ARC Review | Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

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Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

Published: September 25, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publication Corporation

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary romance, Christmas, holidays, contemporary fiction

Recommend to fans of: cute Southern/country living romances, books about relationships between moms & daughters, adult siblings, happily ever afters with a lot of work along the way

Foodie Vibes: honey buns 

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming, hilarious Christmas story with a Southern twist.

Like most things in Ellery, Tennessee, this year’s Drive Thru Nativity is a little unconventional. The Dollar General parking lot doubles as a Bethlehem stable, and widowed writer Ivy Long, who’s been roped into playing Mary, sure as heck isn’t a virgin. But then comes an unexpected development: a genuine, real-life baby left in the manger, with only a brief note. And somehow, in the kerfuffle that follows, Ivy finds her life is about to
change . . .

The holidays are a bittersweet time for Ivy–filled with memories of her beloved late husband and reminders that life doesn’t always offer the happily-ever-afters her readers expect. So when Ivy ends up with custody of the baby, she can only chalk it up to a Christmas miracle. She doesn’t know if it will be forever, but with help from family, she’ll make little Zuzu’s first Christmas a good one. The nativity’s Joseph, aka Gabe Ledbetter, has a pediatrics background that’s coming in mighty handy. In turn, Ivy is helping Gabe find his place in the quirky community. If that place turns out to be somewhere near Ivy, well, maybe this particular Christmas story will turn out to be merry and bright after all . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

How can you go wrong with a real life Christmas miracle? A baby found in the manger of a modern day nativity scene. Romance, from a kind, well educated, handsome guy, after years of heartache. Finally attempting to patch up your relationship with your mom and sister. All good things that made for an enjoyable read. 
Bonus! The sisters’ names are Holly and Ivy. It doesn’t get more Christmasy than that.

At first I wasn’t a huge fan of either sister, but over time I grew to understand and like them. Ivy is a romance writer. Writers, bloggers and author as characters in books are all good thing in my opinion. I really enjoyed the relationships between parents and their children and also the siblings. One of my favorite aspects of the book.

The romance is good but not an over the top sweeping romance. There were so many other strong storylines vying for dominance along with the romance, which makes for a realistic complex novel. The book also didn’t gloss over some of the downsides to living in a small Southern town. 

The story isn’t all fairytales and roses, but it is realistic, hard work, with a happily ever after.

 

Do you prefer your romances to be more realistic or epic sweeping happily ever afters? 

No judgment either way. Just genuinely curious.

 

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New Release | The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

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The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Pages: 353 

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction, mental health, contemporary fiction, psychological drama 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Law & Order SVU, karmic justice, validating books about surviving sexual abuse

Foodie Vibes: warm cup of tea with sugar ~ to soothe your soul and keep your energy levels up during this difficult time

 

Synopsis: 

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…

Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.

Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.

Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bloodhound Books and Jennie Ensor for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, a major trigger warning for the entire book. There are many mentions and fairly graphic descriptions of child sexual abuse and rape. So please be sure you’re in a good head space while reading the book.

With that being said, I really enjoyed The Girl In His Eyes. The book gave a fairly accurate representation of the horrors and difficulties of dealing with the aftermath of surviving child sexual abuse. Both for the individual survivor and the family as well The novel gives a voice to the voiceless. It also makes it easier to understand how and why these pedophiles and perverts can manipulate children, entire families and societies into believing they’re good people. There were so many times when people suspected something was “off” about Paul, but brushed off their concerns because he seemed like a nice guy. Always trust your gut, people! These life lessons are so relevant.

There wasn’t anything that I really disliked about the book. However there was a lot that disgusted me, which given the general book topic was bound to happen. Some chapters are from Paul, the pervert’s, point of view. We hear all the disgusting horrifying things he thinks. It adds to the suspense and explains a lot. Also some of the reactions of people seem a bit too cookie cutter at times.

Overall, a really worthwhile read to further understand the topic but done in a fictionalized manner.

 

Who can relate relate to this story? 

Gratitude for Happiness: How to Exercise Your Gratitude Muscles by Ged Cusack

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Gratitude for Happiness: How to Exercise Your Gratitude Muscles by Ged Cusack

Published: July 14, 2017

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 

Pages: 185

Genres: non fiction, self help, mental health

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: practical self help books, incorporating gratitude into your daily life

Foodie Vibes: a simple, easy to prepare, delicious meal of your choosing 

 

Synopsis:

If you’re ready to make Gratitude your habit and build your happiness, now is the time that you must read this book.Do you know that most of us focus more on what we haven’t got, than what we have got? 
Just by switching your attention and focusing on what you have got, you can attract more of the same.

