Review: The Helpline by Katherine Collette

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Release date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Germaine Johnson doesn’t need friends. She has her work and her Sudoku puzzles. Until, that is, an incident at her insurance company leaves her jobless—and it turns out that there are very few openings these days for senior mathematicians with zero people skills.

Soon enough though, Germaine manages to secure a position at City Hall answering calls on the Senior Citizens Helpline. But it turns out that the mayor has something else in mind for Germaine: a secret project involving the troublemakers at the senior citizens center and their feud with the neighboring golf club—which happens to be run by the dashing yet disgraced national Sudoku champion, Don Thomas, a celebrity of the highest order to Germaine.

Don and the mayor want the senior center closed down and at first, Germaine is dedicated to helping them out—it makes sense mathematically, after all. But when Germaine actually gets to know the group of elderly rebels at the senior center, they open her eyes to a life outside of boxes and numbers and for the first time ever, Germaine realizes she may have miscalculated.

Filled with an eccentric, totally unique, and (occasionally) cranky cast of characters you can’t help but love, The Helpline is a feel-good page-turner that will make you reexamine what it means to lead a happy life—and is bound to capture your heart along the way. 

Review:

I haven’t heard much about this book before I picked it up so I wasn’t sure what to expect at all, but I’m all about a debut author and the bold, bright cover kept calling my name from my nightstand! I’m so glad I did grab it because it was something totally different from the kind of books I’ve been reading lately and I ended up enjoying it.

This will most definitely get compared to Eleanor Oliphant in every single review, but honestly, it’s a dead on comparison, so what can you do? I actually liked this more that EO anyway, there was something both unique and distinct about the authors writing style that just worked really well for me and Germaine has such a strong, unique and quirky voice that I couldn’t helped but be charmed by her. She’s definitely eccentric but the woman is so confident in her beliefs that she never wavers and I’m all about a strong female protagonist. The supporting cast also consists of some unusual, albeit lovable characters so this really had it all in terms of characterization for me.

If you like dry humor an endearing cast of characters, and stories full of heart give this a try. It was a quick read as well and just really unique, sure to make you smile!

The Helpline in three words: Quirky, Endearing and Hopeful

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Two Lila Bennett’s by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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Release date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over. 

Review:

If you’re in the mood for a fun thriller this summer then you MUST add this one to your TBR, it’s light enough to read poolside but has enough of a dark edge to keep you engrossed and the structure is original and executed incredibly well. The dynamic duo of Lisa and Liz has never let me down and this may well be my favorite book from them yet.

I’m going to be keeping this pretty brief because the less you know, the more you’ll enjoy this one. It starts out as one linear story and then quickly mergers into two, each follows Lila but shows how her different choices effect her life. You guys, it was not only totally compulsive but it also makes you think about the impact seemingly inane decisions can have in your own life, I could not put it down. I got totally blindsided by the ending of both sides and all I can say it bravo ladies! Totally recommend by me, this ambitious structure could’ve easily been a hot mess but these two hit it out of the park.

The Two Lila Bennett’s in three words: Compulsive, Unexpected and Dynamic

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the authors for my review copy.

Review: The Floating Feldman’s by Elyssa Friedland

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Release date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Sink or swim
Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo. 

Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring–and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

Review:

If you enjoy books about oddly endearing dysfunctional families this is the book for you! This was surprisingly poignant look at what happens when on quirky family finally spends more than one meal together and the results were highly entertaining and profoundly funny.

