Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water, by Erin Bartels

The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water, by Erin Bartels

Publication: Revell; January 4, 2022

About: The best fiction simply tells the truth.
But the truth is never simple.

When novelist Kendra Brennan moves into her grandfather’s old cabin on Hidden Lake, she has a problem and a plan. The problem? An inflammatory letter from A Very Disappointed Reader. The plan? To confront Tyler, her childhood best friend’s brother–and the man who inspired the antagonist in her first book. If she can prove that she told the truth about what happened during those long-ago summers, perhaps she can put the letter’s claims to rest and meet the swiftly approaching deadline for her next book.

But what she discovers as she delves into the murky past is not what she expected. While facing Tyler isn’t easy, facing the consequences of her failed friendship with his sister, Cami, may be the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.

Plumb the depths of the human heart with this emotional exploration of how a friendship dies, how we can face the unforgivable, and how even those who have been hurt can learn to love with abandon.

**My Review**

A while back I was scrolling through available books on NetGalley and immediately stopped when I saw The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. How beautiful is this cover? Erin Bartels is a new-to-me author and after reading the blurb I decided to give this one a try. However, now I am struggling to review and rate this one because of my own fault of reading another review of it that was posted on Goodreads. Let me explain…

Kendra returns to her small cottage on a lake in Michigan after inheriting it from her grandfather and to help deal with a serious case of writer’s block. Kendra is only months away from the deadline for her second book – one that she has not yet started – and is constantly stressing over an anonymous letter from “A Very Disappointed Reader” in regards to her first book. So after 8 years she finally returns to Hidden Lake to hopefully find inspiration, answers about who wrote the letter, and perspective on her memory of events that happened there during her childhood.

I must admit that the only reason that I didn’t give up on this by the 20-30% mark is Bartels’ exquisite imagery and descriptions of Kendra’s grandfather’s cabin. Told from Kendra’s POV speaking to her childhood best friend Cami, it almost reads like a letter. She paints such a beautiful picture of innocent times swimming, collecting rocks, and even being bitten by mosquitos that I was instantly transported to my own childhood summers spent out in the country with my grandparents and could vividly recall my own experiences with the heat, rain, bugs, and so on. Otherwise, I was finding this story tedious. But then, additional characters are slowly introduced. There is Robert, the famous author across the lake and father of Cami and Cami’s older brother Tyler. There is Beth, Robert’s wife and mother to Cami and Tyler. There’s a crazy old man named Ike that lives on the lake and has been around forever. Finally, there is Andreas, the German translator that shows up and surprises Kendra eager to get to work finishing the German translation of her first book.

As soon as Tyler appears in the novel, the reader quickly realizes that something happened between them all of those summers ago and it takes a lot of recollection and discussion to clarify if what happened between them was wanted or unwanted on Kendra’s part. Moreover, Kendra’s recurring internal conflict about whether she liked Tyler’s attention or not comes up again and again making the reader wonder about Tyler’s intentions. Kendra clearly says she allowed it to go on for several summers, so was it sexual abuse or shame? All of these questions are answered while there are many other revelations about Kendra’s family, Cami and Tyler’s lives, Robert and Beth’s past, and even admissions from Kendra’s own mother, Jackie.

At the end of the novel, I felt happy about the direction of Kendra’s life. I felt that I understood all of the characters including their motivations and shortcomings. Despite the difficult subject matter and themes in this novel, I also felt that I had read something beautiful and raw and emotional that took horrific events and turned them into an amazing story.

But then I read a review that spun this story in a different direction and confused the hell out of me! It is very rare that I read other reviews of a book after I have read it and before I write my own, obviously so my own opinions are not influenced in any way. I have no idea why I did it today but I reacted so loudly (yelling at my computer screen) that my husband rushed into the room to see what was wrong with me. If this reader’s interpretation is correct, then I got everything very wrong.

In the end, I am of course reviewing this based on what I read and what I felt. This is not a fast-paced novel and isn’t full of any steamy, romantic love scenes. But the vivid imagery and retelling of a childhood lost is one that I could not put down. I feel like I have now been to this imaginary place and that I know each of the characters as if they were my own friends and family.

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

Uncategorized

Book Review: Someone Else’s Secret by Julia Spiro

Someone Else’s Secret, by Julia Spiro

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; July 1, 2020

someone elses secretAbout the book:

Here’s the thing about secrets: they change shape over time, become blurry with memory, until the truth is nearly lost.

