Bookish Posts

My Top 20 Books of 2018

Because there are waaaaay too many AMAZING BOOKS to limit the list to only 10 

 

Click on the title link to go to my review of each book to hear all the reasons why it’s an awesome book!

In no particular order . . . my favorite books I read this year 

 

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele  |  Add to Goodreads

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  • Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey  |  Add to Goodreads

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How many of these books have you read?

Which did your add to your TBR?

What are your favorite books that you’ve read in 2018?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays · romance

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? 

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Essays · memoir · mental health · non fiction

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?

2 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · True Crime

The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Killer by J. Reuben Appelman

 

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The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Killer by J. Reuben Appelman

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 288

Genres: true crime, non fiction, mystery

Rating: 2 stars

Recommend to fans of: dark twisted minds, unsolved crimes

Foodie Vibes: greasy diner food

 

Synopsis:

Enthralling. Gripping. Cinematic. Raw. A cold case murder investigation paced like a podcast, as visually stunning as a film, and as brave and personal as our darkest memoirs. J. Reuben Appelman cracks open one of America’s most notorious murder sprees while simultaneously banging the gavel on his own history with violence. A deftly-crafted true crime story with grit, set amid the decaying sprawl of Detroit and its outliers.

With a foreword by Catherine Broad, sister of victim Timothy King.

Four children were abducted and murdered outside of Detroit during the winters of 1976 and 1977, their bodies eventually dumped in snow banks around the city. J. Reuben Appelman was six years old at the time the murders began and had evaded an abduction attempt during that same period, fueling a lifelong obsession with what became known as the Oakland County Child Killings.

Autopsies showed the victims to have been fed while in captivity, reportedly held with care. And yet, with equal care, their bodies had allegedly been groomed post-mortem, scrubbed-free of evidence that might link to a killer. There were few credible leads, and equally few credible suspects. That’s what the cops had passed down to the press, and that’s what the city of Detroit, and J. Reuben Appelman, had come to believe.

When the abductions mysteriously stopped, a task force operating on one of the largest manhunt budgets in history shut down without an arrest. Although no more murders occurred, Detroit and its environs remained haunted. The killer had, presumably, not been caught.

Eerily overlaid upon the author’s own decades-old history with violence, The Kill Jar tells the gripping story of J. Reuben Appelman’s ten-year investigation into buried leads, apparent police cover-ups of evidence, con-men, child pornography rings, and high-level corruption saturating Detroit’s most notorious serial killer case.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Gallery Books, and J. Reuben Appelman for the book to review. As always, an honest review from me.

I’m a big fan of true crime books, but this one missed the mark for me. The entire book emirates terror and disturbing thoughts. It gave me the heebie jeebies while reading and left me feeling very unsettled for hours after. The weird disturbing vibes are not my thing.

While the author’s search to find the true killer of these unsolved crimes is noble, the writing comes across as a little too obsessed. Maybe you have to be to search out serial killers and pedophiles? Still, it’s good that someone’s investigating these crimes and holding people accountable.

Also, the bits about his personal life didn’t really need to be included, in my opinion. There were raw, authentic, and insightful. It felt more like a therapy session than cohesive thoughts to tie the rest of the story together.

Overall, The Kill Jar was not the true crime book for me. Way too disturbing and focused on the horrific details of too many predators. It’s not a bad book, but definitely not a good fit for me.

 

How do you shake off unsettling feeling from a book?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · Uncategorized

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

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Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

Published: September 2, 2016

Publisher: Upperhand Press, LLC

Pages: 425

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Lifetime Movies, over the top parents, Law & Order SVU, books about family dynamics

Foodie Vibes: carrot juice and French fries ~ oh, the contradictions of being a teenager

 

Synopsis: 

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what’s needed to keep your children from harm.

Phoebe’s mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyber-bullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident.

Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

 

Review: 

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

Trigger warning: many fairly graphic mentions of self harm and suicide. Please do not read this book if you’re not in a mentally healthy place, especially if you’re sensitive to these topics in particular.

