Monday, October 31, 2022

Book Review: "Foster" by Claire Keegan

This short novella is beautifully written, poignant, and quietly powerful.

It’s summer in Ireland. A young girl is taken by her father to live with distant relatives, the Kinsellas. The girl’s mother is expecting another baby, and things at home with her other siblings are very chaotic.

When her father drops her off, she has no idea how long she’ll be staying with the Kinsellas, or whether she’ll even return home. And it’s not long before her fear of living with strangers turns to feeling, for the very first time, as if she belongs somewhere and is cared for.

Who are these people, and why does caring come so easy to them when it doesn’t for her parents? Will her parents forget her or leave her behind? And how does she feel about either prospect?

I loved Claire Keegan’s last book, Small Things Like These, so I was excited to read Foster. There is simplicity to this story yet at the same time, you can feel the emotions so vividly. I would have loved for the story to be longer, but I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

Book Review: "In the Weeds" by B.K. Borison

In the Weeds is a terrific, steamy, small-town romance with a fantastic supporting cast!

Lovelight Farms was an absolute joy of a find last year, and I’ve been meaning to get to this second book in the series for months! I was so excited to take a trip back to the small town of Inglewild.

Beckett can’t get Evie out of his mind. It was just a one-night stand (well, two nights), but there was something different about her and the way she made him feel. The last thing he expected, though, is for her to show up at Lovelight Farms.

He had no idea that Evie, from that bar in Maine, is actually Evelyn St. James, world-famous social media influencer. And she’s at the farm as part of a social media contest. But no sooner does she appear than she leaves again.

The thing is, while Evie appreciates the renown she has achieved, she seems to have lost her passion for her job, lost the happiness and her sense of purpose. To recapture it, she goes back to the last place she truly felt peace: Lovelight Farms. (Do you think that has anything to do with a sexy, brooding farmer?)

“It’s okay if it takes you some time to find it again. And it’s okay if you find it just to lose a bit of it here and there. That’s the beauty of it, yeah? It comes and goes. Not every day is a happy one and it shouldn’t be. It’s in the trying, I think.”

I loved this book so much. Beckett is definitely a new book boyfriend, but boy, do I love the people of Inglewild!!

Book Review: "Blackwater" by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham

There’s something strange happening in the small town of Blackwater, Maine…

Tony is a handsome, popular track star. Sometimes he’s kind and friendly, and sometimes he’s drawn into pranks or bullying by his best friend, the football team’s quarterback. At the end of the day, what he wants more than anything is for his father to notice and appreciate him.

Eli has an autoimmune disease which lands him in and out of the hospital, and often makes him use a wheelchair. He is a complete outcast in school and his overprotective mother doesn’t want him to worry or get stressed, or he could get sicker. He just wants to have friends.

Despite the fact that his friend bullies Eli constantly, there’s something about him that intrigues Tony. But Tony isn’t sure what his feelings mean, and he’s certainly not going to let his guard down.

One night while on a hunting trip, Tony gets bitten by some animal. The next thing he knows, his temper flares up constantly and something seems to happen to him when he gets angry. There’s a mysterious woman in the woods who knows the truth but she refuses to help him. So it’s up to Eli to try and find answers—and perhaps he can figure out how to help the fisherman’s ghost that keeps following him.

Nothing like a combination of high school drama, ghosts, werewolf sightings, and tentative steps toward realizing who you really are! This graphic novel—which is co-written and illustrated—was a fun, slightly spooky read!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Book Review: "Nobody Gets Out Alive" by Leigh Newman

Leigh Newman's debut collection, Nobody Gets Out Alive, is a collection of stories featuring women at their toughest, dealing with the wilds of life.

I always love discovering books thanks to Bookstagram friends. This story collection, longlisted for the National Book Award, was recommended by two friends whose reading taste is so admirable, so I figured, how could I lose?

The collection takes place in Alaska, one of my favorite settings for books, and the stories follow women dealing not only with the wildlife and the sometimes-unforgiving climate, but also with the challenges and pain associated with love, loss, and relationships. Some stories are set in the present, some in the not-too-distant past, and one is even set in the early 1900s.

