Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review | When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

BOOK REVIEW | WHEN I’M GONE

cover77538-mediumTITLE: When I’m Gone

AUTHOR: Emily Bleeker

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep. (Description found on NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Last night I couldn’t put this book down and ended up finishing it at 1am, but it was definitely worth losing a few hours of sleep. When I’m Gone is one of those books that made me “react” to things that would unfold and the twists and turns that were revealed. At one point my husband (who isn’t a reader) asked me why I have to react to everything in the book. When I say react (my fellow readers will know what I’m talking about), I mean gasps, sighs, and a little bit of commentary mixed in. I just looked at him and said “when it’s a really good book, you can’t help but react”. That’s what this book is.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it might be exactly like P.S. I Love You in reverse (wife dies and husband gets romantic love letters), but it’s so much more than that. The letters Luke Richardson receives aren’t even that romantic and has much more to focus on then just his wife passing away. He has three kids to take care of and he has to deal with knowing that his wife kept a very big secret from him that brings up unwanted memories from his past.

Here’s a quote that I think will tell you more about the plot without giving away anything:“The only positive thing about dying is knowing I won’t have to see your face when you find out all the reasons you should hate me. Maybe that’s my final gift – when you find out all my secrets, you’ll be glad I’m gone.”

There was a point in the book when I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t predict everything. I really enjoyed those twists and turns I mentioned. Emily Bleeker really knew how to keep you interested and I couldn’t wait to figure out who was sending the letters and what his wife’s secret was.

Overall, I would highly recommend When I’m Gone. It’s a riveting novel about love, loss, and explores the thought that you might not know the people close to you as well as you thought. It keeps you guessing and keeps you wanting more.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

emily-10

Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and four kids. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Book Review | Meredith Into the Fire by Amanda Gale

BOOK REVIEW | MEREDITH INTO THE FIRE

10006997_460430227437143_2048026878112665492_nTITLE: Meredith Into The Fire, Book #3

AUTHOR: Amanda Gale

PUBLISHER: Brenda & Cobena Books

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2014

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

Ever optimistic, Meredith has never given up hope that she’d recapture perfection. However, experience has taught her how easily her world can fall apart. Having endured enough losses, in Book Three, Meredith Into the Fire, she resolves that it will never happen again.

They’ve been crossing paths for over a year. Now fate seems to throw Meredith together with Shane Thayer, an aspiring celebrity chef with an odd sense of humor and a volatile temper. Struggling to make a name for himself and to satisfy the ambitions of his overbearing parents, Shane seems a far cry from the security for which Meredith yearns. But she is tired of following the same path, and she is anxious for her search to be over. Against the advice of her friends and family, to whom it is obvious that Shane is all wrong for her, Meredith sprints toward what she convinces herself is stability. Unfortunately, her attempt to take control of her life only brings her more chaos.

With tension at her job mounting and her unstable relationship rushing toward an unknown conclusion, Meredith makes a desperate grasp for control as her life crumbles around her. As her journey culminates in a dramatic explosion, will she settle for Shane or will she find what she is truly looking for?” (Description from Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Meredith Into The Fire is a classic case of settling and feeling defeated. If you’ve read books one and two, then you know that Meredith has already gone through two breakups that tore her heart apart. That’s why she pretty much gave up the search for the perfect man because she’s convinced that he’s unattainable and doesn’t exist. Then she starts dating Shane Thayer.

This book really brings the character crashing down and you see her making terrible choices and convincing herself that it’s what she really wants. Her new love interest comes from a wealthy family and is quite the spoiled entitled “brat” if you ask me. She’s exactly what his parents don’t want for their son and that becomes clear during Meredith’s interactions with them. There may have been times when Shane seemed to love Meredith, but his actions contradict that and later you find out why he decided to be with Meredith.

The whole situation made me sad for Meredith. She just couldn’t see what Shane was doing and what his true motive was for wanting to be with her. Thankfully she finds out towards the end, but not until they are literally about to walk down the isle.