That being said I enjoyed the whirlwind of drama and incredibly serious topics. It reminds me of a mix between a Lifetime movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kind of a perfect combo. We get an in depth look at the challenges and drama of teenage girls lives from the perspective of them and their parents. 

I really liked reading about Phoebe and her mother. I wish the story focused more on them. I disliked the amount of focus put on Phoebe’s dad and Sandy, the mother of Phoebe’s classmate/friend. The difference between the parenting styles was both horrifying and interesting. 

I so disliked the character of Sandy. She was so psychologically unbalanced and awful. She meant well, for her daughter, so at least she has that going for her. The focus was on her too much, when I felt it should have been more on Phoebe. Also the trope of parents providing teens with alcohol and getting in legal trouble has been done a lot before. But it’s still something that people could be reminded of. 

All in all, Saving Phoebe Murrow is highly entertaining, drama filled, and a warning for parents and teens alike.

 

If you could turn a TV show into a book, which show would you choose? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense · thriller

ARC Book Review | When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

 

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When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Genres: thriller, mystery, suspense, psychological thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Mary Kubica’s other books, slow burn suspense novels, books with twists you won’t see coming

Read with food: popcorn and coffee ~ can’t stop reading and you’re gonna be up all night

 

Synopsis:

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Park Row and Mary Kubica for an ARC ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review form me.

Oh my goodness! Mary Kubica hits it out of the park again with this fantastic slow burn of a suspense novel. I thought I knew what was happening with a few possible endings, but she got me again. I didn’t see that ending coming and I loved it!

Most of the book is a slow burn with small clues sprinkled about here and there. Just enough to make me think I’ve got it all figured out. I read with horror and excitement and then bam! The rug was pulled out from underneath me, but I landed on my feet. I loved the progressively more unsettling feeling the main character and us readers felt.

However the ending, as great as it was in terms of suspense, also left me feeling slightly disappointed. I wanted more. More what? I don’t know exactly.

When the Lights Go Out is one heck of a thrilling ride. I know to expect the unexpected with Mary Kubica but I still did not see that coming. Got me again!

 

Do you love or hate books that feel unsettling throughout? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

psychological thriller · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays: Psychological Thriller 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 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 Broken Girls by Simone St. James

4.5 stars

Haunting, satisfying, boarding school

 

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The Secret by K.L. Slater 

4.5 stars

Captivating, terrifying, chronic illness warrior

 

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The Perfect Family by Samantha King

4 stars 

Family drama, unsettling, disbelief 

 

Well there you have it!

The second edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

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

2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · feminism · history · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction

ARC Book Review | A Politically Incorrect Feminist by Phyllis Chesler

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Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a fun Bookish Question!

 

A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women by Phyllis Chesler

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: feminism, history, non fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: feminist history, history not in the history books

Read with food: whatever you want

 

Synopsis:

Phyllis Chesler was a pioneer of Second Wave Feminism. Chesler and the women who came out swinging between 1972-1975 integrated the want ads, brought class action lawsuits on behalf of economic discrimination, opened rape crisis lines and shelters for battered women, held marches and sit-ins for abortion and equal rights, famously took over offices and buildings, and pioneered high profile Speak-outs. They began the first-ever national and international public conversations about birth control and abortion, sexual harassment, violence against women, female orgasm, and a woman’s right to kill in self-defense.

Now, Chesler has juicy stories to tell. The feminist movement has changed over the years, but Chesler knew some of its first pioneers, including Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, Flo Kennedy, and Andrea Dworkin. These women were fierce forces of nature, smoldering figures of sin and soul, rock stars and action heroes in real life. Some had been viewed as whores, witches, and madwomen, but were changing the world and becoming major players in history. In A Politically Incorrect Feminist, Chesler gets chatty while introducing the reader to some of feminism’s major players and world-changers.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Phyllis Chesler for an ARC copy of the ebook for review. As always, an honest review.

I jot down notes while I read books, things that I want to remember for later to write my book reviews. For this book I had such conflicting notes written that I had a hard time figuring out what I thought overall. But it comes down to these two things. Number 1: I appreciate and respect the advances the author made in the feminist movement. Number 2: I disliked the tone the book was told with. Too angry and judgmental.