2009. Lindsey and Georgie have high hopes for their summer on Martha’s Vineyard. In the wake of the recession, ambitious college graduate Lindsey accepts a job as a nanny for an influential family who may help her land a position in Boston’s exclusive art world. Georgie, the eldest child in that family, is nearly fifteen and eager to find herself, dreaming of independence and yearning for first love.

Over the course of that formative summer, the two young women develop a close bond. Then, one night by the lighthouse, a shocking act occurs that ensnares them both in the throes of a terrible secret. Their budding friendship is shattered, and neither one can speak of what happened that night for ten long years.

Until now. Lindsey and Georgie must confront the past after all this time. Their quest for justice will require costly sacrifices, but it also might give them the closure they need to move on. All they know for sure is that when the truth is revealed, their lives will be forever changed once again.

From a fresh voice in fiction, this poignant and timely novel explores the strength and nuance of female friendship, the cost of ambition, and the courage it takes to speak the truth.

**My Review**

Someone Else’s Secret has been in my Kindle library for a few months now, and for some reason I finally decided to start it yesterday. I hate that I waited so long. This is Julia Spiro’s debut novel and although it’s certainly not perfect, this was a damn good read. 

Recent college graduate Lindsay is heading to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer to nanny for the Decker family. Georgie is the Decker’s 14 year old daughter who is struggling to find her place in the world, struggling to connect with any friends, and experiencing a first crush on a much older guy. Lindsay is also struggling with how to apply her art degree to the real world, where she fits in society, and her ongoing guilt for the expense of her education. The Decker family is dysfunctional at best with a cold, distant mother and a father who is hard on the young boy, indulges Georgie, and otherwise spends all of his time away from the family. 

I feel that any female will be able to relate to both Georgie and Lindsay in some ways. We all remember being insecure about our bodies or our clothes, wanting to make friends, wanting a boy to like us, and so on. Georgie doesn’t need a nanny so her and Lindsay form a relationship that is almost but not quite a friendship. Then the big “horrible moment” happens, the summer comes to an end, and Lindsay and the Deckers go their separate ways.   

Something about the point of view was a little strange to me like it was a weird hybrid between first and third person and I will admit that at times this reads slow. However, the author beautifully captured the angst, hopes, and fears of girls/women ranging from early teens to adulthood. My main issue is the ending. It seemed a little rushed and almost too perfect, but otherwise this was an entertaining novel. that I will rate 4 stars. 

*I received this digital book through the Amazon First Reads program.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Second Home, by Christina Clancy

The Second Home,

by Christina Clancy

Publication: St. Martin’s Press; June 2, 2020

2nd homeAbout:

After a disastrous summer spent at her family summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen-year-old Ann Gordon was left with a secret that changed her life forever, and created a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, leaving Ann and Poppy to decide the fate of the Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. For Ann, the once-beloved house is tainted with bad memories. Poppy loves the old saltbox, but after years spent chasing waves around the world, she isn’t sure she knows how to stay in one place.

Just when the sisters decide to sell, Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long-ago summer. Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings must decide if they can continue to be a family—and the house just might be the glue that holds them together.

Told through the shifting perspectives of Ann, Poppy, and Michael, this assured and affecting debut captures the ache of nostalgia for summers past and the powerful draw of the places we return to again and again. It is about second homes, second families, and second chances. Tender and compassionate, incisive and heartbreaking, The Second Home is the story of a family you’ll quickly fall in love with, and won’t soon forget.

*My Review*

Oh, my heart and soul! This book! The Second Home is the debut novel releasing in June from author Christina Clancy. If this is her debut, all I have to say is that she has a ton to live up to with her next novel. I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed and invested in a book!

Anyway, this is about the Gordon family. There are the wonderful and quirky parents, Ed and Connie, their daughters Ann and Poppy, and Michael, whom they adopt when he is a teenager. The family always spends their summers on the Cape in Wellfleet and they all have this magical dynamic until the summer of 2000. Ann takes a job babysitting for the wealthy Shaw family. Michael takes a landscaping job with Jason, which also puts him at the Shaw’s home most of the time, and the youngest, Poppy, learns to surf and get high all of the time. But then, things suddenly go very wrong in Ann’s life, which in turn, throws Michael’s life into a total uproar. But of course, I can’t tell you what happens or I would be spoiling everything. 

