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 Material...like..I. 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 :)

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Book Review: The Shore House by Heidi Hostetter

Net Galley Summary:

When the Bennett family arrives at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, the matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf, and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately needs to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping accident on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

Tee's Review:

The Shore House centers around the Bennett family, and their New Jersy shore beach cottage. Noooo not THAT New Jersey shore, the nice quiet shore of Dewberry Beach. The family hasn’t had their normal summer there for about three years due to the father having a heart attack.

Kaye Bennett decides to try and recapture the past by gathering the family for the length of the summer, never mind the fact that she has not heard from son Brad in months while he spends the time traveling around on adventures with his hippy girlfriend. Or that daughter Stacy and she have a very strained relationship and have never gotten along. She gets Stacy there by telling her that Brad is coming for the entire summer. Stacy finds out her mother lied to her when Brad is a no show when she gets to the cottage. She wants to pack up her two kids and husband and leave, but she stays. Brad shows up and the family drama begins.

One of my favorite things about the book was the town of Dewberry Beach. I love when an author can describe a place and you just seem to be right in the middle of town seeing all that is described. The town of Dewberry is idyllic with its summer traditions, I wanted to be on the crowded beach smelling the scent of suntan lotion and hearing the yells of people as they play against the waves or on the beach, or in the town square with all the excited children, bikes decorated for the annual Fourth of July parade, cards flapping against the spokes of the wheels to make noise as they rode, maybe a bit wobbly down the road.

There are several surprises and secrets thrown in to keep the book moving, but the story is written not to have a jaw-dropping wow moment, it just flows naturally like a soft summer breeze. Shore House was a delight to read. It felt like an escape. It was a quick read showing that family bonds are strong even when you don't realize it, a story of forgiveness, and finding yourself. It is the perfect summer read.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Book Review: All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Goodreads Overview:

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Jacque's Review:

All the Stars and Teeth was the February OwlCrate selection. The following is a picture from their site showing everything that was included in the box. I absolutely love the bento box and have been using it to take my lunch to work. I also thought the pin was a perfect design for this book. It represents the crown and title Amora has worked so hard for since she was a child. The playing cards are a beautiful shimmery bluish purple and I have used them several times playing cards with my family while stuck in quarantine this spring. The key chain even came in handy. I wasn't really in need of additional book marks and the metal style isn't my first choice, so I will most likely pass these along to a fellow reader.

I really enjoyed this story and loved all of the characters. At the beginning of the book, Amora is supposed to demonstrate her magical skill and solidify her position as the heir to the throne. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and she is forced to flee the island for her own safety. Fortunately, a pirate named Bastian comes to her rescue with a magical ship for their getaway. 

The premise behind this book is a belief that has been passed down for generations that wielding multiple types of magic is dangerous. For this reason, people are segregated on different islands based upon their type of magic. An uprising is taking place because the Kingdom is not helping some of the islands that have been struggling from natural disasters and the like. These disasters could be prevented if they had people on their island with some of the other forms of magic. Amora was completely unaware of what was going on within the Kingdom and is determined to make things right, but it is a very difficult task. 

Ferrick is a powerful healer and is Amora's fiancee via. an arranged marriage. They are friends, but Amora has no intention of marrying him. Out of a sense of obligation he ends up tagging along on the journey and proves to be a valuable asset throughout their adventures. They also pick up a mermaid along the way named Vataea. She has some unique powers that are essential to their quest, but she isn't acting solely out of the kindness of her heart. The mermaids have been treated kindly by Amora's father and Amora promises to reward her for her efforts. 

Bastian and his magical ship have a secret they are keeping, which eventually comes to light. I absolutely loved his character and Amora seems to be drawn to him as well. They find themselves in an unusual situation at the end of the book and I sincerely hope they will find a solution in the sequel. The crew has come a long way in quelling the uprising, but Amora has a ways to go to earn back the trust of her people. While her intentions are pure, the years of damage and suffering on some of the islands will not easily be forgotten.

