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

The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings | ARC #BookReview

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The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings 

Published: February 12, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 368 

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: spy novels set in Europe

Foodie Vibes: coffee at an outdoor cafe and people watching 

 

Synopsis: 

Kit Carradine is the successful author of several best-selling novels. When he is approached by MI6 and asked to carry out a simple task on behalf of his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he jumps at the chance.

But all is not as it seems. Carradine soon finds himself on the trail of Lara Bartok, a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement targeting prominent right-wing political figures around the world. Caught between competing intelligence services who want Bartok dead, Carradine faces a choice: to abandon Bartok to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Charles Cummings for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I needed up DNFing this book about halfway through, because honestly I was bored …. Which is not something you want in a spy thriller. 

Like: 

  • The premise of using a novelist who writes thrillers, as a spy 
  • The overall atmosphere of sitting outside in a European country waiting for the action to happen

Love:

  • The cover – GORGEOUS!

Dislike:

  • Boring! For a spy thriller, there wasn’t much action happening. Granted, I ended up DNFing it at 50% of the way through, but this genre should capture my attention way before that. 

Wish that: 

  • I had more to say about the book. Nothing was bad per say, but nothing was great either. 

Overall, not the book for me. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but these are my thoughts on the book. I did learn that I’m not as big of a spy thriller fan as I originally thought. So maybe that had something to do with my opinions on the book. Who knows? 

 

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How long do you wait before you DNF a book?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · Literary Fiction · mental health

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib | ARC #BookReview

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 384

Genres: literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction 

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about eating disorders and mental health, strong women struggling with difficult things

Foodie Vibes: the meal plan set forth by the eating disorder treatment team – designed for weight gain and food challenges

 

Synopsis: 

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Yara Zgheib for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • Good representation: adults of various ages and stages in life are shown, not just the stereotypical upper middle class teenage girl
  • Each couple of days is punctuated by the staff’s treatment plan update: physiological observations, psychological observations, summary, target calories, meal plans
  • Not a fluffy feel good book, but the realistic ups and downs of getting help for an eating disorder

Love: 

  • The details that go into the world building – In reality it’s only an eating disorder treatment house, but the author makes it seem like a whole different world 
  • The main character: Anna – kind, relatable, vulnerable, courageous
  • The concept and daily life is oddly fascinating — weird?, I know
  • The relationship between Anna and her husband, Matthias
  • Beautifully written

Dislike: 

  • That so many of the characters are missing out on life.
  • Emm: one of the long term patients. It doesn’t seem realistic that she could be at the treatment center for years. Also she didn’t seem to add much to the story, except as one of the many cautionary tales. 

Wish that: 

  • There was more about the psychological aspects of eating disorder treatment such as group therapy, individual therapy, etc.

Overall, a beautifully written book about the brave struggles of a woman working to survive and eating disorder. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something absolutely captivating about this story. 

 

Do you enjoy reading books about characters with a mental illness? 

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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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?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · Uncategorized

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Published: April 10, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 388

Genres: domestic fiction, mystery, psychological thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: other Lisa Scottoline books, family drama, books filled with twists and turns 

Foodie Vibes: homemade spaghetti – dinner as a family 

 

Synopsis: 

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Noah Alderman, a doctor and a widower, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie, and for the first time in a long time he and his son are happy. But their lives are turned upside down when Maggie’s daughter Anna moves in with them. Anna is a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble that is brewing. Events take a deadly turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her only daughter, but the realization that her daughter’s murder was at the hands of a husband she loves. New information sends Maggie searching for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

 

Review:

After Anna is another great book from Lisa Scottoline. Whenever I pick up one of her books, I know I’m in for a quality entertaining read. After Anna didn’t disappoint. 

I like that the book kept me highly entertained and guessing about the killer throughout. I was sure I knew who had done it, early on, but it turns out I was wrong. One of these days I’m going to get it right! I also enjoyed the drama that manipulative teenage girls can bring. There’s something special the author does with her mysteries that keep me captivated. 

The one thing I didn’t like was that for a long time you don’t know if someone is a pervert or not. It made me feel uneasy.

Overall, another great novel from Lisa Scottoline. Definitely makes me want to keep reading her books!

 

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Have you read books by Lisa Scottoline?

What’s your favorite book of hers?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

2.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · feminism · history · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction

ARC Book Review | A Politically Incorrect Feminist by Phyllis Chesler

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Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a fun Bookish Question!

 

A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women by Phyllis Chesler

Published: August 28, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: feminism, history, non fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: feminist history, history not in the history books

Read with food: whatever you want

 

Synopsis:

Phyllis Chesler was a pioneer of Second Wave Feminism. Chesler and the women who came out swinging between 1972-1975 integrated the want ads, brought class action lawsuits on behalf of economic discrimination, opened rape crisis lines and shelters for battered women, held marches and sit-ins for abortion and equal rights, famously took over offices and buildings, and pioneered high profile Speak-outs. They began the first-ever national and international public conversations about birth control and abortion, sexual harassment, violence against women, female orgasm, and a woman’s right to kill in self-defense.