Fast-forward about fifteen years and Ann is preparing to sell the family home in Wisconsin, as well as, their summer home in Wellfleet in light of their parents’ death. Poppy has spent all of these years traveling, surfing, and doing yoga all over the world and her relationship with Ann is strained/barely existent. Michael is doing his own thing with his own life, yet still misses his adopted family and still harbors enormous regrets over his relationship with Ann. Although heartbreaking, it’s truly family dysfunction at its best. 

The Second Home was truly a five-star read for me despite some issues I had with it overall. The writing is beautiful, the characterization is detailed, and there is plenty of family drama. My biggest problem was with Ann, who was a completely unlikable character. She started out o.k. but quickly turned into a selfish, angry, and unreasonable version of herself.  Yes, she experienced trauma and a life-changing turn of events, but her anger and resentment were misplaced and turned her into a flat, cold person. Furthermore, this woman had more mood swings than I could count. Why anyone wanted any sort of relationship with her by the end of the novel, I couldn’t guess. 

Speaking of the ending… The ending was not my favorite of all time. Depending on the type of novel, I can be either happy or frustrated with ambiguous endings. Two days later and I am still thinking about the ending and trying to decide how I feel about it. I think I would have liked more definitive closure. But nevertheless, I loved this novel.

The Second Home comes with my highest recommendation for women’s fiction lovers, especially those that enjoy family drama that spans decades. Like me, you may not always agree with the characters or understand their motivations, but this one that you won’t be able to put down once you start reading. 

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

Book Reviews

Book Review: Love, Michael, by Gina A. Jones

Love, Michael,

by Gina A. Jones

Publication: Dragonfly Books; August 2, 2019

Love MichaelAbout the book:

Michael,

Twenty years ago, I spent our wedding night alone and was given a letter outlining the day and time of our divorce.

Now it’s our daughter’s wedding day, and your smile tells me you’re here for more than to walk her down the aisle.

When we met, it was the summer of Shania Twain, the color of Mocha Iced lipstick, Sand & Sable perfume, and the summer I began a seventeen-year-old mother. But time has changed me.

So tell me, why are you back?

Jill

**My Review**

Oh my shattered heart, not sure how to review this one! I just finished reading Love, Michael, by Gina A. Jones and my emotions are all over the place. This beautiful novel is told from Jill’s POV and switches back and forth between the present and past tense. Beginning with their daughter Monica’s wedding day, Michael has returned to walk his daughter down the aisle, and as Jill quickly learns, to make-up for the heartache he caused them both in the past. The author then flashes back to when they first met when Jill was seventeen years old and the story meanders between their history together and Michael’s reappearance into their lives. 

Have the Kleenex handy for this one because Jones’ exceptional writing and this touching story will give you all the feels from good to bad. First, I have to admit that Michael and Jill’s past was eerily similar to my first marriage, so reading this was amazingly difficult at times. The author mentions that some of this story was based on her actual events in her life, so I feel like we need to get together over a bottle of wine and compare notes. But although there are heart-wrenching moments in this novel regarding Michael and Jill’s relationship, there are just as many beautiful moments when he returns years later. 

Jones’ characterization was incredible in this novel, however, I truly had a love/hate relationship with both Michael and Jill. The younger version of Jill was so frustrating because of the things she tolerated, however, the older version of Jill was, at times, just as frustrating because of the walls she had built around her heart. The younger Michael was a complete ass, but as I continued to see the positive changes in him later, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him a little. I think the switching between time periods is the only reason I was able to like Michael at all. If their story would have been told in order from beginning to end, I would have hated him too much to care about the different man he later became.

As it states on the cover, this is truly a story about regrets, wanting, and getting second chances, but also about a third, fourth, fifth, and even more chances.  But an even more prominent theme is love itself and how it can endure regardless of time, mistakes, and disappointment. Love, Michael is romantic, emotional, powerful, and is one of my favorite novels that I have read in a while. I highly recommend this story of love and forgiveness, but prepare yourself for some ugly crying. This was my first time reading Gina A. Jones, but certainly will not be my last. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Dragonfly Books for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Blood and Sand (The Collected Stories of Ramsbolt Book 1), by Jennifer M. Lane

Blood and Sand (The Collected Stories of Ramsbolt Book 1),

by Jennifer M. Lane

Publication:  Pen & Key Publishing (August 26, 2019)

blood and sandAbout the book:

Welcome to Ramsbolt, Maine. Home to one red light, one tavern, and one grumpy old man intent on making Logan Cole’s life hell.

