5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Women's Fiction

The Best Book! | ARC Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, mental health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with all the feels, good representation of people on the autism spectrum

Foodie Vibes: cherry wine coolers 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Tracey Garvis Graves and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

The book is absolutely amazing! There are not enough words to accurately describe how wonderful the read was, so I’m not even going to try. I will just say this: I’ve never done this before — not given a full in depth review of a book. That’s how special I found The Girl He Used to Know. But take my word for it, read this book! 

 

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the words to explain how amazing a book, movie, feeling is?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Young Adult

ARC Review | Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Be sure to answer my question at the bottom of the page!

Please and thank you, loves 

 

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Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, mental health, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic young adult novels, books about mental health, great friendships 

Foodie Vibes: pizza

 

Synopsis:

Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.

Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…

But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Teen and Jennifer You for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Imagine Us Happy tells the story of two teens who are navigating life, high school, relationships and family life while dealing with depression. Stella and Kevin meet at the beginning of the school year. They end up dating for the whole year. We know its not going to end well, and the book is the story of their lives the past year.

I like that the author portrays depression and therapy in a realistic manner. That it’s a process, not a magical cure that will fix everything in a few sessions. Stella is doing better because of therapy but she has to keep working on herself. It’s not easy. The book portrays the challenges of dating or any extra stress when you’re dealing with mental health issues. No that it can’t be done, but both people have to be taking care of themselves in healthy ways. 

A super realistic look at depression, dating and friendships. I think this is going to be a very popular young adult book for years to come!

 

If you could give advice to characters/people dating with mental health issues, what would you say?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christian · Christian fiction · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

ARC Review | Delayed Justice by Cara C. Putnam

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Delayed Justice by Cara C. Putnam

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 368

Genres: suspense, contemporary, Christian fiction, romantic suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: justice, the MeToo Movement, good men and supportive friends/family, rediscovering your religion during difficult times

Foodie Vibes: peppermint tea to soothe your jangled nerves

 

Synopsis:

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

 

Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, trigger warning: child sexual abuse

Most of the book references child sexual abuse, the healing process, disclosing to friends and family, and testifying. Nothing is described in detail, graphic or otherwise. 

  • If you’re concerned about being triggered by certain content, feel free to ask me for clarification about any potentially triggering content, in the comments. Or send me a direct message on Twitter if you prefer.

Now onto the book review …

Jaime was abused by her uncle at the age of 8. She didn’t tell anyone then. Now as an adult and after much counseling she feels strong enough to report his crime and press charges. Will her words and an old journal be enough to convict this esteemed military man? Or will he do anything to stop her form “ruining his life”?

It was nice to see the day to day realities of a survivor. The struggles and the triumphs, all the hard work, and the support from loved ones. Too often the media glosses over the day to day moments after a certain point in the survivor’s story. Not so in this book.

However, I had mixed feelings about the romance storyline. I don’t like when the, you need a man to make it all better, myth is perpetuated. But it’s also unrealistic to think that no survivor will experience romance and also look for comfort in their partner. The ending also wrapped things up a little too conveniently for me.

All in all, another good novel supporting the Me Too Movement of our generation. 

 

Question: How can we continue to support survivors in our lives?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Middle Grade

Holes by Louis Sachar

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Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:

What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published: August 20, 1998

Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version

Pages: 240

Genres: middle grade

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption

Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water

 

Synopsis:

A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.

 

Review: 

Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.

As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.

I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Young Adult

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review:

On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, how much do you enjoy young adult books? 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Rating: 5 stars

Published: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 355

Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance

Recommend to fans of: nice teenagers, coming of age books, books that give you all the feels, happy sweet books, sister bonds, Asian character representation 

Read with food: mocha sugar donuts ~ featured throughout and so accurately represents the fun and sweetness of the book 

 

Synopsis: 

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Review: 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an incredibly hyped book in the book community. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I tend to be nervous that overhyped young adult books won’t live up to all of the hype. Not to worry, because the book is fabulous! I so enjoyed reading about Lara Jean that I forgot to write down notes for my book review. For me, that’s the mark of a wonderfully engaging read.

The premise of Lara Jean’s love letters getting mailed to the boys she wrote them about could go either way. It ends up making for a great setup, because she focuses on living her life, not worrying too much about what others will think of her. Lara Jean’s relationship with her father and sisters is a major point of the story. I absolutely loved the importance the author placed on family relationships. It’s okay for teenagers to have strong relationships with their family as well as their friends and boyfriend/girlfriend.

Occasionally I was a bit annoyed with some of the drama and fighting, but that’s to be expected in a character driven young adult novel. The tension didn’t take over the story for too long.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a cute sweet novel that I can’t get enough of. I’ve already added the next books in the series to my TBR.