Two Reviews: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy & The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Publication Date: May 1st, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Mothers groups have begun to gain popularity across the US, including many local groups here in Iowa that host events for new or expecting mothers as a way to provide social opportunities, sounding boards, tips and tricks.

The Perfect Mother follows one such group dubbed “The May Mothers” as one of the member’s babies goes missing after a night out together. Secrets begin to surface about each of the members as police work to find missing Baby Midas.

A riveting read as Molloy has given the reader several mothers, and one father, whom possess perfectly contrasting personalities, helping to aid the reader in not only keeping track of each character but by adding another level of engagement to the already stirringly suspenseful read.  Given I listened to this as an audiobook it would be an injustice to not give a shout out to narrator, Cristin Milioti, as she added an enjoyable layer to this read. Milioti brought to life each character through her flawless British and Southern accents and ability to quickly flip between characters in conversation.

*Disclaimer: A review audiobook was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

Publication Date: June 19th, 2018

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

“According to Granny, Northerners have a lot of misunderstandings about the South. Like how folks shivering up there in Vermont and Minnesota think we’re picnicking in the warmth and sunshine all winter long – perpetual summer.” (p. 19)

The James Family of Lamoyne, Mississippi live with a negative stigma over their family. Tallulah ran from her small town to escape the whispers and looks, but when her younger brother is imprisoned for murder she feels drawn home to help him.

Crandall beautifully touches on Southern values, mental illness and troubled childhoods in her newest, The Myth of Perpetual Summer, even successfully weaving in the civil rights movement and Vietnam war protests through the time periods captured within. However, like Remains of the Day, current day seems to take a backseat to the past as Tallulah seeks the closure she so desperately needs from her childhood.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

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Two Reviews: Justice Betrayed (Memphis Cold Case #3) by Patricia Bradley & Lone Witness (Atlanta Justice #2) by Rachel Dylan

Justice Betrayed (Memphis Cold Case #3) by Patricia Bradley

Publication Date: June 5th, 2018

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Elvis Impersonators, badass female law enforcement and psycho killers – if Patricia Bradley didn’t already have a killer combo (pun intended) her talent to draw out suspense certainly would have been enough, in book three of the Memphis Cold Case series. Read in a series or standalone, Bradley expertly interlaces snippets of the killer’s thoughts, keeping the reader guessing in this entertaining suspenseful romance out now!

Was Rachel’s mother murdered in a kidnapping gone wrong 17 years ago, or do the recent murders of Elvis Impersonators mean her mother’s killer has resurfaced? Justice Betrayed leaves the reader guessing right to the last moment.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review.


Lone Witness (Atlanta Justice #2) by Rachel Dylan

Publication Date: May 1st, 2018

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

Author Rachel Dylan knows her way around the courtroom as her talents are on full display in her newest book Lone Witness. The simultaneous telling of a beautiful love story between two broken people and the fear that brings them together. Prosecutor, Sophie Dawson and private security officer Cooper Knight are so well done, as is the real fear you feel for Sophie’s situation.

This book is straight out of a Law and Order-esque TV show with strong female lawyers to boot! An enchanting read as you feel the fear for the tangles of Sophie’s job, love for the characters uniting and passion for the work the ADA’s office is doing. Dylan expertly weaves the bad guys with the good as the reader is left scrambling to disentangle Sophie’s dangerous predicament. Anyone whom loves law dramas and romance will not be dissatisfied or lost in book two of the Atlanta Justice series.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life: How to Ace an Interview, Change a Tire, Talk to a Guy, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Thrive by Erica & Jonathan Catherman

Publication Date: May 15th, 2018

Rating: 2 ½ Stars

This husband and wife team set out to create a book that encased everything a girl, becoming a woman, needs to know. They did this through ten essential categories, detailing “How To” steps, with varying anecdotes scattered throughout the chapters. These “How To” stages are simplistic enough for a younger audience, while successfully keeping the topics light and understandable. The pictures included at the beginning of each kept the book from becoming too dense as the introductions to each category provided insights into why the authors determined each of the subject matters as important for young women.

My only hesitations were the prehistoric references. For instance, chapter one on “Guys & Dating” does not discuss the changing dating environment with modern technology and dating apps. It’s also important for the authors to cater to the target audience. Studies find most young women/girls, particularly those generations targeted by this book, have attention spans of a matter of seconds. Given this, and after reading The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life, I didn’t encounter a solid reason why any female should choose to READ this book rather than YouTube each “How To.” As a young adult that recently renovated an entire house, without hired help, the wonders of YouTube and quick videos serve to teach more efficiently than reading, no matter how simplistic the steps are.