This was a highly entertaining start to the series with a captivating cast of characters. I enjoyed the magical ship and other magical elements that were woven into this story. The concept is very original and easily held my interest. OwlCrate has yet to lead me astray with one of their selections and I can't wait to read the sequel.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Book Review : Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano


One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery--one that will lead him to the answers of some of life's most profound questions: When you've lost everything, how do you find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?


Edward is a young boy who is the only person to survive a plane crash that killed 191 other people on its way to Los Angeles, including all his family. The chapters in the book alternate between the time after the crash when he is living with his aunt and uncle and healing, along with the time on the plane before it crashes. You get to know several of the passengers and their backstories, some of which come into play later in the story, as well as the family that Edward loses.
His aunt and uncle take the traumatized child home after he spent time in the hospital healing physically, it is now their job to help him heal mentality, which proves not as easy. His aunt is overprotective with him, having been unable to have children of her own and his uncle becomes obsessed with the crash. Edward clings to next-door neighbor Shay, he ends up sneaking out and staying the nights at her home instead of his. She is a major force in his healing and beyond.
The book takes us through years of Edward’s healing both mentally and physically. It is a struggle he confronts slowly over the years, often shutting completely down. The author does a great job of making the reader feel much of the emotions that Edward is feeling, and also the emotions of the people who live with him on a daily basis, who struggle in their own way dealing with him.
The world that Ann Napolitano creates is both mesmerizing and intense and you find yourself being pulled into to easily while flipping pages to find out what happens next. I especially found this true of the chapters that dealt with the actual crash.
It is a meaningful read, one that shows growth and courage, which the reader at times needs to pull themselves out of all the emotions they will feel while reading.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Book Review: The Second Home by Christina Clancy

Good Reads Summary:
After a disastrous summer spent at her family’s summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen-year-old Ann Gordon is left harboring a secret that changes her life forever and creates a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.
Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, and Ann and her sister Poppy are left to decide the fate of the old Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. While they both love the house, they decide to sell it and move forward. But then Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to a third of the estate. He wants the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long-ago summer. 
Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings are forced to decide if they can continue to be a family–and in the process, they’ll discover that the house might be the glue that holds them together
The Second Home is Christina Clancy’s debut book the story centers around the Gordon Family of Milwaukee, who summer in a home they own in Wellfleet MA, part of Cape Cod.  The book starts out in the cottage, where older sister Ann is preparing the cottage for sale after her parent’s tragic death in a car accident. It is the first time she has been back to the cottage in years and it begins a series of flashbacks from her, her younger sister Poppy, and their adoptive brother Michael, the book’s chapters tell the story from the three POV’s
The story deals with one certain summer when the children are teenagers, older sister Ann is known as Ann with a plan, she has her life rather planned out, she is the sensible one, and during this summer she makes a decision that will test the families loyalty and bonds, and it changes each of their lives forever. 
Poppy is the younger sister, during the summer she feels a bit left out since her parent adopted Michael so she turns to a group of new friends and takes up surfing and drugs. She pretty much drops out of the family and takes off traveling the world seemingly searching for something.
Michael is their adopted brother, the Gordons adopted him while he was a teenager, he has feelings for Ann he knows he should not have, and Ann actually shares these feelings.
Others in the book include their parents, who are minor characters in the story but are two of my favorite characters. I love their quirkiness and their love for each other and their family. With the siblings, I never felt a huge connection, especially when they became older, infant there were times, I rather disliked Ann, but maybe she was written for me not to like.
Clancy does a great job of describing the setting on Cape Cod, she transports you there and you can just almost imagine the sand in your toes. It also pulls the reader in with lots of betrayals, loss, heartbreak, and scandal. Its a book about the ebb and flow of a family the spans a few decades. It is a heartbreaking look at how one day in the life of one person can alter so many lives, but also it teaches the characters to look at the truth with honest eyes.
Second Home is a quick read, and the setting makes it a great beach read, you can then blame the tears in your eyes when it’s finished on the bright sun!