Sunday, August 9, 2020

Book Review: Garden of Thorns and Light by Shylah Addante

Book Summary
When Amethyst Faye was six years old, she was almost stolen by a monster in the woods on the same night her mother mysteriously disappeared. Ten years, a half dozen psychiatrists, and a slew of diagnoses haven’t made things any better; she is still plagued by nightmares, ridiculed at school, and misunderstood by everyone from her teachers to her counselor to her father. And lately she’s been sprouting thick green thorns out of her skin.

When the paranoia doesn’t end, and the treatment options run out, she’s faced with a choice between inpatient treatment or spending the summer with a grandmother she hasn’t heard from in a decade.

Summer at Gran’s in Morgan Springs wins out, just barely, and only because a backwater town sounds marginally more interesting than a mental institution. Amethyst draws the attention of Ben, the boy of her dreams, and Absynth, the creature from her nightmares. Although neither of them is what she expected, Amethyst realizes both Ben and Absynth are exactly what she needs to heal her heart and harness the fairy magic she’s inherited.

Unfortunately for Amethyst, trying to walk both paths could get her killed, but having to choose between them is far worse.

Flo's Review
First things first: #coverlove! Look at the luscious green and all the colors!

I've found myself back in the world of faeries with Garden of Thorns and Light. The interesting thing about faeries is seeing the different interpretations and iterations. The fae in this story were unlike any I had encountered before, and so it was interesting to learn their lore. Introducing much of the backstory through the book Amethyst got from Gran instead of a big info dump at the beginning of the story was also a good idea. It took a little bit to get to what felt like the magical heart of the story, but once we were there, the story took off. I wanted to scream at Amethyst way too much for the decisions she made, even though I understood why she made them. I found myself flying through the last few chapters of the book as I eagerly hoped everything would work out.

I would have loved to learn more about Ben's family and their experience, but it would make sense for that to come in the (hopefully!) second book. I've got two favorite parts of this story. First, I love the way the real world meets the fantasy world. They dance together, circle each other, but are still two distinct places -- the garden and the forest, in particular. And secondly, Ben. Because, Ben.

Garden of Thorns and Light publishes September 15th from Month9Books. I received an advance readers copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Book Review: My Life For Yours by Vanessa Carnevale

Paige and Nick are happy. They have a beautiful home, a loving family and, most importantly, they would do anything for each other. Now, they are having a baby and it feels like all their dreams are coming true.

But joy turns to despair when they discover that Paige has a rare, life-threatening heart condition and they lose their longed-for child. Heartbroken, the couple must accept the reality that they may not become parents after all.

Just as they begin to come to terms with their loss, Paige unexpectedly falls pregnant again. Paige’s heart is still weak, and to carry the baby to term puts them both at risk. The couple now faces an impossible decision: Paige’s life or the life of their unborn child?

If Paige keeps the baby, she could lose her life and destroy the man she loves. If Nick tries to stop her, he may lose them both forever. It’s the most important decision they have ever had to make – and time is running out.

My Life for Yours is a heartbreaking, gripping, and emotional story about love, loss, and an impossible choice, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Kelly Rimmer, and Kate Hewitt. 

My Life For Yours is separated into three parts. The first part of the book deals with Paige and Nick and their joy over having a baby. You get to know each of them...Nick a Pediatric surgeon, and Paige who works in an assisted living/ nursing home. You also get to meet Paige's family, her mother, and father, who are loving and have been married forever and still in love, her brother Ryan, who lives away, and her sister Caitlin, that is in Paige's eyes living the perfect life with two kids and a husband, a house and a country home they are renovating. Paige and Nick are excited they are having a baby, it is something they have both wanted and planned for. The author takes you through their lives as they get ready for its arrival, from planning a nursery to arriving at the hospital. Only once it happens, it doesn't go well and Paige loses the baby, that they named Max, and also finds out she has heart failure.
Part two is one of those sections that will rip at your feelings. It is the two of them trying to navigate the death of their son, and get life back to normal if it can ever be that way again. And as much as Paige wants a baby, she has been told that now is not the time because of her heart, it could kill her or the baby, or even both. But she does find herself pregnant and it comes down to them having to choose between lives. Part three goes from there and tells of her pregnancy.
I don't want to say anything more than that, but the entire book is told in two POV's.. Paige's and Nick's. There is much conflict and you might find you need to grab a tissue or two. This is a very emotionally charged book, that will make you think, and wonder if you could hold up in the same situation. It deals with the heartbreak of losing a child, of choices that feel impossible to make, and of dreams the parents and families have.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Exclusive Excerpt: Lobizona by Romina Garber

