2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Domestic Fiction · romance

ARC Review | A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

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A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Dafina

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, domestic fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about complex but strong relationships

Foodie Vibes: home cooked meal — potato salad, collard greens, cornbread 

 

Synopsis:

To keep their family ties strong, the five Reeves sisters meet regularly to give each other a reality check. But explosive family secrets begin to pour out like molten lava, and forever change all they treasure most . . .
 
After a shattering revelation, youngest sister Elyse struggles to overcome the sexual abuse that nearly destroyed her. Between her tough eldest sister, Alita, and a promising fresh start with a new man, she’s finding the strength to make the most of her fierce intelligence. But Elyse still has a score to settle with the perfect sister she feels betrayed by—and she’s going after everything Burgundy can’t afford to lose . . .
 
 Coco thinks her useless baby daddy is finally about to commit—until she catches him with a woman who’s everything she’s not. As she tries to move on with her life, she can’t resist carrying out the ultimate revenge. But when she inadvertently gets caught up in Elyse’s plan, she must reveal an unforgivable truth that could crush any chance these sisters have to make things right.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina and Sydney Rax for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual assault

A Sister’s Survival has a great premise, but didn’t end up being the right book for me. I liked that the female characters had strong supportive relationships. They felt comfortable discussing times they were sexually assaulted. Another book that fits in perfectly with the #MeToo Movement. It’s rare that people feel comfortable discussing such horrific circumstances with others. So I appreciated that the book was able to shine a light on living your life after sexual assault.

However, there is so much drama. Over the top drama, which was a bit much for me. There’s also a lot of cheating on others, which I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of. Sleep with whomever you want, as long as it’s consensual and safe, but please don’t cheat. It does show that people are human though. Another aspect that frustrated me was the lack of continuity between chapters. Information that made me question if I had accidentally skipped pages, because it wasn’t make sense to me.

Overall, a good representation of characters that I don’t often see in books. But too much drama and inconsistencies for me to really get into the story.

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?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · drama · Literary Fiction · mental health · Women's Fiction

New Release | The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 356

Genres: women’s fiction, literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction, chick lit, drama

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: moms with psychological struggles trying to keep it all together, validating books about mental health and self harm

Foodie Vibes: pina coladas, takeout pizza and marshmallows roasted over an open fire pit

 

Synopsis:

‘Is her life as easy and effortless as it seems from the outside? Or is she feeling lonely, all by herself in that big house, an evening stretching out in front of her just as it is for me?’

When Tessa arrives at the little house by the lake with her two children Ben and Katherine, it is an escape. For all of them. Never mind that the rental house is a bit small – it’s theirs for the summer. A place to hide…

Their isolation is disrupted when they meet the family from the big house next door. Three children Charlotte, Zoe and Max and their glamorous mother Rebecca – who seems absolutely determined to invite Tessa in to their lives.

But Rebecca is harbouring a dark secret of her own. One that will put not only her family at risk, but Tessa’s too. And when she discovers she has no option but to leave her children for several weeks, Tessa feels like the only person she can trust.

Suddenly Tessa finds herself living a life she could only have dreamed of. Wealth, a large brood of children, and Rebecca’s handsome husband Josh visiting at weekends.

But even as powerful bonds are forming between them, secrets have a way of catching up with people. And as the summer comes to an end, who will learn to love again and who will risk losing everything?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Kate Hewitt for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, Trigger Warning for self harm and child sexual abuse.

Keeping yourself safe is most important, so make sure you’re in a healthy place before reading, my lovelies.

Feel free to send me a message on here, or a DM on Twitter for more privacy, if you want to know more about content that may trigger you.

Now onto the book review.

It seems as if everyone is keeping secrets from those around them. Pretending that they’re okay, when they’re anything but. I think we all can relate to this.

