Review: The Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

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Release date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Growing up, Keely always dreamed of leaving Nantucket to become a writer. Now that she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, she realizes that success isn’t what she thought it would be. Confused, and with a harrowing case of writer’s block, Keely misses the island way of life more than ever. But going back to Nantucket out of the blue isn’t so easy, as a deep rift with her childhood best friend, Isabelle, has kept the two from speaking for years.

When her mother is laid off from her job and becomes depressed, Keely reluctantly comes home, leaving a failed relationship and hopefully her other troubles behind. But facing her estranged best friend is harder than she expects. And falling for Isabelle’s brother, Sebastian–who was also Keely’s teenage crush–only complicates things. Keely soon realizes that she must remedy the mistakes of her past in order to find true happiness. 

Review:

There is just something so appealing to me about books set in Nantucket, every summer I look forward to reading books set there and though this is only my third book by Thayer, it’s my favorite one so far! It had everything I look for in a beach read. It’s light and fun yet has plenty going on in the characters lives too, throw in a perfect summer location and some romantic drama and it’s the best possible combination for me for a summer read.

This is told solely from Keely’s perspective and begins when she’s a young girl and meets her future best friend, Isabelle. It follows both girls over the years until they’re almost thirty and you get to see them experience highs and lows, both in their separate lives and also in their friendship with each other. I’m really glad that Keely was the narrator as I liked her a lot more than I did Isabelle, she was just a genuinely good person trying to follow her dreams and maintain her relationship with her friend. Although Isabelle wasn’t my favorite kind of character both women were incredibly well developed and interesting.

Highly recommended to pack in your beach bag, this was charming, fun and featured plenty of drama and angst from the characters to keep you engaged.

The Surfside Sisters in three words: Breezy, Carefree and Charming

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold

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Release date: July 1, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Elle, an accomplished baker, has a recipe for every event in her life. But when she discovers her husband’s infidelity, she doesn’t know what to make of it. Jam, maybe? Definitely jam.

Fed up with the stale crumbs of her marriage, Elle revisits past recipes and the events that inspired them. A recipe for scones reminds her of her father’s death, cinnamon rolls signify the problematic courtship with her husband, and a batch of chocolate cookies casts Elle in a less-than-flattering light. Looking back, Elle soon realizes that some ingredients were missing all along.

After confronting her husband, Elle indulges her sweet tooth in other ways, including a rebound that just leaves her more confused. As secrets from the past collide with the conflicts of the present, Elle struggles to manage her bakery business and maintain the relationships most important to her. In piecing her life back together, will Elle learn to take the bitter with the sweet?

Review:

I think we’ve all read books where a woman discovers her husband has been unfaithful but Gold was able to put her own spin on the premise with this one. This jumps from the time period after Elle discovers his betrayal to when they first met and also the years in between. The chapters are fairly short and it does jump around time wise quite a bit, but it was very easy to follow and keep up as every chapter was clearly labeled. It was fascinating to see how their relationship had changed and evolved, both for the good and the bad over the years and by the end I felt like I had a really strong sense of who Elle was and what she believed in.

I am such a sucker for any book that incorporates food into the story and Gold infused food in such a unique and fun way with this one. Elle is a baker and each of her beloved recipes reminds her of an event in her past, some incredibly happy times, but also some not so good times. No matter what, baking has been a huge part of not only her life, but who she is as a person and when she finds out her husband cheated on her she obviously turns to her comfort; baking. What was clever that instead of just having Elle bake these items she included the actual recipes as well! These also weren’t your run of the mill basic recipes either, they were full of fun little sidebars and tidbits that let Elle’s personality shine through and they also made me incredibly hungry, I’ll absolutely be trying some of these out myself.

This was a strong debut and felt like something new and fresh, it also had an ending that I wasn’t expecting and was just a really well written and well executed read. If you like foodie fiction definitely check this one out!

The Ingredients of Us in three words: Delectable, Fresh and Emotional

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker @sandybarker

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Release date: June 24, 2019

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

There was something in the air that night. . .

Sarah has had enough of men. It’s time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.

The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new… But then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht and she knows she’s in trouble. And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.
 
Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?
 
The perfect holiday read to escape with this summer for fans of Annie Robertson’s My Mamma Mia Summer and Mandy Baggot’sOne Last Greek Summer.

