Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Standard DeviationStandard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been hearing amazing things about this novel and I have to say that hype was definitely right about this one! Such an engaging and interesting story! Graham, Audra and Matthew are such interesting characters and following their daily lives in this novel is just wonderful! It's a difficult novel to describe compellingly which is one of the things that makes it just that much more special! My advice - just read it! It's so wonderful! Katherine Heiny is such an astute and insightful writer! She excels at making the characters and their daily lives incredibly interesting and compelling! I didn't want to stop reading it. Ultimately, it's a intimate examination of a family in New York - the good, the bad and the ugly. And it's such a great read! I highly recommend this one!

Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

The Fall of Lisa BellowThe Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had such high hopes for this novel after hearing several readers that I trust say that they enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work for me. I understand why some people did enjoy it but I didn't connect with it. It's definitely readable. I was never bored, it's a good story. However, I was hoping for more given the hype. It felt as if the story never really went anywhere. It just explored the aftermath of the main event but never really provided any closure for me. I'm sure that was the author's intention and it seemed to work for many. It just didn't work for me in this case. I kept waiting for something to happen that I would care about and it just never happened. In fact, the one aspect of the story that I did want to know more about ... never came to a conclusion. Ugh. All in all, it just didn't work for me. But, know that MANY readers have really loved this one so you should give it a shot if it sounds interesting to you.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry

Opening BelleOpening Belle by Maureen Sherry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this one and it sounded like a good bet given the focus on the financial industry and the struggles of a working mom ... and yet, it just didn't work for me. I am struggling with the rating because I didn't hate it or love it. It's really something between it was ok and I liked it. So, I'm going with 2 stars. But, overall, this one wasn't one that will leave an impression. I really never connected with the writing for some reason. I thought the description of the financial industry and it's lack of diversity was excellent and it really did a great job of giving the reader insight into that world. I never really connected with the characters and some of them even felt a bit like cardboard cut outs to me. I think that may have been part of the reason that I struggled with this novel. I'm having a hard time putting my finger on what I didn't like beyond the writing and characters just never came together for me. I don't think this is a bad book but I do think it didn't work for me. There are others who have quite liked it so you may want to give it a shot if the description sounds good to you!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is difficult to categorize ... it has elements of so many things - thriller, suspense and even literary fiction. It has it all and yet its not exactly any of those things. It was dark and depressing and yet hopeful and uplifting ... all at the same time. AND IT TAKES PLACE IN A BOOKSTORE (well, partly in a bookstore)! I really enjoyed this one! Overall, this was quite a clever novel. It's nuanced and layered. Well written and interesting. It's so much more than I expected going in. I honestly cannot believe that it is a debut novel. It's just fantastic! And it's a really effective mystery - I didn't figure everything out long before it was revealed which was nice! It is well plotted and had just the right level of suspense. The characters are well drawn and the story itself is strong. It kept me turning the pages despite being tired. It's all around a good read! Really good book - I highly recommend it!

NOTE: I was provided an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.

Review: The Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick

The Rules of HalfThe Rules of Half by Jenna Patrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really complex and interesting novel that really surprised me. I was drawn to it as one of the themes of the novel is mental health which is something I'm always drawn to. This novel centers around a man with bipolar disorder, his sister and his daughter. At the center of this novel is the impact of mental health issues on a person, his/her family, and the larger community. It's about being different and misunderstood. It's about finding the people you need in your life, the people who get you and accept you for who you are. I think it did a beautiful job of showing the reader what bipolar disorder really looks like. As someone who sees it every day as it plays out in a myriad of ways, I felt this book did a good job of showing the reader the good and bad. It felt quite balanced.

The characters are fantastic. They come alive on the page. They are complex and feel very true to life. The book flowed so effectively. I just loved every moment of reading this book. It is a wonderful story about love and taking care of the people you love in the way that's best for them. I think this is a beautifully written, honest and real novel about really interesting people. If that sounds good to you, you should pick this one up. It's one that will make you think about your own perspective on mental illness. It's one that will break your heart and yet leave you with hope! It's a fantastic novel!

NOTE: I received an ARC of this novel for an honest review.

Review: Storming the Castle by Arianna Hart

Storming the CastleStorming the Castle by Arianna Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite a sweet romance! I liked it quite a bit and plowed through it! It was so readable and fun! I loved the characters and the whole set up. A rockstar and a small town girl ... yes, please! I love that trope! Faith and Sam were a great couple from the start and I loved watching them come together. I especially like that Faith was such a wonderful mother and a strong person in her own right. Sometimes in romance, the female can seem all 'save me' so I enjoyed that Faith was portrayed as a strong single mom who doesn't need to be saved. I liked the side characters a great deal and think they added that something special to the story. I really enjoyed this sweet romance! I definitely recommend it!

