Winter Reading Challenge 2018: Things to Do When It’s Raining by Marissa Stapley (spotlight)

 

Things to Do When It’s Raining
written by Marissa Stapley
published by Graydon House, 2018

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Two families, three generations and a lie that almost destroys them. Is their love strong enough to heal old wounds?

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. Their childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love–a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak and started a life for herself in New York City. After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline with their past unraveling around her. A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.

 

Happy 2

 

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Blog Tour: She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop (Chrissy’s review)

 

She Regrets Nothing
written by Andrea Dunlop
published by Washington Square Press, 2018

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
It wasn’t bad. I did stay up past my bedtime to finish it because I wanted to see how it finally ended.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t feel like this was Laila’s story as the blurb would suggest. She was a main character, but not the sole focus. I thought Laila was an ungrateful brat. I don’t know where she got her entitled attitude, but it really turned me off. I didn’t like her at all. In the beginning, I thought Laila’s story was going to go in a slightly different direction, then I thought it was going to end very differently than it did. Her twin cousins were there, but they were throwaway characters. I didn’t think they added much to the story except a place to stay in New York City for Laila.

The star of the story for me was Liberty. I loved Liberty. I thought she was sweet, kind, and hard-working. Her family life was something we learned a bit about, but I wanted to know more. She had a past that affected her in a big way. We kind of learned what happened, but it was almost glossed over. I wanted this story to be hers. I also would have liked to know more about the Lawrence family and the big secret. I kept waiting for more. I’d love to say what I would have liked, but I don’t want to give away the story.

 

Would I recommend it? If I would be asked about it, yes, I would recommend it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so.

 

Chrissy

About the book – from Goodreads: 
In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

 

Happy 2

 

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** This post first appeared on Every Free Chance Books (everyfreechance.com) on February 22, 2018.

 

 




Winter Reading Challenge 2018: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (spotlight)

 

The Great Alone
written by Kristin Hannah
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2018

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

 

 

Happy 2

 

 

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** This post first appeared on Every Free Chance Books (everyfreechance.com) on February 13, 2018.

 

 




Winter Reading Challenge 2018: All We Knew by Jamie Beck (Chrissy’s review)

 

All We Knew (Cabot #2)
written by Jamie Beck
published by Montlake Romance, 2018

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
I really did. I read it every free chance I had.

Hunter and Sara have always had a wonderful marriage, but they’ve hit a few stumbling blocks. Hunter is fighting for his family’s company, and Sara is fighting for a family. For the most part, I liked both characters and I was rooting for each of them. However, there were times when I just wanted them to step back, consider the other’s point of view, and realize that people don’t react the same way to the same situations. Just because one person is outwardly showing emotion doesn’t mean the other isn’t experiencing the same types of emotions. But, isn’t that what happens in a lot of relationships?

All We Knew was sweet, romantic, and a bit predictable. However, I didn’t mind the predictability. I enjoyed the story, beginning to end. It kept me reading.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you like women’s fiction, you will enjoy this one.

 

Chrissy


About the book – from Amazon: 
For Hunter and Sara, getting married was easy. It’s staying together that’s the true test of love…

Hunter Cabot deeply loves two things: the international tea company he’s helped his father build, and his wife, Sara. From the moment he first saw her wide smile on their college campus years ago, Hunter fell hard. Yet now, with other family members pushing to sell the thriving business and Sara grieving their failure to start a family, he’s suddenly facing the crushing loss of both.

The relentless ambition that Sara once admired in Hunter is now driving them apart. Each missed doctor’s appointment, neglected dinner date, and family squabble accentuates their differing priorities. Still, Sara struggles to create the home life they’d envisioned, until unsettling developments—both personal and professional—push them to the breaking point.

When love is put to the ultimate test, can Hunter and Sara stop fighting each other long enough to fight for their marriage?

 

 

Happy 2

 

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** This post first appeared on Every Free Chance Books (everyfreechance.com) on February 12, 2018.

 




Winter Reading Challenge 2018: Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer (Chrissy’s review)

 

Match Made in Manhattan
written by Amanda Stauffer
published by Skyhorse Publishing, 2018

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
I did enjoy this book. It was a quick read that kept me interested.