Newman’s characters are tough, independent, smart, and sensitive, which makes reading about them really appealing. A few of the stories feature the same characters at different points of their lives.

As with any story collection, I loved some more than others. My favorites included “Howl Palace,” about an older woman dealing with financial challenges and the mortality of those she loves; the title story, about an engaged couple dealing with the advances of others; and “Alcan: An Oral History,” which follows five different women outrunning their problems.

Let’s hear it for book recs from friends!!

Book Review: "It Starts With Us" by Colleen Hoover

The feeling when the sequel is just as good…

I’m a huge Colleen Hoover fan, and whenever I’m asked what my favorite book of hers is, while it’s difficult to pick just one, It Ends With Us always tops the list. So when I heard that she had a sequel coming out, I was both excited and apprehensive. But after devouring the book in about two hours, my only disappointment is that I’m finished now and have to wait for her next book!!

“Sometimes people think if they love a broken person enough, they can be what finally repairs them, but the problem with that is the other person just ends up broken, too.”

At the start of the book, Lily has just seen Atlas for the first time almost two years after they last spoke. She is trying to co-parent her young daughter with Ryle, and while they’ve developed a good rhythm, Lily is afraid Ryle thinks there’s still a chance for them even after the divorce.

Seeing each other brings light into both Lily and Atlas’ lives. Is the timing finally right for them to try and pursue the relationship both have wanted since they were teenagers? As much as that’s what Lily wants, she’s worried that her dating anyone—especially Atlas—might set Ryle off and complicate their ability to raise their daughter together.

This is a book about second chances, about finding love when you don’t feel you deserve it or even believe it’s possible. And it’s a powerful exploration of what it means to have someone in your corner. While it didn’t leave me in an absolute emotional puddle like the first book, it was utterly beautiful and definitely had me in tears a few times.

Do yourself a favor and read both!!

Book Review: "Thank You for Listening" by Julia Whelan

Thank You for Listening, Julia Whelan's newest novel, is a funny and moving story about a renowned audiobook narrator at a crossroads in her life.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that audiobooks are not for me. But despite that, even I have heard of Julia Whelan and I know she is very popular among audiobook fans. And how meta is a book about an audiobook narrator by an audiobook narrator?

Sewanee Chester used to dream of being an actress, but when tragedy struck, she put those dreams aside and found some renown as an award-winning audiobook narrator. While the big money is in narrating romance novels, Swan doesn’t buy into the concept of happy-ever-after, especially given the course of her life.

After a steamy encounter while at a convention in Vegas, she starts to think about acting again, particularly as her best friend is becoming a success. But when she finds out that an immensely popular romance author insisted that she narrate her final book—alongside Brock McNight, one of the most popular and mysterious narrators in the industry.

Swan agrees to the project and quickly forges a connection with him through text and email. But as their flirtation intensifies, she’s not sure if she’s ready to bare her soul to someone. And as secrets are revealed just as her life seems to be falling apart, Swan has to decide what path to take—and what dreams are still worth pursuing.

I really thought this was fantastic. There are so many things happening but it was easy to follow and I was fully invested right away. I really loved the characters, especially her relationship with her grandmother and her cohorts. I love books that combine emotion and humor.

Book Review: "Look Closer" by David Ellis

Look Closer is a twisty thriller that hooked me from the very start and never let go!

I’ve seen so many rave reviews for this book and I have been meaning to read it for a while now, but I’m not always wowed by thrillers. But I have to say, this one deserves every bit of hype because it is fantastic!

Simon loves his job as an associate professor at a law school. He’s truly passionate about the law. He and Vicky have been married for nearly 10 years, and while it’s not a loveless marriage, it’s not an exciting one for either of them.

When a beautiful, wealthy woman is found dead in her exclusive neighborhood, many things come to light. And even when you look closer, nothing is what it seems.

This was truly excellent. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, David Ellis flipped the script time and again. If you love twisty thrillers that keep you guessing, pick this one up!!

Book Review: "Assembly" by Natasha Brown

Assembly may be short, but it's also powerful, thought-provoking, and relevant.

