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?

Bookish Posts · Uncategorized

My Bookish Goals for 2019

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year again . . . 

Everybody is making New Years Resolutions 

 

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t know about you, but those feel like too much pressure to me. There’s also the easy to fall into trap of making unattainable resolutions or ones that society deems acceptable. 

 

Ahem, I’m looking at you . . .

“I’m going to get bikini body ready for summer.” 

“I’m going to make $1 million this year.”

 

No judgment if those are your goals and you have specific and healthy steps to attain them, but I’m thinking more specific and personal this year. 

That’s why goals work so well for me. Goals seem to take the pressure off, while also encouraging me to focus on what’s truly important to me. 

 

So let’s get into my Bookish Goals for 2019 

 

  • Read only 100 books in a year (max of 120) 

Why? In 2018 I read 160 books, but the focus was more on quantity versus quality and savoring the reading experience. Limiting myself a bit also allows me to focus on other areas of life. And let’s be honest, 100 books in a year is still a lot.

  • Request/be accepted for 5-7 NetGalley books per month 

As many new book bloggers do, I requested & got accepted for way too many ARC books from NetGalley. While this is great (FREE BOOKS), I didn’t have as much flexibility to read what I wanted when I wanted. The reading schedule was REAL

  • 7 months or more of an average of 4.0 star rating

Why? This was my goal in 2018 as well. It helps to put my focus on reading books that I think I will really love. 

  • Participate in the Book Riot 2019 Read Harder Challenge 

I’ve been doing this for the past few years and really loved being introduced to books I never would have known about. I’m not forcing myself to finish the challenge or read books that I know I will strongly dislike just for the sake of completing the challenge. 

  • Participate in the 2019 Reading Women Challenge 

I just recently found out that this Reading Challenge existed, but I’m super excited to participate. My reasoning is similar to the Book Riot Challenge. 

  • Focus more on *POC/AOC, **county of origin, and LGBTQIA+ content in books 

I’ve had these goals for the past few years, but I’m continuing with them. I usually aim to hit 20% for each goal. It helps keep my reading well rounded and I am introduced to books I never would have found otherwise.

*POC- People of color (usually the main characters), AOC(Author of Color).

**Country of Origin: Countries other than the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia 

 

Do you agree or disagree with my goals? What are your reading goals for the year? 

Let me know in the comments. I’m always really interested in what people prioritize in their reading journeys. 

 

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 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

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Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Books About Books · Cozy Mystery · fiction · mystery

Release Day | Murder by the Book

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Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 304

Genres: cozy mystery, mystery, fiction, books about books

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about books, feel good books with an intense edge, strong smart business women

Foodie Vibes: soothing cup of tea and a sack lunch brought to you by a new friend and fellow business woman 

 

Synopsis:

Addie Greyborne loved working with rare books at the Boston Public Library—she even got to play detective, tracking down clues about mysterious old volumes. But she didn’t expect her sleuthing skills to come in so handy in a little seaside town . . .

Addie left some painful memories behind in the big city, including the unsolved murder of her fiancé and her father’s fatal car accident. After an unexpected inheritance from a great aunt, she’s moved to a small New England town founded by her ancestors back in colonial times—and living in spacious Greyborne Manor, on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. Best of all, her aunt also left her countless first editions and other treasures—providing an inventory to start her own store.

But there’s trouble from day one, and not just from the grumpy woman who runs the bakery next door. A car nearly runs Addie down. Someone steals a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Then, Addie’s friend Serena, who owns a nearby tea shop, is arrested—for killing another local merchant. The police seem pretty sure they’ve got the story in hand, but Addie’s not going to let them close the book on this case without a fight . .

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Kensington Publishing and Lauren Elliott for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me.

What better than a book about books? Not much in my opinion. Murder by the Book centers around Addie who recently moved back to town and opened a bookshop. Previously she was in the business, along with her family, of selling, tracking down and authenticating rare books. Now she’s venturing out into business. The reception of her new shop is mixed. Some people are happy to welcome her to town, like Serena her new door neighbor, fellow business owner, and new friend. Other locals aren’t so happy to see her. 

Addie doesn’t have much time to dwell on that when there’s a rash of break ins at her shop, home and also other crimes about town. There’s something strange going on and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. 

I like that Addie investigates based on her hunches but also allows the police to do their job investigating initially. She’s not just going about town willy nilly, searching for clues. The book retains its cozy mystery vibes while still being authentic and modern. A perfect mix. 

I wish there was more about Addie’s assistant. I think it would be a lovely heartfelt storyline that could definitely be explored more in a future book. 

Overall, a wonderful cozy but modern mystery featuring a great mix of small town and big city vibes. I definitely recommend it. 

 

Add to Your Goodreads TBR

 

Answer me this:

What’s your favorite part about books written about books?

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

Release Day | Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

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Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 352

Genres: Christmas, holiday, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: cozy reads, small businesses, books that remind you of the reason for the season

Foodie Vibes: hot chocolate with a fire roasted marshmallow and beautifully decorated Christmas cookies

 

Synopsis: 

A holiday retelling of You’ve Got Mail that will make you fall in love with the Christmas Season!

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the town’s Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Nancy Nail for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Dear Santa is a sweet heartfelt Christmas story that reminds you of the true reason for the season. Angela owns the Heart of Christmas, a one of a kind shop that’s been in her family for years. They sell high quality hand made Christmas decorations. When a new big box style Christmas store comes into town, Angela’s business takes another hit on top of her already foundering business. The book encourages us to look at what’s really important to us, our families and our communities. Will Angela get some help from Santa this year?

I loved the setting. A quaint beachside town isn’t what you first think of for a Christmasy book, but it works perfectly. The passion Angela has for her town, the history and townspeople absolutely makes the book so special. You can feel the true magic of the holidays on each page. The descriptions of her Christmas store made me feel as if I was right there, surrounded by all the twinkly lights, fresh cut trees, and handcrafted ornaments. The scent of gingerbread and peppermint mochas waft through the air. The book is such a cozy holiday read that I can’t get enough.

However, there isn’t much romance. The story focuses more on Angela’s love for her family, business, and town than a new love interest. At least until the last, maybe 20%. It’s very sweet and happily ever after, so that helps. Also there was a lot of tension and arguing in parts. Completely authentic to the story, but sometimes you don’t want to read about stress and tension. Luckily most is about the wonderful moments of Christmastime. 

All together, Dear Santa captures the true magic of Christmas with all the cozy feels. 

 

What’s your favorite 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?

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!

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.