After her father makes headlines for crimes against the country, Logan moves to Ramsbolt, the smallest town she can find, hoping for anonymity and relief from the social media storm. Trading a silver spoon for a cocktail shaker, she’s hardly prepared for work in a sticky bar, serving drinks to demanding residents and fending off the advances of the town’s charming plumber.

But pouring beers and making cocktails are the least of her worries. When tragedy strikes, she must choose between saving the town or saving herself.

**My Review**

I apologize for not getting to this review sooner because I have been eager to read Blood and Sand. However, work-life and reality have delayed this one. I first had contact from Jennifer last year and happily read and reviewed her amazing novel, Of Metal and Earth. Please see my review here, just in case you missed it. I was so moved and touched by that novel that I honestly didn’t know if she could recreate anything even close to as wonderful, but I was wrong. 

The blurb for Blood and Sand doesn’t do this novel justice, and that’s my only negative criticism. Imagine growing up as one of the most wealthy children in the county. Imagine living a life where your maid/housekeeper is your best friend and only true, loving family. Imagine all of that taken away, yet still mustering the strength and ferocity to make something of yourself. That’s what this novel is about. Logan Cole grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth, yet thanks to her housekeeper, Marta, she managed to grow up with compassion and humility. When her father is sent to jail for a series of white-collar crimes, the world turns on Logan as if she committed the crimes herself. What does she do? She moves to the middle of nowhere in Ramsbolt, Maine and makes a difference. 

When we meet Logan upon her arrival in Maine to hide out until “everything blows over” with her father, she’s never made her own meals or even purchased her own bedding or kitchen utensils. In the blink of an eye, she’s gone from flying to London for dinner if she so desired to lying to bar-owner Helen about fake experience in order to get a job. However, this isn’t a “poor little rich girl done wrong” story. This novel is about sucking it up, moving on, and stepping up to the plate for one’s self, as well as, for others.

Logan is a complex character with poise and charm, coupled with humility and utilitarianism. From her stubborn tenacity at the start of the novel to her confidence and peace at the conclusion, I loved everything about Logan. 

In addition to Logan and her internal and external conflicts is a wonderful cast of secondary characters. From bar-owner Helen and her arthritic hands and knees to the postman Riley, to the grumpy old man Arvil – everything and everyone seems so real and relatable that while reading, you feel as if you are a part of a real hometown filled with people you have known for your entire life. 

For those that have followed my blog, you know I love to find a personal connection to the books that I read. On a smaller monetary scale and for different reasons, I have been Logan. I know what’s it’s like to be accustomed to certain niceties, bail-outs, gifts, or whatever you want to call them and then have those monetary luxuries suddenly taken away. And guess what? We all survive, prevail, and reinvent the life that we want for ourselves! Logan is such an amazing character in my eyes because she didn’t pity herself, but instead, she rose above and challenged herself to overcome obstacles that she never knew existed

Jennifer M. Lane blew me away when I read Of Metal and Earth. I remember raving to everyone about this incredible new author and how touching and real her novel was. Blood and Sand has gone far beyond my hopes and expectations as far as my second time reading something from Lane. This author has an extraordinary gift not only for making her characters come to life or making them relatable but making you feel as if she was writing about you or someone you know. Whether it be her point of view, her imagery, or emotion – there is something about this writer that gets into your soul while reading her work. 

I hate to repeat things that I said in my review of her previous work, however, I can’t pinpoint a particular audience that I recommend this novel too. It’s another one that I feel that anyone, would not only love but feel honored to have read.

Many thanks to Jennifer M. Lane for gracing me with a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Purchase Blood and Sand on Amazon!

Learn more about author Jennifer M. Lane.

Book Blitz, Book Reviews

Release Blitz & Review: Fearless King (Kings of Rittenhouse #4), by Maya Hughes

 

Title: Fearless King

Series: Standalone book #4 in the

Kings of Rittenhouse Series

Author: Maya Hughes
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 30, 2019
Blurb

 

My first crush. My first heartbreak. My brother’s best friend.
The butterflies in my stomach turned into full-blown eagles the second our lips touched. A kiss under the stars that changed our relationship forever. 
After a lifetime of wishing, I stared up into Ford’s eyes with his fingers caressing my cheek and my heart racing.
 
