Review: Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis
Title:
Sweet Little Lies | Book 1 Heartbreaker Bay Series
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Contemporary

About Sweet Little Lies: Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

Review: Whoa, reader be warned, Sweet Little Lies is S-T-E-A-M-Y in every good way possible! I needed time to catch my breath and fan my hot, flushed face before writing this review.

The first book in Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay Series, gorgeous Pru is making wishes at the historic fountain in her courtyard for sexy Finn to find true love with anyone but herself. Pru is no good for Finn – she’s holding onto a secret that is sure to drive him the opposite direction. The two are perfect for each other and everyone knows it but Finn is a work-a-holic tending to O’Riley’s, the pub he runs with his brother and Pru can’t bear the thought of hurting Finn and keeps him at arms distance.  Or at least she tries to but when an ultra sexy couple are meant to be together there’s no denying sparks are going to fly.

Sweet Little Lies is every bit charming, romantic and oh so sizzling hot! Shalvis’ books have fast become the palette cleansers I need in between heavier reads. Add this one to your reading list!

The Heartbreaker Bay Series – Each book is a standalone
Sweet Little Lies
The Trouble with Mistletoe
One Snowy Night
Accidentally on Purpose
Chasing Christmas Eve
Holiday Wishes
About that Kiss
Slow Winter Nights

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Book Review: The Force

y648Title: The Force
Author: Don Winslow
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

From William Morrow: All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.
He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

My Review: The New York Police Department – Corruption. Drugs. Gangs. Riots. Tension. If this sounds like a cliche, it’s not. This book is about the elite Manhattan North Special Task Force also known as ‘Da Force’ and ‘The Kings’ that run it – Malone, Russo, Montague, Levin, and O’Neill. These guys go after the drugs and guns, they keep some of the drugs for themselves and pad their nest eggs with the money. So long as the right people get their kickbacks nobody says anything because corruption breeds corruption.

Sergeant Denny Malone is your stereotypical NYPD detective; descended from an Irish hero cop on the verge of divorcing his Irish wife, he wears tattoo sleeves and drinks Jameson whisky. His girlfriend is a mess, often high and can’t get clean. Denny’s the king of kings – revered by the department and feared on the streets. At his core he’s true to himself, his family, his brother cops, The Job, and his city but years working the drug task force have beat him down and blurred the lines between right and wrong, loyalty and betrayal, morality and immorality.

The story opens with Denny locked up in a federal correctional facility followed by a singular event that will torment him to the last page and serve as his fall from grace. Everything else is about how Denny got to this place. At 400+ pages the first half is a slow burn rich in the essentials and nuances of the force – the drug deals, snitches, mandatory bowling nights, the comped dinners and visits to high end brothels. There’s a certain cache that comes with being on the task force but it comes at a high price.  The guys are on the front line which is risky business and take the emotional brunt often leading to drug use to get thru the days. The second half is mind-blowing as Denny spirals out of control taking the whole system down with him.

Winslow masters two things: he illustrates evocative images, characters, and lingo right down to the New York accent and creates an edgy connection where you normally would never go.  Yes, I sidled up to Malone and had a love / hate relationship with a dirty cop! I plunged into uncharted territory and I liked it. Maybe that’s why The Force reads like a true story even though it’s fiction.

Put this one at the top of your reading list. You won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: Everywhere That Mary Went

B663143D-86FE-475A-A284-94067AA5A2FETitle: Everywhere That Mary Went
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: November 1, 1993
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT is Book 1 of the Rosato & Associates series. Mary DiNunzio is a lawyer at prestigious Stalling & Webb in Philadelphia. Her husband is killed in a freak accident and Mary copes by immersing herself in work and focusing on making partner. Then her secretary winds up dead. Coincidence? And someone is crank calling her every day when she gets to work and again when she gets home. These disturbing events the past year start to unhinge Mary and when she comes face to face with her stalker and how far he will go to have Mary she puts up the fight of her life.

What I liked:

  • Strong central female character
  • Legal thriller
  • Series
  • Murderous plot

What I didn’t like:

  • Slow plot in some spots, felt a bit dragged out
  • A little far fetched that Mary didn’t put the pieces together sooner

Overall: A good beginning to a new to me series. Scottoline’s plots are not edge of your seat type but what I call ‘gentle suspense’. Her writing is engaging and intelligent.