Your gratitude muscles are like any other muscles, if they haven’t been used for a while they may need some warming up.

In this book you will find:

A simple process to help you flex your gratitude muscles and build a gratitude habit to enhance your happiness. Individual exercises at the end of each of the sixty sections, to help you build your own gratitude statements.   Four hundred and ninety sample gratitude statements (as guides) covering a wide spectrum of life, including:  Finance Relationships  Basic shelter

And much more: Three optional timeframes to develop your habit at your own pace. From steady progress or a set timetable to binge reading, you can decide.
Just reading a book isn’t going to provide you the benefits that you seek, so:  Read this book Work through the exercises Express your emotions for even the smallest gratitude’s  Be amazed by your results.

 

Review:

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

My rating is actually 4.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I round up.

Gratitude for Happiness is a combination self help book and workbook. The format goes like this: chapters arranges by topic, sub topics that delve deeper into each category of gratitudes, explanations of each gratitude, examples from the author’s life, and prompts for the reader to determine topic specific gratitudes in their own life.

The book is really user friendly. I have the ebook version and can easily write my gratitudes on a piece of paper. It doesn’t hamper my ability to complete the exercises by only having an ebook version. If you prefer to keep your gratitude work right next to the explanations themselves, consider purchasing the printed version so you can write directly in your book. I also like that the book helps guide each person to create a mega list of many gratitudes and then narrow them down to what’s most important to them. Very personal and unique! I read the whole book once through and am now going back to complete one gratitude exercise per day as suggested by the author. I really loved the examples in which the author reframes a negative thought into a positive one. It’s actually a technique taught in therapy and can be quite helpful to many.

Occasionally some of the author’s examples seemed a bit redundant and specific to him. If someone was struggling to figure out their own gratitudes in a particular section, they may or may not be helped by the author’s examples.

Overall, an extremely helpful book to practice gratitude in a purposeful way. I’ve already started recommending this book to family and friends, and want to purchase a physical copy for some.

 

How do you practice gratitude in your life? Journaling, gratitude lists, sharing on social media, prayer, others. Let’s encourage each other to find gratitude in our lives!

New Release | Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

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Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Aria 

Pages: 426

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, romance, Christmas, holidays 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: sweet holiday romances that aren’t over the top Christmasy, the movie The Holiday, relaxing beachside vacations that make you so badly want to be there 

Foodie Vibes: mug of hot cocoa and homemade Christmas cookies ~ so cozy 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.

As the snowflakes start to fall, the village of Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journaist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around’…

So Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air, and rugged stranger Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Chiristmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly rugged Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands; the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped cup of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Aria Books and Lucy Coleman for the ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

My rating is actually 4.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

Please transport me to Holly Cove right now! The beauty and unpredictability of the ocean, the picturesque views, kind people, and relaxing atmosphere is amazing. It sounds like the perfect place for me.

Tia is sent to Holly Cove by her boss months before the holiday season. She works at a magazine that’s planning to feature couples in love in a series of articles around the holiday season. Tia’s also had a rough time in her personal life and even had to take time off of work. She’s given six weeks to relax, recharge and also interview the couples/create all of the magazine content. It’s a sweet gesture by her boss, but is it only that?

I loved the people in Holly Cove. They’re nice, introverted, private and a little awkward but mean well. All in all, they’re my kind of people. The setting is gorgeous beyond gorgeous. Seriously, take me there! The relationships are slowly revealed over time, unravelling the nuances and hurt from many years.

The book is so lovely. However, if I’m being nit picky, Tia’s relationship with Nic was not surprising, but the readers needed more hints as to what she was thinking. It seemed to happen quickly, even though it didn’t.

All in all, Snowflakes Over Holly Cove is a wonderful book to read anytime of year. The holiday season will make it extra special. I definitely recommend this cozy relaxing read.

 

What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition? 