As mentioned this book focuses in on ten different categories. These categories, and my thoughts on each, are as follows:

  1. Guys & Dating – As mentioned earlier this chapter lacked discussion on the ever-changing dating environment. As technology and dating apps begin to take center stage at all ages, how can young women navigate? The subjects broached within this category were extremely rudimentary, with topics such as “How to Talk with a Guy You Like” and “How to Plan a Date.”
  2. Social Skills & Manners – This section brought up interesting topics such as the differences in American etiquette and European. As a cultural melting pot we must remain respectful to others. I enjoyed the “Did You Know” facts interspersed throughout, specifically page 46 which states “how we communicate is so much more than the words we choose. Communication is a combination of these elements: 7% Words, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language.” Despite my age, this remained a great reminder.
  3. Work & Ethics – The focus was on work more so than ethics, as this segment broke down everything from the application process to resignation. Although, again, I felt the authors failed to capture the power of technology and relationships in getting jobs today.
  4. Wealth & Money Management – Tied with the famous Dave Ramsey money management tips, this section focused on things like “don’t buy it if you don’t have the cash,” and “avoid using credit cards at all costs.” For the target audience, I’m not sure this chapter’s “debt” topics were pertinent. Regardless, as a woman in the financial industry, these suggestions are not often realistic because if we can’t buy with credit many people wouldn’t own cars and certainly wouldn’t own houses. Rather than shaming women into not spending money, we must teach women how to ask for help financially. I would have liked to see more detailed budgeting tips within this chapter as rigid financial budgets prevent overspending before it happens.
  5. Health & Beauty – Do male targeted books have chapters on maintaining healthy hair, skin, teeth and nail routines? As a self-described tomboy, I always hate to see chapters that open “How To” books to glaring gender differences, but given the changes to the body during puberty, lessons on maintaining oily hair and odors are necessary for the target audience.
  6. Clothes & Fashion – The authors did an incredible job opening this chapter with strong female quotes, including Anne Klein stating, “clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will,” (p. 137). This sets the tone for the entire topic from learning what specifically causes clothing to smell to why stains need to be removed as outlined within.
  7. Sports & Recreation – This covered a wide breath of sports, from how to kick a soccer ball to how to properly throw a dart and why. Young readers are given detailed instructions on the fundamentals, such as shooting a basketball from the finger tips so it rolls off the middle finger. As a collegiate athlete I was thoroughly impressed with the level of PROPER detail given on these athletic topics.
  8. Cars & Driving – I think many females will agree being stranded somewhere, alone, is one of our worst fears. It is therefore important all girls know how to change a tire and jump start a car. This chapter gives the reader the instruction necessary to successfully complete key tasks so one is never left on the side of the road dependent on a stranger.
  9. Food & Cooking – I would no longer categorize myself as a “young woman” and I still struggle in this department. The authors did a great job of explaining how and why foods are cooked as they are. For instance, why fish is cooked skin on and how to sharpen your knives so they remain most effective. I don’t care how old you are there is always more to be learned about cooking and food prep.
  10. Tools & Fix-It – I was apprehensive going into this chapter, I didn’t think I would gain much from this chapter given my background in large DIY projects, but I was wrong. While I did disagree with some of the “must-have” tools for your tool kit, I did gain insight into the real reason for the slanted bubble on a level and a few other interesting tips.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Revell, in exchange for an honest review.

Two Reviews: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson & The High Season by Judy Blundell

Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Publication Date: May 29th, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

Elyse and Gabe couldn’t seem more opposite. One in Austin, the other in Portland. One a skateboarder, the other in theatre. And finally, one a family, the other “raised” by an addict. So why does Jennifer Donaldson follow these separate lives throughout Lies You Never Told Me as she flips between each’s narratives?

This all-encompassing novel quickly turns terrifying and unpredictable as the tale of high school fragility is on full display. What begins as a high school “love” story quickly becomes a dark, twisted, intertwined tale of two teenagers.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The High Season by Judy Blundell

Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

A cultural clash of the rich and locals Ruthie, Jem and even Doe fight to afford their sleepy summer getaway town. This beachy, female drama plays out in the Hampton-esque town of Orient.

