Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry | Release Day

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Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 320

Genres: thriller, mystery 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: psycho ex-girlfriends, the #MeToo Movement, revenge

Foodie Vibes: takeout delivered by a delivery app service 

 

Synopsis:

Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amy Gentry for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I’m going to try a bit of different review format for this book review. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks!

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, domestic violence, murder

Like:

  • Good representation of women in comedy
  • Presents information and an opportunity to discuss different types of sexual violence
  • The twists & turns are timed very well
  • A high intensity thriller
  • Use of up to date technology in crimes
  • Main character: Dana

Love:

Dislike:

  • Revenge because of being sexually assaulted
  • Most of the plot was about getting back at the men  — made me feel incredibly uncomfortable
  • Beginning: lots of information presented all at once and seemed forced
  • The cold realization that the characters, and readers, have at the end

Wish that: 

  • There was a less intense way of proving the men sexually assaulted them
  • We were about to explore more about Dana’s relationship with her mom and other close friend
  • I could feel less uncomfortable about the main plot line, of revenge

 

Overall, a revenge thriller that will keep you reading, but if you’re like me make you feel very uncomfortable. Well written, action packed, and interesting. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Bookish Question:

Is it okay to like a character who does bad things?

 

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A Season to Dance by Rebecca Heflin

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A Season to Dance by Rebecca Heflin

Published: December 13, 2018

Publisher: Rebecca Heflin Books, LLC

Pages: 336

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, sports

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: the ballet world, sweet and steamy contemporary romance 

Foodie Vibes: dark roast coffee and chocolate croissants from the local shop – a wonderful indulgence among old friends 

 

Synopsis: 

Olivia James and Zach Ryder were high school sweethearts, but at age eighteen, she left small-town Georgia for the bright lights and satin pointe shoes of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. Seventeen years later, Olivia’s come home for her mother’s funeral, nursing an injury that could likely end her meteoric dance career. Being back home stirs up old heartache, and seeing Zach again is not on her to-do list. Her best bet is get in, get out—a week at most. Then she’ll return to Chicago to rehabilitate her injury and salvage her career. But best laid plans often go astray . . .

Zach has never really recovered from Olivia’s departure, even though he always knew she was destined for fame, while he was destined for small-town life. Now Olivia’s back and he’s determined to protect his heart. But when he learns she’s staying in town longer than originally planned, Zach knows they are going to have to face the past to move on. He’s just not prepared for the beautiful woman she’s become or the effect she still has on his heart.

Small towns being what they are, Zach and Olivia are constantly thrown into one another’s paths, and it soon becomes apparent they still love each other. Will they give in to their rekindled desire and seize a second chance at happiness?

 

Review:

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Rebecca Heflin and the publisher for the ebook. As always, an honest review from me. 

A Season to Dance is a sweet & steamy second chance romance set in a small but successful southern town. Olivia is a prima ballerina on break from her career of elite ballets, magazine deals and worldwide performances. Months before she tore her achilles tendon and is now currently rehabbing her injury. The uncertainty over her future in ballet makes for some great tension and lots of soul searching throughout the book. To help her along on her journey is her late Mom’s wife, high school boyfriend, and used to be enemy but now close friend. 

I liked that there weren’t many hard feelings between the characters who had conflict. They realized their hurt feelings were due to miscommunication instead of hate, and resolved their disagreements like adults. The growth in their relationships was wonderful. While the friendships are great, this is a romance novel after all. The romance was sweet and steamy, just how I like it. It’s not overly raunchy, but there’s definitely enough adult content to keep romance lovers entertained. The romance is like a good dark chocolate – rich, deep, sweet but with substance. Also the ballet world setting is perfection. The author has included enough ballet terms to make you feel as if you’re transported to the world of dance, but not so much that the non dancer will be confused. There’s also a glossary of dance terms at the end in case you want to reference it. 

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. Actually nothing. There were a few minor storylines that didn’t add much to the book, but other than that it’s all good.

Overall, A Season to Dance is a perfect feel good romance novel for a day when you need a pick me up. I highly recommend. I really hope there is a sequel to the book. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Bookish Question:

How many of you took dance class as a child? Which types of dance? 

 

I danced for 16 years including tap, ballet, pointe, flamenco, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary.

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People by Mel Collins | ARC Book Review

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The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People by Mel Collins

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Watkins Publishing

Pages: 208

Genres: self help, psychology

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to: highly sensitive people, learning more about yourself 

Foodie Vibes: chamomile tea to calm yourself among a world of chaos 

 

Synopsis: 

Are you often told to stop taking things to heart or to toughen up? Do you have a lot of empathy for others? Overanalyze things and get ‘stuck in your own head’? Or become easily overwhelmed and frequently need to withdraw? If the answer is YES, you are probably a Highly Sensitive Person and this Handbook will be your survival guide!