When you go to a bookstore, are you a focused shopper, picking up what you came for and nothing else, or are you a wanderer, looking at displays and shelves to see what catches your eye? While I’m a combination of the two, I definitely lean toward the latter, which is how I encountered my most recent read.

In this book, the unnamed narrator is a Black British woman who has risen to a position in the financial world (although her success is attributed to quotas in the eyes of some). She is smart, wealthy, and wants to question the world around her but knows it’s best not to make waves.

She’s been invited for a weekend at the country estate of her boyfriend’s family. She doesn’t have expectations for this relationship, as she thinks she’s just a diversion; at some point he’ll marry the white woman his family expects. As she takes the train up to the estate, she ponders her own mortality, as well as racism, sexism, and her place in the world.

I tend to be a person who likes a traditional narrative, and this book is anything but. At times I found it a little hard to follow but there’s no doubt that this story packs a punch. It reminds me a bit of Ali Smith in terms of the power that can come from few words. Quite a debut!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Book Review: "I Take You" by Eliza Kennedy

In Eliza Kennedy's debut novel, a woman just a few days from getting married has a bit of a fidelity problem.⁣

⁣ My name is Larry and I cannot seem to DNF a book, even as it annoys me. I picked this up from a random display table called “Must-Read Fiction” and thought it definitely had possibilities. Can’t win ‘em all!!⁣

⁣ Lily is a hard-working lawyer, a good friend, and definitely a bit of a party girl. She’s engaged to marry Will—he’s a handsome archaeologist who clearly thinks Lily is everything. But as the wedding draws closer, Lily wonders how well she knows Will, and whether he’s right for her.⁣

⁣ You see, Lily has a tiny problem with sleeping with other men. She doesn’t know why, but everyone knows this about her—except Will. Should she call off the wedding, come clean about her infidelities, or just ignore it all and get married?⁣

⁣ The supporting characters are a lot of fun in this book. It did provide an interesting perspective on the double standard that exists between men and women who cheat. My problem was that I just wasn’t wild about Lily. It happens...⁣ ⁣

Book Review: "Built to Last" by Erin Hahn

One of my favorite YA romance writers releases her first adult romance…and it’s so good!!

Shelby was a popular child star and pop singer, starring on a hit television show. When her relationship with her costar, Lyle, ends badly, she has a bit of a public meltdown and then retreats to her childhood home in Michigan, where she recognizes her talent for restoring and improving vintage furniture.

Whenever Shelby has had a problem, her other costar, Cameron, has come running. But whenever they get close enough to act on their feelings for one another, Cameron runs again, pursuing a successful career as a nature photographer and documentarian around the world.

Five years later, Lyle tries to get Shelby and Cameron together to film the pilot of a home renovation show. Shelby is interested in showing the world that she’s moved past her messy phase and is a grown woman with real talent. Cameron is tired of running, and as much as the idea of giving in to his feelings for Shelby appeals, he doesn’t know how long he can stay. And of course, Lyle is just interested in causing trouble for the both of them.

I love second-chance romance and I’m a sucker for home renovation shows, so this was such a winner for me. As always with Erin Hahn’s books, the supporting cast is fantastic—there could be books about so many of them. There’s chemistry and banter and romance and even some steam, and I was there for all of it!

Book Review: "The Old Place" by Bobby Finger

In Bobby Finger's debut novel, secrets and drama abound for one woman in a small Texas town.

Mary Alice has always been a formidable presence in the small town of Billington. She’s been a teacher for almost 40 years, and she’s a bossy, opinionated, slightly mean woman, although most in town let her attitude roll off their backs.

Forced into retirement by the school district, she doesn’t know how to occupy her time, other than showing up at the school and terrorizing her replacement. But there is one bright spot: she starts having coffee with her next door neighbor, Ellie, every morning. The two single mothers had been close for years, and their teenage sons were friends, too. But after both women lost their sons, one after another, the grief strained their relationship.

As their friendship starts to deepen again, Mary Alice’s estranged sister arrives in Billington to share a bombshell that could change not only Mary Alice’s life, but her relationship with Ellie. How much longer can she protect the secrets that are swirling around her and her life in Billington?