The evening ended with my heart bleeding on the ballroom floor. 
 
He destroyed my heart two years ago…but now he wants back in my life. 
 
This time I won’t fall under his spell. I’ll resist his sexy, scruffy beard, and panty-melting smirk. 
 
I thought I was over him. Hell, I fully planned to wave to him through my rearview mirror…but with one text, in the middle of the night, I know I’m in over my head.
 
Ford: I need you.

 

**My Review**

Welcome to the release blitz for the latest in Maya Hughes’ Kings of Rittenhouse series, Fearless King. Finally, we get Ford’s story! Ford is the quiet, mysterious one of their groups of teammates, friends, and family that makes up this series, and I’ve been dying to for his own story! After a longtime crush between Ford and Olivia (his best friend’s sister), Ford was ready to take the plunge and try to get things right between him and Liv. But after a misunderstanding ruined the moment, a lot of time passed between them seeing one another. But when Liv’s brother Colm asked Ford to check up on her, he was prepared to do anything to ease the tension in their strained relationship, with the added bonus of seeing Liv again. Of course, she recognizes the still-remaining sparks once they see each other again, but tries hard to keep him at arm’s length. 

I love Ford and I like Liv. I really loved their story. But there was so much pressure and drama from Colm that it drove me insane. Do you ever want to jump into a book and punch a character in the teeth? That’s how I felt with Colm for the majority of the book, so bravo to Maya Hughes and her characterization!

Anyway, yes, Liv was under extreme pressure to live up to Colm’s expectations and follow in their deceased parents’ footsteps of becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, she had a completely different dream of her own that Colm didn’t accept. I tried to step into his shoes of the protective sibling wanting what’s best for someone but struggled to understand the reasoning behind his emotions. 

Then there was Ford, also living under Colm’s scrutiny, wishing he could be forgiven for something he never did with intended malice. Whether you call it a screw-up, mistake, or whatever, Colm – it’s time to ease up a bit on the anger.

Are you noticing that Ford and Liv’s book is mostly about Colm? lol!

Setting other characters aside, this was a great love story that wasn’t just about romantic love, but the loving friendships that reside amongst this group of characters. Long-term crushes on each other or not, Ford and Liv were friends first and it made my heart happy watching things play out as they should.

Love this series, love this author, and can’t wait to read the next installment!

Purchase Links
$2.99 for a limited time!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Read The Wedding Kiss,
a Fearless King short
Also Available
FREE PREQUEL!!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
Maya Hughes has always loved romance novels. One look at her Kindle is confirmation. She started writing her first romance novel while pregnant with her third child and she hasn’t looked back. Now, her romance writing addiction has replaced her romance reading addiction.
 
You can find her writing on her foldable keyboard and phone anytime inspiration strikes. Her sweet and steamy stories range from rockstars to small towns and everything in between. When she’s not writing, she’s playing with her three kids, running errands or vegging on the couch with the love of her life and biggest fan, her husband.

Author Links

 

Blog Tour, Book Reviews

Book Tour and Review: Of Metal and Earth, by Jennifer M. Lane

 photo Of Metal and Earth - Jennifer M. Lane_zpsilfjw28b.jpg

Mainstream Fiction
Date Published: July 19, 2018
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
In 1964, a rural town is rocked to its core when only one young man returns from Vietnam. Emotionally scarred, James hides from their pity and only finds the determination to lift himself up when he realizes what remains to be lost. He buys a little green Jeep, like the one that gave him shelter in the war, and hopes it will lead to salvation again. But the fortune it brings tarnishes, and James is left to sacrifice the thing that gave him hope for the people who need him most.
Over the next thirty years, the Jeep changes hands, passing between friends, family, strangers, and lovers. A single mother who buys a car for her reckless son nearly destroys a friendship with a man who silently loved her for two decades. An insecure youth at the start of his career learns that the most important lessons are the ones you never set out to learn. A family torn apart by their differences finds that love can be the hardest road to take. And a city architect must choose between the easy way to restoration or a difficult path that could save far more than just a rusty old Jeep.
Fans of THIS IS US, MITCH ALBOM, and NICHOLAS SPARKS will enjoy this heart-warming tale of restoration and redemption, a must read book for anyone inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit.

