*My Review*

Jen is a doctor living with her 16-year-old son, Kieran. Her husband was recently killed in an avalanche while on a skiing trip while Jen is still struggling to piece together a night while she was out of town on a medical conference. Then the man from the conference shows up and basically inserts himself into Jen’s life, with a creep factor like none that I have read recently. Are you irritated with her already for allowing him to bully his way into her life? I was.

This novel is told from 2 present tense points of view: Jen and Rhonda, Jen’s best friend. Jen is returning to work after her husband’s death, dealing with her grieving teenage son, and dealing with all kinds of issues in her head about a night away at a medical conference. Rhonda is Jen’s best friend and understandably worried and concerned. Rhonda almost seems like too perfect of a best friend, going above and beyond to help out. There is also a past point of view told by a young boy named Evan. Evan lives in an abusive home with a violent stepfather, an emotionally absent mother, and his young sister. Evan is also bullied at school until one day he makes friends with Mac, and they become thick as thieves. Scott is also a prominent character but we are told about Scott from either Jen or Rhonda.

The Trapped Wife is very creepy and probably one of the best examples of a psychological thriller that I have read. Every chapter revealed more about each character, which planted not seeds of doubt, but an entire garden of doubt in my mind concerning almost every character in the book. I was confused by their motivations, confused by their behaviors, and absolutely never saw anything coming that was revealed towards the end. Most of my theories and suspicions were completely off-base making me want to go back and start the book completely over to see if I can pick up on any hints. Do you remember watching The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis and once you realized he was dead you were like, “oh my God?”  That was my reaction to the end of this book. I was staring at my iPad thinking, “where the hell did that come from” with mixed emotions of horror and delight because of what I learned, yet it was such a satisfying twist.

Never in my life did I imagine how this would all end.

My main criticism of the novel is Jen herself. I found myself completely baffled as to why a mature, grown woman, a doctor, a reasonable person would allow Scott to invade her life the way he did. But it all made sense in the end. I highly, highly recommend this be your next read if you are a fan of psychological thrillers, especially if you are already a fan of Samantha Hayes – this one will not disappoint!

*Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Purchase The Trapped Wife on Amazon!

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Book Review: The Night She Disappeared, by Kevin O’Brien

The Night She Disappeared, 

by Kevin O’Brien

Publication: Pinnacle Books; July 27, 2021

About:

Some nightmares you can’t forget
From the depths of sleep, Seattle TV reporter Anna Malone awakens to her phone ringing. She rarely drinks, and this hangover is brutal. Why can’t she shake the feeling that something terrible happened last night? And why can’t she recall any of it?
 
But even worse
What Anna does remember: an awkward restaurant meal with her married lover, Russ Knoll, and his unsuspecting wife, Courtney. Russ’s phone call reveals that Courtney is missing, and as days go by with no trace, he comes under police scrutiny. Anna’s in the spotlight too, thanks to a TV rival with a grudge. Anna’s not proud of her affair, but she and Russ aren’t bad people. They’re certainly not the killing kind.
 
Is the one you can’t remember . . .
Anna already suspected that Courtney—a successful, charming author—might have a darker side. Is she truly missing? Perhaps the sudden disturbances in Anna’s life aren’t accidental after all. But no scenario that Anna imagines can compare to the twisted game unfolding around her, one chilling piece at a time . . .

**My Review**

In order to take back some control of my every-growing TBR list, I have decided to ignore any other details but publication date in order to fairly get through the books I have requested. Which, by the way, has become a very efficient way for me to organize my reviews. Anyway, Kevin O’Brien is a new to me author and I loved the blurb for this one, so here we go!