We are so excited to be sharing an exclusive excerpt of Lobizona as part of the blog tour! Find it below the page break.

Book Summary
Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious "Z" emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobiz√≥n, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Lobizona after the page break.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review: Starlight Nights by Stacey Kade

Goodreads Overview:

At twenty-three, Calista Beckett is trying to overcome her early fame and fortune. The former savior of the world on Starlight is now a freshman at college--miles away from L.A. and her former existence. She sees it as her start to a new life, a normal life, one where she won't make the same mistakes she made before--a brush with heroin addiction and losing her freedom to her controlling mother, thanks to a court order.

Eric Stone played her older brother, Byron, on Starlight. But she's been in love with him pretty much since they kissed--her first kiss--while auditioning. When Eric shows up on campus out of the blue asking her to return to California for a role, Calista's struck immediately by two things: first, in spite of everything that's happened, she still feels something dangerous for him, and second, she's absolutely determined not to let him ruin her life again.

Only Eric's not giving up so easily.

Jacque's Review:

Starlight Nights is a companion novel to Stacey's 738 Days.  You don't need to read 738 Days to appreciate this story, but there is some overlap of the characters and the timeline is several years in the future. I loved seeing how Chase and Amanda are doing now, but they are definitely secondary characters this time around.

Calista's mother is her manager and has been using her as the family's primary revenue source for as long as Calista can remember. Now that her career has been derailed, she is taking a much needed break from the spotlight and trying to be a normal college student. Unfortunately, she is the biggest thing to hit her small school in the middle of nowhere and doesn't exactly fit in. 

Eric's father is a famous producer, so Eric is viewed as the privileged son who can get away with anything. He has made some mistakes, but he is trying to turn his life around and is putting all of his own money into starting a production company of his own. He wants to prove himself, but his father is determined to sabotage everything he does.

Eric buys the rights to a book that Calista loved when they were working on Starlight Nights together. He will stop at nothing to get her to star in it with him to capitalize on their existing fan base, but that isn't his only motivation. He feels guilty about how things ended between them and is determined to help her get her life back on track. 

Eric and Calista have a long and complicated history together, but they both still have feelings for each other. It takes them a while to regain the trust and friendship they once had and to see what the real problems have always been in their relationship. They need to take control of their own lives if they are ever going to be happy.

This was a highly entertaining romance. The content is adult compared to Stacey's Ghost and the Goth or Project Paper Doll series, which is great for us older readers, but I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens. I have a 15 year old that I still try to keep him in the PG13 range, which this book definitely exceeds. I can only imagine the expression on my son's face if he read a few of the scenes, LOL.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Book Review: The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

A chilling murder in a prestigious prep school is at the heart of this riveting new novel from acclaimed author Charlie Donlea, featuring forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner, Lane Phillips.

Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high, and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive. 


I have always been drawn to a book that is set in an elite prep school, and even more so if there happens to be a mystery surrounding the school. Suicide House gave me everything I expected from it along with secret societies, murder, gossip, and more.

The story takes place on the campus of the elite private school in Indiana called Westmore Prep, where a podcast decides to focus on a past murder of two students who were killed in an abandoned boarding house that students used as a hangout. The podcast, titled Suicide House tackles why students that were there that night go back to the scene and commit suicide.

I enjoyed the story but found out later the main characters is in a book before this one, and Suicide House is the second in the series, While I think that the book stood on its own very well, I would have liked to have read the other one first, maybe to just get insight on the characters that were investigating the crime. The story itself had plenty of suspenseful moments and was a well-written mystery. I really enjoyed the author giving us glimpses of the killer bu their journal entries that were included in the story, that along with the blogging and podcasts gave the story a real feeling of being on a campus in which these things would really be happening in today's world.