At first I thought this was going to be a story with a lovable curmudgeon who sees the beauty of belonging, but that definitely wasn’t the case here. I love family drama and the revealing of secrets, so this book was definitely up my alley. It’s a slow burn, but I was hooked from the start.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Book Review: "Mad Honey" by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

In Jodi Picoult's latest book, a collaboration with Jennifer Finney Boylan, a mother has to confront the past she’s tried to leave behind in order to save her son.

“You tell yourself this wouldn’t happen in your hometown. You tell yourself this isn’t anyone you know. Until it does, and it is.”

To escape her abusive husband, Olivia moves back to her hometown in New Hampshire with her young son, Asher. She takes over her father’s beekeeping business and her son grows into a handsome, popular athlete. While she still has flashbacks of her husband’s abuse, she hopes her son has remained unscarred.

But one day Asher calls her from the police station. He found his girlfriend Lily dead and he is being questioned. She can’t believe he could ever harm anyone, especially Lily, whom he loved fiercely. Yet as the case against him unfolds, she wonders—and fears—whether some of his father’s temper and ability to project innocence and calm has rubbed off on him.

This story was a compelling one, told by Olivia moving forward (with flashbacks into the past) and Lily moving backward. In typical Picoult fashion, the book is full of detailed information about other things; in this book, it's beekeeping, honey and uses for honey, and much more.

There’s much more to this story that is better left for you to discover. It’s been a while since I’ve read one of Picoult’s books, and the addition of a co-author for the first time deepened the narrative. I really liked the book but I felt like there were a lot of details that were mentioned once but never picked up on again. And for a book that is nearly 500 pages, it moves fairly quickly.

Book Review: "The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen" by Isaac Blum

This debut novel is insightful, emotional, and very relevant.

Judah “Hoodie” Rosen is an Orthodox Jewish teenager. He knows he’s supposed to be focused on his studies but there’s always something to distract him—quite often it’s the mischief he and his friends cause in class.

But even though life seems carefree, it’s actually quite stressful. Their Orthodox community has moved into the suburban town of Tregaron and they intend to build a large apartment complex so more of them can settle there. However, the town has other ideas—they don’t want to get overrun by Jews, and thwart and harass the community at every turn.

And then Hoodie meets Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary, the daughter of Tregaron’s mayor, who is leading the charge to “protect” the town. He falls head over heels, as she’s completely different from anyone he’s ever met, and the fact that he’s not even supposed to talk to her only adds to her appeal.

As antisemitic violence increases in Tregaron, Hoodie is viewed as a traitor by his family and friends, and is ostracized. But when the violence takes a tragic turn, Hoodie has to decide between his family and his faith and the girl who won his heart.

Hoodie is such a terrific narrator, sensitive yet oblivious, funny, and flawed. This is an incredibly relevant story—whether it’s Orthodox Jews, immigrants in general, people of other races and ethnicities—there are many communities committed to doing whatever it takes to keep these “outsiders” out. This was definitely a memorable read!!

Book Review: "One Last Gift" by Emily Stone

Sometimes the best gifts in life are the ones you don’t expect. That's the idea behind Emily Stone's newest book following Always, In December.

After their parents died when they were young, Cassie’s older brother Tom has always looked out for her. The two of them and Sam, Tom’s best friend, have always been a trio, although as they’ve gotten older, Cassie’s feelings for Sam have complicated things a bit. And then she realizes Sam isn’t the person she thought he was.

And then tragedy strikes, leaving her more alone than ever. But when she is given an envelope with Tom’s handwriting on it—horrible handwriting she always teased him about—she realizes this is the first clue in his annual Christmas treasure hunt that he always did for her. He had promised this year’s hunt would be truly epic.

If she follows the treasure hunt Tom planned, will it bring her closer to him, or will it hurt more in the end, because it’s the last one he’ll ever do? What if she can’t even figure out the clues without him?

Cassie realizes that she’s less alone than she thought. And more than that, she realizes that Tom wouldn’t want her to live a life of grief and fear—he’d want her to pursue her dreams and never settle. But when she gets to the end of the hunt, what will be the treasure she finds?