The main characters are the news journalist, Anna, her married lover/handsome pediatrician, Russ, and Russ’ wife Courtney, an author who is also mostly deaf. Unable to resist the pull to Russ, against her better moral judgment, Anna became Russ’ mistress over a year ago. She suddenly meets Courtney who begs to get together and talk about her upcoming book. Despite Anna’s hesitance, she and her videographer, George, complete an expose on Courtney to spotlight her new book launch. After an awkward night with both Courtney and Russ and way too much drinking, Anna wakes up disoriented with the worst hangover of her life unable to remember any details from the night before. When Russ phones telling her that Courtney is missing, Anna begins her struggle to piece the evening together to find out what happened. 

So, Anna’s character isn’t introduced in the best light. She’s the other woman, sleeping and in love with someone else’s husband, all while playing nice to the wife for a t.v. segment. Even better, she wakes up in a different bedroom in her house, in a shirt she doesn’t remember putting on, late for work, and hungover as hell. Poor Anna had to earn some points back with me from the first page, but she did eventually get there. 

Russ seemed almost too good to be true, with the exception of being a cheater, and my suspicions about him having something to do with Courtney’s disappearance were running high from the beginning. I was convinced that he killed her in an argument or that Anna was so drunk she killed her to get her out of the way. But then these creepy phone calls begin, all of these other characters started trickling in, and it took me almost the entire book to figure everything out. Although somewhat farfetched theories, more and more people kept appearing making me think, “well, I kind of see how they would do it just to frame her,” or “That’s a stretch but it could be that guy.” It was very close to the end when I started figuring out “whodunnit,” but it was even later until it was confirmed and I figured out why. I love that! Give me a thriller that keeps me guessing until the end and I’m a happy girl. 

Now, some criticism. There is a character named Sally Justice who is basically a fictional Nancy Grace. Her show was the same, things she said sounded like things I have heard Nancy Grace say before, and her presence was honestly, a bit much. I liked the angle of this crazy aggressive t.v. personality trying to rip Anna and Russ apart, but she had a bit too much real estate in the book for me personally. Also, there was a great deal of flashbacks for Anna about her childhood that I didn’t find completely necessary. I realize the author was trying to develop her character, but I found myself starting to quickly skim over them. 

The Night She Disappeared was an addictive roller coaster ride that kept me guessing until the end and kept me up way past my normal bedtime. O’Brien created this amazing puzzle that took forever to figure out and I highly recommend this one to fans of this genre or especially to those who aren’t sure this is a genre they would like. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase The Night She Disappeared on Amazon!

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Book Review: The Therapist, by B.A. Paris

The Therapist, 

by B.A. Paris

Publication: St. Martin’s Press; July 13, 2021

About:

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

**My Review**

I was such a huge fan of The Dilemna by B.A. Paris that I was thrilled when I came across The Therapist, but this has been sitting on my TBR shelf for quite a while and I struggled to get into it. Finally, I committed to the cause and dove into this one yesterday and found myself addicted fairly quickly. I’m not sure why I initially struggled getting invested in this one, but once I did, it proved to be an entertaining psychological thriller.

Alice is leaving her beloved cottage behind to move to London with her boyfriend, Leo. They have been seeing each other for quite a while, but up until this point, it was just on weekends due to his career. Leo chooses a house, sends her photos, signs on the dotted line, and the rest is history. Alice arrives to their new home in “The Circle” as they call it but immediately feels uneasy. She feels like neighbors are talking about her and not being welcoming. She struggles with the size of the new house and being alone all the time while Leo travels. And based on her behavior watching out windows and ambushing her neighbors – she is desperate for a friend. Anyway, against Leo’s wishes, she posts an invite for drinks at their home one evening to get to know each other better. Everything goes perfectly fine until a few days later she realizes that one of the guests at the party was not a neighbor. 

That’s really all I can tell you about the plot without ruining everything. But let me tell you about Alice. Strong female personalities will most likely find her annoying as hell. It was cringeworthy watching her desperately try to be included or get invited to various activities that her neighbors Eve, Tamsin, and Maria typically did together. I think it’s ok to just have a curbside chit-chat with your neighbors at first rather than being penciled into every one of their routines, but Alice acted more like a little girl new to the playground than a grown woman just moving into a neighborhood. 

