Jaclyn’s Review: A Pinch of Ooh La La by Renee Swindle

A Pinch of Ooh La LaA Pinch of Ooh La La
written by Renee Swindle
published by NAL, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book? 
I liked this book. It had a cute plot and kept things moving at a good pace. As a music lover, I enjoyed all of the jazz references. There were a number of times I got pretty upset with the main character, Abbey–it was obvious she was entering into an unhealthy relationship and I wanted to slap some sense into her! I guess the fact that I was so concerned about her is a sign that the character is well written! I liked that this had a happy ending, yet left things open ended.

 

 

Would I recommend it? Sure, this was a fun, quick read. There wasn’t much here that would turn off a general audience. The characters were well written, and the story moved at a good pace.

 

jaclyn

Have you read A Pinch of Ooh La La?

 

About the book – from Goodreads: To get to happily ever after, sometimes you need to start from scratch….

Abbey Ross, who runs her own bakery in Oakland, California, is known for her visually stunning wedding cakes. But lately, Abbey’s own love life has become stale. According to her best friend, Bendrix, Abbey’s not the spontaneous young woman she was when they were teenagers listening to the Cure and creating attention-grabbing graffiti. Of course, her failed relationship with a womanizing art forger might have something to do with that. Nevertheless, it’s time for Abbey to step out of the kitchen—and her comfort zone—and Bendrix has even handpicked a man for her to date.

Samuel Howard is everything Abbey’s dreamed of: handsome, successful, and looking to raise a family. But a creamy icing might be needed to hide a problem or two. When Samuel complains about disrespect for the institution of marriage, Abbey’s reminded of her nontraditional family, with thirteen children from various mothers. And when Samuel rails about kids having kids, Abbey thinks of her twenty-year-old sister who’s recently revealed her pregnancy.

Soon Abbey is facing one disaster after another and struggling to make sense of it all. Her search for love has led her down a bitter path, but with the help of her unique family and unwavering friends, she just might find the ooh la la that makes life sweet.

 

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Melissa’s Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Gilded Cage
written by Vic James
published by Del Rey Books, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks, Target, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book? 
Gilded Cage is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read this year. I loved it. It’s like a mix of Divergent and The Hunger Games, but with magic! Sweet! I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment. I didn’t think the world was big enough for yet another dystopian trilogy, but I was so, so wrong. Read this book. Do it!

 

Golden Lines

“Always look at the people, not at the mass. A face, not the crowd. Look at the world, not at the ground. Every little detail you see is a victory.”

 

 

Would I recommend it? Absofreakinglutely.

 

Melissa

 

Have you read Gilded Cage? Will you be adding it to your TBR?

 

About the book – from Goodreads: In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.

This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.

Have a quick ten years. . . .

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs
written by Catherine Lowell
published by Touchstone, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazon, iBooks, Target, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy it? Oh my goodness, I love this book! Let’s ignore the plot for a minute–this book is just written WELL. I enjoyed reading it. It’s clear the author is intelligent and highly educated. Sentences, paragraphs, and chapters were well thought out. I’ve read books where it sounds like the author just figured out how to use the thesaurus function in the word processor–big words that don’t make a whole lot of sense with the book. This isn’t the case here.

Now let’s talk about the plot. This is painful to admit, but I’ve never read a single Brontë book. Not one. I was a little hesitant to read a book about the Brontës. Would I need to understand the books to understand this one? Nope! You get sucked into these characters and the plot pretty quickly. Throughout the entire book you are left to wonder what on earth Samantha’s inheritance might be. The plot starts to slow down in the middle of the book, but it picked back up and raced until the end. The ending tied in perfectly with the beginning. I’m not sure there has ever been a more well thought-out book. Perhaps one by the Brontës? 😉

 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! I love this book! I didn’t think that there was any part of the plot that was questionable for a specific age group. However, the writing is quite advanced. I have already recommended this book to others and will continue to do so. Read this book!