The High Season stars slowly as Blundell paints the necessary character dynamics that drive the story behind the local Orient families and the summer crowd. The middle-class of Orient fight to maintain the laid-back vibe as the rich begin to flock in the summers, quickly choosing Orient over the showy lifestyles of the Hamptons. Bringing all the drama and air one would expect from the stereotypical rich artists portrayed in the movies, this book is sure to keep you reading on under your beach umbrella until the sun falls below the horizon.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blind Betrayal (Defenders of Justice #3) by Nancy Mehl

Publication Date: April 17th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

E.J., Casey and Doug have one job as US Marshalls – getting their witness, Valerie, to Washington DC safely to testify. So, when a bomb goes off at their St. Louis headquarters their plans become frantically changed. Who’s after them and will they arrive safely? These questions are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat as this mildly romantic suspense novel weaves a tale that would make any US Marshall service member blush.

The heroically portrayed law enforcement officers represented within show incredible dedication and determination that mirrors the reality of those that serve. The twists, turns, alleys and dead ends Mehl skillfully constructs will keep you flipping pages, but be sure to keep the characters organized as there seems to be a never-ending stream of law enforcement introduced and perspectives portrayed. While Blind Betrayal may be the third in the Defenders of Justice Series the reader is not left feeling lost in the third book, each character is appropriately built to allow this to be read as a standalone.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Club: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

First Published in 1989
Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

“I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished.” (p. 244)

As of late I have been diligent in digging from each book the true meaning behind the books’ title. Often, such is the case with this book, the name of the book is mentioned within an important passage. This method of “name dropping” quickly points the reader to the theme the author most-likely attempts to impress on you; such is the case in this, The Remains of the Day.
Mr. Stevens is a butler at the once esteemed ‘Darlington Hall.’ His current employer, the American, Mr. Farraday is going abroad for an extended time and all but demands Mr. Stevens take his Ford for a retreat amongst the countryside. This adventure quickly takes a backseat to the story that unfolds in Mr. Stevens’ memories. Tangled among his “retreat” is his wish to visit the Hall’s former Head Housekeeper, Miss Kenton whom has recently sent him a troubling letter.
The stories that unfold over the course of the solo motoring trip across the countryside lend to a story that is both formal in its presentation and depressing in its tales. It is not hard to grasp the reason this book was chosen as the 1989 Man Booker Prize as Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing is beautifully captivating and eloquently charming. A post-war novel that strays from the “status quo,” The Remains of the Day drifts beyond any novel we’ve become accustomed to in recent day WWII historical fictions.

Coming in June: Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells & Just Let Go (Harbor Pointe #2) by Courtney Walsh

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Publication Date: June 5th, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Jaycee Givens has had a tough life. A mother addicted to heroin, the loss of her baby brother and her pregnancy to an abusive boyfriend. But, author Amy Sorrells reminds us that with faith, the cycle can end. Jaycee refuses to let her poorness define her, but rather her relationships with others propel her to overcome and provide her future child a “chance.”

Before I Saw You takes a hard look at the opioid crisis in Indiana. Forcing the reader to see the impacts of addiction on otherwise “normal” families. As Jaycee strives to overcome her family’s past she is portrayed as embracing her faith so deeply the reader begins to embody it and roots for her to find happiness and a sense of family in the relationships that remain. This story is full of sadness, hope and resilience that clings to your heart and reminds you with faith you can get through anything.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.


Just Let Go (Harbor Pointe #2) by Courtney Walsh

Publication Date: June 5th, 2018

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Grady Benson is a bad boy Olympic Skier, seemingly approaching his final days of ski success. Quinn Collins is the 28-year-old owner of her recently purchased Forget-Me-Not flower shop, once owned by her mother. Both hold onto the pain of their past in this tale that will have you laughing, crying and begging for it to never end.

Just Let Go is the perfect chick flick for a cozy night in, sure to warm your heart despite the cold Michigan setting surrounding this story. Author, Courtney Walsh, delivers this romance to near perfection as the characters fight their way out of their comfort zones into each other’s hearts.

Book two of the Harbor Pointe series reads as easily as a standalone novel, with the promise of more romantic adventures as the series continues.

*Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace by David & Jonah Stillman

Publication Date: March 21st, 2017

Rating: 2.5 Stars

The constant stream of books claiming to provide insight to specific generations leaves me feeling like I’m in the midst of an identity crisis. As this book defines generational markers, my family is often clashing with the “typical.” Raised by parents just on the cusp of being defined as baby boomers, I squeak into the Millennial generation while my brother slips neatly into the Gen Z population. As you can then imagine I found some aspects of this book intriguing while I other aspects have certainly been excessively played out.