Then there is Leo… Leo seemed a little odd and almost bossy at first, but then he changes into someone else entirely and continues to change throughout the novel. I was suspicious of him after only the first few chapters and remained suspicious of him throughout the novel. The author did a wonderful job developing and casting a light on his unreliability to where I was just waiting for him to screw up or reveal something creepy. 

I found almost all of the neighbors at The Circle to be suspicious, gossipy, and dishonest. The only person that seemed somewhat normal was Thomas but at the end of the novel, there had been so many twists and turns I could hardly keep up with how I felt about anyone. However, when the big, final twist occurred, I was floored. I bet my mouth was hanging wide open from the big reveal to the end because nothing I had predicted had come to light. What’s better than a thriller that completely catches you off guard and discounts all of your own theories that had been building?

The Therapist is an excellent read as far as the shocking surprises along the way. This wasn’t a 5-star read for me simply because I had so many issues with Alice, but this is a great read that I recommend. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase The Therapist on Amazon!

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Book Review: Falling, by T.J. Newman

Falling, by T.J. Newman

Publication: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster; July 6, 2021

About:

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

**My Review**

Falling, by T.J. Newman has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while, and to be honest, I do not remember requesting this book. Nevertheless, enjoying a rare day off I decided to dive into this one earlier today and, holy crap, this book is a non-stop roller coaster ride! A pilot, Bill Hoffman is flying from L.A. to New York when he gets an e-mail from his wife. But when he opens it, he sees a photo of his wife, Carrie, sitting alongside their two children and she is wearing a vest covered with explosives. Soon he realizes that Sam, the man at their home this morning that was there to fix the cable, is actually a terrorist and wants Bill to crash the plane.

Bill is on the flight with a young copilot Ben, two seasoned flight attendants, Jo and “Big Daddy,’ and a brand-new flight attendant named Kellie. He’s got a place full of passengers, a terrorist has his family, and he’s instructed not to inform anyone about the situation. What does he do? He tells Jo. And guess what? Jo’s nephew is with the FBI. Too easy? Maybe, but I was completely addicted from the beginning. 

Told from alternating points of view, Falling is narrated by Bill, Carrie, Jo, and her FBI nephew Theo. Bill is obviously faced with the biggest internal and external conflicts being forced to choose between his family dying and safely landing the plane. Carrie is trying to hold her shit together with her ten-year-old son and ten-month-old daughter, all while wearing explosives and watching Sam communicate with her husband via e-mail and video chat. Jo, who has been flying forever is bound and determined to maintain the cabin and her passengers’ safety without causing complete mayhem with the passengers. And Theo, who has already screwed up several times and is basically on probation, is trying to convince his higher-ups that his aunt is a flight attendant on a plane that has basically been hijacked. Literally, nothing is going well for anyone. 

Let me say that, enjoyment of this novel requires a bit of suspension of disbelief. Yes, I sort of chuckled and rolled my eyes a few times, but think of any plane emergency movie – yes, things happen that are completely impossible, but we enjoy them anyway. This book is a thriller and is meant to be treated as one. It’s not going to change your life, but for those looking for a great thriller that’s a quick read, this is it. 

Regardless of my praise, I do have a tiny bit of criticism. Suspension of disbelief or not, there is a World Series scene that was just too much. Luckily it didn’t happen early on or I may have wondered about this one. Secondly, I hated the last few pages. Without spoilers, obviously, there was political motivation behind the hijacking, but I saw no need to include what I felt was bashing and a call to action. Don’t get me wrong, I will talk politics and foreign policy with you all day long (and love it) but when I’m finishing up a fiction thriller, it just sort of bugged me.

Nevertheless, this is a good one for an afternoon escape if you love action/thrillers!

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Falling on Amazon!