Starting out with the positives, because we could all use a little more positivity in our lives. The author’s voice is strong, clear and powerful. There’s no mistaking who she is and what she stands for. Her book tells her story as a feminist over the years, working to make things better for others. Looking back on how our society used to be for women makes me extremely grateful for the feminists before me. All the hard work they put in allows the women of today to have the rights we do. I learned a lot about feminist history in the U.S., especially when it pertains to the author’s life story.

However, the tone of the book makes it much less pleasant to read than it could have been. There’s a lot of judgment and anger. It’s understandable given the circumstances, but it doesn’t appeal to me. There’s also a lot of information, and it can be a bit too much at times. Maybe if your’e extremely familiar with feminist history, this won’t be the case for you. Also more of the book than I would like was the drama between the feminists. Not my cup of tea.

Overall Phyllis Chesler did a lot of good in her lifetime, but the writing feels angry and unapproachable. Informative, authentic, but not for me.

 

Bookish Question of the Review: 

Which feminist ideal do you wish were more prevalent in books? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Book Review | All the Way by Kristen Proby

 

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Be sure to scroll all the way down to the Bookish Question of the Review

I would love to hear all your answers!

 

All the Way by Kristen Proby 

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Pages: 288

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: steamy sweet romances, strong women and strong men

Read with food: chocolate covered strawberries ~ delicious, classic and effective

 

Synopsis:

 In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new Romancing Manhattan series, three brothers get more than they bargain for as they practice law, balance life, and navigate love in and around New York City.

Finn Cavanaugh is known for being a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. He owns a successful law firm with his brother and brother-in-law in Manhattan. On the rare occasion that he has down time, he spends it at his home in Martha’s Vineyard. But when Finn’s troubled niece goes to stay with him for the summer in Martha’s Vineyard, he’s reluctant to take time off from work. That is, until he meets his beautiful new neighbor, London.

London Watson is a Tony Award winning actress on Broadway. When tragedy strikes her family, leaving her alone and injured, she flees Manhattan for Martha’s Vineyard. Hoping she can figure out how to pick up the pieces of her life, London is convinced that she’ll never be able to return to the stage. But when she meets the charming young girl next door and her sexy uncle, they soon lure London out of her shell as she finally begins to heal from the wounds of her past.

But when London feels confident enough to return to the spotlight, she’s dealt another devastating blow. Will the newfound love between London and Finn be enough to conquer all? Or will it be over before it has a chance to grow…?

 

Review:
I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, William Morrow Paperbacks and Kristen Proby for the copy. As always, an honest review.

All the Way is a quick, intense, sweet romance that is filled with sexy times. At the beginning Finn and London barely know each other. But the author is great at putting the characters in situations where they learn to authentically trust and get to know each other better. This sets up the book to be more than just a steamy fling between two very attractive people. I liked that the story is filled with a lot of real life moments in which their true personalities shine. They’re kind, hard working, compassionate, family oriented, successful and sometimes a little too stubborn for their own good. Showing these qualities makes for a very well rounded, even more enjoyable read.

That’s not to say the book is all talk, because there is a lot of action. Sexy time action to be exact. At her place, at his, in the shower, etc. It’s a romance novel for a reason, for sure.

However, the plot line about London’s brother was only okay. It didn’t really bring much to the story, other than the initial reason Finn and London meet. Her brother could have been eliminated and the rest of the book was still strong enough to stand on its own.

Overall, All the Way checks all the boxes a good contemporary romance should. Attractive successful people, sexual chemistry, lots of sexy time, a few complications, plot lines beyond only the romance, and a happily ever after. A lovely quick read for all you romance lovers out there!

 

Bookish Question of the Review:

Which sub genre of romance novels do you really enjoy? 

 

 

mystery · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays: Mystery 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 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 Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard 

4 stars 

Creepy, suspenseful, dramatic 

 

 

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Crime and Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett

4.5 stars

Cozy, entertaining, passionate 

 

 

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine 

4 stars

Addicting, whirlwind, unsettling

 

 

Well there you have it!

The first official edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

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