Match Made in Manhattan follows Alison for a year after she breaks up with her long-term boyfriend. She joins Match.com and jumps into the dating pool. The book takes the readers on her dates, to her job, and out with her friends. Some of the guys she dated seemed like a lot of fun. While some of her dates didn’t go anywhere, I liked that she remained friends with a few of the guys. I also liked that Alison didn’t jump into bed with every guy she dated. She had her boundaries, and she wasn’t afraid to let the guys know. She was very strong about it.

The book includes a number of emails and text messages. This was a fun way to see how she met her potential dates and communicated with them. She had some great text conversations with Greg, which made me chuckle. But the formatting of the text messages made it very hard to read them. I don’t know if it was my copy of the book or what, but most of the words ran together. I didn’t mind that the words were in all capitals, but the lack of spaces between the words made it difficult to read the messages. It took a bit of effort, which took away from the experience.

Also, sometimes I felt that the story jumped a bit too much. I was very interested in her job. She is an architectural conservator. This job is fascinating. She had issues with her boss at work, issues where her supervisor was taking credit for her ideas and Alison was getting reprimanded for not thinking outside the box. I really wanted to follow this story line. There was a point where she saved another boss from a different office. Why didn’t this guy stand up for her? Why didn’t she work out of his office? I know this is a book about her dating life, but I really wanted to know more about her work life.

Overall, this is a fun read that will give you a few laughs.

Would I recommend it? If you are looking for an easy, chick lit read, sure! Check this one out.

 

Chrissy


About the book – from Goodreads: 
After two intense, dead-end relationships, serial monogamist Alison finds herself confused, lonely, and drastically out of touch with the world of modern dating. Refusing to wallow, she signs up for a popular dating app and resolves to remain open-minded and optimistic as she explores the New York City singles’ scene. With the click of a button, her adventures begin: On one date, she’s dumped before the first kiss; on another, she dons full HAZMAT gear; she meets a tattooed folk singer turned investment banker, an undercover agent who tracks illegal exotic animals, and dozens of other colorful, captivating personalities.

Giving them each her signature “pants speech”–her pants aren’t coming off unless she has a real connection with someone–she desperately wants to push past the awkward small-talk phase to find true love, but finding “the one” is starting to feel impossible. That is, until she meets Luke, who is sophisticated, funny, and not to mention, hot. Alison finds herself falling for Luke harder than any guy she’s dated and finally letting her walls down, but will he stick around or move on to his next match?

Match Made in Manhattan is a fast-paced, contemporary story about the struggles of dating in the digital age. Replete with online profiles, witty dialogue, and a super-supportive group of female friends, this all-too-real and relatable debut novel will have readers laughing, crying, and rooting for Alison all the way to the end.

 

Happy 2

 

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** This post first appeared on Every Free Chance Books (everyfreechance.com) on January 27, 2018.

 




Fall Reading Challenge 2017 – December Courses (spotlight)

 

Searing Off Stars
written by Danielle M. Wong
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Amelia Cole–Lia for short–is one of the first women studying abroad at Oxford University in the 1920s. Finally free from her overbearing Brooklyn parents, she finds a welcome sense of independence in British college life–and quickly falls for Scarlett Daniels, an aspiring actress and hardheaded protester. Scarlett introduces her to an exciting gender-equality movement, but when their secret love clashes with political uprising, their relationship is one of the casualties. Years later, Lia’s only memories of Scarlett are obscured by the glossy billboards she sees advertising the actress’s new films. But when a mysterious letter surfaces, she is immediately thrown back into their unsettled romance, and she crosses oceans and continents in her search for her former lover. Lia will stop at nothing to win Scarlett back–but ultimately, spread across time and place, she begins to realize that uncovering lost love might not be attainable after all.

 

 

 

 

The Infinite Now
written by Mindy Tarquini
published by SparkPress, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: “A well-woven tapestry of history, character, and charming mystery.”
— Kirkus Reviews

Winner, Fiction: LGTBQ — American Book Fest 14th Annual Best Book Awards

Finalist, Fiction: Fantasy — American Book Fest 14th Annual Best Book Awards

In flu-ravaged 1918 Philadelphia, Fiora Vicente, the freshly orphaned and forward-thinking daughter of the local fortune teller, has goals. She has ambitions. But when faced with a future she hasn’t planned, she has second thoughts–and casts her community into a stagnant bubble of time.

