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?

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Sports · Uncategorized

ARC Review | Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

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Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

Published: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Little A 

Pages: 316

Genres: contemporary fiction, sports

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: college athletics, the toll life can take on a person, relatable characters 

Foodie Vibes: egg white omelets, dry toast, black coffee — perfectly measured out and calorie counted 

 

Synopsis:

Breadloaf and New York Public Library fellow, Jaclyn Gilbert’s LATE AIR, a tale of a fanatical Yale cross country coach sent reeling into the ghosts of his past after an early morning practice run on the golf course goes horrifically wrong, injuring his star runner and churning up all that has lain dormant around the coach’s fragmented life and marriage.

 

Review:

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

Late Air can best be described as an odd book in a mainstream way. The coach shows he cares about his athletes, himself, his wife and their child through actions. He obsesses about counting things, keeping in control, and producing results. By staying regimented he can achieve what he wants for himself and others. Much of the book is about his goals and coaching his Division 1 athletes. It’s fascinating, sad and a bit horrifying to read about the inner workings of his brain. The book can be seen as a warning against a singular focus mindset. 

Despite the catch being so focused, the story was a bit all over the place. At times I got lost and other times I didn’t really care. There are many life lessons to be learned, but I didn’t really care about the characters. 

All in all, a cautionary tale against obsession, but not as amazing as I had hoped.

 

Answer me this:

What’s your favorite sport?

Let’s get to 5 comments, and I’ll share my favorite sport!

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · non fiction

New Release |Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers by Marianna Crane

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Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers by Marianna Crane

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: She Writes Press

Pages: 232 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, medical

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about medicine and nursing

Foodie Vibes: potluck style luncheon for the community

 

Synopsis:

Running a clinic for seniors requires a lot more than simply providing medical care. In Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic, Marianna Crane chases out scam artists and abusive adult children, plans a funeral, signs her own name to social security checks, and butts heads with her staff―two spirited older women who are more well-intentioned than professional―even as she deals with a difficult situation at home, where the tempestuous relationship with her own mother is deteriorating further than ever before. Eventually, however, Crane maneuvers her mother out of her household and into an apartment of her own―but only after a power struggle and no small amount of guilt―and she finally begins to learn from her older staff and her patients how to juggle traditional health care with unconventional actions to meet the complex needs of a frail and underserved elderly population.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, She Writes Press and Marianna Crane for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic is a wonderful representation of the realities of nursing. The author tells stories from her time running a clinic for seniors. She was one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners in the 1980s. A pioneer in the field!

I liked that the book shows the realities of nursing: the good, bad and mundane. The more accurate representations in the media, the better. Certainly no silly stereotypes here. The author told her experiences with authenticity, dignity and respect for her elderly clients. 

While the realities of aging can be unpleasant at times, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve kindness and human decency. A great addition to the literature and history about the nursing profession.

 

What’s a silly stereotype that you’ve heard about nurses? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · Southern Fiction · Women's Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rush by Lisa Patton

 

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Let’s start off with the Bookish Question of the Review:

How many of you were in a sorority/fraternity in college? What were your favorite experiences? 

 

Rush by Lisa Patton

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 416

Genres: contemporary fiction, southern fiction, domestic fiction, chick lit

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about the college experience, sororities, modern day southern charm, young women making the world a better place

Read with food: sweet tea, fried chicken, collard green, mac & cheese, and everything to complete a proper southern meal 

 

Synopsis: 

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

 

Review:

I won this book for free in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to Goodreads, St. Martin’s Press and Lisa Patton for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

With sorority and fraternity life as popular as it is in this country, I’m surprised there aren’t more books surrounding Greek life. Rush perfectly fits this niche. We start off right before the school year begins following Ellie, Cali and Annie Laurie. They’re all college freshman from different walks of life hoping to pledge a sorority at Ole Miss. The chapters alternate points of view, which I really liked. It gave so much added perspective, and different stories were able to be told. The chapters’ POV include Cali, Wilda (Ellie’s mom) and Miss Pearl (a fabulous woman who works for a sorority on campus).

I like all of the main characters, which for me, is essential to enjoying a book. There are also a few love to hate, but redeemable characters, to keep things interesting. I really enjoyed Rush, because it’s fun, sweet, and poignant. Beyond just the fun process of sorority life, the author gets into tough topics such as living wages, health insurance, legacies, family money, racism, and micro aggressions in southern culture. We learn with the girls the unfairness that can be in the Greek life system. It certainly opened my eyes to things I really hadn’t thought about before.