I did struggle with a few things in the book, mostly that there were a lot of mysteries or stories, and POVs going on at once, and at times I had to re=read to comprehend parts of it, especially when I first started reading the book. The book does move at a bit slower pace than most books I read so that helped me out a bit also. I had time to think about things without getting totally lost.

All in all Suicide House is a great book and most mystery readers will enjoy it. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Book Review: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Goodreads Overview:

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

Jacque's Review:

I have had a number of Marie Lu's books on my TBR list for a long time, but this is the first of her books that I have actually read. As it mentions in the overview, this is her first historical fiction novel. I really enjoyed learning about Mozart and his older sister, who was very talented in her own right. I also wasn't aware of the fragile state of Mozart's health from a young age, which was probably fairly common back in those days. The amount of traveling the children had to do, and the fact that their family's livelihood eventually rested upon their shoulders, is more than any child at that age should have to bear. 

To escape the pressure of their daily lives and to pass the time while they traveled, the Mozart children enjoyed sharing stories about a magical kingdom they thought only existed in their imagination. Nannerl used the world to help perpetuate her hopes of being remembered forever. She begins to notice that events from their stories are beginning to overlap in the real world. Hyacinth, the magical being from their imaginary world, appears to both children and makes a deal with Nannerl she can't refuse. 

Hyacinth reminded me of Morpheus from A.G. Howard's Slintered series. He could be extremely charming, but there was always something sneaky about his motives. Nannerl eventually discovers her bargain with Hyacinth may cost her more than she is willing to give up. She needs to find a way to save the Kingdom and those she loves before it is too late.

The Kingdom of Back was the March Owlcrate selection. Below is a photo of everything that came in the box. Photo credit to Hello Subscription.  I loved this special edition of the book with the silver edges. I also really enjoyed the Owlcrate themed socks and speaker. I did see some reviews from subscribers who said their speaker didn't work, but I haven't had any difficulties. For a small portable speaker I think the sound quality is really good, but I have only used it to listen to audio books. I'm sure it doesn't have the same sound quality as my Bose speakers, but it does a great job for audio books. It was very easy to link up to my phone and is a really cute design with the owl face.

Overall, I really enjoyed the box and the book was another excellent choice that I might not have picked up if it weren't for Owlcrate. I have enjoyed all of the books I have received from them so far and look forward to reading their April book, Bone Criers Moon, which is still in my TBR pile. Flo was shocked that this is the first Marie Lu book that I have read, so I guess I need to bump some of her other books up the TBR list as well to see what I have been missing. So many little time :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Goodreads Overview:

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Jacque's Review:

I listened to this book on audio and followed along with the ebook. The story is told through a series of letters between the characters and each character had his or her own narrator for the audio book, which I loved. 

I visited Guernsey last summer and watched the Netflix movie before I went to learn a little bit of the history of the island before I went. The book is historical fiction, but you definitely get more of the history from the book than you do the movie. The descriptions of what life was like during the German occupation were very detailed and gave readers a good idea of the struggles the islanders went through while cut off from the rest of the world. Germany used the island as a base to launch attacks on Britain and the other surrounding regions, so Britain could not deliver supplies. Food was scarce and even things like soap were hard to come by. Communication was cut off, so they had no idea how the war was progressing or if an end was in sight.

The island was very beautiful, but you can still see the bunkers and other military impacts of the occupation. We visited a WW2 museum and were able to see a number of the artifacts that have been collected from this period of time. Below are a few of the pictures from our trip to give you an idea.

This was a very well written book with fascinating characters. I learned a lot about Guernsey and received a different perspective of the war than I have ever read in an American history book. I gave this book 5 stars and would definitely recommend it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Goodreads Overview:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Jacque's Review:

I picked up a copy of this book at BEA several years ago. I finally decided to read it after going to an author event at my local library with Katherine Arden who wrote The Bear and the Nightingale. I didn't know anything about the Russian folktale Vasilisa the Beautiful prior to the event, which both books are based upon. 