Inside the bubble, life among Fiora’s superstitious neighbors continues, but nothing progresses, swamped by a steady stream of unspent seconds. As the pressure builds Fiora realizes she must find the courage to collapse the bubble–or risk trapping her dreams in an unbearable, unyielding, and infinite Now.

 

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Fall Reading Challenge 2017 – Life Prep 401 (spotlight, giveaway)

 

Our Grand Finale
written by Laraine Denny Burrell
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Laraine Burrell gets the call to come back to England from the United States just in time to visit briefly with her father before he passes away. Following his death, she is overcome with grief, feeling that she has squandered the time she had with her father. Instead of staying close, she chose to travel the world and seek her own goals as a young woman, always thinking there would be time later on to tell her dad all the things she wanted to tell him–how much she loved him, and how he was her hero. Now, she realizes, it’s too late.

Wanting to do something significant for her father to make up for her neglect, Burrell reflects on the fascinating life her father, a Royal Yachtsman, led–and decides that the one thing she can do for him is to tell his exceptional life story and make sure he is not forgotten. Our Grand Finale is the culmination of that effort–an exploration of both the author’s and her father’s unusual life experiences, and a reminder that “later” doesn’t always come.

 

Motherhood Reimagined
written by Sarah Kowalski
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: At the age of thirty-nine, Sarah Kowalski began to realize time was running out to have a baby. After grappling with what it meant to have a baby alone, she eventually realized that she’d always wanted a baby more than anything and decided to use a sperm donor–only to find out she was infertile. Thus began a year of hope and despair in which she fought the diagnosis, refusing to accept her doctor’s suggestion that she move on to donor eggs. In the months that followed, Kowalski catapulted herself into a diligent regime of herbs, Qigong, meditation, acupuncture, and more in a futile attempt to improve her egg quality. It was only after facing the dormant self-doubt and self-hatred fueled by her body’s inability to conceive that she was able to surrender her previous notions of what it meant to be a mother and embrace a path to motherhood that involved both egg and sperm donation. A story of personal triumph and unconditional love, Motherhood Reimagined reveals what’s possible when we are willing to put down the version of motherhood we expected and embrace the unconventional.

 

While They’re Still Here
written by Patricia Williams
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: After a lifetime of strained bonds with her aging parents, Patricia Williams finds herself in the unexpected position of being their caregiver and neighbor. As they all begin to navigate this murky battleground, the long-buried issues that have divided their family for decades–alcoholism, infidelity, opposing politics–rear up and demand to be addressed head-on. 

Williams answers the call of duty with trepidation at first, confronting the lines between service and servant, guardian and warden, while her parents alternately resist her help and wear her out. But by facing each new struggle with determination, grace, and courage, they ultimately emerge into a dynamic of greater transparency, mutual support, and teachable moments for all. Honest and humorous, graceful and grumbling, While They’re Still Here is a poignant story about a family that waves the white flag and begins to heal old wounds as they guide each other through the most vulnerable chapter of their lives.

 

You Can’t Buy Love Like That
written by Carol E. Anderson
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Carol Anderson grows up in a fundamentalist Christian home in the ’60s, a time when being gay was in opposition to all social and religious mores and against the law in most states. Fearing the rejection of her parents, she hides the truth about her love orientation, creating emotional distance from them for years, as she desperately struggles to harness her powerful attractions to women while pursuing false efforts to be with men.

The watershed point in Carol’s journey comes when she returns to graduate school and discovers the feminist movement, which emboldens her sense of personal power and the freedom to love whom she chooses. But this sense of self-possession comes too late for honesty with her father. His unexpected death before she can tell him the truth brings the full cost of Carol’s secret crashing in–compelling her to come out to her mother before it is too late. Candid and poignant, You Can’t Buy Love Like Thatreveals the complex invisible dynamics that arise for gay people who are forced to hide their true selves in order to survive–and celebrates the hard-won rewards of finding one’s courageous heart and achieving self-acceptance and self-love.

 

 

 

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Pop-Up Blog Tour: I Like You Like This by Heather Cumiskey (Chrissy’s review)

I Like You Like This
written by Heather Cumiskey
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
I really did. I finished this book in two days. I would have finished it in one day, but I didn’t have the opportunity to binge read it.

