Thursday, January 28, 2021

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen


Goodreads Overview:

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Jacque's Review:

If you enjoy YA contemporary, you really can't go wrong with Sarah Dessen's books. I have read a four of them so far and they are always very unique and thought provoking. I enjoy the fact that they are stand alone novels that I can pick up and read without a lengthy commitment, which is hard to find these days.

In Just Listen we are introduced to Annabel, who is high school student and a local model. Her sisters were models and it was just assumed she would follow in their footsteps. When her older sisters leave home to pursue their education and careers, Annabel becomes her mother's primary focus. Her mother doesn't work outside of the home and has always managed her daughter's modeling schedules for joy and fulfillment. When Annabel's grandmother passes away, her mother takes it very hard and experiences severe depression. The one thing that seems to pull her out of the darkness is Annabel's modeling. Annabel really wants to tell her mother that she wants to quit modeling, but she just can't bring herself to do it.

Owen is a transfer student with a reputation for being a bad boy. There are all sorts of rumors circulating the school about him, but nobody really knows the truth. When Annabel and her best friend Sophie have a falling out, Annabel finds herself on the outside looking in. She was once one of the popular girls who seemed to have everything, but now she doesn't feel like she has a single friend in the school. She begins talking to Owen, who can usually be found ignoring everyone listening to his iPod, and discovers there is a lot more to him than she ever imagined. 

Owen has learned that honesty is the best policy and he can't understand why anyone wouldn't just tell exactly what is on their mind. Annabel can see the benefits that could be achieved by getting things off of her chest, but she is such a nice person and doesn't want to say things that could potentially upset or offend others. She also has some secrets she isn't quite sure she wants to tell. Throughout the book we see Annabel's struggles as she weighs her options. She eventually needs to decide if her secrets are worth losing one of the best friends she has ever had. 

I really enjoyed this book and will continue working my way through Sarah Dessen's other books on my TBR list. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Book review - Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Book Summary

THE HANDMAID’S TALE meets the DC universe in this breathtaking, thrilling origin story of Black Canary. Her voice is her weapon, and in a near future world where women have no rights, she won’t hesitate to use everything she has to fight back.

Dinah Lance was seven years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime, and not in Gotham City, taken over by the Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham as a patriarchal dictatorship, all the while spreading their influence like a virus across the globe.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way stop to a certain death sentence. Can she balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own desire to help other women and girls rise up and finally be heard? And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

Flo's Review

I've been enjoying the DC Icons series, so I was super excited to learn about a new addition! I wanted Black Canary as soon as I heard about it. Believe it or not, I was not really familiar with Black Canary and the Birds of Prey before reading this, so I didn't come in with any preconceived notions or expectations. 

Dinah was a little bit whiny, but her Gotham City sucked, so I understand. (That was pretty much one of my status updates for the book -- lol.) There were a few characters of whom I wasn't quite sure their allegiances, and I enjoyed seeing where they ended up. (Well, by "enjoyed" I mean that one broke my heart, but you know.)

Black Canary is a great installation to the DC Icons series -- action-packed, engaging, and fun from beginning to end. I would recommend picking it up if you're intrigued.

Book Review: The Queen & Di by Ingrid Seward


Goodreads Overview:

As the editor of Majesty magazine, author Ingrid Seward developed professional and personal relationships with the royal family. In "The Queen & DI," we discover a surprising portrait of the British monarch and the princess, contradicting what the press has previously reported: a fragile Diana battling an unfeeling mother-in-law. And we glimpse much more of the inner workings of the extended royal family.Entertaining and factual, "The Queen & DI" stands apart and above the countless, often inaccurate, accounts published to date about Diana. Ingrid Seward reveals for the first time the true relationship between two important women of the 20th century.