This is told via multiple perspectives, you hear from almost everyone in the Feldman crew and even a member of staff on the cruise. I love a good ensemble cast, and every single one of these people had some pretty juicy secrets. If was kind of one of those situations where you think, do ANY of these people talk to each other? But it was also really apparent that each had valid reasons for keeping said secrets to themselves. I really enjoyed every single one of the characters, they all brought something unique to the table and though I don’t think I would want any of them as members of my own family, I was pretty invested in both their individual storylines as well as their dynamics as a group.The author is a talented writer, she has a sharp and witty insight into family that really shines through in the storyline and I breezed through this one, mainly do to her thoughtful and funny observations. Recommended as a fun summer read, I definitely had fun with this one and can easily see it being popular, but if you’re planning a cruise yourself you may want to wait to read it until after your trip…

The Floating Feldman’s in three words: Sardonic, Enjoyable and Dysfunctional

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Crashing the A List by Summer Heacock

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Release date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is still stuck sleeping on her little brother’s ugly couch in Queens. Determined to keep her minuscule savings account intact, she takes a job clearing out abandoned storage units, but is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or trying to identify exactly where the perpetual stench of beets is emanating from.

When Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service, she finds the brothel “résumé” of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich… an astonishingly famous British actor. Her best friend thinks she should sell the gossip to a tabloid to fund her way off the couch from hell, but Clara instead manages to track down Caspian’s contact info, intending to reassure him that her lips are sealed.

Unfortunately, Caspian misinterprets Clara’s attempt at altruism and shows up on her doorstep, accusing her of blackmail. When the paparazzi capture a photo of them together, Caspian’s PR team sees an opportunity to promote his latest film—and if Clara wants to atone for her “crimes,” she’ll have to play along. Pretending to be Caspian’s girlfriend seems like it will be a tolerable, if somewhat daunting, penance… until their fake romance becomes something more than either of them expected.

Review:

Almost two years ago I fell in love with theauthors debut, The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky and I’ve been anxiously awaiting another book from her ever since. Her brand of writing was perfect for me, witty, smart and full of heart and I’m so happy to say that I loved this book just as much as I had hoped!

Heacock has a real knack for writing about friendship in a true and genuine manner, her dialogue between best friends Clara and Cici was not only hilarious, it felt like I was eavesdropping on real BFFs. I loved both of them and just found them to be so authentic and realistic, and then you have this whole hot and cold romance brewing between Clara and Caspian that made my head spin in the best possible way. These two had obvious chemistry from the moment they meet but much of the book sees them extremely angry and irritated with each other, but who knew angsty and angry chemistry could be so hot?! There were fireworks for sure. 💥 💥💥

Highly recommended for a super fun and entertaining rom com read, I laughed quite a bit and just had the best time with these characters, I’m a firm fan of the author and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

Crashing the A List in three words: Hilarious, Entertaining and Sparkling

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman

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Release date: July 16, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

In her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, and wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin and a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wise-cracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t quite like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubling past. She acts as if she is concerned with the preoccupations of those around her – boys, partying – all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets – and those of her friends – are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as their fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances start shifting, Malin will test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.

Review:

I love a mysterious book that follows a group of tight knit friends, and for bonus points this was set in a New England college town, which is always a plus for me! While I did think this would be a bit more thrillerish than it was I was still really into the mystery at play here and overall enjoyed this one.

This is told solely from Malin’s viewpoint but it does have a few timelines. First is during her and her friends senior year, next is their freshman year when they all meet and lastly is in the late nineties when she was a child. This wasn’t a page turner in the typical way as it was a character driven story with no big shocks, however it was still pretty dang engrossing even without a bunch of crazy twists and turns and I liked that it didn’t rely only on shock value to keep me engaged.

The best way I can describe this one without ruining anything is to say that it’s a slow and deliberate unraveling of a group of very close friends that is very well written and surprisingly pacey for such a slow burn. Definitely recommended by me if you like a sophisticated feeling mystery!

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

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Release date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Blurb:

Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets, and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant.

Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten.

Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of KL’s books since her debut and this book is such a big departure from her books, but in a really awesome way! Her other books have been solidly Women’s Fiction and this was much edgier and much sexier than her previous books and I loved every single page.