One Last Gift is a sweet, emotional, friends-to-lovers romance about finding your way to the life you were meant to live, not the one you’re expected to. Like most romances, it’s predictable, but that’s part of the appeal. And while you expect a reasonable amount of push and pull in romances, there was a little too much of it in this book, plus one-sided miscommunication. But it still made me tear up!!

Book Review: "Egotistical Puckboy" by Eden Finley and Saxon James

Wow, this was fun, sexy, and super steamy!

If you've followed me before you know I love my hockey romances! I’d already ran through all of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s books, and then I heard of this series. And if the first book is indicative of the entire series, I’m all the way in!!

Ezra has no problems being an openly gay NHL player—in fact, he seems to relish it. He’s cocky, talented, and has no problem getting whatever guy he wants, and doesn’t care if his encounters show up in the media. In fact, the only thing that seems to get under his skin is Anton Hayes, a rival player on another team.

Anton wants to be known for his talent on the ice, not his sexuality. And there’s nothing wrong with keeping his love life private. So why can’t he stop obsessing about Ezra? Sure, he’s sexy, but his cockiness drives Anton crazy. Maybe sleeping with Ezra once will get him out of his head?


After a one-night stand proves too addicting for the both of them, it leaves them questioning their choices. Ezra never lets himself get serious about a guy, but why does that thought cross his mind when he’s with Anton? And is Anton ready to take his private life public—with Ezra at his side?

This book has it all—hockey, pranks, banter, and lots and lots of steam. The characters are all fun and memorable, and I particularly loved the group of out gay hockey players that served as a support system for each other. This one definitely hit the spot for me!

Book Review: "Bad Girl Reputation" by Elle Kennedy

They can’t stay away from each other. But should they?

Evan was Genevieve’s first love. They always had a tempestuous relationship, fighting and loving and breaking up and getting back together, vowing the next time would be different, but it never was. And one day, Gen left their hometown without saying goodbye, because she knew it was the only way she could break the cycle of their relationship.

But now, a year later, Gen is back in town for her mother’s funeral. She wants to get out as soon as she can, but she promises to stay and help her father with his business until he hires a replacement. In their small town, it’s inevitable she’ll run into Evan—and of course, she feels the same intense pull toward him when she does.

However, Gen has vowed it’ll be different this time. She’s not drinking, she’s not taking risks, and she’s not hooking up with Evan. No matter how good he looks. But Evan was really hurt by Gen’s walking away without saying goodbye, and he’s determined to make her stay this time—and stay with him. Even if it means changing himself.

Elle Kennedy is definitely one of the authors I’ve become hooked on since joining Bookstagram. This is a follow-up to Good Girl Complex but you can read it as a stand-alone. As always, her books have great steam, intense chemistry, and fun banter between the characters. My only issue is that so much of the drama is based on one of my least favorite tropes—miscommunication.

I will read anything she writes, though! Thanks to Get Red PR Books and St. Martin's Griffin for inviting me on the tour and providing a complimentary copy of the book!

Book Review: "A Cosmology of Monsters" by Shaun Hamill

A Cosmology of Monsters is powerful, emotional, and creepy.

“Life makes monsters of everyone, but it’s always possible to come back. Pain and death are real, but so are love, and family, and forgiveness.”

As some of you may know, I record a monthly podcast called “Fully Booked” with my dearest friend Amy for her Patreon ( At some point late last year, she raved about this book. It sounded intriguing but I usually avoid dark and creepy books, so I added it to my TBR and moved on.

But I got tired of being the one person who keeps saying “I don’t read creepy or spooky stuff,” so I decided to give this a shot. This was so unlike anything I expected and it honestly blew me away. It’s as much a story of family, grief, longing, resentment, love, and forgiveness as it is a creepy story. (Trigger warnings abound so please reach out if you’re curious.)

This is a difficult story to describe, but at its core it’s about the Turners, a family we follow from the strange courtship of the parents, Margaret and Harry, to Harry’s obsession with building a haunted house on their property, from the birth of their three children to their middle age. Oh, and Noah, the youngest, has a friendship with a monster. But it’s not what it appears.

