Jaclyn’s Review: We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly

We Are Unprepared

We Are Unprepared
written by Meg Little Reilly
published by Mira, 2016

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: 
Wow, did I love this book! This sat on my To Be Read pile forever–I just couldn’t seem to find the will to pick it up. Once I did I couldn’t put it down! I loved the characters, Ash and Pia, then I hated them for a bit, then loved them again–I kept flip flopping. The author manages to make The Storm justifiably terrifying but reasonably realistic as well. The story was completely plausible. I would read a few chapters, then set down the book and try to think about how I would react in that particular scenario. How often do you find a book that captivates you AND makes you think at the same time?!?


Would I recommend it: Absolutely! This book was well researched and well written. I was immediately drawn into the story, and I could not put this book down. The few times I had to put it down, I found myself dwelling on the characters and the story, trying to anticipate what would happen next and how they would respond. Read this book! Now!




About the book – from Goodreads: Ash and Pia’s move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start—a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. Fear of the impending disaster divides their tight-knit rural town and exposes the chasms in Ash and Pia’s marriage. Ash seeks common ground with those who believe in working together for the common good. Pia teams up with “preppers” who want to go off the grid and war with the rest of the locals over whom to trust and how to protect themselves. Where Isole had once been a town of old farm families, yuppie transplants and beloved rednecks, they divide into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools


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Chrissy’s Review: Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale

Everything We Left Behind
written by Kerry Lonsdale
published by Lake Union Publishing, 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? 
Not as much as I had hoped. I read it, and I’m glad I did, but I was a bit disappointed.

Okay, here’s the point where I need to warn you . . . if you haven’t read the first book, Everything We Keep, then you probably want to stop reading here. This review may spoil the first book for you. However, if you have read Everything We Keep, then please proceed. 🙂

I really enjoyed the first book, Everything We Keepand I couldn’t wait to read this one. I wanted to learn what happened to James and how he ended up with a different identity and two sons. I wanted to know what happened with Phil. I just wanted to know what happened. I did learn a lot about his life as Carlos and as current James, but I didn’t really get any answers. I was surprised by a few things (Señora Carla and Natalya), but not enough to keep me glued to the book. Honestly, I was kind of bored. There was no tension between James and Aimee, just a lot of flashbacks and James figuring out what to do now. I did enjoy watching him be a devoted father as Carlos and learning to be a father as James. His growing/changing relationship with his sons, especially Julian, was my favorite part.

With that said, I have heard that there will be a third book, Everything We Give, and I can’t wait to read it. I have a feeling it will pull everything together.


Would I recommend it? I definitely recommend the first book, Everything We Keep, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this one. However, if you read the first book, Everything We Keep, then you should read this book to see what happened to James Donato.



About the book – from Goodreads: 
From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Keep comes the highly anticipated sequel. Told from one man’s two perspectives, Everything We Left Behind effortlessly blends suspense, mystery, and romance in an exploration of loss, resilience, and the compelling need to protect the ones we love at all cost.

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

(This book is the sequel to Everything We Keep.)



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Melissa’s Review: Doppelganger by Shawn Stern

written by Shawn Stern
published by Invader Press, 2014

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazonBook Depository, WalmartGoodreads

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did! The prose is nothing to write home about, but the story itself is pretty cool. Shane handles the crazy string of events way better than I would–I’m pretty sure I’d be weeping in a corner for days even if I was just a random person who walked by the bank while it was being robbed. So, yeah. Shane’s my kind of guy (and it doesn’t hurt that he gets a bit hunky when he absorbs Cole). I can’t wait to see what happens next!


Would I recommend it: Sure! It would be a great beach read . . . hmm . . . now I need to go to the beach . . .



About the book – from Goodreads:


The day Shane Fisher is mistaken for one of the thieves of a bank robbery, his ordinary life is turned upside down. Propelled into a dark dangerous world, he must race to discover the truth about himself and a reality he never knew existed. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Shane discovers that he possesses powers and abilities far beyond his wildest imagination.

DOPPELGÄNGER is an adventure of murder, betrayal and chaos; one man’s loss – and discovery of personal identity.


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Summer Reading Challenge 2017: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Chrissy’s review)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
written by Taylor Jenkins Reid
published by Atria Books, 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 did enjoy Taylor Jenkins Reid’s newest release, but not as much as I have loved Ms. Reid’s other books. It was a departure from her usual style, in my opinion, but it was a decent story.

As I mentioned, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a different style from Ms. Reid’s other books, but it was a story that kept me turning pages. I have to say I didn’t find Evelyn’s story that surprising or heartwarming or intriguing. It read like a lot of other celebrity biographies . . . a lot of information and background but no real depth or feeling. I didn’t feel for Evelyn. I didn’t really like her. But I think that was the point. Evelyn didn’t want the readers to like her, and she made that clear from the beginning.

