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

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

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ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Business · feminism · mental health · non fiction · Self Help

Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani | ARC #BookReview

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Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Currency

Pages: 208

Genres: non fiction, self help, business, feminism 

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books that inspire you, point out gender stereotypes, strong brave women

Foodie Vibes: chocolate cake – Have your cake and eat it too

 

Synopsis: 

In a book inspired by her popular TED talk, New York Times bestselling author Reshma Saujani empowers women and girls to embrace imperfection and bravery.

Imagine if you lived without the fear of not being good enough. If you didn’t care how your life looked on Instagram, or worry about what total strangers thought of you. Imagine if you could let go of the guilt, and stop beating yourself up for tiny mistakes. What if, in every decision you faced, you took the bolder path?

Too many of us feel crushed under the weight of our own expectations. We run ourselves ragged trying to please everyone, all the time. We lose sleep ruminating about whether we may have offended someone, pass up opportunities that take us out of our comfort zones, and avoid rejection at all costs.

There’s a reason we act this way, Reshma says. As girls, we were taught to play it safe. Well-meaning parents and teachers praised us for being quiet and polite, urged us to be careful so we didn’t get hurt, and steered us to activities at which we could shine.

The problem is that perfect girls grow up to be women who are afraid to fail. It’s time to stop letting our fears drown out our dreams and narrow our world, along with our chance at happiness.

By choosing bravery over perfection, we can find the power to claim our voice, to leave behind what makes us unhappy, and go for the things we genuinely, passionately want. Perfection may set us on a path that feels safe, but bravery leads us to the one we’re authentically meant to follow.

In Brave, Not Perfect, Reshma shares powerful insights and practices to help us override our perfect girl training and make bravery a lifelong habit. By being brave, not perfect, we can all become the authors of our biggest, boldest, and most joyful life.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Currency, and Reshma Saujani for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like: 

  • A self help business book for woman without being overly technical or dry
  • She launched Girls Who Code and ran for political office
  • Gives a voice to all the things that so many women experience 

Love:

  • Incredibly relatable 
  • That bravery is a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger your bravery muscle will be
  • The author’s voice/writing style: professional, authoritative, but relatable and kind
  • The message that its okay to not be liked, because those just aren’t your people
  • The quote “In a world full of princesses, dare to be a hot dog.” 

Dislike:

Wish that: 

  • There were a few more practical examples of how to be brave on a day to day basis
  • The book was longer!

Overall,  a very powerful, relatable book that every woman needs to read. Even if you think you’re brave, I think you will find many elements of value in here. A book I’m going to be referencing again and again. 

 

For all the ladies out there,

How can you be brave today?

 

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5 Star Books · Book Reviews · fantasy · historical fiction · Science Fiction · thriller

I read my FIRST Stephen King Book! 11/22/63

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11/22/63

Published: November 8, 2011

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 849

Genres: historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, thriller

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: JFK conspiracy theories, history buffs, alternate history novels, long well written books

Foodie Vibes: diner food but made the right way — from scratch, high fat and without preservatives

 

Synopsis: 

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

 

Review:

Like: 

  • The main character and narrator
  • Discussions of time travel repercussions – while not real, it’s fun to think about
  • The mix of historical fiction, suspense, and science fiction
  • A blast from the past: all the vintage brands, companies, music and fun anecdotes

Love: 

  • The audiobook version: I highly recommend listening to it! You will not be disappointed. 
  • The main topic: trying to go back in time and stop the JFK assassination 
  • The world building: the 1950s and 60s world the author creates feels extremely immersive

Dislike: 

  • All the talk about food poisoning, illnesses, etc. seems to be discussed more than most books

Wish that:

  • everything could be happily ever after by going back in time to change bad events 

Overall, I am so glad that I finally read a Stephen King book. I know, I know, how could I not have read one of his books before? I loved 11/22/63 and am looking forward to reading more of the author’s work in the future. 

 

Bookish Question:

How many Stephen King books have you read?

Which ones do you recommend?

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner | ARC Book Review

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The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 400 

Genres: historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: WWII, historical fiction, reading about history from an alternate person’s point of view 

Foodie Vibes: a meager meal of stale bread, soup and coffee as food is scarce during the war 

 

Synopsis: 

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley, and Susan Meissner for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • Alternates between present day and WWII featuring the same characters helps to enhance the story
  • The shared friendship between Elise and Mariko – seamlessly ties the whole story together, even when they’re living on different continents
  • The parents caring for their children during very difficult times

Love:

  • The realism and beauty of the writing
  • We get a more personal complete perspective of the war from the view of a teenager
  • The main characters: Elise, her family, Mariko, and the Dove family
  • Even though it’s fiction I learned more about WWII, especially the experiences of average citizens in the U.S. and Germany 
  • Completely transports me to a different time and place

Dislike: 

  • The sadness, violence and mistreatment of people, even though its realistic to the events in history

Wish that:

  • The character of Max was mentioned more and also more likable 

 

Overall, a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the tale of two American teenagers who met due to fear an assumptions from the government and changed each others’ lives forever. Definitely, definitely recommend!

 

Bookish Question:

What’s your favorite time period/country to read about in historical fiction novels?

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4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance · Sports Fiction

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. 

 

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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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ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · non fiction · psychology · Self Help

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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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

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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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · Literary Fiction

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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Bookish Posts · politics · What You Missed Wednesdays

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?

___________________________

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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?