**My Review**

My apologies for posting this late due to technical issues and a common cold of epic proportions.

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for the amazing novel, Of Metal and Earth, by Jennifer M. Lane. I don’t recall the last time I struggled so much to write a review, but I am sitting here trying to find the words to convey what an absolutely incredible novel this is. I don’t presume to think I can do it justice, but I will certainly try.

This novel begins in 1964 when James is returning to his small hometown from Vietnam. Broken and guilt-ridden of being the only one of his friends that made it back from the war, James attempts to rebuild his life and eventually buys a little green Jeep. This Jeep serves as a sign of hope and starting over and is loved and cared for by James for many years until, unfortunately, circumstances require that he sell it. Over the years James has to learn to work on and take care of his Jeep and started recording maintenance and important information in a notebook, even adding in some narratives and photos. When James sells the Jeep, he gives the new owner the notebook, complete with the original bill of sale and the pen James used to sign it, and asks that he also update the notebook and keep it with the Jeep. Thus begins a series of stories about the Jeep and its owners that is an honest, moving, and beautifully written novel about joy, regrets, losses, and finding hope again. 

I am typically a very fast reader and fly through books, but this one I read over several days. The writing was flawless and flowed well, so it wasn’t a challenging read. I think I just wanted to take my time to really embrace the characters and the stories. The book is divided into parts or chapters each time the Jeep changed ownership and I found myself wanting to set the book down and think about each part I had just finished, before moving forward in time and meeting the next owner. 

Lane’s characterization was outstanding, completely bringing to life each of the characters so that I felt as if I could see and hear them myself. From the beginning with James until the last story about Alex and Kate, each character and the challenge(s) in their life was unique, important, and involved some sort of change whether physically, emotionally, family-related, career-related, and so on. Even the Jeep seemed to have a life of its own, and like a person or a family, it went through ups and downs, was treated differently, and was loved differently depending on the owner. However, regardless of which owner it was, the Jeep served its purpose and impacted their lives.

Of Metal and Earth invoked emotions ranging from laughter, to tears, to frustration, to happiness. The stories of these characters and their Jeep will stay with me long after this and this is a novel that numerous people will be receiving from me as gifts this year. I can’t think of a specific audience that would enjoy this novel, it is simply a must-read for everyone. I know without a doubt that all readers will identify with one or more of the characters, and as far as the other characters, there are wonderful lessons to be learned. Bravo to the wonderfully talented Jennifer M. Lane for creating such a touching novel that I will not ever forget. 

 

P.S. My hubby and I just bought a vintage camper that we are starting to restore/revamp and just as James did with his Jeep, we have already started assembling its original paperwork with our own notes, narratives, photos, and experiences. Thanks for putting the thought in my head!

*Many thanks to RABT and the author providing this review copy in exchange for my honest review!

About the Author

A Maryland native and Pennsylvanian at heart, Jennifer M. Lane is a resident of East Norriton, PA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Barton College where she served as editor of the newspaper. She also holds a master’s in liberal arts with a focus on museum studies from the University of Delaware, where she wrote her thesis on the material culture of roadside memorials. She once co-hosted a daily automotive blog and served as the president of a large car club. She enjoys coffee, whiskey, Earl Grey tea, and spending time with her partner Matthew and their own 1964 Jeep CJ-5.
Contact Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

 

Book Reviews

Book Review: Sweat, by K.B. Andrews

Sweat,

by K.B. Andrews

Publication: November 27, 2018

Sweat

About the book:

You can belittle us, judge us, and hate us, but you’ll never understand us.

I’m forced to live a life that doesn’t belong to me.
I’m expected to be the best at everything, get into a good college, and make smart choices.
But what I really want to do is throw caution to the wind.
I want to be free, make mistakes, and live by my standards.
I want Ian Webster.
Ian is the guy I should avoid.
He’s a thin line between living my fake life and taking what I want.
You could say we’re star-crossed lovers, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, but I say, we’re meant to be together despite everyone trying to keep us apart.

 

**My Review**

Happy release day to the fantastic K.B. Andrews and her newest novel, Sweat. I have always loved K.B.’s novels, but this one truly hit home with me and I loved every single word of it. Addison is the beautiful, smart, good-girl that lives with her father, whereas, Ian lives next-door with his drinking and drugging mother, drives a cool car, and just does his own thing. Then one day she starts watching him and he notices. What does this all mean? This is the perfect love story. 