Jacque's Review:

I am a fan of the royal family and have followed all of the pomp and circumstance for decades. I have read several books about Diana, but this may be the only one that I have read that provides an honest portrayal of some of the relationships and events that took place behind the palace walls. In the Charles and Diana drama, I was Team Diana. After her tell all interview about how there were three people in the marriage from the very start, you couldn't help but feel sorry for her. 

This book explores how Diana was very accommodating and went above and beyond to fit into the royal family up until she was actually engaged to Charles. Once they were engaged, she shut down completely and would lock herself in her rooms. She had depression, an eating disorder, and an insatiable appetite for attention and approval. This did not sit well with Charles who was brought up as the heir to throne. He did not appreciate being constantly upstaged by his wife and could not figure out how to communicate with her. They did not have any of the same interests or hobbies, so the marriage appeared to be doomed from the start.

The Queen is often portrayed as cold and set in her ways, but this books shows how she was one of the last members of the family to support Diana. She was well aware of the drama that was taking place. She tried to provide guidance and emotional support to her daughter-in-law, but even she grew tired of the outburst and arguments. 

After reading this book, I actually have an appreciation for Charles. I now believe they were equally responsible for the demise of their marriage and can see things from both points of view. Charles isn't the villain the tabloids made him out to be and Diana wasn't a saint. They were rushed into a marriage neither was prepared for and they simply weren't compatible. If they had been given more time to date, perhaps they could have avoided the years of pain and anguish.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Book Review: This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Goodreads Summary

Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely YA thriller about separating fact from fiction--and how far we'll go to create our own version of reality.

Like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama ... but drama seems to keep finding her. Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents cramping her social life, and her younger sister's worsening health, the only constant is change--and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.

Swickley is getting weirder by the day, too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device--with an apple logo on it--falls out of her best friend's backpack and lands at Jess's feet.

Flo's Review

What fun this book was! It's been awhile since I've had that, "I need to go to bed...okay, I'll read one more chapter. Just one more," and then actually read 3 or 4 more before grudgingly putting the book down. This book surprised me from about 25% in. I knew the premise, but I didn't know what Anna Carey was going to do with the plot, and it was interesting to see how the story unfolded.

This is a hard review to write, because I want to keep it spoiler-free, and as you can tell from the summary, pretty much anything I say might be considered a spoiler - LOL. But I will say that the action was non-stop, the pacing was very well done, and -- as I said before -- it surprised me. I loved the concept and was throughly entertained throughout.

This Is Not the Jess Show publishes February 2nd from Quirk Books, and I think you should pick it up.

Thank you to Quirk for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review: Shipped by Angie Hockman


Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—the best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?


I loved this book so much, it was one of those books that you read to escape, and get exactly what you think you’re going to get.

I am a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope so the story of Henley ( named for Don Henley of the Eagles, and has a sister named Walsh ) and Graeme and their fight to win a prized job position they were competing for was absolutely perfect and the read I needed to get out of a bit of a slump.

They are sent on a company cruise to the Galapagos Island, whoever comes back with the best marketing idea for the cruise, which is in a bit of a slump, will be handed the coveted position. Let the hilarity begin…

Graeme is charming, and he is good looking and he quickly has everyone, including me, enamored with him. Everyone that is except Henley who has never met him except on zoom calls, and dislikes him for his arrogance. Henley is a hard worker, and she is loyal and out to achieve the goals she has set for herself, but it isn’t easy for her in a business that is dominated by men. She is easily likable to the reader and you will find yourself rooting for her.

The banter between Henley and Graeme is ideal. Graeme’s snarky remarks will have you easily laughing. He is sweet, and underneath he is deeply emotional, intact he is the perfect book boyfriend despite the arrogance. The chemistry and tension between the two are incredible and you will soon be wanting them to kiss, and maybe to start tearing off some clothing. It is sweet and just steamy enough without going overboard.