This was basically the definition of a binge read for me, I was supposed to be buddy reading it with my friends Chelsea and Jamie and ended up tearing through it because I seriously could NOT put it down! It was such a fast and well paced read, full of shocks and surprises that I finished it on record time because I was just as eager to learn what happened last summer as Ella was.

Memory loss is nothing new in books but KL manages to put her own unique spin on it that was totally unexpected and incredibly fascinating. Besides that angle, you have this surprisingly steamy side that I wasn’t expecting at all, but I really loved it and felt like it gave the whole thing a really cool edge. I’m always impressed when authors try something new from their usual style and I’m so impressed by what KL did here. This was a highly entertaining and wildly addictive read that is perfect for summer!

Last Summer in three words: Compulsive, Sexy and Tense

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Child’s Play by Angela Marsons @bookouture @writeangie

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Release date: July 11, 2019

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Finally we’re playing a game. A game that I have chosen. I give one last push of the roundabout and stand back. ‘You really should have played with me,’ I tell her again although I know she can no longer hear.

Late one summer evening, Detective Kim Stone arrives at Haden Hill Park to the scene of a horrific crime: a woman in her sixties tied to a swing with barbed wire and an X carved into the back of her neck. 

The victim, Belinda Evans, was a retired college Professor of Child Psychology. As Kim and her team search her home, they find an overnight bag packed and begin to unravel a complex relationship between Belinda and her sister Veronica.

Then two more bodies are found bearing the same distinctive markings, and Kim knows she is on the hunt for a ritualistic serial killer. Linking the victims, Kim discovers they were involved in annual tournaments for gifted children and were on their way to the next event. 

With DS Penn immersed in the murder case of a young man, Kim and her team are already stretched and up against one of the most ruthless killers they’ve ever encountered. The clues lie in investigating every child who attended the tournaments, dating back decades.

Faced with hundreds of potential leads and a bereaved sister who is refusing to talk, can Kim get inside the mind of a killer and stop another murder before it’s too late?

The addictive new crime thriller from multi-million copy, number one bestseller Angela Marsons explores the dark side of child prodigies and will have you absolutely hooked.

Review:

If over the years my raving and gushing over this superb series hasn’t somehow already convinced you to read them, let me try and persuade you one more time. This is the eleventh book in the incomparable Kim Stone series, and yes you could technically read any of them as standalones, but I don’t recommend doing so because every single dang book is phenomenal. This is quite the feat because usually after only a handful of books a series can get boring but there is absolutely none of that here. Each installment raises the bar somehow and just solidified Marsons spot as one of my favorite crime writers on the planet.

As usual Kim and her team have several things going on at all once. Of course they have the main investigation where someone is killing people linked to child prodigies which is a subject that I found endlessly fascinating and was obviously well researched by the author. All of the members of the team has separate personal issues cropping up as well, Penn is called back to his old team during a trial leaving Kim and crew a man down, Stacey is having some sort of issue at home but is keeping quiet, Bryant is just good old Bryant, driving Kim and his wife crazy, and then a new temporary member joins the team just to keep things interesting. It may sound like a lot, and it is, for sure, but it’s not too much. In fact, it’s the perfect balance between personal and professional life that makes these characters feel like my own dear friends.

Marsons is one of the few crime writers left who always, without fail, manages to surprise me. I never work out what direction the case will take, much less who the actual killer is and the excitement and action is nonstop. You cannot put one of her books down once you get started and this was no exception, another highly impressive addition to a fantastic series that I cannot recommend highly enough!

Child’s Play in three words: Thrilling, Complex, and Pacey

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

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Release date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likesher hair.) 
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
 
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Review:

You know the feeling you get when you meet a person, or if you’re lucky, a whole group of people that just gets you? That whole, yassss I’ve found MY people feeling?! I experienced it when I found my fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers and it was the best thing ever, it’s like finding a home. Well, I had that exact warm, fuzzy and safe feeling reading this delightful book! Nina is basically me, if you’re a hardcore bookworm she’s all of us and I absolutely adored every single second of this book.

