August Book Wrap-Up

IMG_0843Hi, Book Friends! It’s the end of August and the end of summer. I read 10 books the month of August and don’t know if it’s because I had that much more free time or neglected some responsibilities, or both! And, all of these books with the exception of one were 4 or 5-star reviews – woohoo!

MRS. FLETCHER – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I adored Mrs. Fletcher. It’s a literary, coming-of-age story journeying thru personal growth, respect and acceptance.
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Han’s narrative is adorable and upbeat making this an engaging and enjoyable story.
THE GODDESSES – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was sucked in from the get go because I can relate to Nancy’s need to find her purpose in a new place as a stay at home mom, which isn’t always easy.
YOUNG JANE YOUNG – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My connection to Rachel, Aviva and Ruby was palpable and I felt it in my heart and my gut. This is a story about three generations of Jewish women you will fall in love with.
MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A bookstore mystery flanked by eccentric characters and a twisty plot – readers rejoice!
DEAD WOMAN WALKING – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A story about a hot air balloon ride gone dangerously wrong when the passengers witness a cold blooded murder in the act on the ground below them.
LAB GIRL – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A scientific, biographical memoir depicting the author’s personal journey becoming a woman in science filled to the brim with passion, drive, emotion and rawness.
MY ABSOLUTE DARLING – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My first reaction to Turtle is to hug her and tell her everything will be okay and to let her be a kid.
THE FUTURES – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Brilliantly weaves together a story about first careers, young love and the financial crisis of 2008.
THINGS THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A story about an Italian immigrant family moving to LA to strike it rich in commercials in the early 1990’s. The themes are funny, disturbing, moving but most of all spot on. (Book Review coming soon)

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Book Review: Dead Woman Walking

DEAD WOMAN WALKING BY SHARON BOLTON BOOK REVIEWTitle: Dead Woman Walking
Author: Sharon Bolton
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Minotaur Books: Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all…

My Review: I won DEAD WOMAN WALKING from a giveaway hosted by Jessica over at jessicamapreviews.com and Minotaur Books – thank you both! This review is entirely my own.

DEAD WOMAN WALKING is described as an achingly gripping read. It’s a story about a hot air balloon ride gone dangerously wrong when the passengers witness a cold blooded murder in the act on the ground below them. This sets into motion a chain of events that leaves Jessica Lane hunted and running for her life from Patrick Faa. In a span of three days she must get to the bottom of an organ trafficking case she is closing in on while evading Patrick. There are quite a few plot twists and I want to keep my review spoiler free so there’s not much more I can write. 

This is my first Sharon Bolton novel. I thought it was good but not great. I really wanted to love DEAD WOMAN WALKING but overall it fell flat for me. The book is 362 pages and divided into three parts. Unfortunately the story remained fairly uneventful until Part 3 and by then it was too late for me to get invested. The character’s were thinly developed and I never felt a connection to any of them. I need some type of connection whether it be on an emotional level or a relatable event to suck me in. On the other hand, the plot was unique and full of twists – right up to the end – I just wish it had more of that suspense / thriller grip factor. All in, I think it was an entertaining read and definitely worth checking out from the library. 

Book Review: Young Jane Young

YOUNG JANE YOUNG BY GABRIELLE ZEVIN BOOK REVIEWTitle: Young Jane Young
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books & PRH Canada
Publication Date: August 22 & 29, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Algonquin: Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss–and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn’t take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics.

She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up–an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it’s only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

*Thank you to Algonquin Books, PRH Canada and Netgalley for providing me this free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: YOUNG JANE YOUNG is guaranteed to resonate with anyone who loves contemporary women’s fiction. I was fully invested in this book and read it in two days. Yes, Aviva makes horrible mistakes in her youth and yes, she owns them and I think it strengthens who she is as a woman but the wide reaching impact is haunting and inescapable. I am blown away by these types of political sex scandals where male politicians walk away unscathed.