 

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Book Review: Together We Will Go, by J. Michael Straczynski

Together We Will Go,

by J. Michael Straczynski

Publication: Gallery/Scout Press; July 6, 2021

About:

Mark Antonelli, a failed young writer looking down the barrel at thirty, is planning a cross-country road trip. He buys a beat-up old tour bus. He hires a young army vet to drive it. He puts out an ad for others to join him along the way. But this will be a road trip like no other: His passengers are all fellow disheartened souls who have decided that this will be their final journey—upon arrival in San Francisco, they will find a cliff with an amazing view of the ocean at sunset, hit the gas, and drive out of this world.

The unlikely companions include a young woman with a chronic pain sensory disorder and another who was relentlessly bullied at school for her size; a bipolar, party-loving neo-hippie; a gentle coder with a literal hole in his heart and blue skin; and a poet dreaming of a better world beyond this one. We get to know them through access to their texts, emails, voicemails, and the daily journal entries they write as the price of admission for this trip.

By turns tragic, funny, quirky, charming, and deeply moving, Together We Will Go explores the decisions that brings these characters together, and the relationships that grow between them, with some discovering love and affection for the first time. But as they cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this is a novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it. The final, unforgettable moments as they hurtle toward the decisions awaiting them will be remembered for a lifetime.

*My Review*

I have said this before, but I cannot believe I let this gem sit on my NetGalley shelf so long before picking it up. Before I even begin, this is easily one of my top three reads of the year and definitely falls into my top ten ever. As the blurb states, Mark has bought an old bus and hired Dylan to drive it while he picks people up across the country that are wanting to end their lives. Each person has different reasons for wanting to take this trip, which we artfully get bits and pieces of throughout their journey either through journal entries, texts, audio recordings, or face-to-face conversations. Karen has been living with a debilitating pain disorder her entire life. Tyler has a heart condition causing his skin to be blue. Lisa is bipolar/manic depressive. Vaughn is a widower with a ton of guilt. Shanelle has been fat-shamed and bullied her entire life. Zeke has a dying cat that has been the only thing to depend on in his life filled with a constant cocktail of drugs. Then there’s Theo, Peter, Jim, and Teresa who also round out this unlikely group. 

This is not just a depressing bus trip across the country for everyone to drive off of a cliff. This is a fascinating look into the minds of these characters which, honestly, prompts a hell of a lot of self-reflection. There were a few times I thought to myself, “that’s no reason to want to kill yourself” before stopping to think that everyone on earth sees and feels things differently. On the other hand, there were characters whose stories were heart-wrenching and I found myself understanding some of their motivation behind joining this bus trip. Regardless of their reasons or situations getting them to that bus, I absolutely adored these characters. 

A huge takeaway from this novel, at least for me, is that no matter how bad life may seem, when you find your people, your tribe, or however you want to phrase it – anything is possible. Did everyone get their happy ending? It depends on how you look at it. But every single person on that bus was forced to take a hard look at their lives, what they wanted, and what they no longer wanted. It was amazing how powerful it was simply for these people to let go of their old lives. Just when they thought they had reached rock bottom and there was no hope, all it took was a bus full of new people. 

Straczynski has blown me away with this novel. The development of the plot and characters along with the never-ending surprises, made this incredible from beginning to end. I loved everything about this book and it will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Purchase Together We Will Go on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Lady Sunshine, by Amy Mason Doan

Lady Sunshine,

by Amy Mason Doan

Publication: Graydon House; July 29, 2021

About:

ONE ICONIC FAMILY. ONE SUMMER OF SECRETS. THE DAZZLING SPIRIT OF 1970S CALIFORNIA.

For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

*My Review*

Lady Sunshine is the first time I have read by Amy Mason Doan and my first thought is, beautiful! The novel takes place during two different time periods, 1979 and 1999. It begins in 1999 when Jackie returns to her uncle’s compound/estate to pack everything up and put it on the market. The reader soon travels back and forth between the time Jackie first visited as 17-18 years old, meeting her cousin Willa, and now that Jackie is an adult and everything has been left solely to her. During both time periods, various artists and musicians show up, relationships are built, and mysteries are solved. 