Father and son team, David and Jonah Stillman, set out by defining the key traits of the “Gen Z” generation. On pages 10 to 12, the Stillmans define these key traits:

  1. Phigital – “born into a world where every physical aspect (people and places) has a digital equivalent.”
  2. Hyper-Custom – “ability to customize everything” creates “an expectation that there is intimate understanding of their behaviors and desires.”
  3. Realistic – Given the world events of their childhood, this generation has developed a “pragmatic mindset when it comes to planning and preparing for the future.”
  4. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – this generation stays “on top of all trends and competition.”
  5. Weconomists – “push to breakdown internal and external silos to leverage the collective in a new convenient and cost-effective way.”
  6. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) – Encouraged to be independent by parents, this generation “believes that they can do just about anything by themselves.”
  7. Driven – “participation is not a real award there are winners and losers.”

Each chapter spends a significant amount of time comparing each of these traits against other generations and ultimately offers no substantial solutions for bridging the gap of ALL generations represented in the workplace. In fact, it became clear the authors lacked solutions when the book continually referenced the Millennials’ need for participation trophies because their parents (the Boomers) raised them to feel they needed these, therefore shifting the very trait Boomers hate about Millennials right back on the Boomers. Blame shifting isn’t going to solve issues, but the point the authors attempted to make is the deep reflection on the roles, values and experiences at play by each generation of parent and the effects these parenting styles had on the generation as they combine in creating a work culture heavily influenced by each’s upbringing.

As a Millennial myself, that grew up with a Gen Z brother, I deeply related to the Driven trait. As stated on page 277 Gen Z has a desire to win, needs help balancing their competitive drive with being team players, need to be encouraged to admit mistakes and talk about them while also needing help keeping one foot on the brake petal to avoid going too fast and making mistakes. Managers should be coaching Gen Zers on when to take a step back, and how to slow down and allow ideas and information to percolate; Gen Zers want to keep moving forward quickly. Workplaces also need to offer this upcoming generation opportunities to learn and grow rapidly if they hope to avoid losing them, while being sure to offer a combination of private space and shared workspaces.

To break that down:

  • Workspaces – the recent trend has been to create an “open workspace” that “offers collaboration and free flow of ideas.” As a person that prefers quiet when working, these open concept spaces terrify me and truthfully would turn me off to a workplace. As identified by research within Gen Z @ Work, it would appear I am not alone in this feeling.
  • Slowing Down & Admitting Mistakes – The Gen Z generation grew up with a constant stream of knowledge and rapid technological advances. It should then come as no surprise that they may “get their bodies moving a bit faster than their feet” and need to be told to slow down, let information process before diving in. I think this goes for any generation in the workplace as we are constantly bombarded with the feeling of feeling behind, we need to remember to slow down to avoid mistakes and achieve accuracy and the success we so yearn.
  • Opportunities to Grow & Learn – I can’t imagine any generation wants to sit in one position for 50 years with no opportunities for advancement, further knowledge or growth. The difference is that Millennials and Gen Zers aren’t afraid to leave when workplaces aren’t offering them what they need. Gen Z @ Work touched on the need to overcome the costly mistakes employers are making that causes them to lose employees to competitors with more avenues for career growth. Employers are being challenged to rethink job paths, titles and responsibilities to better retain generations that demand more engagement of their employer.

Regardless of the generation, the message is clear – employers cannot get complacent if they hope to facilitate the successful blending of multiple generations within their workplace. Whether you turn to Jonah & David Stillman in your journey to understand the generations or turn to another book, it would be clever to prepare yourself for the challenges that are certain to arise.

Coming Soon: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: June 19th, 2018

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

A jacked-up blend of The Wife Between Us and The Girl Before. This incredible, edge of your seat thriller is sure to be one of the summer’s hottest books!

Admittedly, I have not read Paris’ first novel Behind Closed Doors and while I liked The Breakdown, this newest novel blows it out of the water! Written in three parts: 1) Then and Now, 2) Finn and Another and 3) Just Finn. This novel had my heart pounding as I tried to keep up with the web Finn was spinning for himself.