Review:

If you’re ever looking for a book to help escape your own life then look no further, because Barker truly made me feel like I was in Greece myself! This was pure fun, and the ideal read for this time of year, if you aren’t taking a vacation yourself this is the next best thing.

Sarah is the kind of character that I liked right away, she’s fun and has a fantastic sense of humor and is easily the type of friend I would like to have myself. Besides a fabulous protagonist her boat family was also an endearing bunch as well. Then on top of all that she finds herself in a bit of a love triangle which is always fun and interesting. There’s Josh, a younger man who also happens to be a passenger on the boat and then there’s also James, an older and more established gentleman. Both men are charming in their own way and she’s facing a pretty tough choice, but it was highly entertaining to watch her flirt with them and try and decide what she really wanted.

Definitely recommended by me, as I said before it has an amazing setting that will sweep you away to an exotic place, it has plenty of romance and is also infused with humor and friendship, what more could a girl want?! Another book about Sarah if you’re me, because this ended on a cliffhanger and I need to know what will happen next!!

One Summer in Santorini in three words: Picturesque, Fun and Cute

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

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Release date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

Review:

I’m always a fan of stories about sisters and if they’re twin sisters, I’m even more interested. I’ve read quite a few books by Susan Mallery about sisters and this one may be my new favorite, she has a true gift for writing about sibling relationships in a really realistic and authentic way and the family dynamics between Sunshine and Margot were both interesting and also sweet, a perfect combination for a summer read.

Like many siblings, Sunshine and Margot are polar opposites both in their appearance but also in their personalities. Sunshine is carefree and vivacious and has been known to abandon everything on a whim. Margot is more serious and reserved, she thrives on structure and a routine and takes her professional life very seriously. What they do have in common is their rotten luck with men, they say the Baxter family is cursed, but over the course of the story they both meet men who may end that string of bad luck for good. I loved both of these women, they’re far from perfect, therefore making them easy to relate to. They both undergo some pretty heavy character development by the end and it was really nice to see them grow and mature by the end.

True to form, this book had a little bit of everything, there was romance (and things do get pretty spicy 🔥), humor, and family drama, basically everything that I love in a book! Definitely recommended by me, especially to anyone looking for a book full of lovable, relatable characters.

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot in three words: Delightful, Genuine and Sweet.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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Release date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent. 

Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of Sager’s books since his debut, Final Girls was released two years ago and after finishing his third I’m now a firm fan and will be adding him to my fairly small list of auto buy authors. He’s managed to come up with something new and fresh with each new book, yet they still have his trademark style and feel making him a force to be reckoned with.

I’m not even going to discuss the plot because it was so fun to have it unravel on its own, plus it went in so many unexpected directions that I did not predict that I want you to have the same experience for yourself. But one thing that I believe sets Sager apart from other thriller writers is his ability to create such a strong sense of place, no matter the setting. He did the whole creepy camp thing differently in his last two books, but this time he switched gears and went totally gothic with The Bartholomew. Anything set in NYC always intrigues me anyway, but throw in an old, historied apartment complex and you have the ultimately creepy and intense setting. There have been vague, yet sinister rumors about the building for years and the whole urban legend or truth thing was absolutely fascinating and just plain fun!

Highly recommended for fans of the authors work, if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading his work before make sure and add his books to your TBR because they are super solid and highly entertaining thrillers!

Lock Every Door in three words: Menacing, Dark and Creepy

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Review: Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert

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Release date: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

The name of the game is revenge—no matter the cost—in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel bursting with twists and turns and plenty of suspense. 

Review:

I love a story about about revenge, seeing how far someone will go to get the vengeance they feel is deserved never ceases to intrigue me and with the word revenge in the title I knew this would be a perfect addition to my summer TBR! I was right, I can’t think of a better book to read poolside, this one was juicy and wickedly fun.

Right away to learn that Jordana has somehow wronged Kerrie in the past, you don’t find out until much later what the transgression was, and it really didn’t matter much in the end because the entire ride to to the truth is where the fun lies. You hear from both women in alternating chapters and watching Kerrie plot and scheme against an unknowing Jordana was all sorts of entertaining. Throw in some juicy interesting secrets from them both and you have the perfect recipe for a summer read. This is fun, Fast and dives into the obsessive side of female friendships in a really campy and dramatic manner.

Pretty Revenge in three words: Addictive, Delicious and Wicked

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Review: His Guilty Secret by Helene Fermont @helenefermont @botbspublicity #HisGuiltySecret

Goodreads

Release date: November 27, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:


Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous.

