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?

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? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · Uncategorized

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

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Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

Published: September 2, 2016

Publisher: Upperhand Press, LLC

Pages: 425

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Lifetime Movies, over the top parents, Law & Order SVU, books about family dynamics

Foodie Vibes: carrot juice and French fries ~ oh, the contradictions of being a teenager

 

Synopsis: 

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what’s needed to keep your children from harm.

Phoebe’s mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyber-bullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident.

Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

 

Review: 

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

Trigger warning: many fairly graphic mentions of self harm and suicide. Please do not read this book if you’re not in a mentally healthy place, especially if you’re sensitive to these topics in particular.

That being said I enjoyed the whirlwind of drama and incredibly serious topics. It reminds me of a mix between a Lifetime movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kind of a perfect combo. We get an in depth look at the challenges and drama of teenage girls lives from the perspective of them and their parents. 

I really liked reading about Phoebe and her mother. I wish the story focused more on them. I disliked the amount of focus put on Phoebe’s dad and Sandy, the mother of Phoebe’s classmate/friend. The difference between the parenting styles was both horrifying and interesting. 

I so disliked the character of Sandy. She was so psychologically unbalanced and awful. She meant well, for her daughter, so at least she has that going for her. The focus was on her too much, when I felt it should have been more on Phoebe. Also the trope of parents providing teens with alcohol and getting in legal trouble has been done a lot before. But it’s still something that people could be reminded of. 

All in all, Saving Phoebe Murrow is highly entertaining, drama filled, and a warning for parents and teens alike.

 

If you could turn a TV show into a book, which show would you choose? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Book Review: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

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The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

Published by Kira on April 26, 2016

Pages: 384

Genres: psychological thriller, mystery, suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: dramatic intense Lifetime Movies, disturbed and smart teenage girls, supposedly perfect rich neighborhoods

Read with food: strawberry lemonade to sip by the pool

 

Synopsis:

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she’s felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she’s determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who’s about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can’t be trusted—and almost everyone has secrets they’d do anything to protect. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can’t help but find sophisticated Kelsey’s interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz’s relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it’s not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…

Review: 

The Drowning Girls is an addictive novel.

Creepy, suspense filled, and dramatic people make up the characters in this story. Is the book the most original in terms of plot lines? … No, but it’s so entertaining.

I couldn’t stop reading.

The Drowning Girls has the vibe of a Lifetime Movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kelsey, the teenager, is conniving, smart and highly disturbed. Phil, the man she is obsessed with isn’t completely innocent either. The stress from Kelsey’s obsessions reveals the true nature of all involved.

I highly recommend this addictive, page turning, drama filled book!

 

I want to read more books with a similar vibe. Anyone have any suggestions?