Jackie’s character was so interesting because she seemed to grow and change more in the summer of 1979 with Willa than she did between 1979 and 1999. Her character blossomed and matured while at The Sandcastle all while discovering simple (and at times child-like) pleasures like finding sea glass or staring at the stars. The beauty and innocence of Jackie and Willa’s friendship were that they were acutely aware of the differences in their lives and interests, yet they embraced it and used those differences to discover new things about themselves. Their bond was so strong and so natural, it made me stop and reflect how long it’s been since I had such a friendship, I have some wonderful friendships, but I think that wild and free connection that Jackie and Willa formed is something that is born out of youth. 

During the 1999 time period, Jackie is struggling with packing up everyone’s belongings, getting to know new people, constantly putting off returning to her old life, and a little bit busy developing a crush on someone new. But the major driving force of this novel is the mystery that builds and builds. What was her aunt and uncle’s relationship really like? What happened to her uncle that final night? What happened to Willa? Where is Jackie’s diary and what is in it that is so bad?

You will certainly encounter as many questions as I did while reading, and this brings me to my only criticism of the novel – the pacing. I am someone that reads very quickly, usually only taking a few hours to read a book of this length. I have been at this one for days. I truly enjoyed the novel but I do feel that things could have been wrapped up in a tighter package. The author does such an amazing job with her imagery and scene development, but after finishing, I was left wondering if every single detail thrown into this novel was completely necessary. 

Last but not least, I have to mention something that truly pulled me into this story, and that was the mention of legendary music promoter Bill Graham, who died in a helicopter crash in October of 1991. About a week after his death, a huge concert was thrown together in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, when I just happened to be visiting with family. That day is one of my favorite memories of my life. I saw The Grateful Dead, Santana, John Fogerty, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and so many more. Needless to say, the entire time I was reading Lady Sunshine, I was thinking back to that carefree day in Golden Gate Park and was so easily able to relate to the characters of this novel. 

Anyone that’s up for some nostalgia and a novel full of friendship and love of music, this is your next read. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Purchase Lady Sunshine on Amazon!

Book Reviews

Book Review: His Other Woman, by Louise Voss

His Other Woman,

by Louise Voss

Publication: July 2, 2021

About:

When my husband vanished, I could never have imagined that finding him again would be worse than losing him…

Not long before before our daughter’s wedding, my husband plans a trip away. I encourage him to go: I know he needs a break. I drive him to the airport, wrap my arms around him and kiss him goodbye, telling him I’ll see him soon.

Then he vanishes. And no one believes me when I say he would never have left us, not so cruelly, leaving our messages unread and our calls ignored.

I spend weeks in our empty house, surrounded by pictures of our family, desperately searching for answers. I go shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress, hoping beyond hope that he will come home in time to walk her down the aisle.

But when we find him, he doesn’t remember us – and he has done something I may never be able to forgive. I just want my husband back… but is he still the man I married?

*My Review*

I have been in sort of a reading rut lately, so I decided to get my NetGalley shelf organized and try to tackle at least one book on my TBR a week. HIs other woman started off a little unusual for me. Liam has suffered a tremendous loss, his mother is not well, and he just hasn’t been himself. Despite his daughter’s upcoming wedding, Liam takes off for a hiking trip in Spain planning to keep everyone updated. However, once he lands in Madrid and lets everyone know that he has arrived, they don’t hear from him again.

This is a tough one to review because I really enjoyed this book at times. I found the overall premise of the novel an interesting one. I’m not sure I agreed with much that happened, but it was interesting nonetheless. Watching the characters change and evolve throughout the novel, and then very realistically regret their decisions helped make this more relatable to me because who hasn’t made decisions that they later were smacking themselves for?