However, without giving away any spoilers, the girls’ revelations are just the beginning of a fix to a much larger problem. The start of a conversation, not the end of one. I think the author does want it to truly be the start of larger discussions and change. Also, some of the behavior by the adults is appalling but contextually appropriate.

Rush seems like a fun, sweet, slightly catty book, but the depth of important topics makes it an important read. A great book for a book club or anyone looking to get a discussion going in a light hearted manner.

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

ARC Review | Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase

Be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom for a fun twist!

 

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Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase

Published: July 31, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: doesn’t list 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: murder mysteries, Law and Order SVU, books about college faculty

Read with food: pretentious hors d’oeuvres at networking events

 

Synopsis:

Meet Tara Thorpe – she had enough on her plate before a grisly college murder landed right in her lap!

As the sun rises, a young woman – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a deserted Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.

It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on Tara’s doorstep the night the woman died.

Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Clare Chase for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

Murder on the Marshes is a fast read that pulled me in right from the beginning. The action is written so there’s plenty of it to move the story forward, but not so much to be over the top ridiculous. In general I enjoyed the writing style. The color descriptions and imagery are wonderful. They paint quite a picture.

I also really liked the setting. Many of the main characters are college professors, so it’s set on and near a college campus. There’s something about getting a behind the scenes look at college life through the eyes of the professors. Maybe it’s just me, but these types of books are really appealing. I could read an entire book about this alone, completely taking out the murder mystery aspect. Although that was intriguing as well and gave the plot structure.

I would recommend the book for the great writing, college professor characters, and also the mystery.

 

Random Question of the Post: 

What dish do you cook best?

 

Let’s hear all your answers!

 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

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Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Published: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 352 

Genres: memoir

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, surviving difficult childhoods, family dynamics

Read with food: home canned peaches ~ commonly made in Tara’s family and even taken with to her journey to college

 

Synopsis:

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Review:

A head’s up from the beginning, trigger warning for abuse and gaslighting.

We are all educated. Many people through formal education in public and private primary schools and then universities across the country. Some are homeschooled, in which the quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher. All of us are educated by our life experiences. Our day to day experiences, shaped by the people who surround us or we choose to surround ourselves with. When we are children our education is largely dictated by our schools, extracurricular activities, various adults in our lives, our friends, but above all else our parents. When our parents don’t believe in sending their children to schools of any kind, choosing to very poorly and infrequently educate the children, you get stories like Tara’s.

Tara was lucky in that she was smart, shown the way to self educate from other family members, and while discouraged, was not denied access to higher education. Her life was anything but easy or typical. She grew up in the mountains with a mentally unstable and abusive father, passive mothers, and siblings. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various sorts and so much emotional manipulation that it took her years to sort it out.

I was absolutely engaged in this book the entire time. Even attempting to read it while I had a migraine, which was probably the last thing I should have been doing. Tara is an inspiration.

There are so many life lessons one can take away from the book. Ignore the toxic people in your life. Get out. Don’t let them dictate what you will or won’t do. Also, it’s okay to ask for and accept help. It means you’re strong. We can’t do it all on our own, and we shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to cover up the abuse that other people did. Share what you feel comfortable, but don’t let the people silence your truth.

Wow! I’ve had a lot to say about Educated. The story is so powerful. I highly suggest that you all read it.

 

Random Question of the Post: 

What’s the best moment so far this weekend?

Book Reviews

Book Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

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Trade Me by Courtney Milan 

Published by: Courtney Milan

Pages: 279

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, new adult

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance, strong but flawed characters, tech companies

Read with food: bottled water and rice dish

Bottled water: Blake- could be economical but is made expensive

Rice: Tina- practical, substancial, and adaptable

 

Synopsis:

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life. 

Review:

Blake and Tina couldn’t be from more different life circumstances, and yet they find themselves in the same college course. They say that opposites attract, and in Trade Me that is absolutely true. The characters of Tina and Blake are perfect compliments to each other. More importantly they respect each other first as humans beings, then friends, and then something more. Also the romantic bits of the story help to fuel it along, but don’t make up the entirety, which is my kind of romance.

I do wish that the relationship with Blake and his father was a bit more transparent. As a reader, I felt confused and unsure about Blake’s father’s intentions. It detracted from my enjoyment of the story at times.

Lately I’ve been reading more romance novels. The main reason? … I’ve been doing my research and found books that are really high quality and speak to me within the romance genre. Trade Me has inspired me to keep reading within this genre.