Vassa makes a huge mistake when she agrees to fetch light bulbs from the local convenience store. She knows that entering the dancing building that seems to have brought perpetual darkness to Brooklyn is a risky move, but she feels like she has nothing to lose. She ends up trapped by the owner and has to work in the store to earn her freedom, which is a far better punishment than most people receive. 

While working at the store, Vassa learns about her mother's magical history and how her magical wooden doll, Erg, actually came to be. She realizes she may be the only person who can put an end to Babs's reign of terror and restore Brooklyn to what it was before darkness took over the city.

This was an interesting tale filled with unusual characters and magical elements. I found it to be a slow read due to the fact that it was really far fetched and I couldn't relate to the story. I debated between 2 and 3 stars on Goodreads and probably wouldn't recommend it unless you are really into Russian folklore and can relate the elements in this story back to the original. I am curious to know more about Vasilisa the Beautiful to see where the stories overlap, but for now, I'm just ready to move on to something a bit more main stream.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson

Goodreads Overview:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: 1) She was the last person to see her parents alive. 2) The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 3) She can't trust anyone-maybe not even herself.

As Tandy sets out to clear the family name, she begins to recall flashes of experiences long buried in her vulnerable psyche. These memories shed light on her family's dark secrets, and digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs proves to be a disturbing and dangerous game. Who knows what any of the Angels are truly capable of?

Jacque's Review:

I found this book in my local little free library. I have read and enjoyed Patterson and Paetro's Women's Murder Club books, so I decided to give it a try. I love a good murder mystery, but you don't see them too often for teens / young adults, so I was really excited when I first started reading and discovered this series is YA.

The book is narrated by Tandy Angel who is telling the story directly to the reader. It was very unique and I thoroughly enjoyed this style of writing. There were times when it seemed like she was sharing a secret with the reader or she prompted the reader with questions to think about.

The story begins with the murders of Malcolm and Maud Angel. They are extremely wealthy and reside in an exclusive NYC condo building. With no undetectable way in or out of the home, the police are convinced it had to be someone inside the house, which leaves only the nanny or one of the Angel children as suspects. All of the children are extremely gifted, thanks to the vitamins produced by Malcolm's pharmaceutical company, that the children have been taking for as long as they can remember. Matthew Angel won the Heisman and now plays in the NFL. Harry, Tandy's twin, is a musical prodigy while Tandy is a genius. Hugo, the youngest of the children, has supernatural strength and is also gifted academically. 

Tandy takes it upon herself to conduct an investigation to clear there names since the police aren't willing to look beyond the obvious. It doesn't take long for her to discover that they all have some sort of motivation for murder and she isn't even sure she can rule herself out. She starts interviewing other residents in the building to see if any of them may have seen or heard anything that evening.

The Angel children uncover a number of skeletons in the family closet while unraveling this mystery. Not all ends were tied up nicely at the end of this book, which is what the next book in this series will likely be about. I can't say any more than that without giving away spoilers, but I can't wait to see what will happen next. 

This series was a pleasant surprise that I would definitely recommend to any murder mystery fan. If it weren't for the little free library, I likely never would have discovered this series. It isn't one that I ever saw hyped when it was released or recall seeing reviewed on other blogs.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall


One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O'Donnell is tangentially--and reluctantly--famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he's never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad's making a comeback, Luc's back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship...and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He's a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he's never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately, apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that's when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don't ever want to let them go.

Tee's Review:

First of all, I am not a big romance reader, but I loved Boyfriend REALLY. LOVED.THIS.BOOK. It is a typical romance book troupe..someone needs a boyfriend so they go for a fake one, except Alexis Hall has breathed so much wit and humor into it that it doesn't feel " done before "

Luc O'Donnell is the son of an aging rock star who walked out on him and his mother when he was three. The press love to follow Luc about, putting anything he does, mostly wrongly, into the tabloids. He works for an environmental charity who thinks he needs to change his image by being seen with someone stable and suitable and suggests he get a boyfriend who meets those qualifications, even if he is fake. He has to raise his image by the time he puts together the charity's annual fundraising ball or be fired.