Twelve years ago, Finn’s girlfriend vanishes from a rest stop. Finn cooperates with the police to be cleared of any foul play and while he may have told the truth all those years ago, it wasn’t entirely the full truth.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Three Reviews: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke, The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi & Layover by Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer

I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

Publication Date: June 15th, 2017

Rating: 2 ¼ Stars

This book is not at ALL what I expected. This psychological drama is sure to keep you guessing as the author transports the reader between past and present, and among different narrators as the reader works to unwind Eloise’s twisted secrets.

I LOVE psychological dramas. Typically, books with changing timelines or flipping narrators spark my interest, but I Know My Name had a bit too much of everything. The grandmother’s narrations, although brief, did not seem to fit the outward views other narrations gave her and Lochlan’s behavior and lack of parenting/husbandly duties rubbed me the wrong way early on. But, despite this, my “meh” feelings toward this book arise from the lack of an “ah ha” moment. The climax is so slowly untangled by the time you’ve reached the peak you’ve forgotten why it was thrilling to begin with.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided via a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.


The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

Publication Date: May 3rd, 2018

Rating: 2 Stars

The Baghdad Clock begins with a childhood fantasy, quickly transitioning to life in a war zone as the young narrator works to keep the neighborhood’s memories alive. Spanning the Gulf War to Desert Storm and “Bush’s Attack” this story is the unfortunate history many children likely share as neighbors are forced to emigrate from their homes.

I originally was drawn to this book as it was compared to The Kite Runner. This comparison led me to disappointment as this novel did not live up to the timeless and moving story housed within The Kite Runner. Translated to English by Luke Leafgren, the underlying themes shone through still seemed to be missing the emotional story encased in The Kite Runner. This book felt like there was interlocking details lost in translation, especially as it surrounded the dreams and fantasies of the book’s narrator. This “lost in translation” element caused the book to lose its cohesiveness and ultimately the transitions from chapter to chapter were lacking in seamlessness.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided via LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.


Layover by Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer

Publication Date: February 6th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

Three step siblings, on a layover in LAX, decide to skip their impending family vacation and awaiting bombshell to become “runaways” enjoying all that LA has to offer. The experiences that follow this decision build a deeper sibling bond than any “typical” vacation as we are reminded that family comes in all different shapes and sizes.

This young adult fiction will breeze by, not unlike that of 806 by Cynthia Weil, as unlikely siblings each with their own complex issues run into all sorts of drama as runaways (pun intended). A fresh take on siblings of a broken family, Layover will leave you satisfied.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided via a Goodreads Giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.

Series Spotlight: Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro

I recently finished the Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro.  This series wraps with the third and final book, The Case for Jamie.

Publication Date: March 6th, 2018

Rating: 4.99 Stars

It cannot be put into words how sad I am that the Charlotte Holmes series is ending. By no means do I pretend to know all there is to know about Sherlock Holmes, but when I stumbled upon a female re-telling of modern day Sherlock I couldn’t pick up a copy fast enough.

This series begins with A Study in Charlotte.  It is within this book that we grasp Charlotte Holmes’ quirks, and Jamie Watson’s teenage boyish charm. Both Charlotte and Jamie are decedents of the famous Sherlock Holmes and James Watson, whom end up at the same boarding school after a series of unfortunate (read: fortunate) events.

In book two, The Last of August, we are whisked to Europe as we discover Charlotte’s family life and become introduced to the infamous Moriarty family. This book strays from the boarding school setting and provides an action-packed Holmes family drama, allowing a deeper look at how Charlotte became the teenage prodigy that she is. So, unsurprisingly The Case for Jamie allows Jamie Watson’s family to take center stage as the Moriarty family drama continues amidst a “missing” Charlotte Holmes.

I closely follow the Sherlock series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch on PBS (seriously go watch this on Netflix NOW if you haven’t seen it yet) and have watched several big screen Sherlock Holmes renditions (meh) and thus feel I possess enough “knowledge” to pronounce author Brittany Cavallaro nails it! From the coming together of two separately strong characters, Watson & Holmes, to the Moriarty escapades and ultimate disappearance of a Holmes, the Charlotte Holmes series captures it all with a modern young adult twist. Beyond that, Cavallaro has melded the classic, drug-addicted Sherlock Holmes into a brilliantly tortured female Charlotte Holmes lead. If you haven’t picked up book one of this series, RUN to your nearest bookstore and get started!