Book Review: The Lost Ones

D3951E3F-2037-44CF-85ED-B41A9EC200FFTitle: The Lost Ones
Author: Sheena Kamal
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From William Morrow: A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.
It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.
A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

My Review: I am fairly certain that I am a bit biased in my review of THE LOST ONES because I live in Vancouver, which is the primary setting for this stellar debut. When you know the references about the city you live in it’s easy to get caught up in the action and fully invest yourself in a book and that’s what happened to me right from the start.

Nora Watts’ has an ugly past. She was brutally attacked and left for dead and pregnant with a child she never wanted. Fifteen years later Bonnie has run away and her adoptive parents reach out to Nora to help find Nora’s biological daughter. The police are little help and Nora sets out on her own to find Bonnie. She discovers the men in sedans watching her are not the cops and what seems like scare tactics upfront quickly lead to a dangerous chase from the rainy streets of Vancouver to its harsh winter counterpart in the interior.

Nora struggles to piece together the ties binding a teenage runaway to a group of thugs and the voice she heard fifteen years ago when she was left for dead resurfaces. The connection is bigger than she ever imagined and filled with conspiracy, betrayal and life and death. The first book in the Nora Watts Series proves it’s weight as a debut suspenseful thriller.

Book Review: Why Mummy Drinks

IMG_0902Title: Why Mummy Drinks
Author: Gill Sims
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 19, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5

From Harper Collins: It is Mummy’s 39th birthday. She is staring down the barrel of a future of people asking if she wants to come to their advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly after a glass of Pinot Grigio and says things like ‘Oooh gosh, are you having another glass?’
But Mummy does not want to go quietly into that good night of women with sensible haircuts who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to trump each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements, and boasting about their latest holidays.
Instead, she clutches a large glass of wine, muttering ‘FML’ over and over again. Until she remembers the gem of an idea she’s had…

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this free arc in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: Mom’s who feel undervalued, overworked and spread thin will love and relate to WHY MUMMY DRINKS, a laugh out loud story about an exhausted mom who loves her husband and her children dearly but needs a drink (or two) to see her through.

Ellen is like so many mom’s out there. She’s taken a lesser profile job to cut childcare costs and be available for her children. She dreams about what a perfect day looks like – breakfast made to order for her beloved Peter and Jane, dishes done, house tidy and a delicious dinner put into the slow cooker. But, instead her day goes like this: oversleep, throw cereal in front of children for breakfast, rush out the door dragging the kids and dog to school, argue with kids after school about everything and realize you forgot to turn on the slow cooker at 5:30pm. Drink wine.

There were so many laugh out loud moments but one is most memorable for me. Ellen’s husband Simon’s off-the-grid, hippy sister announces her family will drive down for Christmas and crash with Ellen and Simon. It will be lovely for her six children to visit their cousins! Over the span of their visit Ellen will endure Louisa (Amaris – her goddess name) breastfeeding all six of her children, two of the children won’t use the toilet, one uses the floor and the other the garden and Amaris whipping up the nastiest smoothie (trust me on this one!) that her husband Bardo contributes to. Oh and Ellen’s self absorbed sister invites her family too and fusses over bringing Christmas pudding. But it wouldn’t be Christmas without your dearest friends so Ellen invites her besties, Sam and Hannah – the more the merrier!

This is a light-hearted and humorous take on everyday life as a mom and wife. There are high moments and low moments but after every moment it seems there’s always room for a drink.

 

Book Review: Family Affair

IMG_0917Title: Family Affair
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5

From Harper Collins: Lacey Lancaster always longed to be a wife and mother. However, after a painful divorce, she just wants to lay low in her charming San Francisco apartment with her beautiful Abyssinian cat, Cleo.
Everything would be wonderful if it wasn’t for her impossible neighbor, Jack Walker, who argues day and night with his girlfriend . . . and whose cat, Dog, is determined to get Cleo to succumb to his feline advances. And when Lacey discovers that Cleo’s in the family way, she’s furious that neither Jack nor his amorous animal seems terribly upset about it.
But things aren’t always what they appear. Jack’s “girlfriend” isreally his sister—and his intentions toward Lacey are quite honorable (though she’s not sure about Dog). And out of the blue, Lacey is discovering the tender joy of falling in love all over again.