Over summer vacation 2 moms, Tessa and Rebecca, take their kids to summer vacation cottages. They didn’t know each other before the summer, but they end up neighbors, friends, and changing each other’s lives forever. They say it’s because their kids need playmates, but both moms know they need each other’s help more. Tessa has 2 kids, is in dire need of a makeover, constantly doubts herself, and has enough money but still must live by a budget. Rebecca has 3 kids, a glamorous lifestyle, a seemingly perfect life, more money than she can spend, and some serious issues going on. Hence the trigger warning. People are jealous of how well put together she seems, but inside she’s a wreck, just trying to get through the day.

I appreciated that self harm in adults is discussed. And not as a one off conversation. As a legitimate mental health concern that is featured throughout the novel. If you’re looking for good representation of self harm in adults, this is your book. 

The overall story the author tells of moms as people first that also care fiercely for their children is refreshing. And you can’t go wrong with a summer cottage on the lake story.

The only caveat that I have is the weird situation that is thrust upon one of the moms about halfway through the story. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it’s kind of a you need to go with the flow story line and not critique that it probably isn’t realistic. Oh, also the ending completely wrecked me. So I can see how some people might have an issue with it. 

Overall, The Secrets We Keep featured some truly broken adults who are trying to hold it together to care for their children. A wonderful authentic representation of adult self harm. I highly recommend, as long as you won’t be too triggered.  

 

If you want some helpful information or support about these serious topics, click the links below

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Self-Harm Crisis Text Hotline

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

 

Do trigger warnings help you to choose a book?

Everyone has different triggers. Which ones would be helpful to you, that I mention in my future reviews?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · psychological drama

New Release | The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

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The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Pages: 353 

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction, mental health, contemporary fiction, psychological drama 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Law & Order SVU, karmic justice, validating books about surviving sexual abuse

Foodie Vibes: warm cup of tea with sugar ~ to soothe your soul and keep your energy levels up during this difficult time

 

Synopsis: 

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…

Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.

Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.

Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bloodhound Books and Jennie Ensor for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, a major trigger warning for the entire book. There are many mentions and fairly graphic descriptions of child sexual abuse and rape. So please be sure you’re in a good head space while reading the book.

With that being said, I really enjoyed The Girl In His Eyes. The book gave a fairly accurate representation of the horrors and difficulties of dealing with the aftermath of surviving child sexual abuse. Both for the individual survivor and the family as well The novel gives a voice to the voiceless. It also makes it easier to understand how and why these pedophiles and perverts can manipulate children, entire families and societies into believing they’re good people. There were so many times when people suspected something was “off” about Paul, but brushed off their concerns because he seemed like a nice guy. Always trust your gut, people! These life lessons are so relevant.

There wasn’t anything that I really disliked about the book. However there was a lot that disgusted me, which given the general book topic was bound to happen. Some chapters are from Paul, the pervert’s, point of view. We hear all the disgusting horrifying things he thinks. It adds to the suspense and explains a lot. Also some of the reactions of people seem a bit too cookie cutter at times.

Overall, a really worthwhile read to further understand the topic but done in a fictionalized manner.

 

Who can relate relate to this story? 

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Review | Challenging the Doctor by Patricia Fischer

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Challenging the Doctor by Patricia Fischer

Published: September 6, 2018

Publisher: Tule Publishing

Pages: 224

Genres: contemporary romance, romance

Recommend to fans of: medical romances, the author Candace Calvert, contemporary romance, happily ever afters

Foodie Vibes: homemade chocolate delicacies from the local shop

 

Synopsis:

After a near-career ending event, ER doctor Edmund Davidson relocates to Marietta, Montana, hoping it’s the fresh start he needs. Edmund settles in quickly to life in a small town and thrives in his role as the new ER doc. He especially enjoys sparing with the gorgeous, smart, and headstrong nurse practitioner. Jade intrigues him like no women he’s ever met, but he can’t help feel that she’s burdened by a dark secret.