What You Missed Wednesdays – Non Fiction Edition

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

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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The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity — and Will Determine the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long

4/5 stars

enlightening, fascinating, interesting look at brain chemistry

 

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Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

4/5 stars

intriguing, informative, weird science and history

 

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 

5/5 stars

fantastic true crime, the ultimate book of the genre, can’t get enough 

 

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?

ARC Review | The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin

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The Goodnight Song by Nick Hollin

Published: September 17, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 283

Genres: psychological thriller, police procedural, mystery, suspense

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: twisted family psychological thrillers, lovers of the first book in the series

Foodie Vibes: takeout pizza – easy and filling on the go
Synopsis:

Gifted criminal profiler Nathan Radley has a unique way of thinking that allows him to empathize with the twisted killers he helps capture.

But Nathan a dark secret. He has more in common with the criminals he hunts than anyone could dare to imagine. He lives in constant fear of losing control of his own dark desires…

When the headless body of a policeman is dragged from the Thames – an exact enactment of one of his oldest and darkest fantasies, only ever confessed in the pages of his teenage diary – Nathan finds himself the main suspect in the most twisted case of his career.

Someone has his diary and is leaking pages to frame him for the disturbing murders he has spent his whole career trying not to commit.

As more bodies surface and more extracts are released, Nathan has no choice but to go in search of the killer to clear his name. He knows it’s someone dangerous, he knows it’s someone he trusted, but how many precious lives will be lost before he can work out who?

A nail-biting and unputdownable thriller that fans of Peter James, Angela Marsons and Rachel Abbott will adore.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Nick Hollin for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book follows a criminal psychologist who works for the police. His twin brother is a serial killer and taunted him endlessly in the last book. His actions have continued to haunt the criminal psychologist throughout this book as well. The premise appears to be the setup for an action packed intriguing read. However it falls short. 

At the beginning the story jumps around making it difficult to tell what’s a memory, flashback, reality or something else. Perhaps if I had read the first book in the series it would have made more sense. Also I’m not sure exactly why, but I never got into the book. It didn’t intrigue me, and found myself reading it solely to finish. There was nothing outright bad about the book, but I simply didn’t connect with it. 

The story had a lot of action and suspense. And for sure plenty of spine tingling creepiness.

The Goodnight Song unfortunately missed the mark for me.

 

ARC Book Review | Nobody Cares by Anne T. Donahue

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Nobody Cares by Anne T. Donahue

Published: September 18, 2018 

Publisher: ECW Press

Pages: 240 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, essays

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: relatable tell it like it is memoirs, people in their 20s and 30s who don’t have it all together but feel like they should 

Foodie Vibes: wine, noodles with butter because it’s cheap and helps numb out life

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the popular newsletter That’s What She SaidNobody Cares is a frank, funny personal essay collection about work, failure, feminism, and the messy business of being alive in your twenties and thirties.

As she shares her hard-won insights from screwing up, growing up, and trying to find her own path, Anne T. Donahue’s debut book offers all the honesty, laughs, and reassurance of a late-night phone call with your best friend. Whether she’s giving a signature pep talk, railing against summer, or describing her own mental health struggles, Anne reminds us that failure is normal, saying to no to things is liberating, and that we’re all a bunch of beautiful disasters — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, ECW Press and Anne T. Donahue for an ARC ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

My rating is actually 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

Nobody Cares is funny, poignant, relatable and ridiculous in all the best ways. Through the author’s essays we experience her highs and lows, struggles and life lessons learned. She’s like the older sister/friend with the cautionary life tales to help you feel less alone and avoid her mistakes. Number 1 being figure out your stuff, be vulnerable and don’t be afraid to seek therapy. It will save you a lot of difficulty and heartache along the years.

I really liked her honesty. She says the things that people often sugar coat, without going out of her way to be edgy and dramatic. Her story is so dang (damn? I still feel bad about swearing in reviews, like I’m going to get in trouble for doing so) relatable. The life lessons that she passes on to the reader are validating.

However, some of the stories bounce around a bit so there’s an adjustment when reading. Also, it became redundant reading about her making the same mistakes multiple times. While it’s authentic to her and life in general, I felt frustrated after awhile.

Overall, an incredibly relatable and funny memoir of essays. I think the tone of the book is best summer up by this quote.

“In our small section of the galaxy, many of us are dealing with things that aren’t ours enough to talk about, but are still ours enough that we have to deal with them.” Bam! That’s so it.

 

What advice would you give your 20 something year old self?