My Review: Cat lovers and romance novel lovers will rejoice over FAMILY AFFAIR, a light and heartwarming story as only Macomber, the mother of sweet, tasteful romance can deliver.

Recently divorced and swearing off men, heartbroken Lacey Lancaster has a bone to pick with her neighbour Jack Walker. Jack’s cat, Dog, impregnates her Abyssinian, Cleo and Lacey wants to know what Jack (and Dog) are going to do about it. You see, Lacey intended to breed beautiful Cleo and now Dog has messed up her plans. Jack has been interested in Lacey since she moved into their San Francisco apartment complex and now he has Dog to thank for getting Lacey to let down her guard and let Jack into her life.

This is a short read about starting over and new love. Add a steaming cup of tea, a warm blanket and tuck in for a cozy afternoon.

May Book Wrap-Up

The Arrangement, Crazy Rich Asians, Dumplin', Into the WaterHello Readers! This is the time of year where everything seems to ramp up instead of slow down. My kids have one more month of school until summer break (I live in Canada) and on top of their regular school day and extra curricular activities come piling on performances, Sports Day, end of year teacher gifts, etc. Our weather has been pretty summery the last two weeks so I’m in summer mode – swimming pools, the beach, camping, visiting grandparents!

May was a good reading month for me. I imbibed in The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. Any month where I read two 5-star books is a good month!

The Arrangement – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
You can read my full review here.

This is THE book of the year, for me, and the one I am recommending to everyone. The Arrangement is hilarious times ten – a total riot!  Sarah Dunn is a brilliant writer. Her character and plot development were on point and I found the characters very relatable, they were just like you and me. Lucy and Owen are real people managing everyday life with their autistic son, Wyatt. All couples married ten or more years should read this book.  Dunn had me in hysterics with this one.

Opinion: Highly recommend!

Crazy Rich Asians – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
You can read my full review here.

After reading this book I wondered what took so long for me to join the Kevin Kwan trilogy party. I devoured this book quickly and thought it was super funny and entertaining. I found myself drifting into Rachel’s shoes wondering if I could handle Nick’s family with such grace and in the end I decided I would not be able tolerate the superficial shallowness inflicted on her – my hat goes off to Rachel!  It has taken a lot for me not to immediately jump into the next book in the series, China Rich Girlfriend. When I fall in love with a series, like this one, I need to add a bit of distance between the books otherwise the stories begin to feel diluted.

Opinion: Highly recommend!

Dumplin’ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
You can read my full review here.

I listened to the audiobook version of Dumplin’ and really enjoyed Eileen Stevens’ narration. The story takes place in small town Texas so it’s ideal to listen to it read with a southern drawl. It added an authenticity to a story I may not have enjoyed as much if I were reading it. The take home message here is body image acceptance. Sixteen year old Willowdean Dickson, known as Dumplin’ (the nickname her mother gave her) is a fat girl with a big personality. She’s well versed in defending her size to her mother and her peers. I admired Willow’s tough-girl exterior because sixteen is a challenging age without body shaming. Underneath the tough exterior Willow is like the rest of us – she harbours insecurities which is the pivotal point in the story.

Opinion: Recommend

Into the Water – ⭐️⭐️ / 5
You can read my full review here.

Into the Water was swirling with hype – lots of hype. Unfortunately there was no substance behind the hype. After TGOTT, which I though was good not great, this book was a let down and here is why: Hawkins cast such a dreadfully depressive mood on this story; the men were mysogonistic (same with TGOTT) and everyone else seemed pathetic. I’m casting some pretty big stones here but the hype really was too big for this book. And now nearly every suspense / thriller on the shelves is lumped into the same vein as TGOTT and Into the Water. I’m pulling away from titles advertised this way. There were way too many characters in Into the Water (too much time spent confused and re-reading), we didn’t know much about them and they were unlikable. I know I’m an outlier here as the book has quite a following. It just didn’t work for me.

Opinion: Don’t bother

Have you read any of these books and if so what did you think?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

I will publish my summer reading list shortly – I have some really good books lined up!