Ian and Addison’s story just blew me away. It’s odd to admit, but I was once Addison. It’s hard to believe now at 43, sitting here with a glass of wine, and 40 lbs later – but I was her. And of course, what did I do? I fell for the bad boy that went to a neighboring high school. My Dad was furious, tried to keep us apart, and yet we still ended up married and having two children. 

Whether you have lived this story or not, it’s an outstanding book. Addison does the thing that I think all of the “cool girls” want to do when they’re in high school. She does what she wants without worrying about what others will say. Now, there is plenty of drama and conflict for her and Ian so she doesn’t get the privilege of truly being herself for long – but at least we get to see what’s really on the inside. This amazing young-adult romance that K.B. Andrews has written embodies all of the angst from our teen years whether it’s a snobby girl, an overbearing and protective parent, or a bunch of boys that, unfortunately, think that they really are funny. 

Besides the overall plot and theme of the novel, I love how this one was developed. Boy and girl know each other but finally, speak to one another. Then they decide to be together and deal with all of the external conflicts. Then they concede and try to stay away from one another. The plot builds and builds with rising and falling action and I wondered several times what would come of Ian and Addison. K.B. put so much emotion and passion into their story that it’s impossible for any reader to not be immediately sucked into the novel and invested in the characters. 

Will Ian and Addison find a happy ending or will they be the teenage love that got away? You’ll have to read to find out! Bravo to one of my absolute favorite authors, K.B. Andrews for such an amazing novel. I have loved everything of hers that I have read, but this one really touched me.

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Learn more about author K.B. Andrews!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Everything We Promised (The Hamilton Series Book 6), by Kate Smith

Everything We Promised (The Hamilton Series Book 6), by Kate Smith

Publication: July 21, 2017; updated version September 2018

promisedAbout the book: 

Do you believe in second chances?

After three years overseas, Aiden Hamilton returns to Chicago. During his absence, he thought often of his teenage love, Tiffany, and longs to rekindle their relationship. Except he faces two major hurdles—his acceptance into medical school in another state, and the continued efforts of their families to keep them apart.

Tiffany Baxter has spent the last three years of her life doing her best to remain invisible to her unsupportive parents. The events of her teenage years have created deep emotional scars, and despite the sporadic and secret contact from Aiden, she assumes he is lost to her forever.

Each has struggled to accept the circumstances that separated them. Both want to move on, yet overcoming the obstacles seems to be impossible. Whenever they manage to find their way back to each other, inevitably they are torn apart.

**My Review**

For those of you that regularly follow my blog, thank you 🙂 And if you are one of those people, then you will probably remember a few months back when I had the extraordinary pleasure to read and review Kate Smith’s novels in her Hamilton Series. I gushed and carried on about all of these incredible books and basically, I had an addiction for a while! Anyway, I am finally reviewing the final in the series, Everything We Promised (book 6). This novel is almost a prequel to the rest of the series, as it takes us back to when Aiden and Tiffany were young teenagers and first meet, and then when they meet again after being separated due to Savannah’s birth. Aiden has been overseas and finally reunites with Tiffany after returning to his grandparents’ home right before leaving for medical school. As their families are still trying to keep them apart, these young lovebirds struggle to be together while everything else seems to be working against them.

Having read all of the other installments in this series, I was a bit leery of this one. It has nothing to do with the author or the series, but I am all about Aiden and Emily and have never been a fan of Tiffany. Yes, towards, the end of the series, she began to redeem herself in my eyes, but still, she wasn’t my favorite. However, Kate Smith has completely changed my perception of Tiffany.

This young woman endured a very challenging upbringing, fell in love, endured tragedy, fell in love even more, finally got the guy, but screwed it up. My thoughts have always been that she got what she deserved, and I am still not a fan of infidelity in any way, shape, or form. However, Kate managed to characterize and humanize Tiffany in a way that I didn’t know was possible. There is certainly more to this underdog of a character than what her actions suggest. Which, of course, I always knew this but still chose not to like her.

Anyway, I won’t go into the plot much more because readers of the series already know the outcome of Tiffany and Aiden’s relationship. However, I will mention that not only does Kate Smith show a different side of Tiffany, she also shows a different side of Aiden that at times, was disturbing, but also made me love his character and who he eventually became, all the more. 