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul

The Perfect Game

The Perfect Game
written by Stephen Paul
published by Telemachus Press, LLC, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really enjoyed reading this book. The premise is pretty weird, if I’m being completely honest. It’s a murder mystery where the murders are committed by transferring the victim’s energy to another person–supposedly timed with specific baseball games. It sounds weird when you say it like that. I promise you–this is a good read. It was compelling to read. I really wanted to know who was committing the murders and if the hero would be able to stop whoever it was. This book won major points with me for originality–I’ve never read anything like this before.

 

Would I recommend it: Absolutely! I’ve actually already tried to recommend this book to people. I get blank stares when I try to explain what the book is about–it just sounds weird. You have to go out on a limb for this one, but I promise you that it is worth it!  Read this book . . . you’ll be glad you did!

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: In a dark Manhattan alley, a young woman suddenly collapses from a brain hemorrhage. The statistics say it’s rare to have happened to someone so young and healthy, yet all signs point to natural causes. But when Kyle Vine, the man she was supposed to meet that night, learns she wasn’t the only victim, he knows there’s something more going on and soon discovers a mysterious link to the sudden success of a journeyman pitcher for the New York Yankees.

As the lethal brain bleeds continue to strike, Kyle and the woman’s eccentric uncle work together to unravel a mystery unlike any the world has ever seen in order to stop a ruthless killer from striking again.

Stephen Paul’s debut supernatural suspense thriller, The Perfect Game, is a fast-paced gripping ride that will continue to keep readers on the edge of their seats while trying to figure out who’s behind the deadly episodes, how they’re doing it and, perhaps most shocking of all, why.

 

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Gina’s Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air
written by Paul Kalanithi
published by Random House, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks, Target, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I loved this book. It was deep, and it was emotional but also beautiful. You know from reading the description that it won’t be a happy ending because Paul dies from cancer. The ending isn’t a secret, but how you get to the end is the journey. It’s what makes the book special.

Paul is a talented writer. You can tell that he loved to read and was influenced by some of the greatest writers. You can tell he was a deep person and took the time to think things through, and he had to be because he was also a neurosurgeon. I can’t imagine going through what Paul and his family went through, but the stories he tells about his life left me feeling emotional. Death, life, and faith have a relationship with one another. It’s not black and white–there are gray areas. He isn’t afraid to write about them, even if they are painful. He is thorough and thoughtful. I only wish he had time to write more books.

GOLDEN LINES

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

 


 

Would I recommend it: YES.

Gina

About the book – from Goodreads: For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? 
 
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

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Melissa’s Review: Rapture of the Deep by David A. Grindberg

Rapture of the Deep: A NovelRapture of the Deep
written by David A. Grindberg
published by Indian Grass Books, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Absolutely. It’s one of those books that’s too good to read quickly. Grindberg’s prose is downright beautiful, and his storytelling is spot on. The characters were big and complex and full of those teeny little details that make them truly come to life. Well done.

GOLDEN LINES

“Meg really believed that friendship would and should trump everything else, including this indiscretion. It never occurred to her that even the most casual of friendships are always predicated upon an assumed, nearly invisible, honesty. Thus when Meg left Jeff, when the honesty was discarded and it became clear that Meg was not the wife, the mother, the person she pretended to be, that nearly invisible foundation began crumbling. Naivete. Meg really believed that her affair was a private matter and that other than Jeff and her girls no one else could or should claim a stake. It never occurred to her that when nearly invisible foundations start crumbling, even the most casual of friendships have a way of becoming casualties. For eleven years Meg said she was Jeff’s wife. For eight of those years she said she was Molly and Maci’s devoted mom. What she didn’t understand is that when it comes to everything else and everyone else, being who you say you are matters.”

 

 

Would I recommend it: Again, absolutely.

Melissa


About the book – from Goodreads:

In the middle of the night, the doorbell rings, and Jennifer Johnson is pulled from a deep sleep. Outside her front door stand two police officers, messengers bearing tragic news. Joe, Jen’s recently estranged husband, is missing, the victim of a scuba diving accident.

