Review: Good Husbands by Cate Ray

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Three wives, one letter, an explosive secret that will change everything.

He said, she said. Who do you believe?

Review:

As of now that synopsis is short and sweet and I honestly assumed based off of that this one would be a thriller and I was wrong. Which is fine, this is waaaaayyyy deeper than a thriller and has huge triggers for sexual assault, so if you’re looking for a lighter domestic suspense this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a deeper read that is emotionally charged this may be for you.

There is a lot about this one that is uncomfortable and hard to read but it’s also incredibly powerful at the same time. It’s very much a slow burn and sometimes it was frustratingly so but I believe the payoff was worth it in the end. Each of the three women who narrates is very well developed and grappling with so many varying issues. I could empathize with each one at some point and can see this leading to some great discussions if chosen as a book club read. If you can handle difficult subject matter and know this is fiction with some suspense and disturbing themes this was a solid and thought provoking read.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi

Goodreads

Release date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Angie Appiah is the epitome of the Perfect Immigrant Daughter. She’s got it all: medical school credentials, a handsome lawyer boyfriend, and ride or die friends. But what happens when everything falls apart? Her boyfriend dumps her, she bombs the most important exam of her medical career, and her closest confidante and roommate pulls away, telling Angie she’s more wrapped up in herself than in her friends.

Angie is crushed. She’s always faced her problems by working “twice as hard to get half as far and until now, that’s done well for her. When did life get so complicated? Suddenly, she begins to question everything: her career choice, her friendships, even why she’s attracted to men who don’t love her as much as she loves them. And just when things couldn’t get more confusing, enter Ricky, brilliant, thoughtful, sexy, but who has wasteman practically tattooed across his forehead. For someone who’s always been in control, Angie realizes that there’s one thing she can’t plan on: matters of her heart.

Review:

I love finding a debut author to fangirl over and this was such a solid first book! It’s a mash up of some of my favorite things too, you get romance, great character growth as Angie is really going through it for the majority of the book, strong female friendships, family and cultural traditions and expectations and a side of medical drama a la Grey’s Anatomy. Seriously so much to love here for me! Merging all of that together could be tricky but in the right authors hands it works and the author worked her magic. This was such a layered read and I loved seeing all aspects of Angie’s life, it gave me such a clear picture of who she is and I was rooting hard for her. Instead of just focusing on her romantic entanglement with Ricky she goes through friend drama, work drama and family drama. There are some powerful depictions of her immigrant experience and the pressures her family placed on her to succeed, and what success looks like to them was interesting. The whole thing was relatable, insightful and just a joy to read and narrator Mela Lee is absolutely fantastic!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.

Review:

I always know before I start a book by the author that I’ll be getting an entertaining story about three different women and usually they’re all at some sort of crossroads in their lives. Her books are about friendships, romantic relationships, parenthood, marriage, divorce and more. So yes, predictable in some ways, but the path each woman takes is always interesting and I sometimes find comfort in knowing what I’m in for. I found this to be steamier than some of the authors more recent releases which was a pleasant surprise too. There is some definite heat, I can’t complain about that 😉 Add in a bookstore, a California beach setting and plenty of drama and love and this was a fun summer read. Tanya Eby narrates and I’ve gotten so used to listening to her tell the authors stories that it’s a fun experience.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Thank You, Next by Andie J. Christopher

Goodreads

Release date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Alex Turner is never The One–but always the last one an ex dates before finding love–and now she’s determined to find out why in this hilarious new rom-com.

Single divorce attorney Alex Turner is watching reality TV when she sees her latest ex’s new fiancé picking out her wedding dress. Yet again, the guy she dumped went on to marry (or at least seriously commit to) the next person he dates after her. Fed up with being the precursor to happily ever after, she decides to interview all her exes to find out why.