YOUNG JANE YOUNG elicits a range of emotions in response to events and situations that are real and relatable but presented in a light and upbeat framework. Zevin’s writing is masterful. My connection to Rachel, Aviva and Ruby was palpable and I felt it in my heart and my gut. This is a story about three generations of Jewish women you will fall in love with. Rachel is recently divorced and doesn’t want to be alone so she takes the advice of her best friend and tries online dating. You can imagine a divorcee in her 60’s who doesn’t mince words with her dates, I found her experience hilarious. Meanwhile, her daughter Aviva is dealing with the fallout from her sex scandal with a congressman. Pregnant, jobless and husbandless she leaves Miami and reinvents herself in Allison Springs, Maine. When she embarks on her own political career her adorable thirteen year old daughter Ruby, who is wise beyond her years, learns the truth about her mother’s past and handles it as a teenager would by running off to Miami to meet the father she thought was dead.

If you love a story that is funny, fresh and poignant then YOUNG JANE YOUNG is not to be missed and should be high on your reading list!

Book Review: Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta Book ReviewTitle: Mrs. Fletcher
Author: Tom Perrotta
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Scribner: Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.

Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

My Review: Thank you to Scribner and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I adored Mrs. Fletcher. It’s a literary, coming-of-age story journeying thru personal growth, respect and acceptance. The topics explored cut to the emotional quick as most readers will be familiar in some way. But they are presented in a light manner which keeps the story upbeat. Tom Perrotta’s well-defined characters, engaging narrative and thought provoking subject matter really took this story to another level. Written from both Eve and Brendan’s perspectives, I felt like Perrotta nailed it perfectly coming from both angles.

Eve Fletcher is a single mom and brand new empty nester. After getting her son Brendan off to college she channels her loneliness in a gender studies course at the local community college. One night she receives a wildly anonymous text, U R my Milf! This text sets the wheels in motion for Eve’s indulgence in MILFateria.com, an erotic website that gets mileage out of middle aged women.

Eve is enjoying her new found freedom, a student pondering feminist theory, she’s drinking and dancing, exploring her sexuality and making stupid mistakes. One evening things really heat up after a small gathering of friends and this event is the defining moment where Eve realizes she’s just plain lonely. And it doesn’t help that her married friends plaster their Facebook walls with sappy Valentine’s Day messages.

Meanwhile, Brendan’s jerk-like behavior isn’t winning anyone over at college. After finally getting a date with pretty Amber he screws up any possibility of a relationship due to his chauvinistic sexual behaviour. His roommate Zack has pretty much ditched him because he doesn’t like the person he becomes when he’s around Brendan. He quickly realizes he is a big disappointment on campus and drops out of school and moves back home.

Eve’s freedom is stifled with Brendan at home again. She gives up taking another class at the community college to spare Brendan the embarrassment of running into his mom at school. Her freedom and carefree lifestyle is quickly swapped out for domesticity as she falls back into daily life as ‘mom’.

That hot and heavy night plays over in Eve’s head as she comes dangerously close to making a regrettable mistake. Fighting back her inner desires not a moment too soon, she offers up one lasting memory that is sure to never fade away.

I think the biggest takeaway from this book is our views and acceptance of others. This really came thru in Brendan’s transition as the story progressed. I think anyone who enjoys an entertaining story will appreciate this one. It’s light, funny and interesting from start to finish.

Book Review: Careers for Women

IMG_0721Title: Careers for Women
Author: Joanna Scott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Little, Brown and Company: Maggie Gleason is looking toward the future. Part of a midcentury wave of young women seeking new lives in New York City, Maggie works for legendary Port Authority public relations maven Lee K. Jaffe–affectionately known to her loyal staff as Mrs. J. Having left Cleveland, Maggie has come to believe that she can write any story for herself that she imagines.

Pauline Moreau is running from the past–and a shameful secret. She arrives in the city on the brink of despair, saddled with a young daughter who needs more love, attention, and resources than Pauline can ever hope to provide. Seeing that Pauline needs a helping hand, Mrs. J tasks Maggie with befriending, and looking after, Pauline.

As the old New York gives way to the new, and Mrs. J’s dream of the world’s largest skyscraper begins to rise from the streets of lower Manhattan, Pauline–with the aid of Maggie and Mrs. J–also remakes herself. But when she reignites the scandal that drove her to New York, none of their lives will ever be the same. Maggie must question everything she thought she knew about love, work, ambition, and family to discover the truth about the enigmatic, strong woman she thought she had rescued.

My Review: Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review!

CAREERS FOR WOMEN has a Mad Men-esque vibe set during the 1950s, which is a period I’ve always been drawn to so naturally I was sucked in from the get-go!