The secondary characters I enjoyed are Walsh, Henley’s sister who comes on the cruise with her to help give her an outsider's view of what could be improved. She is flighty, going from one job to another, flirty,  and probably a bit spoiled, but she looks up to her big sister and truly wants to help her. And then there was Nikoli, truly one of my favorite characters of the book, and I feel he brings so much humor to the story, it would be lacking without him.  A big hurley Russian with the hots for Henley, he will have you laughing out loud at his awkwardness. Trust me when I tell you he is unforgettable.

Y’all this is Angie Hockman's debut novel. It is easy to forget that as you read, as it is well written, the characters, all of them are memorable, the descriptions are so good you can see the places in your mind as you read along and most of all it is fun. 

Remember that tropical vacation we all dreamed about taking or were missing when we were locked down? No worries, grab you a tropical drink ( don’t forget the umbrella ) and a copy of Shipped, and it will almost have you thinking you were there.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous


1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she's truly part of the family...until they ask her to help them with a harmless game--and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It's strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she'll be staying at, she figures she's got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she'd imagined--even with damage from a fire decades before--but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there's something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone...including her.


If you are a lover of gothic fiction you will enjoy the new book The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous which is a modern take on the genre.  Raven Hall, an aging manor home that has been in the family for generations has loomed heavily over the story, and that alone gives it the gothic feel. 

The book centers around two main POVs that scan different times, Beth who is in 1988, an orphan who has been chosen to come to Raven Hall to be a companion to Nina, a girl her age who is kept in confine to the grounds of the manor by her mother. Beth gets pulled into a strange game of dressing up and posing as Nina, by Nina’s parents when her grandfather comes to visit. Nina is sick each time he visits, and Beth seems to think she is being poisoned.

Sadie is the second POV and is based in the year 2019, she is invited to Raven Hall to be a performer at a murder mystery weekend at the manor home. But soon enough one of the performers shows up missing. 

There is also an occasional third POV that neither the name nor the time is known, but it seems to be also somewhere in the past. 

The book is suspenseful, complex, and complicated, and I didn't always know where the story was going or even when it would end up, but I kept reading anxiously to find out the secrets of each of the main characters. There are also several secondary characters in the story, and it is sometimes confusing trying to keep up with them all.  

The book is split into two parts, the second part is shorter and ties everything up, but not before a few twists and turns that finally reveal who the characters are and what their secrets are. I did find a few of the twists at the end to be a bit far fetched, but the book was an enjoyable and easy read.

The Perfect Guest is a thrilling mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, but it is also a family drama that deals with obsession and risking everything to be able to keep what you really love. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


I love the romance genre…everything about it. Yes, some are sappy and fluffy, but I need that in my life, and yes, I do watch Hallmark…sue me.  I especially love Rom-Coms. Long ago when Confessions of A Shopaholic came out I picked it up and have been hooked ever since. I see myself in the characters, more so than I would ever see myself in a mystery or thriller, I would never be in a situation most of them are in, I am not one to take chances or that much adventure. I am a person though that is clumsy, a bit goofy, guarded with my heart, and yes, a bit of a shopaholic  Rebecca Bloomwood and I have LOADS in common. Remember that time she was in New York and took that tour of Fifth Ave? 

It’s Saks Fifth Ave. Right there, across the street. One of the most famous department stores in the world…. ‘ This is one of New York's most famous landmarks ‘ he says with a gesture ‘ Many New Yorkers regularly visit the magnificent place of worship once a week or even more often. Some even make it here daily. We don’t have time to do more than a quick look inside…..’

’Shall we go in? ‘ says Christop at last

‘Absolutely! ‘ I say joyfully and hurry across the street toward the entrance. It is only as my hand is actually on the door that I realize no one else is with me. Where have they all gone? Puzzled I look back and the rest of the group is processing into a big stone church….


Oh, I see. When he said ‘magnificent place of worship’ he meant….

Laughing out loud and having to read it to my husband, he asked if Sophie Kinsella had ever met me.