Up-and-coming chef Will Harkness mixes with Alex like oil and vinegar, but forced proximity growing up means their lives are forever entwined. When Will learns Alex and her friends are going on a wild romp through Los Angeles to reconnect with her ex-boyfriends, he decides to tag along. If he can discover what her exes did wrong, he can make sure he doesn’t make the same mistake with Alex.

On this nonstop journey through the streets of LA, Alex realizes the answer to her question might be the man riding shotgun…

Review:

This one had so much potential for me, I loved the idea of an emotionally unavailable woman trying to figure out where she went wrong in past relationships. I really liked that she would be looking some of her exes up to get answers and thought it was a fun and interesting idea. Unfortunately as much as I wanted to enjoy this one it just didn’t work out that way for me in the end. Things started out ok but as it progressed I started to get bored and lost interest. There was a lot of introspection and inner monologues and not enough dialogue and conversations to keep me invested. I also didn’t love Alex which is always tough and the fact that by halfway I was forcing myself to pick it back up should’ve been a sign for me to just set it aside and move on. I think maybe this author just isn’t for me, something about her style just doesn’t end up working out for me but I know she has lots of fans and am sure many will enjoy this more than I did!

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan

Goodreads

Release date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Harper Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

When Joanna Whitman’s famous ex-husband dies in a car accident, she doesn’t know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more painful secrets than she cares to remember. But when she discovers that the young woman with him in the crash is pregnant, Joanna feels compelled to act, knowing exactly how brutal the media spotlight will be on celebrity chef Cliff Whitman’s ex-wife and his mysterious female friend.

Ashley Blake can’t believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and suggests they hide away at her beach house on a sleepy stretch of California coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley can’t turn down Joanna’s offer. Yet she knows that if Joanna ever found out the real reason Ashley was in that car, their tentative bond would shatter instantly.

Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return causes major waves in the local community, especially for the man she left behind years ago. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future, and to avoid causing any trouble for Joanna. But as secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is about to be put to the test.

Review:

Ok how can I get myself a beach house summer?! Doesn’t that sound amazing? The next best thing besides living beachside for the summer is being able to cozy up with the authors book and escape mentally though!

Since I’ve been a fan of the author for awhile now I know I can expect a great mix when I start one of her books. This was no exception and besides the idyllic setting you also have a mystery surrounding Ashley’s true identity, a few friendships (new and old) blossoming and some romance too. The author is such a gifted storyteller and she always creates characters that are memorable and fun. I’m always a sucker for an unlikely friendship and the relationship between Joanna and Ashley was really lovely. This is the true definition of a beach read, it’s light but not too sappy, it conures up some gorgeous summery imagery and has a plot that’s interesting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Out of the Clear Blur Sky by Kristan Higgins

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.

Review:

Normally I get bored when a book is over 400 pages but for one of my all time favorite authors I make an exception and I still didn’t want this one to end. I did my best to savor it and take my time but it was just so damn amazing it was difficult to slow it down. Most of you know I read a lot, I generally don’t remember specific details after a couple of weeks go by but KH books always stay with me. This is special for me as there are usually only a handful of books every year that leave a lasting impression and without fail, every single year one of her books lands a spot on this list. I don’t think there’s any one particular thing that makes her books such standouts for me, but rather a magical combination of things that culminates into such an incredible reading experience. Maybe the best part is her insightful, honest and humor takes on life in general. Lillie is a woman that’s the same age as me so we already had that at a starting common factor but her raw portrayal is where I really connected with her. Yes, she’s been literally screwed over in the worst way, and yes she’s humiliated, betrayed and so so a angry but dammit was it nice to see a woman deal with a major life upheaval in a truly relatable and believable way. Was she always full of grace? Absolutely not. Did she do things that were slightly crazy? Yes mam. Was I cheering her own and cackling like a loon myself? YES! So many of her observations were spot on and her general sense of humor was charming and oh so witty. I could probably sit her all day and talk about all the things I loved about this one but I’ll spare you and just finish by saying I adored it, I think it’s a must read and KH never, EVER disappoints.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Celadon

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

The Latecomer follows the story of the wealthy, New York City-based Oppenheimer family, from the first meeting of parents Salo and Johanna, under tragic circumstances, to their triplets born during the early days of IVF. As children, the three siblings – Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally – feel no strong familial bond and cannot wait to go their separate ways, even as their father becomes more distanced and their mother more desperate. When the triplets leave for college, Johanna, faced with being truly alone, makes the decision to have a fourth child. What role will the “latecomer” play in this fractured family?