However, I wanted to know why Evelyn chose Monique to write her biography. Why did she choose a relatively new writer to release her story? I also would have liked to know more about Monique. We learned a little bit along the way, but I wanted to know more.

So, while I did enjoy Evelyn’s story, I don’t think it had the emotional punch or thought-provoking situations that Ms. Reid’s other books had. And I missed that.


Would I recommend it? If you are a Hollywood fan or a fan of Ms. Reid, then I would recommend this book, but not as your first Taylor Jenkins Reid book. Start with any of her previous books.



About the book – from Goodreads: 
From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.



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Jaclyn’s Review: Lessons From A Kindred Sister by Neeta Nahta

Lessons From A Kindred Sister
written by Neeta Nahta
published by CreateSpace, 2013

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
This book grabs at your heart strings from the start. Sarah’s fiancee has just dumped her and she is devastated. She is drinking bottles of wine, hiding under the covers, ignoring phone calls–kind of devastated. Her mother sends her a diary written by some mysterious woman who offers advice on how to recover from this kind of disappointment.

The advice that the mysterious woman offers is truly good advice. Unfortunately, as Sarah attempts to follow this advice, you quickly learn that she is intolerable and probably deserved to be dumped. With every layer that we peel back and learn more about Sarah, we find out that she is shallow, has poor taste in friends, is a rich, entitled brat . . . the list goes on. As if that weren’t enough, she then stumbles into an invitation to a billionaire’s party–and he suddenly falls in love with her. While this is all written in a realistic manner, the life that the author describes is very hard for most people to relate to.


Would I recommend it? All in all, I did enjoy reading it. I was genuinely sad that I started to hate Sarah, and she definitely became more likable by the end of the story. I would recommend reading the story for the advice from the Kindred Sister: it’s universal and a good reminder of how to live life.



About the book – from Goodreads: A delightfully decadent tale of dishy drama, feel-good inspiration, and saucy humor…

Intelligent, fun-loving Sarah Evans is in need of a glass of wine. After all, being unceremoniously dumped by your fiancé who leaves you with a ridiculously expensive apartment that makes you even more of a slave to a job you hate can really put a damper on things. (If you think that last sentence was a lot to take in, try living it…hmmm, better make that two glasses of wine.) As her sips turn to gulps, Sarah receives a journal from a mysterious Parisian woman known only as a ‘kindred sister’. What lies inside has the power to change her life forever. Before Sarah’s world can begin to sparkle like champagne, things take a decidedly vinegary twist when she learns of a dear friend’s horrible betrayal. Will the journal be enough to keep Sarah’s life from fully uncorking, or will her glass of cabernet be relegated to being forever half-empty?


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Jaclyn’s Review: Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating JoyGrace Not Perfection 
written by Emily Ley
published by Thomas Nelson, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, TargetiBooks, Book Depository, WalmartGoodreads

Did I enjoy this book: Oh my goodness, I NEEDED to read this book! This book was the wake-up call I needed–a reminder to live life purposefully. It is so easy to get caught up in the need to be busy, the need to do it all (sound familiar?). This really hit home with me. The author does a great job sharing stories from her own experience without sounding “preachy.” She doesn’t tell you how to live your life, but she gives you a gentle push to look at things from a different perspective. I related so much to this book. There were times I broke down in tears because I have actually said the same words as she has in moments of exasperation, specifically, “I can do this. I can MAKE this work. I just need to try harder.” Newsflash–that usually doesn’t work!

This book is broken down into easy to digest chapters. They contain stories about the author’s life, suggestions for how to change your own life, and a whole lot of positive thinking. I finished reading each chapter feeling more empowered than after the last chapter. Loved it!


Would I recommend it: Yes! Read this book–now! I plan to skim back through it and take some notes, then hand off my copy for others to read. Someone blessed me by sending me this book, and I want to bless others by passing along this wisdom. Please go, read this book, then let me know so we can talk about it!




About the book – from Goodreads: I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

As a busy wife, new mother, business owner, and designer, Emily Ley came to a point when she suddenly realized she couldn’t do it all. She needed to simplify her life, organize her days, and prioritize the priorities. She decided to hold herself to a standard of grace rather than perfection. This mantra led to the creation of her bestselling Simplified Planner®, a favorite among busy women everywhere—from mamas to executives and everywhere in between.

Grace, Not Perfection takes this message from a daily planner to an inspirational book that encourages women to simplify and prioritize. Designed with Emily Ley’s signature aesthetic, this book gives women tangible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. With a focus on faith, Emily reminds readers that God abundantly pours out grace on us—and that surely we can extend grace to ourselves.