Anyway, back to the book. This story moved. I felt for Hannah. Her father was unkind to her, her mother was an addict, and her little sister really knew how to play the favorite. I liked that she seemed like your average teen . . . bad complexion, out of control hair, and not in the popular crowd. I totally understood why she went for the drug dealer, the bad boy. She wanted to fit in, and she wanted to be wanted. I also liked that it wasn’t text messages, social media, cell phones, etc. The book takes place in 1984, which made it a nice change of pace for this reader.

I Like You Like This isn’t a happy-go-lucky book. It isn’t a happily ever after book. It’s heartbreaking. It’s disturbing. It’s a bit horrifying. But it is a story that will grab you and make you finish it.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you like YA contemporary. This is a quick, engrossing read.

 

Chrissy

About the book – from Goodreads: 
In 1984 Connecticut, sixteen-year-old Hannah Zandana feels cursed: She has wild, uncontrollable hair and a horrid complexion that she compulsively picks, and as if that weren’t bad enough, her emotionally unavailable parents mercilessly ridicule her appearance and verbally shame her.
Wanting to change her pathetic life, Hannah attempts to impress a group of popular girls–an ill-fated effort, except that it gets her the attention of Deacon, a handsome and mysterious boy who also happens to be her school’s resident drug dealer. Suddenly, Hannah’s life takes an unexpected detour into Deacon’s dangerous and seductive world–but when her relationship and family unravel around her, she is forced to reexamine what she believes about herself and the people she trusts the most.

**Disclaimer: this book includes material that could be sensitive to some, including drugs/alcohol, emotional abuse, explicit language and sexual content.

 

 

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Fall Reading Challenge 2017 – November Courses (spotlight)

 

Women Within
written by Anne Leigh Parrish
published by Black Rose Writing, 2017

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

About the book – from Amazon: This multi-generational novel presents three women whose paths cross at the Lindell Retirement Home. Constance Maynard, fierce, intependent and proud, reflects on her long life promoting women’s rights through her career as a professor of history. Eunice Fitch, the perfect caregiver, is often unlucky in love, yet even in middle age refuses to give up searching for the perfect man. Sam Clark is a young aide with a passion for poetry and , small beautiful things, but at war with her own large, ungainly physique. All together they weave a tapestry as rich and complex as the female experience itself.

 

The Other New Girl
written by L.B. Gschwandtner
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: During her first week at coed Quaker prep Foxhall School, sassy Susannah Greenwood, one of two girls who’ve entered as sophomores, gets pulled into the cool girls’ clique. While the school is instructing her in the moral and ethical tenets of the Quaker faith, the cool girls allow her to enter their world beyond the rule book–but in trying to find a balance between idealistic faith and the reality of a competitive system, Susannah runs afoul of the school’s most authoritarian dean and befriends the only other new sophomore, a brainy, socially inept outcast. Then her new friend runs away after being shamed by the dean, and Susannah finds herself caught between the two forces of loyalty and authority: Should she cooperate with the unforgiving, and now vulnerable, dean, who, with her job on the line, is pleading for information from her about her runaway friend? Or should she keep the secret she’s sworn to protect?

 

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Fall Reading Challenge 2017 – Study Abroad (spotlight, giveaway)

 

Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City
written by Christine Evelyn Volker
published by She Writes Press, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend–but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears? A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth –before it’s too late.

 

London, Can You Wait?
written by Jacquelyn Middleton
published by Kirkwall Books, 2017

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Alex loves Mark. Mark loves Alex. But is love enough?

Since moving to London from the US, twenty-four-year-old Alex Sinclair seems to have it all: a coveted job writing for the theatre, supportive friends, and the man of her dreams—gorgeous Irish actor, Mark Keegan. But in the year since the acclaimed debut of her play, Alex and Mark’s lives have been turned upside down.

Thanks to his role on a smash-hit British TV show, Mark is catapulted to stardom. Alex couldn’t be happier—until her boyfriend’s popularity and insatiable drive to succeed means they’re apart more than they’re together. Forced to share Mark with showbiz heavy-hitters, intrusive press, and unrelenting fangirls, Alex’s hopes for a stable and committed life with him start to fade. Her struggles with panic attacks, career uncertainty, and Mark’s increasingly worrisome behaviour make her wonder: how much more can she bend before she breaks?

A passionate tale of secrets, loss, and ambition, London, Can You Wait? is the eagerly-awaited sequel to Middleton’s debut novel, London Belongs to Me.

 

 

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