One in five people are born with the trait of high sensitivity. Yet, there is a general lack of awareness of the trait in our society, which leaves many people struggling physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually with being highly sensitive in a non-sensitive world. More often than not, HSPs are yearning for acceptance of their trait, not just from other people but also for themselves. When they realize their sensitivity is ‘normal’ and it’s acknowledged in a positive way, a deep sense of relief arises and they can begin to flourish – feeling empowered to bring their unique abilities of empathy, compassion, creativity, healing and much more into the world. Presented in four sections that lead the reader on a journey of true holistic self-understanding, the book starts with a section exploring the main qualities and challenges of the trait, and how it can be a real gift in life; not a flaw. The second section then delves into impacts of living as an HSP, such as the many masks that they tend to wear (people-pleasing and so on), the relationships they attract, and how they can start on the journey to feeling more valued. The third section provides a wide range of practical strategies to manage the trait more effectively, from more self-love, coping with over-arousal, tapping for emotional freedom, energy protection, dealing with loss and bereavement, and tuning into the healing power of animals. And the final section touches on the more spiritual aspect of life that many HSPs are searching for, whether knowingly or not – from past-life themes to the unseen world, such as angels – in their quest to fully accept themselves, and to live the authentic, fulfilling lives they deserve.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Watkins Publishing and Mel Collins for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Have you ever wondered if you’re a highly sensitive person? Or even what that means? I certainly have. This book is helpful in determining if you’re a highly sensitive person with checklists, quizzes, and more detailed information. Also there’s practical steps to help you live in a world not meant for HSPs. I really enjoyed the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the book, as the information was comprehensive, practical and found myself relating to a lot of it. 

However, the last third of the book focused more on the spiritual aspects of being a HSP, with a focus on some of the more out there topics. These include past lives, chakras and energies, crystals, earthbound souls, and tapping.  Not judging these beliefs and practices, but they’re not for me. I do appreciate that the author does state that these are not for all people and keeps them in the last section of the book. It’s really easy to read the sections that pertain to you. 

Overall an interesting informative book about a topic that not many people talk about. Certain sections are not for me, but maybe it will be for you. It gets my recommendation for the knowledge and care the author puts into the book. 

 

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Bookish Question:

Are you a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)? 

 

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Her One Mistakes by Heidi Perks | New Release

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Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: great psychological thrillers, characters that you root for

Foodie Vibes: ice cream that your husband tricks your daughter into believing that she doesn’t want 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Heidi Perks for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review. Sorry about the late review on this ARC. A migraine prevented me from getting the reading done.

Lately the thrillers I’ve been reading have been exceptional. Her One Mistake can be added to that list. The book takes us through the horror of losing a child. The palpable fear is so intense, it’s almost indescribable. The author crafted a complex mystery that’s slowly revealed in perfect timing. The mysteries upon mysteries make for a book that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I think I read it in less than 2 days. 

I also like that the concept of gaslighting is featured. It’s not called as such, but it’s well done. The tension and suspense is perfect. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a child being kidnapped, or if it would be too typical. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity, surprise and characters. A wonderful psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

 

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Bookish Question:

What makes a psychological thriller great, for you?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Chemistry by Weike Wang

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Chemistry by Weike Wang 

Published: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Pages: 224

Genres: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, coming of age

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: young adults who don’t have it all figured it out, overbearing (to the Western culture) Chinese parents, parent – adult children relationships 

Foodie Vibes: leftover pizza #GradSchoolLife

 

Synopsis: 

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

 

Review:

Chemistry is many different things. A grad student unsure about her academic future. A daughter feeling pressure from her Chinese parents. A girlfriend trying to figure out her relationship. And a friend asking for support. The book is essentially a coming of age story for someone in their mid 20s. I like that it’s funny, relatable and shows a woman in science. 

While the story is about a woman who doesn’t know where she’s going, the book doesn’t really go anywhere. The cultural explorations are great, but the rest is mediocre.

Overall, I can see why this book is popular and recommend it, but don’t expect it to be things its not. 

 

 

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Why do you think coming of age novels are so popular?

 

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What You Missed Wednesdays – Books about Politics Edition

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

———————————————————————-

 

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Justice in Plain Sight: A Small Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtroom by Dan Bernstein

4 stars

Journalistic rights, First Amendment, tenacity

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine, illustrated by Kyungeun Park

3.5 stars

Political graphic novel, famine, fear

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly 

5 stars

Justifiable rage, systemic inequalities, feminism 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

___________________________

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

___________________________

Come say hi!

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Looker by Laura Sims | Release Day

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Looker by Laura Sims

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 192

Genres: literary fiction, suspense

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: interesting character studies, messed up people losing control of their life 

Foodie Vibes: an orzo, feta, watermelon salad to impress your neighbor and wine to drown your sorrows

 

Synopsis: 

A dazzling, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman whose obsession with the beautiful actress on her block drives her to the edge.

I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.

In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.

When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Laura Sims for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Looker is the tale of a sad, obsessed lady. I would consider the book more of a character study in the literary fiction genre with some aspects of suspense. The main character is obsessed with her neighbor, who is an actress. Most of her day is spent daydreaming about scenarios involving the actress. One of the great but also frustrating aspects of the book is the inability to determine what is real and what is a daydream until after the event possibly occurs. There are a thousand reasons why I don’t like the main character, which usually means that I will dislike the book. However, I ended up absolutely fascinated by the story. 

The downsides: there are many inappropriate sexual fantasies … and realities. Also she’s a terrible pet owner. 

Trigger Warning (and also SPOILER ALERT, but I wish someone had told me this before reading): death of a pet by murder. This deeply upset me

Overall, a horrifying yet fascinating read. 

 

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Bookish Question: If you strongly dislike a character, do you stop reading the book?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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