Joe “Puck” Johnson is a master carpenter. He is quiet, thoughtful, and passionately loves his deeply scarred wife. Their separation, unwanted, painful, and immersed in unfinished business, is now punctuated by this unfathomable loss.

Tom Hyden is a high profile banker. He has the perfect home, the perfect wife, the perfect child, the perfect everything; yet beneath the surface of his well manicured life Tom carries a dark and shameful secret.

Born and raised in the small Iowa town of Lake Pulaski, these two men cannot remember a time before their friendship. It is a bond most recently sealed by their mutual love of scuba diving. Beneath the waves diving provides a peaceful respite. However on the surface, their worlds are reeling and the peace they so desire is being torn asunder. Both men find their families disintegrating and their lives twisting apart, the result of events they cannot talk about, even with each other.

So Tom and Joe are lost, and they must now take a journey that for one will lead to tragedy and the other redemption…

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Tangled Up (Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls #2) by Robyn Neeley

Tangled Up (Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, #2)Tangled Up (Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls #2)
written by Robyn Neeley
published by Robyn Neeley, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) AmazonGoodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did! Full disclosure–this book is the second in a series. The series is about the people in a small town, two of whom can do magic. I did not read the first book, and they did enough of the backstory in the second that I didn’t really NEED to read it. Before reading this you need to accept that 1) the characters do magic, and 2) there is enough drama in this small town to warrant multiple books. Once you accept that, this book is actually pretty cute.

The main character has a few one-night stands with the town hottie (can you have multiple one-night stands with the same guy??).  She decides he’s not ready to settle down, but she is–so, the obvious thing to do is magic. She casts a spell to make him forget they ever met. However, as soon as she casts the spell she decides she really DOES want a relationship with him. She then spends the rest of the book trying to make him fall in love with her, WITHOUT magic. It’s a cute read, and the characters are well written. You want them to fall in love at the end.

 

Would I recommend it: I’d recommend this to a girlfriend for some light reading.  t was fun and quick with just enough drama to move the plot along.

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: Abby Stevens doesn’t know what’s gotten into her, but getting tangled up nightly with the latest bachelor to Buttermilk Falls has to stop. Sure, Brandon Swift’s got rock hard abs and blue eyes to die for, but the Los Angles playboy is not the man for her. To end things between them once and for all, she might need some magical help.

Brandon is settling into small-town life thanks to his new bartending gig and the cute redhead sharing his bed. He suspects she might be looking for more than a fling. After a bitter divorce and a few months of playing the field, he might finally be ready, too.

But when Abby presents him with an enchanted cupcake that reverses his attraction to her, both discover strong feelings they didn’t realize they had. Is it too late to reverse the spell?

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Jay Walking by Tracy Krimmer

Jay Walking (Pastime Pursuits #2)

Jay Walking
written by Tracy Krimmer
published by Amazon Digital Services, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book? 
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t. The more I read, the less I liked the characters. The idea of this book is good–single mom with toddler decides to take her life back, starting with an exercise program. She bumps into random, gorgeous stranger who immediately takes a liking to her, and they embark on this healthy lifestyle together. Sounds great! Obviously the plot needed some drama, so the author chose to introduce the biological dad as a protagonist. Again–the IDEA of that is OK, but the execution was not good.

The main character is in her early twenties but behaves as if she’s 14. As you read deeper into the book, she just becomes less likable. The hottie that she meets isn’t realistic at all. A gorgeous doctor suddenly starts chasing a young girl with baggage? His behavior is borderline obsessive. As if that’s not enough, he’s very secretive about his own life–then introduces all sorts of restrictions on their relationship. Now let’s talk about the biological dad. What a deadbeat! A character like this can be good for a plot, if done well. But he just wasn’t. Every part of this book was a flop.

 

Would I recommend it? Nope. There are just too many things wrong with this plot and the characters aren’t written well. I would definitely recommend skipping this one.

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: Chelsea Wyatt, a single mom trying to build a life for her and her son, is sick of the body she sees in the mirror. A daily diet of Cookie Crisp cereal is not doing wonders for her mood or her figure, and it’s time for a change. Setting out to get fit, she commits herself to a daily walking plan, forcing herself to give up her all-sugar and carb diet, a difficult task at her donut obsessed job.