Enter Oliver Blackwell, a stuffy uptight Barrister that Luc's friend sets him up with. They have had run-ins in the past and know that there is no chance for a real relationship between them, but Oliver also needs a date to his parent's big anniversary party. The two of them strike a deal, they will be fake boyfriends until the charity ball and the anniversary party is over then they will go their separate ways.

I loved Luc, heck I wish I had a boyfriend like him ( never mind that I am married and he is gay ) His character was a complete disaster at everything in his life, but oh so adorable..oh and snarky...I loved his wit and snark. I found myself getting dirty looks as I laid in bed with my husband as he watched reruns of The Soprano's and I would laugh at loud while reading the antics that Luc found himself in and the comments he would throw out during them. He has no self-confidence...AT ALL..yet he often makes jokes about his mishaps and his " extremely low standards " when it comes to dating.

I also liked Oliver, he had a lot of good qualities, he was protective and thoughtful, but at times he was a bit annoying and stuffy, but the guy was dealing with his own set of problems that made him undateable. The one thing that the author did really well was the writing of the supporting secondary characters. They did such a good job with them that my second favorite character in the book happened to be one of them, Alex a co-worker of Luc's.

I don't know if any of you have read any of the PG Wodehouse Jeeves books or watched Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, but anytime Alex opened his mouth all I could think of was the bumbling Bertie Wooster, who has always been a favorite book and TV character of mine.

Boyfriend Material is a quick read, mostly because you can not bear to put it down, Luc's mishaps keep you wanting to know what happens next. While the book is choked full of snarky British humor, and chemistry which Luc and Oliver certainly have is also touches on more serious topics such as self-worth and trust.

If all romance stories were written with the wit, romance, and feels of Boyfriend Material, I think a lot more of us would be reading them!

( Galley received from Netgalley for review )

Friday, June 26, 2020

Book Review: Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland


Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.

Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.

Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.


As a history buff, I love a good Historical Fiction book, I really liked the idea of Florence Adler Swims Forever being based on a real story of a family member of the author. The book takes place in Atlantic City in the years before WWII around the time when Hitler was rising to power in Germany, and while Hitler isn't the main point in the book it does, however, play an important part in one of the character's story.

The tragedy that befalls Florence happens surprisingly at the beginning of the book, and the rest of the book is the family trying to deal with processing what happened and their mourning. The Adlers are a very Jewish family and there are a lot of references of Jewish life in it, so if you are not familiar with some of them, you might have to look a few things up as a reference, for me, my family is Jewish so it was a very easy read. I actually finished the book in a day and a half because I was so interested in the lives of the main characters. 

The story is told from several points of view. To me the main character was Joseph Adler, I am not sure why he stood out so heavily to me, but honestly, all the characters pretty much had equal billing.  Frannie, the sister is pregnant, she is in the hospital throughout the book trying desperately to not go into premature labor. Her husband Issac is a bit of a dud, he fails at business and basically life. He works in the family business if you can call what he does working. The mother Esther, I found rather cold, however, she may just have had a hard time with the death of Florence, and the secret that she discovered Joseph had been keeping from her. Joseph the head of the family and the family's bakery business is understanding and kind and tries to keep the family together in so many ways, he also is the reason Anna is in the US, having left Germany to escape the unrest over there. Anna is the charge, her mother and Joseph knew each other as children, she is thoughtful, and will go to great lengths to try and get her parent to the US and out of Germany, even sacrificing her future. Stuart is the WASPy son of a wealthy hotelier, one which doesn't allow Jews inside. He loved Florence in his own way but knew she did not love him. He defies his father, not wanting his money, wanting to make it on his own, but things in his life change and he has to make a decision on to go into the family business or not. Then there is Gussie, she is Frannie and Issac's seven-year-old daughter. Gussie is wise and kind-hearted and loves Stuart. She was one of my favorite characters in the book.