The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck

Publication Date: May 1st, 2018

Rating: 2 ¼ Stars

Maggie is supposed to be a happiness expert, she’s written a bestselling scientific novel based on her research on that very topic, but she can’t seem to find happiness or put her life back together after being dumped by her fiancé. So, when Maggie is forced by her best friends and publicist to speak on a singles cruise about her upcoming book on resilience, the last thing she expects is to begin feeling for another passenger. The falling, fire and fight that follow are on par for the Hallmark Romance movies Maggie so desperately craved post-breakup.

This book appealed to me after having recently experienced my first cruise (albeit not a singles cruise). I connected to the dining experiences, on board bars and constant shows/activities portrayed within. However, the seemingly forced placed Christian references detracted from the reading experience and lead characters as they are portrayed were disappointing at best. The females were jealous and “boy obsessed,” while the men were focused on their desire to help. The supporting characters too, felt forced with wildly random interjections of Maggie’s ex-fiancé, the surrounding family drama and the work stressors all of which combined to weakly fit into the book’s underlying story. What I hoped would be a beachy read was met with poorly timed phone calls, fires and familial background.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two Reviews: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier & Dawn Girl (Special Agent Tess Winnett #1) by Leslie Wolfe

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Publication Date: June 12th, 2018

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

From the inside of a women’s prison, to the head of a lost 16-year-old, and finally to a recovering ex-con living in fear, Jar of Hearts grips you in EVERY exciting way. Although, be forewarned there are some graphic scenes and serial killers, nonetheless this held all the pieces of a great thriller.

I loved the switching between Kai, the police officer on the case and Geo, the girlfriend of the serial killer, as the depth of the story from childhood to the release from prison made this book so intense. In every flashback more suspense is unraveled, pushing you further and further into sleepless nights to finish. Geo’s otherwise perfect life is hiding secrets that hold the key to solving the story. If flashbacks and perspective flipping are your type of reading pleasures you won’t want to miss this one!

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Dawn Girl (Special Agent Tess Winnett #1) by Leslie Wolfe

Publication Date: August 22nd, 2016

Rating: 4 ¾ Stars

I first learned of Leslie Wolfe when I came across a book entitled The Watson Girl, this book looked completely enthralling so I decided to pick up the first book in the series, and thus Dawn Girl was cracked open.

We quickly meet Tess Winnett, a brilliant FBI agent who wastes no time with pleasantries. Tess boasts an equally impressive skill to solve cases and accumulate complaints against her. And while Dawn Girl may be book one, there are some serious undertones to Tess’ past unknown trauma at play within.

The research author, Leslie Wolfe put into Dawn Girl is incredible, from the procedure and uncovering of clues to the psychological profiling and twisted serial killer I am blown away. Wolfe’s talent and eye for detail are on full display here. Now that Rizzoli and Isle has been cancelled on TV you will most definitely find me curled up on the couch with more Leslie Wolfe novels!

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Two Reviews: My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley & Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley

Publication Date: May 8th, 2018

Rating: 3

My Ex-Life is FULL of contrasting characters, from OCD to hippy and flighty, these characters made me quickly fall into this book. By the end, I was sadly smiling and pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment I found within this easy-to-read book.

This book was simply described to me as being about a man who hears from his ex-wife as he himself is struggling through life. He drops everything to fly east and live under the same roof, picking up exactly where they left off 30-years ago. This description nails the premise of the book, but does not sound particularly enthralling. In fact, the description on the back flap nearly turned me off from picking the book up to begin with. However, I am so glad I did as the familial relationships, drama and rebuild were hilarious and enchanting.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is a “must read,” it was “okay” and just what I needed in an easy read, despite the convoluted relationships it housed.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

Life seems great for Daniel, he’s gotten into the art school of his dreams, how can it not be? But, ever since his early decision application he can’t seem to find inspiration to draw anymore, and his reserved parents seem to be hiding something from him. Picture Us in the Light is a young adult immigrant’s coming of age story.

This is a jumpy book as author, Kelly Loy Gilbert, inserts flashbacks and letters from the past. Gilbert tiptoes around friendships and labels in this book as the reader is often left wondering about Daniel’s internal frustrations and sexuality. The storyline is jumbled and kept mysterious for seemingly cultural purposes, but ultimately detracts from the overall story of beautiful chaos within.