The beauty of this book for me was letting the story unfold knowing very little. It’s not a book for everyone but boy, it was a book for me. Unforgettable.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Book Review: "The First to Die at the End" by Adam Silvera

Sometimes it takes knowing you’re going to die to truly live.

It’s been a few years (five, to be exact) since Adam Silvera published They Both Die at the End. It was a gorgeous, emotional story of two boys who meet on the last day of their lives. But if you never read that or can’t remember it, that’s ok, because this is a prequel to that book.

It’s December 31, 2010. At midnight the world will change because Death-Cast will launch. It’s a service that calls people on the day they will die, in an effort to help them do and say all they need to before their life ends.

Orion figures he’ll be one of the first to get that call. He’s been living with a terminal heart condition and he’s been afraid to really live because he knows it could kill him. While at a crowded party in Times Square, he meets Valentino, a model who has just moved to NYC to launch his career and escape his homophobic parents.

The two boys feel an instant connection. And then shortly after midnight, a call comes that will change both of them forever.

Sure, this is a little predictable, but it’s just a lovely story. These two characters really stole my heart and left me a mess at the end. There are a few subplots that you don’t think will matter to the overall plot, but in the end, they do. (And there are a few Easter eggs for those who remember They Both Die at the End.

This is such a memorable book. Thanks to Storygram Tours, Epic Reads, and Adam Silvera for inviting me on the tour and providing complimentary copies of both books!!

Book Review: "Our Missing Hearts" by Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng's new novel, is profound, emotional, and tremendously thought-provoking.

It’s a dark time in the U.S. After a hard economic crisis and rioting, the country is swayed to believe this is all the fault of the Chinese. Anyone who looks remotely Asian is the target of suspicion, ostracism, even violence. At the same time, the government has banned books it deems objectionable and now has the right to take children away from parents they view as “unpatriotic.”

Three years ago, just as the Crisis was starting, Bird’s mother Margaret, a Chinese poet, left and did not return. Shortly thereafter, Bird (who now goes by his given name, Noah) and his father left their home and moved to a dorm at Harvard, where his father shelves books in the university library. He is taught not to call attention to himself, not to stand out, to do what is asked, and not invite suspicion. It’s a lonely existence for a 12-year-old boy.

Bird and his father have disavowed his mother and her work, but as angry as he is at her for leaving, he misses her too. But a snippet from one of her poems has become a rallying cry for those against the “patriotic” efforts of the country. As more acts of resistance occur, he keeps hoping he’ll catch a glimpse of her at one of them.

When Bird gets a cryptic letter addressed to him which contains only doodles, he knows it’s from his mother. But what is she trying to tell him? He does everything he can to remember the folk tales she told him in an effort to find where she is.

There’s never been any doubt in my mind that Celeste Ng is a talented writer but this book was exceptional. A meditation on motherhood, what we do for our children, and what they take with them, as well as insightful commentary on the ways our country can be easily swayed to make “others” the enemy. The pacing slows a bit at times, but I still found this excellent.

Book Review: "The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers" by Adam Sass

Adam Sass' newest book is all kinds of adorable.

Micah wants the fairytale. The problem is, he can never work up the courage to actually ask any of his crushes out. Instead he draws dramatic sketches of each imaginary boyfriend with a story of what their date could’ve been like, and posts it to his Instagram account, to the joy of his growing number of fans.

There have now been 99 “boyfriends.” Micah is determined that the 100th boy he meets will be the one—and he’ll be brave enough to ask him out. When he meets a handsome guy on the subway carrying two large bags of books, there’s an immediate attraction. They banter and flirt, Micah seeks the chance to make his move. But in a chaotic moment on the train, the guy gets off and Micah doesn’t, and they never had chance to exchange names or phone numbers.

The guy did, however, leave behind a gorgeous handmade leather jacket with a pumpkin on it. Micah is determined to find his mystery guy, and with the help of two friends and the internet, they follow the clues to find him, and hopefully, the start of a magical love story.

Can fairytales really come true, or are there even downsides to the fulfillment of wishes? How hard can it be to follow your heart when you see what it really wants?