Clearly I adored Nina as a character, she was so very relatable for me and if I could pick on book character to hang out with for a day, it would be her. Sure, maybe we would just sit quietly and read, but still. But besides her this was chock full of an eccentric cast of supporting characters that made this even more funny and entertaining than it already was. There are also a ton of amazing pop culture references and of course too many hilarious literary references to count, I need to go back and mark my favorite ones, because between the references and the spot on one liners I just know I’ll be wanting to quote this one myself!

Highly recommended as a fantastic summer read, it was just plain fun and exactly the type of book everyone wants to read this time of year.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill in three words: Quirky, Adorable and Wry

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Breathe In, Cash Out by Madeline Henry

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Release date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Allegra Cobb’s resume: Straight-A Princeton grad, second-year analyst at a top-tier bank, one-time USA Yoga National Champion. Allegra Cobb’s reality: Spends twenty-four hours a day changing the colors on bar charts, overusing the word “team,” and daydreaming about quitting the minute her year-end bonus hits her account. She has no interest in the cutthroat banking world—she’s going to launch her very own yoga practice.

But her plan isn’t quite as perfect as the beachfront yoga pictures she double-taps on Instagram. On top of the 100 emails an hour and coworkers already suspicious of her escape plan, Allegra’s hard-driving single father has always expected fiercely high achievement above all else. That his daughter works on Wall Street means everything to him. Still, she marches on, taking it day by extremely caffeinated day.

But after (1) unknowingly sleeping with the man now leading her banking cohort on one of their biggest deals to date and (2) meeting the #blessed yoga guru who might just be her ticket to the life she’s always wanted, it really hits her: her happy-ever-after will be harder to manifest than she thought.

Fast-paced, laugh-out-loud funny, and totally irresistible, this is the story of a fearless young woman determined to center herself in the life she truly wants.

Review:

The publisher compared this one to The Devil Wears Prada and while I usually hate those type of comparisons, this one was dead on. I had NO idea the world of investment banking was so cutthroat and harsh and seeing it juxtaposed alongside the yoga world was not only fun, I was fascinated by the inside look to both worlds.

Besides Allegra, who by the way won me over early on with her biting wit and sheer determination, there was a supporting cast of characters that added even more snark and dry humor, the type that just really speaks to my soul. Tripp is in Allegra’s pod at work and his bro jokes and stupid one liners made me crack up. Her budding friendship with yoga guru Skylar was also amusing as well. There was much more to this one than just humor though, it had a lot of depth and dimension, both in the characterization and the overall story itself. This is a beach read with bite, it’s incredibly smart and has enough juiciness to satisfy my need for gossip as well. Super impressive debut, I would definitely read more from the author and I can totally recommend this as a summer read!

Breathe In, Cash Out in three words: Smart, Sharp and Witty.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

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Release date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in ten years. Nell and her father, Homicide Detective Martin Flynn, have never had much of a relationship. And Suffolk County will always be awash in memories of her mother, Marisol, who was brutally murdered when Nell was just seven.

When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up in so that she can spread her father’s ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father’s partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young women in Suffolk County. The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect–and that his friends on the police force are covering his tracks. Plagued by doubts about her mother’s murder–and her own role in exonerating her father in that case–Nell can’t help but ask questions about who killed Ria Ruiz and Adriana Marques and why. But she may not like the answers she finds–not just about those she loves, but about herself. 

Review:

We’re about to head off to Legoland but I wanted to jump on really fast and tell you guys how much I enjoyed Alger’s latest. This was a fast paced and exciting read and I loved that it was told via one POV, it made for a really nice change. Nell was exactly the kind of strong and determined lead character that I live for and the setting was seriously detailed and truly brought to life. Throw in a current mystery as well as some questions about Nell’s mothers death from years ago and this had all the ingredients for the perfect, binge worthy summer thriller! Recommended as a vacation read, I read this over mine and it was exactly what I was in the mood for.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.