A complex novel that builds slowly and deliberately, The Latecomer touches on the topics of grief and guilt, generational trauma, privilege and race, traditions and religion, and family dynamics. It is a profound and witty family story from an accomplished author, known for the depth of her character studies, expertly woven storylines, and plot twists.

Review:

This is one of those middle of the road reads for me, I didn’t dislike it but I also didn’t love it either. I appreciate what the author was doing and knew what she was trying to say but it too way too long to get there and it was a slog for me to get through it. The Oppenheimer family was full of unlikable people and hearing them whine and behave terribly became grating for me quickly. I’m one hundred percent sure that I would have given up on this one but since I listened to the audio version and Julia Whelan narrates I was drawn in enough by her amazing performance I stuck it out. I seem to be in the minority here though so take my review with a grain of salt. I was also an outlier with my thoughts on The Most Fun We Ever Had so I think these dense and wordy family stories are maybe just not for me.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Goodreads

Release date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story–the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

Review:

Man I just adored this sweet, tender and slightly quirky romance SO much! Nora won me over pretty much instantly, she was super funny and I related to her in many ways, especially her takes on parenthood. She’s sharp and witty and exactly the kind of character I wish I could befriend. I would say this leans more to the womens fiction side than a true romance, you definitely still get romantic elements but it’s also very much about Nora and her personality journey. There is a lot of emphasis on family and her kids were the cutest. If you like books where a celebrity dates a regular person this was just excellent, it was such a mature romance and had some surprising turns along the way.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Goodreads

Release date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.

With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy surprises, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake unveils more than one twist that will shock readers until the very last page.

Review:

Riley Sager is a polarizing author, I have friends who rave over his books and others who think he’s overrated. I’ve enjoyed all of his books, some more than others but this may be my favorite yet! If you read the synopsis that may surprise you because it seems like the plot follows the same overdone script we’ve seen so many times before. But not everything is as it seems and things get flipped around so much I don’t think many could say this didn’t have a fresh take on a tired trope. Because of this unique spin I really think the less you know the more you’ll enjoy this because a huge part of the fun for me was the wild ride. I will say that despite there being a slow burn feel it read really fast for me still and the atmosphere was creepy too. All in all I thought it was a super entertaining summer thriller that I think will once again divide readers, I don’t see a lot of middle ground here, I think you’ll either love it or hate it. I loved it and can’t wait to see what everyone thinks, I’m sure it’ll be discussed quite a bit this summer.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Meant to Be by Emily Giffin

Goodreads

Release date: May 31, 2022

Publisher: Ballantine

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:

A restless golden boy and a girl with a troubled past navigate a love story that may be doomed before it even begins in this irresistible new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed and The Lies That Bind.

The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it . . . and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.

Review:

I’m a huge fan of the author and when I found out that she was releasing a book that was loosely inspired by JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette I was swooning even before I got a chance to read it. She takes a chance and reimagines history through her own unique lens and it worked incredibly well for me.

Told over the course of several years this felt like an epic, sweeping love story all about fate and timing. Both Cate and Joe were complex and well drawn and in alternating chapters detail their personal upbringings in the time both before they meet and afterwards. I was complete caught up in their story and hanging onto the authors every word. There was so much nostalgia too, always a fun aspect for me and it was well done here. Overall I loved every minute of this one and can definitely recommend it as a perfect addition to your summer TBR.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.