Overall, this was a great addition to the Meredith series. I would suggest you read the series from the beginning before reading Meredith Into The Fire, that way you understand why she’s making those terrible decisions.

You can check out my reviews of the first two books here: Meredith Out of Darkness & Meredith Against the Wind

FAVORITE QUOTES

“But the most important lesson Meredith had learned was that one never knew what the future would bring; one never could predict the motives in another person’s heart, not matter how close — and that thought gave Meredith hope.”

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT AMANDA

10599584_523754897771342_4909773565129544750_n

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. She loves history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family. (Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography)

Book Review | Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

BOOK REVIEW | BETWEEN WORLDS

Between Worlds Cover VER01TITLE: Between Worlds (Cemetery Tours Book 2)

AUTHOR: Jacqueline Smith

PUBLISHER: Wind Trail Publishing

RELEASE DATE: June 29, 2014

GENRE: Paranormal Thriller

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

“Someone always dies… Someone is always left behind… Now that his secret is out, Michael Sinclair finally agrees to join paranormal superstar Luke Rainer and the Cemetery Tours crew on an investigation. Not just any investigation. The biggest investigation of their career. Once home to the wealthy Sterling Hall and his beloved wife, Joanna, Stanton Hall Manor in Maine is famous for the love story that inspired it… and the ghosts who now inhabit it. For Luke and the crew, Stanton Hall is a dream come true. Unfortunately, some dreams turn out to be nightmares.” (Description from Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Between Worlds is the sequel to Jacqueline Smith’s Cemetery Tours. This book starts off pretty close to when the first one ended. Michael see ghosts, but now has some sort of pseudo-celebrity status. As with anyone who says they can see or speak with ghosts, Michael found himself being ostracized for his abilities. He lost his job. Kate’s parents wanted her to have nothing to do with him.

The upside is that there were people who believed him, but they always wanted his help. So instead of keeping to himself like he did in Cemetery Tours he was going on talk shows (not that he was comfortable doing it) and people knew who he was. At times, it seemed like he missed the solitude, especially when ghosts would seek him out for help.

When Michael was let go from yet another job he decided to finally take up Luke Rainer’s offer and be a part of his hit television show Cemetery Tours. That’s when they wind up at Sterling Hall to investigate the story behind the ghost who might be roaming the house. It’s this ghost who puts everyone’s lives in danger, especially Kate’s, so it’s up to Michael to help the ghost move on.

Overall, I loved Between Worlds. It’s great being able to read another “adventure” about characters I enjoy. I feel this series can have multiple books associated with it and thats exactly what Jacqueline Smith is working on. I can’t wait to read more about Michael and his ability to see and speak with ghosts. It’s the only paranormal series I’ve actually been interested in and I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.

FAVORITE QUOTES

“Real love meant loving the whole person, in every form, in every state, in every way. It was what transformed the ordinary monotony of everyday life into extraordinary moments of warmth and compassion and joy.”

“Unfortunately, he’d also come to learn that life was rarely every that simple. It wasn’t like a movie where the credits rolled after all the conflicts had been resolved or a book wrapping up its story on the final page. The story of a human life never ended, not even in death. But really, that was a good thing.”

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT JACQUELINE

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BLOG | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Smith_Jackie-1732

Jacqueline E. Smith was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Performance in 2010. Two years later, she earned her Master’s Degree in Humanities.

Along with writing and publishing, Jacqueline loves photography, traveling, and nature.  (Photo Credit: Kaylynn Krieg)

 

 

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Book Review | What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

BOOK REVIEW | WHAT WAS MINE

9781476732350_p0_v3_s192x300TITLE: What Was Mine

AUTHOR: Helen Klein Ross

PUBLISHER: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | GOOGLEPLAY | INDIEBOUND | BAM!

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

As soon as I started reading What Was Mine, I became engrossed by it and could’t put it down. I don’t have children yet, but I feel that What Was Mine still had the same affect on me as it would to a mother. It would be truly devastating for my child to be kidnapped. This book also made me think about how I’d feel towards the person who kidnapped by child. I’d be thankful that he/she wasn’t harmed, but I’d definitely be angry about the amount of time that was stolen from me. I hope I’d follow Marilyn’s example and think about my son or daughter and how they feel about the situation. It’d be difficult, but sometimes you have to look at the big picture and what is best for your child.