I get excited every month for the new ones to hit the bookstores, with their candy-colored covers and realness of the characters ( for the most part ) so here are 8 upcoming Rom-Coms I am looking forward to over the next few months.

MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU by Samantha Young

Release date February 2

Run Away to England with Evangeline Starling to a quaint village that includes a temporary job at Much Ado About Books, the bookshop underneath her holiday let where she meets local farmer Roane Robson. But does she risk a holiday romance that has the potential of breaking her heart?

THE LOVE SQUARE by Laura Jane Williams

Released February 9

Can unlucky in love Penny Bridge actually find love?  Penny suddenly has plenty of romance in her life when a man comes her way, and then another one, and another one. Will she learn to trust and love again, and which of these remarkable men, if any will she fall for?


Released March 9

We were introduced to the  Brown sister ins Hibbert's book Get A Life Chloe Browm, and she is back with book three of the Friends book series and this one is all about flighty sister Eve as she descends on Jacob Wayne and his Bed and Breakfast, turning his world upside down.

FLOAT PLAN by Trish Doller

Released March 2

Heartbroken after the loss of her fiancé to suicide, Anna takes a cruise in the sailboat he left her, one they were supposed to take together. She hires sailor Keane to operate the boat after a rough stormy night. This romance, though does have funny moments is more about finding love after a loss and starting over. This is Doller’s debut adult book.

LIFE’S TO SHORT by Abby Jimenez

Released April 6

From the author of The Happily Ever After Playlist, Vanessa Price quits her job so she can live her life. After neither her mother nor sister made it to the age of 30, she no longer wants to take it for granted. She finds herself somehow in charge of a baby and living next door to hot lawyer Adrian Copeland. Too bad, she has taken a vow not to get involved.


Released  May 11

Beach Read’s Emily Henry is back with a new book titled People We Meet on Vacation. Long time best friends until a falling out during one of their yearly vacations together ruins their friendship, Poppy missed what she once shared with Alex and is determined to get their friendship and hopefully more rekindled when she asks him to take one more vacation together.

ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston
Released June 1

The author who gave us Red White and Royal Blue ( who didn’t love this romance? ) is back with her second book One Last Stop. The book is a bit of a spa on Kate and Leopold that is the story of August who doesn’t believe in once in a lifetime love but falls for Jane her subway crush who is stuck in time from the 70s. Sounds perfectly magical and sexy.


Released July 13

Rich Hollywood It girl Piper is cut off from her money, finding herself stuck in a small Northwest beach town. There she meets Brandon, a gruff but sexy sea captain who doesn’t think she belongs in the town of Westport or that she can last a week away from the bright lights and luxury of LA. Will she stay or will she go?

Monday, January 11, 2021

Book Review: Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst


Workaholic, career-obsessed Francesca is fiercely independent and successful in all areas of life except one: family. She struggles to make time for her relationship with her teenage daughter, Allegra, and the two have become practically strangers to each other. When Allegra hangs out with a new crowd and is arrested for drug possession, Francesca gives in to her mother's wish that they take one epic summer vacation to trace their family roots in Italy. What she never expected was to be faced with the choice of a lifetime. . . .

Allegra wants to make her grandmother happy, but she hates the idea of forced time with her mother and vows to fight every step of the ridiculous tour until a young man on the verge of priesthood begins to show her the power of acceptance, healing, and the heartbreaking complications of love.

Sophia knows her girls are in trouble. A summer filled with the possibility for change is what they all desperately need. Among the ruins of ancient Rome, the small churches of Assisi, and the rolling hills of Tuscany, Sophia hopes to show her girls that the bonds of family are everything and to remind them that they can always lean on one another before it's too late


Our Italian Summer is a new family drama by author Jennifer Probst which follows three generations of the Ferrari women on a vacation to Italy. We meet Sophia, who is mother and grandmother, she has booked the trip hoping to mend the strained relationship between her daughter Francesa, who is a workaholic, and her granddaughter Allegra who is a bit of a wild child and needs her mother's attention.