But her plan goes sideways when a stumble on the ice puts her in the arms of Jay, an attractive young man out on a run. They grab coffee together, and Chelsea finds herself thinking about him long after their short meeting. The thought of dating again hadn’t crossed her mind in years, and she doesn’t even know if Jay is available, or if he would be interested in her despite her unfit body.

Just when she has a handle on her new routine, her past catches up with her, throwing her blossoming relationship with Jay and the rest of her life into chaos. Can Chelsea hold onto the people she loves most, or will a wrong turn set her up for failure?

This is book 2 of the Pastime Pursuits series, and can be read as a stand-alone novel.

 

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Summer Reading Challenge 2017: The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

 

The Best of Adam SharpThe Best of Adam Sharp
written by Graeme Simsion
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooksTargetWalmartBook DepositoryGoodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
It’s a good read. Simsion’s prose is lovely, and his characters are full and round and flawed and REAL. I’ve been thinking a lot about the complexity of relationships lately–about why people make the choices they make–and though this plot is a bit more exciting than everyday, the messages still translate: There are different kinds of love; they’re all valid. Choosing to spend your life with someone is just that–a choice. One you must make over and over and over again, constantly. The relationships between Simsion’s characters are spot-on, and while there are just a few too many lyrical references for my taste, I suppose it fits for a book about a pianist. The Best of Adam Sharp is a solid novel. I enjoyed it.

GOLDEN LINES

“They were deep into a conversation about tactics for defending a drunk-driving charge, and Angelina managed to convey without words that she was pleased that I had come and if I could put up with her friends’ rudeness in not pausing to let her introduce me, she would do so in due course. Although she might like to contribute to the discussion first. And, in the meantime, don’t go away.”

 

 

Would I recommend it: It’s certainly an interesting story.

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads:

From the #1 bestselling author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, an unforgettable new novel about lost love and second chances

On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT.

But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

 

 

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Jaclyn’s Review: Waiting for Prince Harry by Aven Ellis

Waiting For Prince Harry (Dallas Demons, #1)Waiting for Prince Harry
written by Aven Ellis
published by Aven Ellis, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
This book is adorable!!! Poor Kylie is an introvert, but her family seems to ignore this. In an attempt to escape them, she bumps into a strange man who entices her to stop and talk for a bit. They have deep conversations and a strong connection, but she never learns his identity. As fate would have it, he finds her a few days later–and she learns that he is the star of the Dallas hockey team. We spend the rest of the book attempting to navigate their complicated attempt at a relationship.

This is the first book in a series about the “Dallas Demons” hockey team.

 

Would I recommend it: Absolutely! This is a fun read. The characters are well written and the whole plot is fun. Even the low points weren’t really all that sad. I’m looking to add the next books in the series to my To Be Read pile!

 

jaclyn

About the book – from Goodreads: Twenty-four-year-old Kylie Reed has always been a rule follower. Organized and cautious to a fault, her dreams for life are often filed away for future use—when she has a house, when she meets her future husband, when she has been at her visual display job at a chic Dallas boutique longer…Kylie always has a reason for living her life in the future, not in the present, and not living her life to the fullest and reaching her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

The only exception to rules, of course, would be running away with Prince Harry—Kylie’s ideal man. A hot, fun ginger boy would be worth breaking all the rules for, of course. And Kylie is sure Harry just needs the right, centering woman to settle him down. But living in Dallas and not knowing Prince Harry make this a non-option.

Or does it?

Because when Kylie accidentally falls into the lap of a gorgeous ginger boy—yes, even more gorgeous than the real Prince Harry—all bets are off. Could this stranger be the one to show Kylie how to take a chance, to face her fears, and live in the present? And could this stranger be the Prince Harry she has been waiting for? Kylie’s life takes some unexpected twists and turns thanks to this chance encounter, and she knows her life will never be the same because of it…

 

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