What Was Mine is told in several different perspectives, mostly by the main characters Lucy Wakefield (the kidnapper), Mia Wakefield (the kidnapped child), and Merilyn Featherstone (the biological mother). There are a few supporting character perspectives sprinkled in that were an interesting addition, but if removed, they wouldn’t change much of the plot.

The most interesting aspect of reading What Was Mine is that I felt sorry for Lucy Wakefield, who was essentially a child abductor. In everyday life, if I see a kidnapping story on the news, I tell myself “that person needs to go to prison”, but I didn’t feel that way with Lucy. She was a woman who couldn’t have children in any way and her desire for a child got the best of her causing her to kidnap Mia. I felt sorry for her during several points in the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Even though it’s a women’s fiction book, sometimes it felt like a suspense novel because I was always wondering if she’d be caught.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Helen is a former creative director at top ad agencies in New York who spent over 20 years in the ad business before turning to other kinds of fiction. Her stories, poems and essays have been published by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker. (Found on Helen’s website).

Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review & Giveaway | With Every Breath by Lia Riley

BOOK REVIEW | WITH EVERY BREATH

cover73778-mediumTITLE: With Every Breath

AUTHOR: Lia Riley

PUBLISHER: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

RELEASE DATE: December 29, 2015

GENRE: New Adult

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS | KOBO

BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected-love. (Description found from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Do you like rugged men? Do you like outdoorsy men? Do you feel like you might need more adventure in your life? Well, With Every Breath by Lia Riley is packed full of adventure, regret, redemption, love, and of course…a sexy mountaineer. Every new book I read of Lia’s makes me more of a fan and she’s getting another thumbs up from me on this one.

The story is told in the perspective of Auden Woods and Rhys MacAskill. Auden is a girl that isn’t known to take risks, but when there’s a chance for her to land a job with a popular magazine she steps out of her shell in a big way. She decides to write a story about climbers braving the La Aguja in Patagonia by going there herself. That’s how she ends up meeting Rhys in a way that forces her to take her clothes off…but it’s not what you’re thinking.

Rhys is quite a mysterious character and the exact opposite of Auden. He lives on the edge and gets his kicks climbing dangerous mountains. You can tell that he keeps a lot to himself and has a hard time opening up to other’s, but his past haunts him and is one of the reasons he pushes people away.

The book didn’t end the way I thought it would, but the ending gave it more emotion and added more to Rhys character.

Overall, I loved With Every Breath. It had the right amount of romance, adventure, and drama to keep my attention and left me wanting more. If you get a chance to read the book please let me know what you think.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme2After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

Thank you to Lia Riley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review | Meredith Against the Wind by Amanda Gale

BOOK REVIEW | MEREDITH AGAINST THE WIND

10291217_460430047437161_7385042155508990893_nTITLE: Meredith Against The Wind, Book #2

AUTHOR: Amanda Gale

PUBLISHER: Brenda & Cobena Books

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2014

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

“About Book Two, Meredith Against the Wind:

In Meredith Out of the Darkness, Nick showed her the beauty of a simple life in which all her choices were her own. In Book Two, Meredith Against the Wind, Meredith bravely moves forward in her quest for perfection, only her vision of perfection has been forever changed.

In a Washington, DC suburb of Virginia, Meredith meets Wes Bickhart, a charismatic attorney recovering from a divorce. Wes sweeps her off her feet with his wit, charm, and chivalry, and together they enjoy a passion for intellectual banter and for each other. Meredith feels safe with Wes, who having been burned himself, is also seeking the perfect love and wants nothing more than to give her a future of comfort and security. She is tempted by the seemingly perfect life Wes offers her. But in the back of her mind, she wonders if this is what she wants anymore. And the longer she takes to decide, the more she realizes that this life might require her to sacrifice more of herself than she is willing.