Now, Chesler has juicy stories to tell. The feminist movement has changed over the years, but Chesler knew some of its first pioneers, including Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, Flo Kennedy, and Andrea Dworkin. These women were fierce forces of nature, smoldering figures of sin and soul, rock stars and action heroes in real life. Some had been viewed as whores, witches, and madwomen, but were changing the world and becoming major players in history. In A Politically Incorrect Feminist, Chesler gets chatty while introducing the reader to some of feminism’s major players and world-changers.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Phyllis Chesler for an ARC copy of the ebook for review. As always, an honest review.

I jot down notes while I read books, things that I want to remember for later to write my book reviews. For this book I had such conflicting notes written that I had a hard time figuring out what I thought overall. But it comes down to these two things. Number 1: I appreciate and respect the advances the author made in the feminist movement. Number 2: I disliked the tone the book was told with. Too angry and judgmental.

Starting out with the positives, because we could all use a little more positivity in our lives. The author’s voice is strong, clear and powerful. There’s no mistaking who she is and what she stands for. Her book tells her story as a feminist over the years, working to make things better for others. Looking back on how our society used to be for women makes me extremely grateful for the feminists before me. All the hard work they put in allows the women of today to have the rights we do. I learned a lot about feminist history in the U.S., especially when it pertains to the author’s life story.

However, the tone of the book makes it much less pleasant to read than it could have been. There’s a lot of judgment and anger. It’s understandable given the circumstances, but it doesn’t appeal to me. There’s also a lot of information, and it can be a bit too much at times. Maybe if your’e extremely familiar with feminist history, this won’t be the case for you. Also more of the book than I would like was the drama between the feminists. Not my cup of tea.

Overall Phyllis Chesler did a lot of good in her lifetime, but the writing feels angry and unapproachable. Informative, authentic, but not for me.

 

Bookish Question of the Review: 

Which feminist ideal do you wish were more prevalent in books? 

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.

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

ARC Book Review | Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

 

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Be sure to read until the end of the review for a fun, bonus question!

 

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Published: August 7, 2018 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: fictionalized versions of real life, books about kidnappings, the 1950s

Read with food: a nice milkshake preferably from a diner

 

Synopsis:

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for a copy. As always, an honest review.

Rust & Stardust was very loosely based on the real life kidnapping of Sally Horner in the late 1940s. Her story is also the inspiration for the book Lolita. The author took her story and imagined what might have happened in her day to day life while she was kidnapped. Sally was held for several years. I enjoyed the fictionalized version of what her life experiences might have been. Initially I didn’t realize the story was based on a real girl. I enjoyed it before and after learning this fact.

The storytelling is beautiful, haunting, and absolutely captivating. For a book about such a horrible topic, I couldn’t put it down. The author eludes to Sally’s terrible experiences, but doesn’t go into great detail which I appreciated. We learn more about Sally’s emotional state than anything else. Also each chapter alternates with different characters’ points of view, so we see the impact her disappearance has on her family as well.

The only part that frustrated me was the adults who were to scared or too unsure to help Sally. It was a different time and a different era but still frustrating none the less. Also, there are mentions of kidnapping and sexual assault. It wasn’t graphic by any means, and most of the story wasn’t about that. But I still wanted to mention it.

I was captivated by the writing right from the beginning all the way to the very last sentence. I highly recommend reading this amazing book.

Random Question of the Review:

How long does it take you to read a book?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

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Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

Published by: St. Martin’s Paperbacks on April 5, 2016

Pages: 368

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: sweet romances, hospital romances, good people who experience personal growth, Grey’s Anatomy

Read with food: tiramisu and red wine ~ the perfect pairing to go along with the romantic dates between Joshua and Delaney

 

Synopsis:

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

Review:

I’ve had Heart Like Mine on my TBR list for awhile now. I finally got around to reading it, but sadly I was a bit disappointed.

The gernal story line and romance was only okay. I enjoyed it more as a contemporary fiction than romance novel. The romance supposedly checked all the right boxes: lakes at sunset, handsome doctor who loves kids, great Italian food, etc. But it didn’t really draw me in that much.

What did really pull me in was the eye opening experiences that Delaney had on the pediatrics floor. Forced to make budget cuts to the pediatrics unit, she is invited to spend time there by none other than Dr. Joshua Mackenzie. He wants her to really learn how important all the hospital services are to the sick children. Spending time on the unit, Delaney grows as a person and rekindles her passion for her career. I really enjoyed this story line.

I also really appreciated the in depth justification of all the services and personnel required to care for the children. I think it will definitely open some people’s eyes.

I wouldn’t recommend it for the romance, but Heart Like Mine ended up redeeming itself in the end. 

 

Reader Question . . . how do you feel when a book that you’ve so wanted to read ends up being a bit underwhelming? Comment below and let me know! Or just say hi!