Scott’s cast of characters are every bit who you would expect to meet in mid-century New York City. The women are strong and admirable, each securing their own special place within the story. Maggie, the benign central character is level headed and responsible and truly shines when she sacrifices her future with a prominent doctor to raise her friend Pauline’s special needs daughter. I adored Mrs. J., the Director of PR at The Port of New York Authority and the cornerstone to the construction of the World Trade Center towers, she advocates for her career girls during a time when men ran the corporate show. Her beliefs are firmly rooted in good old fashioned hard work and ingenuity and any woman possessing both can achieve her worth.

The multi storylines constantly evolve; Bob Whittaker is the corporate big shot running Alumacore, the upstate aluminum plant polluting the animals and people and his own morality. His despicable actions have far reaching effects; from the death of his step-son’s fiancée’s father to Pauline the reformed prostitute who gets caught in his crosshairs. The plots are thought-provoking especially because I grew up with equal opportunity and my heart went out to the bright women who could only get so far as typists while enduring the occasional pat on the derrière from the boss.

Scott’s writing is nostalgic, entertaining and well paced and I wanted more. She brilliantly pays homage to women who paved the way into corporate America. I highly recommend this book!

 

Book Review: Throw Away Girls

Adobe Photoshop PDFTitle: Throw Away Girls (The Jaycee Wilder Series #1)
Author: Jennifer Vaughn
Publisher: Waldorf Publishing
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5

From Waldorf: Hard-charging, insightful, and ambitious, Jaycee Wilder wants to take her TV news career to the next level. The Los Angeles reporter is hungry for the big story. When dead girls begin to pile up at seedy nightclubs that cater to whimsical, fetish-seeking strangers, Jaycee suspects a serial killer is at work. She aligns herself with an east coast cop trying to resurrect himself- and his once stellar career- from a drunken skid.

The killer lives a normal life during the day, while hunting the Throw Away Girls at night, punishing them for their dark urges. He leaves messages behind in his victims’ blood, his explanation for enacting such brutal, twisted justice upon the unworthy. He watches the media coverage. He knows the wily reporter is chasing him. As Jaycee follows her gut, and the evidence, she forces him to act. But when a killer is clever and cunning, he can infiltrate anywhere. Jaycee must utilize all her skills to expose him before he gets to her first.

My Review: THROW AWAY GIRLS is highly addictive, suspenseful and frightening! If you love serial killer thrillers then this book is for you. This is the first book in the new Jaycee Wilder Series and Jennifer Vaughn draws from her first hand experience as a television news anchor to brilliantly craft Jaycee’s character as a tenacious and sharp newscaster in LA. Jaycee is such a likeable character adored by her hot, actor boyfriend Van and news team colleagues. She forges a trusting relationship with Detective Barton who feeds her inside information about the killings. Jaycee’s compassion and empathy for the throw away girls and their families really make her shine as a human being.

The book is told mostly from Jaycee’s point of view but I so appreciated hearing from the victim’s perspective. I also love a strong, competent female lead. Vaughn’s writing is easy to digest, engaging and page turning.

Vaughn nailed the plot – it’s dark, cringe-worthy and gory and stands up every bit to well read authors of this genre. I was sucked into the story from the get-go with a brutal murder scene in process – so creepy but so good! I wish the killer reveal came later in the story but Vaughn kept the suspense tight right up to the end. I can’t wait to pick up the newest installment, Legacy Girls.

Thank you to Waldorf Publishing and Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for my own review.

Book Review: Hello, Sunshine

IMG_0117Title: Hello, Sunshine
Author: Laura Dave
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Digital ARC
Verdict: A good read
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Simon & Schuster: Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

My Review: If you are a foodie and like social media culture then HELLO, SUNSHINE should be on your summer reading list! This book is a page-turner and I could not wait to find out what deep dark secrets Sunshine Mackenzie was hiding and who was behind the Twitter hack that took her culinary career down.

I tried not to over analyze this book because it’s meant to be entertaining but I found several characters shallow and ridiculous. I didn’t care for Sunny because she was embedded in lying for her own betterment and her lying knows no boundary.

Dave’s writing style is engaging and has a flow that kept me turning the pages, although I’m not sure what the incomplete ending is about – nothing was resolved!

The food descriptions are divine and a relatable element that any foodie will appreciate. While this one isn’t one of my favourite books it’s definitely fast-paced, light and entertaining – perfect beach reading!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review.