Jade Phillips wants to reboot her life after losing out on a promotion to head the ER to a newcomer, Edmund’s sister, Lucy. As Jade attempts to focus on selling her father’s place and close a painful chapter of her life, she discovers evidence of a dark secret. Jade finds herself in trapped between family loyalty and personal devastation. She knows her attraction to Edmund and her secrets could put them both in jeopardy, but when Edmund saves her brother’s life, she realizes she has to trust someone.

Edmund soon realizes he’s emotionally in too deep with Jade. He wants to protect her, but he’s professionally on thin ice already. If he doesn’t reveal her secret, their separate pasts can destroy both of their careers. But can he betray the woman he loves to protect himself? Or will he risk it all, even his heart?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGaley, Tule Publishing and Patricia Fischer for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

My actual rating is 3.5 stars, but since there aren’t half star ratings I always round up.

Challenging the Doctor is a contemporary romance set in a small town with a medical backdrop. Medical books, romance or not, are always a hit with me, so add in the feel good romance with a happily ever after. That’s going to make me a happy lady.

Edmund is the main love interest. He’s new to town, a doctor, and an honest to goodness good guy. The romance is also quite steamy. A perfect mix of passion and sweetness.

The medical settings and small town vibe also add to the appeal. The upscale diner food sounds amazing. The vibe is a bit like Candace Calvert’s books except more sexy times and less religion. Bonus points for Fred the dog, who is so dang cute? Also Edmund has social anxiety, so that’s some nice representation. It would have been better if they went more in depth in his struggles. However, it’s a romance novel, so I get why it wasn’t a main focus.

The let downs in the book include the classic eye rolling line about how most women aren’t like her. Problematic for so many reasons that I’m not going to go into right now. Also some of the other tropes felt a little old and overused. Fro example her in trouble with the law brother to stir up drama. But yet the guy likes her anyways, despite her worries.

Overall, an enjoyable read that’s perfect for taking your mind off the stresses of life.

 

Which setting is your favorite for a romance novel?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Review | The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee by Victoria James

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The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee by Victoria James

Published: September 10, 2018 

Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC

Pages: 232

Genres: contemporary romance, romance

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: people needing a reminder there are good guys in the world, romance novels with firefighters and doctors 

Foodie Vibes: coffee with organic milk, green juices, meat lovers pizza

 

Synopsis:

Leaving Shadow Creek nine years ago was the hardest thing Molly Mayberry’s ever had to do…except maybe returning. She’s never regretted her choice, but a chance of a lifetime position at the local hospital means going home and facing her past, including her shrew of an estranged mother and the fiancé she ran out on. Ben Matthews is still the sexy, sweet man she left behind…and apparently still her fiancé.

Ben has been doggedly pursuing the position of fire chief since he was a teenager. There’s just one problem—he has to show his boss he’s ready to settle down. No matter how silly the condition, Ben will make it happen. And apparently so will his brother when he opens his mouth and decides to tell everyone Ben and Molly are engaged. Now the one woman he never stopped loving is living with him in a fake relationship, driving him crazy. Pretending only reminds him how right they were once, but if Ben gives in to the heat building between them, heartache is sure to follow.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Victoria James and Entangled Publishing for an ebook copy for review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As alway, an honest review from me.

At first I was a little skeptical based on the title. I assumed the pretend fiancee would be someone he barely knew, so it seemed a bit unrealistic that the couple would fall involve. Because it’s a romance novel after all. Once I learned that the fake couple had actually been a real couple years ago, and they still cared for each other, everything made a lot more sense.

This is a sweet romance. There’s love, romance, and passion, but the physical aspects described stop at kissing. The story is the perfect mix of sweet romance, heartbreak and personal growth. The more is revealed, the more I like the story. I really liked that the story shows the importance of communication and taking care of yourself. I think it will be relatable for a lot of women.

Other than my initial skepticism and a few of the commonly used romance novel tropes, I really enjoyed most of the book. The cover doesn’t match the characters I grew to know and love, in my opinion. 

I’m really glad I read this book that gives me hope for the future.

 

Should romance novels discuss consent and boundaries? Let’s discuss in the comments.