I had no problem connecting with any of the characters, however, it did take me a bit to warm up to Francesca, she seemed only concerned with her work and herself, however as the book moved forward I enjoyed watching her grow and transform as they all developed a better understanding of each other and what matters to them as both a family and to themselves.

The book was written from each of the viewpoints of the characters and I loved getting the different perspectives from them. The author Jennifer Probst was excellent at descriptive writing, I have never read one of her books so do not know if this is a regular thing from her, but imagine how she excelled at it, it most likely is. Having the story take place in Italy gave her much to describe also, from the scenery which put you right in the places she described, to the food..oh the food, it made your mouth water at times. Throughout the entire book, you felt that you were right there with the three women.

The family drama was authentic and the feelings of the women felt genuine throughout the book. It was at times heartwrenching and at other times laugh out loud funny, like all relationships. It focuses on the struggles of parenting, strained relationships, personal secrets, and realizing what is important in life. I enjoyed this book and plan on picking up more from the author. I also think that this would be the most perfect book for a book club reading. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Book Review: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter


Goodreads Overview:

Bestselling author Ally Carter returns with an exciting stand-alone novel, about a girl stranded in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with the boy who wronged her . . . as an assassin moves in.

Maddie and Logan were torn apart by a kidnapping attempt when they were young. They were only kids -- Logan's dad was POTUS and Maddie's father was the Secret Service agent meant to guard him. The kidnappers were stopped -- but Maddie was whisked off to Alaska with her father, for satety. Maddie and Logan had been inseparable . . . but then she never heard from him again.

Now it's a few years later. Maggie's a teenager, used to living a solitary life with her father. It's quiet -- until Logan is sent to join them. After all this time without word, Maddie has nothing to say to him -- until their outpost is attacked, and Logan is taken. They won't be out of the woods until they're . . . out of the woods, and Maddie's managed to thwart the foes and reconcile with Logan.

Jacque's Review:

I am a huge fan of Ally Carter and have read all of the books in her Gallagher Girls, Heist Society and Embassy Row series. I really enjoyed the fact that this was a stand alone. I could enjoy the story without a cliffhanger or lengthy wait for the next installment.

Maddie is the daughter of the President's primary secret service officer and is Logan's best friend. Logan is the First Son of the United States and has lived a pretty sheltered life. He is extremely smart, but never seems to meet his parents' unrealistic expectations.

When Maddie and her father moved to Alaska, she assumed it was due to her father's injuries in the line of duty. She was forced to give up her Washington D.C. lifestyle with her fancy clothes, luxurious accommodations, and most importantly...her best friend Logan. Her father took her to a remote cabin where she had to learn to live off the land. Chop wood, carry water, catch fish, etc. To help pass the time, since there was no internet or cell service, she read a ton of books and wrote letters to Logan. She waited every day for his reply, which never came.

One day, Logan arrives in Alaska and the two are completely awkward. Maddie is furious with him for never writing her back, but he insists he never received the letters. When the two are kidnapped by men they believe could be from the same organization that tried to kidnap his mother years earlier, they must work together to survive until help arrives.  Maddie is familiar with the area and has years of survival skills. Logan speaks Russian and can understand what their captors are saying. He also has a near photographic memory and is able to use his skills to their advantage.

This was a fast paced, action packed adventure. I absolutely loved Maddie and Logan and enjoyed seeing them reconnect. There were a number of flash backs to letters Maddie wrote Logan over the years, which added some insight into their lives prior to her leaving DC and her life in Alaska before his arrival. They both want to regain what they lost, but neither wants to get hurt again in the process. 

This is one of my favorite Ally Carter books so far and I gave it a solid 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it to any younger teen. I have a hard time finding books for my teenage son, since he doesn't really enjoy fiction, but this is a book I believe even he would enjoy.