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book for free in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just don’t get the hype about this one. I wanted to enjoy it, I really did. I think part of the problem is all the comparisons to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train which I think are not great comparisons. I found the narrative to be clunky and I had a hard time caring much what happened. I almost put it down 10 times while reading and ultimately skimmed much of the last 1/3 of the book, just to find out what happened. And then, I felt kind of meh about the ending. This one just didn’t work for me. I think there are MUCH better books in this genre to seek out!

Review: So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

So You've Been Publicly ShamedSo You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really intrigued by the idea of this book as I think the public shaming we keep seeing via social media is really frightening in many different ways. I’d heard a podcast with the author and felt intrigued enough to pick up the book to do a deeper dive. And, ultimately, I liked this exploration of shaming. The case studies were interesting. I liked getting more background on the history of public shaming and how it ties into what we see today. I think this is something we’ll continue to see in social media but this book was a solid look at something that can be devastating on a personal and community level.

Review: Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny MoonGinny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an unforgettable book! Ginny Moon has made such an impression on me ... I don't think I'll ever forget her. This story is told from the perspective of an autistic fourteen year old girl. She is unlike any character I've ever read about. She has a lot of physical and emotional scars but she's really trying her best to be good and do the right thing. Her view of the world and how she understands the world around her is really where this book excels. Going deep into the mind of a character who doesn't think like most people is fascinating. And seeing how the world around her - parents, therapist, friends, teachers, etc - try to understand and react to her is amazing.

This is a very touching novel that I don't think that I'll ever forget. This is a special book that I highly recommend for any and all! Such a good book!

Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

A Piece of the WorldA Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read a description of this book, I wasn't wow'd. It sounded like it might border on boring. However, this one is fantastic! So much more than it sounds like in the description. This wonderfully well written novel is so beautiful as it tells the story of a woman on a farm. The story is built around a painting of a girl in a field, looking towards a farmhouse. This novel takes the woman from the painting and builds a beautiful and heartbreaking story. You ultimately learn the life story of this woman. Her struggles, her passions, her suffering, her friendships, the decisions (hers and others) that affect her life. It's such a beautiful and mesmerizing novel. I highly recommend that you pick it up as soon as possible.

Review: The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

The Weight of LiesThe Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so glad that I picked this one up (that COVER just grabbed me) because it was so fantastic! It is such an engrossing read that I read it in a day. I could not put this book down. If I had to say it was like another book, I'd say there are some similarities to Night Film. It had a similar vibe - creepy, seeking to understand a creative dynamo, a mystery to be solved, etc.

What really stood out with this one was how beautifully written it was as well as how well developed the characters were. The sense of place in this book was absolutely stunning to the point that the island location in the book absolutely feel like a real place ... almost like another character in the book. The characters that grab you and don't let go are one of the things that made this book so unputdownable. They were complex and rich, making them really come alive for me. Nothing felt in any way artificial or unreal.

The plotting of this novel was so well done. It all came together so beautifully. It felt effortless to me yet when I think about the pieces and parts, I realize how complicated the plotting really was for the author. All in all, this is an excellent psychological thriller. One of the best I've read in quite awhile. Maybe since Night Film. I highly recommend this, particularly if you like dark family stories that you cannot put down!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Review: The Wedding Date Bargain by Mira Lyn Kelly

The Wedding Date BargainThe Wedding Date Bargain by Mira Lyn Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't read the first in this series but I don't think I missed anything. This is definitely fine as a stand alone story! And I really liked this one. I wasn't sure that the virginity stuff was going to work for me but it didn't bother me. This one was fun and interesting. The pacing was fantastic. I really liked Sarah and Max as a couple. I didn't want to put this story down. I found it to be engrossing and found the romance itself worked well for me. I really liked the group of friends in this series ... their camaraderie and playfulness was really engaging. This is a series that I'll continue to follow!

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Review: Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love, #1)Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first Sarah Morgan and I’ll definitely be going back for more! Well written and well executed! It was a fun and interesting read. It felt like more than the typical romance novel - perhaps because the characters were so well done – very complex and quirky. The scenes in the book are vivid and come alive on the page. I really enjoyed this one! I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good story. This is one of those books that would be a great palette cleanser between heavier books.