Have you been told you can have it all, only to end up exhausted and occasionally out of sorts with the people you love? Are you ready for a new way of seeing your time? Learn to live a little more simply. Hold yourself and those you love to a more life-giving standard in Grace Not Perfection,and allow that grace to seep into your days, your family, and your heart.

Ideas include:

List Making 101—tips to create effective to-do lists and get through them one step at a time
Simplify your life by simplifying the three major areas: your space, your time, and your mind
Strategies to center your day around an intentionally slower rhythm of life


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Chrissy’s Review: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello, Universe
written by Erin Entrada Kelly
published by Greenwillow Books, 2017

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
I did enjoy it. I read it in advance of giving it to my son, and I thought it was a great middle grade read.

Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet are the main characters of Hello, Universe. They live in the same area, but they don’t all attend the same school. But they run into each other often, which isn’t a good thing if Chet is involved. The story is told in alternating points of view. Each character has their own voice. The story kept me reading until the very end. I laughed, I was worried, and I hoped for these kids.

Hello, Universe is a good read that teaches about friendship, bullying, and being yourself.


Would I recommend it? I would recommend it for you and your middle grade reader.



About the book – from Goodreads: 
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.



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Jaclyn’s Review: How Meg West Was Won by Libby Mercer

How Meg West Was WonHow Meg West Was Won
written by Libby Mercer
published by Libby Mercer, 2016

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

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

Did I enjoy this book? 
I did like this. It was a cute, quick read. This isn’t some deep novel with hidden meanings and plot twists. This is exactly what it promises to be–light, fun, and a little predictable. Heading to the beach this summer? Grab this book for an afternoon distraction. The characters were likable and the plot was (somewhat) believable.


Would I recommend it? I would recommend this to anyone looking for some light, no stress reading. Would I talk to random strangers about how awesome this book is? Probably not. But if you are debating picking this up–I say go for it! You won’t regret it!




About the book – from Goodreads: Whoever heard of a white knight showing up in a pair of old, scuffed cowboy boots?

She may be smart as a whip, but Meg West’s co-op is in a heap of financial trouble. When sexy and rugged cattle rancher, Dutch Hargrave, makes her a job offer, the vegetarian California girl can’t afford to refuse. And quite frankly, she hasn’t got the strength to turn down a man with a slow, Texan drawl that makes her toes curl.

Enlisting the help of the feisty bombshell is the answer to Dutch’s prayers—and his fantasies. Meg has the professional know-how to help lead his ranch into the 21st Century.

Before long, Meg and Dutch are as busy as a stump-tailed bull in fly season, working around the clock trying to preserve Dutch’s heritage. But while the grueling work brings them closer together, the heat on the ranch starts to rise. Will Dutch find a way to win over Meg West while saving his family’s farm?


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Melissa’s Review: What We Leave Behind by Matthew Alan

What We Leave BehindWhat We Leave Behind
written by Matthew Alan
published by Createspace, 2014

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

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

Did I enjoy this book: 
No, but in my defense I likely should not have tried to read it while on vacation.


Here’s a synopsis: Jane undergoes scores of tragic, stereotypical events and becomes a strong, beautiful, selfless, wonderful, amazingly loving person with no flaws. Then, she dies. It’s depressingly predictable. Maybe if I’d have read this while PMSing after just having been dumped I might have enjoyed it more. Maybe.

Would I recommend it: No.


About the book – from Goodreads: 
What We Leave Behind – A story about struggle, a story of hope, and mostly, a story about love. A journey with a unique young girl who is so sure of what is out there waiting for her, that she never compromises her belief in finding it. Jane Rawley Solomon’s humor, character, and passion for others, serve as a reminder that we choose our own path to happiness, regardless of the events that impact our lives.


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Chrissy’s Review: Swim Season by Marianne Sciucco

Swim Season
written by Marianne Sciucco
published by Bunky Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, 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, and even though it came in at over 700 Nook pages, it flew.

Even though the story flew, I did skim some parts. I was mostly interested in the swimming aspects of the story. And the swimming aspects of the story–the training, the practices, the meets–were done wonderfully. The school and relationships weren’t quite as important to me . . . or to the story in my opinion. Those parts were a part of Aerin and her story, but the swimming was the focus. I just wanted to see Aerin meet her swim goals, break that record, and do her best. I was a swimmer in high school, the 500 was my race my senior year. So, I definitely felt a connection with Aerin.


Would I recommend it? If you are/were a swimmer in high school, you will enjoy this book. It did bring back memories. If you like YA books that aren’t focused on romance, then this would be a good one for you. If you are curious about competitive swimming, read Swim Season.



About the book – from Goodreads: 
Sometimes winning is everything.

Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.

But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?



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