Florence Adler Swims Forever is an epic family saga, and will draw on all the emotions you can imagine, from sadness to anger.It will make you question some of the choices the family made, and you will often ask yourself if you would have done something different. I had to tell myself this was a different time and maybe I didn't understand the ways of the world back then. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, the story is courageous and tender, and while the ending seemed a bit neatly tied up and predictable I really enjoyed the book. 

 (Thank you to Netgalley for the Advanced copy. Book publishes on July 7. 2020 )

Friday, June 19, 2020

Book Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They're polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


I will admit, I am a huge beach book reader, they are usually fun fast reads, and Beach Read was exactly that.  This was a book I needed after reading a long stretch of serious books, it was refreshing.

January, who is a romance writer has given up on love, she no longer believes in what she writes. Her love life has gone sour and she finds out that her now-dead father has had an affair for several years. So she runs off to North Bear Shores to the lake cottage she has inherited from her father. The cottage that was his and the other woman’s place. There she will spend the next three months writing a book she needs to write, to get her publisher off her back, and because she is broke.

Next door is literary writer Augustus Everett, who is in his own writer's rut. Recently divorced, he has bought the cottage next door. One beer-filled night after arguing about their writing styles they strike up a deal that will hopefully get them out of their writer's block. They will swap genres, Augustus will write a romance, and January will write a book that does not end with a happy ending.

The characters know how to get under each other's skin, and they each have a few unresolved feelings about the other that go back to when they had some classes together in college. I liked both January and Gus, they each have great personalities despite their problems. They also felt real, and sometimes that is hard for an author to accomplish in a book. Their conversations were funny and witty, but there are times that the comedy is put aside and serious topics were tackled between the two.

This book proves shows that opposites do attract, that you can have second chances. It is heartfelt and funny, and Emily Henry keeps you on your toes with the relationships in the book. You will laugh, and you will cry, you will love Beach Reads.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Book Review: Shopaholic on Honeymoon by Sophie Kinsella

Goodreads Overview:

The new Mr and Mrs Brandon are on honeymoon, and Becky has big plans! They’ve got a whole year to explore Venice, learn yoga in India, sleep in little wooden huts in South America… maybe even see penguins in the Antarctic. And of course they’ll need to buy just a few essential souvenirs along the way (everyone needs a set of Murano glass goblets, after all).

They’re not just tourists, they’re travelers. Becky is sure it is just the thing that Luke needs – time to unwind. He’ll come back a changed man… with all the good bits still intact of course.

But it soon becomes clear that Luke has different plans entirely. Can Becky help him let go, or will this little disagreement threaten their whole honeymoon?

Jacque's Review:

The previous book in the series, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, was all about Becky and Luke's wedding. The planning and everything leading up to the big day and their honeymoon. I haven't read the next book in the series yet, Shopaholic and Sister, but Sophie Kinsella released a free short story in 2014 to bridge the gap between the two books. The ebook is less than 30 pages and is an entertaining addition to the series.

Luke, ever the workaholic, is beginning to question the decision to take a full year off to travel the world. He is very intent on seeing and learning as much as he can at each location, and once they have hit all of the highlights, is ready to move onto their next destination. A souvenir to commemorate a location is certainly enough. 

Becky is the one planning and organizing the honeymoon and has far different plans. She is happy relaxing in one city and taking in the culture. She is in no hurry and of course has to purchase all sorts of souvenirs to fully experience each city. For example, she sees some artists painting and decides she needs to take up painting, even though she has never had an interest in the past and has no artistic talent.

Ever the practical person that I am, I have a very hard time relating to Becky and her frivolous spending. She is constantly buying things she doesn't need and ultimately regrets purchasing once she sees how much she has spent or her sudden impulse has passed. Her antics are entertaining and provide a number of laughs, but I think that sort of personality would wear on me after a very short period of time. Fortunately, Luke is wealthy and can support her habits. 

They have a bit of a falling out over their difference of opinions, but ultimately work through their issues. I enjoyed this short story and would recommend it if you are a fan of the series. It is a very quick read and provided some humorous insight into their honeymoon adventures.

I downloaded the ebook for free from the library, so it was certainly worth more than the price :)