Like the others in the series, Everything We Promised is emotional, endearing at times, heartbreaking at times, but most of all – honest. I can’t recall ever being so in love with a series, the characters, the author’s writing, and just the overall feeling I get after reading one of these books. I can’t begin to find the words that would truly encompass my respect of Kate Smith. What an incredible author and an incredible series. I cannot wait to read what she sends me in the future. 

*Many thanks to the incredible Kate Smith for sharing her novel with me in exchange for my honest review.

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Learn more about author Kate Smith!

Book Blitz, Book Reviews, Giveaway

Release Blitz, Review, & Giveaway: Amongst the Wildflowers

 

Title: Amongst the Wildflowers

Series: Fleurs d’amour #3

Author: Amali Rose
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Release Date: September 6, 2018
Blurb
Layla Jensen
dreams of true love.
A quiet soul, she
walks through life with one simple goal. Stay invisible in a world where she’s
never felt enough.
After living in
the shadow of her beautiful, vivacious sister and believing she never measured
up, Layla has withdrawn into herself, watching life pass her by.
Enter Ethan Miller.
Confidant, carefree and outgoing, he is the opposite of Layla in every way. He
is also the one person who sees her. Who has always seen her.
With Ethan back in
her life, Layla is reminded of the love she once craved and her heart slowly
comes back to life. But as they fight to make their dream a reality, their
happiness is placed in jeopardy from a threat they never saw coming.
Book 3 in a STANDALONE series.

**My Review**

Welcome to my stop on the release blitz tour for Amongst the Wildflowers by Amali Rose. This story is about Layla and Ethan, best friends since they were four years old, and now reconnecting in their last year of college after years apart. Layla has spent her life feeling average, ugly, unimportant, and so on – except for when she had her best friend by her side. Layla has secretly been in love with Ethan for years but never shared that with her handsome and popular best friend out of fear of rejection and ruining their friendship. However, after Ethan returns and they start rebuilding their friendship, Layla discovers he may relate to her feelings more than she imagined.

This is the third book in the author’s Fleurs d’Amour series and is absolutely my favorite! I loved Skye and Cassidy’s books, but there is just something special about Layla’s story. For any woman that has ever questioned her beauty, charm, talent, and so forth – prepare for Layla to draw you in like no other character. Except for Ethan and her friend Evie, Layla is forced to tolerate a ton of rude and belittling comments about her appearance, and honestly, it infuriated me. However, I also know that these things happen every day and that bullying very easily can carry over to college – although you would think adults would be more mature. Rose’s writing is so realistic and full of such vivid imagery that when Layla is subjected to teasing and bullying I swear I could feel it. The embarrassed blush in her cheeks, fighting back the tears, trying to play it off – I felt as if I were there in person witnessing the mean, inexcusable awkwardness. Was it uncomfortable at times? Yes, it was. However, I mean that as nothing more than a tribute to the fantastic writing and how she made it all seem so real.

On to happier thoughts, fans of contemporary and/or friends-to-lovers romance will completely devour this novel. Ethan is sweet, smart, funny, kind, and romantic. Layla is just an all-around fabulous young woman, despite her inner demons messing with her confidence. Together, they are like steamy fireworks and sweet teddy bear love all wrapped into one perfect package. Add in Ethan’s amazing roommates and Layla’s best (girl) friend Evie and you get a wonderful and realistic cast of characters that make this novel the beauty that it is.

Although technically a series, you do not have to read the first 2 books prior to reading Amongst the Wildflowers. This novel contains subject-matter that is challenging at times, but unfortunately, a reality in our world. But the difficult parts are just a small percentage of the novel that is overwhelmingly romantic and moving. I can’t recommend this one enough, add it to your TBR!

*Many thanks to the author and Give Me Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase Links
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Free in Kindle Unlimited
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Free in Kindle Unlimited
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Free in Kindle Unlimited
Author Bio
Amali Rose is an Australian author, and former blogger, who
released her debut novella in 2017.
A self-confessed bookworm, her love affair with the written word began as a
child, with The Magic Faraway Tree. Her tastes have grown and evolved
over the years, and after stumbling into the indie community a few years ago,
she discovered her passion for romance with a side of smut.

When not reading or writing Amali enjoys baking, yoga, cheesy pop music &
netflix marathons; and believes strongly that pink, puppies, and chocolate make
the world a better place!

 

Author Links

 

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