I thought this was such a sweet book. I really enjoyed all of the characters and the banter between them. While you certainly know where the book will end, it’s such a fun journey to get there. I wish love stories like this existed when I was younger.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Book Review: "The Deal Goes Down" by Larry Beinhart

In Larry Beinhart's new book, a retired detective finds chaos after a random meeting on a train.

“The woman on the train asked me to kill someone. I liked the train. I didn’t especially like the woman.”

Tony is an ex-private eye living a fairly solitary life in the Catskills. His house is about to be foreclosed upon, and it seems like more of his friends are dying than he'd care to think about.

He meets a young woman on a train to New York City. She proceeds to drink a few cocktails and then she tells him how her wealthy husband is abusive and cruel. As they progress further on the trip, she offers him money—a lot of money—to get rid of her husband.

Tony knows he shouldn’t have anything to do with this, and figures when the woman sobers up she’ll forget they even had the conversation. But she doesn’t, and the money she’s offering could help him get control of his life.

Of course, he has no idea what a web he’ll wind up getting tangled in, including an attorney who wants to hire Tony to “take care” of other abusive husbands of wealthy women, a former business associate who wants a cut of the money, and federal agents. And that’s even before he has to travel overseas to rescue a woman.

I picked up this book because I liked the cover and the description. I didn’t realize that this was the fourth book in a series, so I definitely felt I was missing some pieces. And I felt like the plot took some strange tangents every now and again. But Tony is a fascinating, complex, flawed character, and I’d be interested in starting the series from the beginning.

Book Review: "You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince" by Matthew Janovsky

My first holiday rom-com of the year is in the books, and it was lighthearted yet complex, sweet and emotional, and really good!

Matthew Prince isn’t just your typical spoiled rich kid. Because his parents are well-known, he’s constantly in the public eye, which he loves. His love life is tabloid fodder and his high-fashion looks are coveted. Plus he’s always getting himself in some kind of trouble, much to the media’s pleasure and his parents’ ire.

But when his uncontrolled spending goes above and beyond frivolous and threatens both of his parents’ livelihoods, they see red. Matthew gets shipped to stay with his grandparents in their small cottage in Massachusetts. There’s no WiFi, no Starbucks, and no cell service. And he can’t come home until he’s demonstrated he’s ready to change his ways, despite the fact he's supposed to be hosting a party for New Year's Eve.

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, he has to share a room with Hector, a local college student who is helping his grandparents. Hector is immensely good looking but doesn’t seem the least bit impressed by Matthew, his fancy clothes, or celebrity lifestyle. Of course, that makes Matthew want to try harder to dazzle him.

When the Christmas-obsessed town loses the coordinator of its holiday gala, Matthew steps in, hoping that this good deed will lead to his permission to go back to NYC. But of course, it’s not long before he’s knee-deep in the Christmas spirit and realizing that there’s more to life and love than material things.

I love the way Timothy Janovsky writes. His books are sweet and fun but deal with heavier issues, and as someone with anxiety I appreciated the treatment of how it can affect other aspects of your life. The supporting characters were awesome, too!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Book Review: "Our Wives Under the Sea" by Julia Armfield

Lyrical and haunting are two words that best describe this book.

I read this a few months back and never got around to posting my review. It’s such a beautiful and unique book, so I’m glad to finally sing its praises.

Leah is a marine biologist who went on what should have been a brief exploratory mission on a submarine. But the submarine sank, Leah was gone for six months, and her wife, Miri, got very little information about what happened or when/if Leah would return.

But when Leah finally returns, she is changed drastically. Leah locks herself in the bathroom for hours, running the faucets, as that seems to be the only thing that gives her comfort. She doesn’t eat, but craves salt water. Miri sleeps in the guest room alone, eats alone, and watches her wife vanishing before her eyes. What happened beneath the sea?

How do you come to terms with grief, with watching a relationship fade away through no fault of your own? How do you handle the significant transformation of the person you love into someone you don't know or understand?

The book alternates between Miri and Leah’s narration, from the days before the submarine expedition to now, and includes Leah’s journal entries from the mission. Armfield doesn’t give you all the answers, but this book is one I’ll remember for sure.