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

Review:

The premise for this hooked me instantly, I’m always down with a book about secrets and boy were there some whoppers here! Patricia’s husband Jacques passing away naked and alone in a hotel room is just the beginning of questionable happenings and as she grieves her loss Patricia is forced to simultaneously face up to her own past as well as the lies her husband died protecting.

I read one of Fermont’s books last year and really enjoyed it, it was very different from the types of books I’m typically drawn to, but made for an engrossing read. She has a skillful and lovely way with words that draws you in and she creates characters that are relatable, they seem like women that I would want to approach in real life. I felt so much sympathy for Pat, I can’t imagine being blindsided the way she was and admired the grace and dignity she maintained while trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

This was on the lighter side despite it dealing with some heavy topics, it read like a true drama and was full of interesting secondary characters giving it an almost soap opera vibe. There were so many secrets being kept, it seemed like all of them were hiding something and I always like that uneasy sense of not knowing who to trust in a book. This was an emotional journey following Pat and I was wholly invested in her life and that of her family and friends, pick this up if you’re in the mood for something different that’s written in a really beautiful and unique way.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Celedon

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Review:

This is being marketed as an intense legal thriller and I don’t agree with that at all, in fact I don’t think it’s a thriller in any way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, but knowing that instead of a super tense and fast paced thriller it’s actually a slow burning domestic drama will enable you to go into the read with the right expectations and hopefully, help you really enjoy this read because it is a good one!

This whole thing was unique, it’s broken up into three sections, it begins when you hear from the father of the family and stays with him until part two which is the daughter, and then part three is the mother. I enjoyed both the mother and daughters sections the most, the fathers wasn’t bad or anything, but it was the slowest of the three for me.

This was a very emotional sort of drama, which coupled with the crisp Scandi writing style gave it a wholly original feel. You’re witnessing a family unit at their very worst, everything in their life is crumbling and seeing each point of view separately instead of the ever popular alternating chapters was not only clever, but also a strong way to tell the story, and one that’s memorable for sure. Recommended when you’re in the mood for a story that you can sink your teeth into, and also if you are just in the mood for something different.

A Nearly Normal Family in three words: Unusual, Smart and Methodical

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long. 

Review:

I fell in love with Belle’s writing when I totally devoured The Marriage Lie and despite reading it a few years ago I still think about that ending to this day! If you haven’t read that one do yourself a favor and get on it and then when you get done grab this one because it does not disappoint either! In a market saturated with authors trying to be the next Gone Girl on a Train Who Bumped Her Head and Can’t Remember Who She Is, Belle is a standout. Her books are extremely clever and while I would put them in the same category as all of the Girl books, she breathes fresh life into the genre with her unique style and ability to do something original and wholly her own.

This one was so devilishly clever that I don’t even really want to say much about the plot but it’s told via multiple perspectives and reads super fast, one of those honestly unputdownable books. I kept thinking I knew exactly how things would end up fitting together but guess what?! I was dead ass wrong! Well played KBelle 👏 👏 👏

Highly recommended to all thriller fans, this was one hell of a fun, wild and entertaining ride!

Dear Wife in three words: Slick, Surprising and Compulsive

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum

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Release date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara and rouge.

This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies’ man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anythingto get there…including murder.

Review:

This follows three pioneers in the beauty industry from the 1920’s all the way to the 1990’s and we get not one, but three strong, determined, and resourceful main characters to root for. Actually, I didn’t love all three, however I could admire and respect them all for their innovation and ability to break down barriers for women in the workplace, it was pretty inspiring especially as all three overcame some serious obstacles before reaching their ultimate goals and this was mainly set in the twenties and thirties when women being successful businesswoman was just not the norm.

Often I find historical fiction to move at a pretty slow pace but this one flew by, the pacing was incredibly fast, there was always something new and exciting happening in the characters lives, truly never a dull moment. The behind the scenes look at the beauty industry was fascinating, these woman were sharp and hungry and the cattiness between them was unreal. Highly entertaining as well, the lengths they would go to in order to maintain their success was crazy, think manipulation and crafty plotting and scheming. Throw in some glitz and high glamour and you have one hell of a dazzling read.

Recommended as a great addition to your summer reading list, it’s juicy and delicious with plenty of depth and intrigue to keep you turning the pages fast as you can!

Rouge in three words: Sophisticated, Dramatic and Devious.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and FSB Associates for my review copy.