Unfortunately, there were so many other times that i didn’t enjoy this book. First, why didn’t Liam just let everyone know what he had decided when he left on his trip? Lord that would have saved some drama? And what in the hell was up with Alanda’s sudden lifestyle change later in the book? What was happening with Liam suddenly cycling all of the time even though his leg still hurt too bad to take a walk? And then there was Katya… I admit that early in the novel, I found her extremely immature and almost not completely stable. This was confirmed towards the end of the book when that little twist came along, but I liked nothing about her from beginning to end.

And my main confusion is that this is described as “heartbreaking.” I didn’t see any real emotional connections between any of the characters that could categorize this novel as heartbreaking.

If you are a fan of women’s fiction with a disappearance and a ton of obstacles to overcome, then His Other Woman may be your next favorite read. It’s a bit slow to start but once it picks up, you really can’t help reading along despite all of the moments you have to stop and wonder what in the world these people are thinking. This was a 3-star read for me despite some issues, simply because of the creativity the author put into the conflicts and resolutions.

*Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Book Reviews

Book Review: All Together Now, by Matthew Norman

All Together Now, by Matthew Norman

Publication: Ballentine Books; June 15, 2021

About: At just thirty-five, reclusive billionaire Robbie Malcolm is a renowned financial prognosticator, a celebrated philanthropist, and a mathematical genius. Also, he’s dying, which is a fact he’s carefully concealing from the world.

As he takes stock, Robbie realizes that his wealth means nothing if he can’t help the people who matter most. So he invites his oldest friends—Blair, Cat, and Wade—to their beloved Fenwick Island on the coast of Delaware to share his secret and to reveal plans for each of them that he believes will change their lives forever.

However, Robbie isn’t the only one with secrets. The bonds the friends formed as teenagers still exist, but adulthood has brought a whole new set of complications, like unrequited loves, marriages on the brink, and so much unfulfilled potential. Robbie’s plans may look good on paper, but are they any match for the utter disaster that is real life?

As everything comes to light over a wild weekend full of surprises, Robbie learns there are still some things money can’t buy, and a group of friends who thought their best years were behind them realize just how much they have to look forward to.

*My Review*

Matthew Norman’s latest novel, All Together Now, is about a billionaire named Robbie who is dying and wants to spend one last weekend with his lifelong best friends Wade, Blair, and Cat. Robbie studies up on each of his friends who don’t keep in touch with one another as much as they should, with hopes for presenting them with plans to improve their lives. Blair is married with two children and has long since given up her dream of being an artist and instead is flirting with the art teacher at her childrens’ school while her marriage is falling apart. Wade published a book six years ago that flopped, can’t get anyone to publish his second novel, and has just been evicted. Free-spirted Cat is a successful producer in L.A., has just broken up with her girlfriend, and wants to have a baby. Everyone but Robbie thinks they are just taking a weekend to reconnect until he tells them about his health and what he hopes for each of them. 

I have to say, for those of you that remember 80’s movies, the plot of All Together Now is very reminiscent of the movie The Big Chill. Themes of death, the desire to have a child, marital woes, and a struggling career all align with the movie from many years ago. However, it’s still a fantastic read.

Despite this being a story about four best friends and one last weekend together, the author beautifully developed each character and their internal and external struggles. No one’s life was even close to perfect. however, as the weekend passed and more truths were shared, it was evident that their friendship was steadfast regardless of misconceptions, wants, needs, and failures. There was a moment that was especially well-developed when the friends learn about and confront Robbie about his own misgivings that came to light. Norman perfectly captures the vulnerability within this group, their love for one another, and their complete willingness to forgive, even if they didn’t understand.

I was worried about this becoming sad considering a main character was dying, but this novel was mostly filled with witty dialogue and several humorous moments, especially from Cat and Wade. I laughed out loud several times, but mostly it made me want to reach out to those that I consider my dear, lifelong friends and hug them tight. This is a must-read that I should have picked up long before today!

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Purchase All Together Now on Amazon!