Daniel, his parents and his gang of friends combine for a wild ride through teenage angst, fear, anxiety and cultural norms. But, the secrets and mysteries only serve to further confuse and undermine the modest story within.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

Book Club: The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman

Publication Date: October 15th, 1999

Rating: 2 Stars

Michael Ruhlman is first a foremost a writer, he “enrolls” in The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to write about his experience. This means, he is not a chef and has no experience in the culinary field prior to entering this rigorous program. This book is DENSE, especially for someone with limited cooking knowledge and vocabulary such as myself. I am not, and don’t pretend to be, the chef in my own house; sauce from a can is more than sufficient for me and I do not find myself seeking out restaurants to find the best “palate enhancing” meal. This book was definitely a struggle for me.

I did enjoy the story as Michael got into the kitchens and begun to experience a “restaurant-type” atmosphere. The relationships he outlines briefly provide respite from the otherwise heavy culinary descriptions. The immense physical work and speed Ruhlman portrays as being necessary to pull off a lunch or dinner service did stir fleeting excitement and gave me intriguing insight into the intense world of chefs. But, the book lacked the storyline to make it enjoyable for the average reader as many of the concepts were otherwise lost on me. Although, the brown sauce debate of brown roux versus pale roux does have me googling what widely accepted answer is…

Three Reviews: Skyjack (Thea Paris #2) by K.J. Howe, Indecent by Corinne Sullivan & Coach Wooden’s Forgotten Teams: Stories and Lessons from John Wooden’s Summer Basketball Camps by Pat Williams and Jim Denney

Skyjack (Thea Paris #2) by K.J. Howe

Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

Thea Paris is back at it again, albeit this time she is one of the hostages. This action-packed sequel to K.J. Howe’s first Thea Paris novel, The Freedom Broker, has us globetrotting Europe to rescue a plane full of hostages and thwart a bioweapons attack.

Thea Paris is many things, heroine, bad-ass, female and diabetic. These traits combine to represent a character not often portrayed in books, in fact I haven’t read ANY other books that feature an action hero with diabetes. Well done to Howe for diversifying her characters and providing a representative cast to a broader population. Character casting aside, the detail in this book is uncanny, from the architecture to the fight scenes a lot is packed into these 400 pages.

However, ultimately the many plots, ongoing character development, villains and everchanging landscape made this book a dragging read. Don’t set this book down or you will have trouble remembering all the “henchman,” conflicting villains and never-ending character development.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.


Indecent by Corinne Sullivan

Publication Date: March 6th, 2018

Rating: 2 ¼ Stars

Imogene is a 22-year-old teacher’s apprentice who becomes involved with a 17-year-old student at the prestigious all-boys boarding school in which she is employed.

This book’s style of writing and character flaws reminded me heavily of Poison and Baby Teeth, both books that I did not particularly enjoy the first time around. Although I am admittedly a sucker for boarding school scenery, as it lends easily to MANY different plot choices, I couldn’t help but be repulsed by the author’s portrayal of the female lead’s all-encompassing craziness as she pursued student, Adam Kipling.

Without spoiling it, should you decide to read Indecent, the ending left me rather unsatisfied and felt abrupt, wrapping up all too quickly after dragging out the teacher-student attraction. I was certainly hoping for more given the plot description, but felt this book fell flat.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Coach Wooden’s Forgotten Teams: Stories and Lessons from John Wooden’s Summer Basketball Camps by Pat Williams and Jim Denney

Publication Date: February 20th, 2018

Rating: 2.45 Stars

My college basketball team was led by head coach Randi Peterson and while I was not a basketball player myself I often heard about her legendary half time speeches and her supernatural ability to command respect from both players and opposing teams. It is my awe of Randi that caused me to pick up this book on John Wooden, as I sought to uncover more on the success and positive characteristics of the two coaches.

“Competitive greatness, as Coach Wooden defined it, is not only consistent with good character but also requires it. You can’t achieve competitive greatness without good character” (p.138 ).

Authors, Pat and Jim, spent an immense amount of time compiling videos, interviews, insights and much more on the structure, impact and background of the John Wooden summer camps. Over 30 years later, the campers and coaches attest to the effects the camp and Coach Wooden had on them. The influence that Coach Wooden so seamlessly emanated is what every coach, teacher, and human being hopes to leave on the world.

Regardless, the book lacked a logical timeline, cohesiveness and engagement. The quotes and MANY names dropped within this book were overly confusing. It was clear the authors idolized Coach Wooden, enough so that they’ve written several books on the subject. But, while I enjoyed learning more about the man who deceased in 2010, one book on him was certainly enough for me.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.