In Meredith Against the Wind, Meredith is put to the test as she is forced to stand up for herself, even as she redefines who she really is. Harder now but stronger, and with new perspective, she becomes embroiled in a power struggle as she determines how much is worth surrendering for love.” (Description from Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Meredith Against the Wind is the second in a four book series following the love life of Meredith Beck, a high school English teacher. In the first book, Meredith Out of Darkness, her heart has been broken and she feels it will never mend. Now she’s in a new place picking up the pieces and trying to figure out who she is again.

Meredith told herself no more men, but before she knew it she was falling for her neighbor Wes Bickhart. Wes wasn’t like Nick in the sense that he was more successful, more sure of himself, and could give Meredith things Nick couldn’t

This book really shows a strong side of Meredith and you see this when she’s fighting with Wes about his controlling ways. Honestly, I think that Wes was a bit needy and that’s coming from personal experience.

There were so many instances when Wes was making decisions “for” her instead of discussing it with Meredith and seeing how she feels. One of the bigger issues that came up was that Wes felt Meredith didn’t need to work anymore. For those women, including myself, that like to have independence by earning a paycheck, Wes’s insistence would have been a deal breaker for me.

In the second book you get to see Meredith grow in a number of ways and you get to know her a little bit more. You can read this as a stand alone, but I would recommend reading the series in order. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to my followers who enjoy reading Women’s Fiction novels. You will become an instant fan of Amanda Gale after you start reading the Meredith series.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT AMANDA

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. She loves history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family. (Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography)

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Book Review | The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

BOOK REVIEW | THE CHOICE

200709-the-choiceTITLE: The Choice

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: September 24, 2007

GENRE: Romance, Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&NINDIEBOUND | AUDIBLEABEBOOKS | BOOK DEPOSITORY | ALIBRIS

Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life — boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies — he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him…and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn’t help. Despite himself, Travis can’t stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen. Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heartwrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive? (Description found on Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

It had been a while since the first time I read The Choice and it was like I was reading it for the first time. I’m glad I re-read it before the movie comes out next year because it’ll make it easier to compare the two later.

The Choice contains all the great qualities of a Nicholas Sparks book; a man and a woman who fall in love, a plot twist that will leave your heart aching, and several tear jerking moments that will force you to purchase a new box of tissues.

The book is separated into two parts. Part One tells the story of how Travis and Gabby met. They met in a way that reminded me of the 1961 animated film, One Hundred and One Dalmatians. While they didn’t get tangled in the leashes of their beloved pets, it is their dogs Molly and Moby that cause them to cross paths, so somewhat similar.

Part Two travels eleven years into their future where they have a nice house, great careers, and a wonderful family together, but a terrible accident has caused Travis to question every decision he makes.

While I did enjoy reading how Travis and Gabby fell in love, Part Two is where I felt more emotionally invested. Travis has to battle with the thought of losing his wife, all while trying to be a father to his children who are also feeling like they’ve lost their mother. This is where many of the emotional ups and downs are in the book. You can tell from his interactions with Gabby, in the hospital, that Travis really adores her and may not be able to move on without her.

Overall, this is another thumbs up for me, but that’s no surprise when it comes to Nicholas Sparks. I can’t wait to see how the movie turns out. The trailers make it seem like the storyline is going to differ from the book, but I’m sure it will be a great change. Stay tuned for my Book vs Movie post next year.

FAVORITE QUOTES

“Spending time with you showed me what I’ve been missing in my life.”

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that you two make me believe that true love really exists. And that even the darkest hours can’t take that away.”

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

nicholas-sparksWith over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Timesbestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016. (About the author found on Amazon.com)

Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 by Warner Books. He followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember(1999), The Rescue(2000), A Bend in the Road (2001),Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding(2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice(2007),The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and The Best of Me (2011), as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah. His seventeenth novel, The Longest Ride, was published on September 17, 2013. (Found on NicholasSparks.com)

You can see his full bio here: Nicholas Spark Biography

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