Christmas Shopaholic

 

Sophie Kinsella brings Becky Bloomwood (opps, Brandon) back into our lives withshopaholic 2 humor and heart just in time for Christmas!
Becky is still shopping way too much but she has evolved into the digital age: she is an online shopaholic. But she only purchases from discount site and charity sites! Not too bad right? But Becky is distracted by her online prizes by the Christmas Holiday. Her parents have asked her to host Christmas! Becky’s initial day dream is overwhelmed by the details that go into it. There is so much to do and so many people to please! It doesn’t help that her ex-boyfriend, now a rock idol, has sauntered into her life. Can Becky keep it together this Christmas Season or is she in over her head?
I love Becky but I am sad that she still hasn’t gotten past buying too much stuff and hiding it from her husband. The good news is that while that stays the same so does the heart that goes with Becky. Becky loves shopping for others and will go above and shopbeyond for the perfect present. When that idea of care is magnified by the fact that she wants her family to have the perfect Christmas, she will do anything to get the right presents for the ones she loves. While there may be instances where she buys just to make herself happy, she shops to show how much she loves her family and friends.
Kinsella has always balanced her stories keeping them from being too frivolous while not dragging them down with the moral and that continues here. This novel, in particular, made me both laugh out loud and weep. I found myself so much in Becky this time and empathized with her more than ever. Even though I cried, the book didn’t get bogged down in tragedy and lack of hope. With Becky there is always heart.
With great fun and just as much heart, Christmas Shopaholic is Becky at her best.

 

Publication Date: October 15

I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.

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Book Club Review: Watching You

9781501190070_p0_v1_s550x406Watching you gives you a look into how neighbors keep an eye on each other and will spark gret gossip in your book club.
Tom Fitzwilliams is the head at the local school and helping it get back on its feet. Joey and her husband lives with her brother and his pregnant wife. Joey lives wither mother who suffered from paranoia. They will al intersect bringing passion, obsession and violence to their town.

Watching you has some similarities to Those People. The chapters are introduced with excerpts of characters speaking with the police setting up for an unseen crime. Most of the characters are all suspects. But unlike, Those People, Watching You gives you closure and you have sympathy for the majority of characters involved.

Lisa Jewell keeps you guess and at once you learn to see past the red herring but what are red herrings and what are truths? These blurs just as the purity or evilness of each character. The book moves quickly and you are hooked.

Watching You is a great entry into Shock Fiction; challenge your club to figure out the twist and keep the discourse going through the entire book. When you’re done, share your stories of neighborly nosiness.

Takes One to Know One

Takes One to Know One is a basic mystery that is as boring as the main character’s suburban life.

Corie Keller used to chase terrorists for a living until she left the FBI to get married and be a mom to her stepdaughter. Cori works free-lance in publishing and meets with a lunch group that discusses their current freelance projects. At one of these lunches, Corie gets a bad feeling about one of the men. Is Peter really dangerous or is she inventing intrigued because she’s bored in Suburbia?

I htakes onead a hard time getting through this book. It was mundane in every aspect, not just in the detailed of the suburban life. The storyline is basic with no twists or turns. Everything is exactly as it seems.
I was hoping for an exciting showdown to take the book up a notch. But even the climax doesn’t give you a true sense of danger. The most interesting parts are told to the character afterward; you don’t even get to live through it for an adrenaline rush.

SPOILER 
I was most disappointed because the book summary gives you the idea that there will be a delicious argument that the character may just be imagining things. It was this puzzle that called to me. While there is some discussion of if she was inventing the danger, there was no depth to the idea and it was quickly dismissed (as was my enjoyment in the book).

A basic story dragged down with suburban life, I would tell my friends to pass on this.

Publication Date: October 1
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own

Bloodlust & Bonnets

Bloodlust & Bonnets is the child of Emily McGovern best known for her web comic My Life as a Background Slytherin. McGovern blends Lord Byron, vampires and a brave female hero to create a hilarious and chaotic tale.
In the early 19th century, Lucy rejects her life as a debutante and finds herself catching the eye of Lady Travesty and her cult of vampires. Lucy partners with Lord Byron and a mysterious hunter to track Travesty and put an end the cult. During their journey they cross paths with psychic eagles, talking castles and high society balls.
Bloodlust & Bonnets shares the same charm from McGovern’s comic. The art is simple but effective and helps keep the gory bits from being too gory. In facts, it just makes the blood funny especially when paired with the character’s reactions.40680980
I loved the chaos that ensured when this rag tag bunch comes upon adventure. This isn’t a fantasy novel where the characters are at least somewhat prepared. This is a Christopher Moore style tale where no one can keep anything straight and the most ridiculous things happen. It is refreshing and funny.
Amidst the drunken livery and death, there is also heart. Themes from the area still resonate today. Who am I? How do I handle the ideals society pushes upon me? Why can’t I just stay in my bed and read? (I’m with Byron on this).
The graphic novel meanders in the middle, throwing in chaos just to throw in more chaos but because the characters are lovable and the voice enchanting, Bloodlust & Bonnets is a must for anyone looking for a fun getaway from the real world.

Publication Date: September 17
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Mother Knows Best

Mother Knows Best looks at the emotional side of huge ethical questions involving embryotic changes.
Claire has a rare mitochondrial disease that manifests in different ways. She herself can live a normal like but her son Colton died at age 8 due to complications of the defect. MKB-cover-678x1024Devastated, Claire and her husband want to have another child, but Claire can’t stand the idea that they may be like her first child. Claire and her husband to agree to IVF, but what he doesn’t know is that Claire has a secret plan. They will be seeing a doctor whose specialty is illegal embryonic DNC modifications. But Claire is willing to try anything especially when she hears he can take away the mitochondrial issue.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling putting family drama front and center while blending in cutting edge science. The book never leans too heavily on the science, and the author describes everything in a way that the average reader can understand. Family drives the story, not the science.
The writing keeps you on your toes and the characters are relatable. Though I figured out all the twists but one, each one was written in a way that it wasn’t a cop out and was a perfect fit for the story and characters Kira Peikoff weaves characters to care about. I was engaged in the characters and what would become of the family they had created. With the exception of just one character, I agree with the choices they made even if I wouldn’t have myself I don’t know where I stand ethically on the idea of DNA modification, I was emotionally on Claire’s side. I never once wanted Claire’s family to fail no matter what the practical side of my brain said.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling and though provoking. What would you do for a healthy child?

Publication Date: September 10
I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Lost You

Lost You gets a 3.5 Stars for a fast-paced story that enjoyable but predictable.
Libby is vacationing when her son disappears after entering the elevator without her. In her anguish to find him, she realizes her horrible secret has come back to haunt her. A 42927039tale of terror, surrogacy and violence unveil itself through this tale of Libby’s life.
The abduction is just the framework to lure you in. The majority of the story is about Libby’s surrogacy. The book jumps between three perspectives, each character adding another layer to the story.
Unfortunately, these characters are all unlikeable. Haylen Beck adds complexity to the characters but doesn’t make me care; they are just that unlikable. I did almost feel for one character but the author made a choice that instantly took that away.
The book is enjoyable because the events move quickly building anticipation. You see what is going to happen and try to tell the characters to “stop!” But, never the less, they each make one bad decision after another. It is Beck’s ability to keep the story moving that makes this story interesting. You must know whether your predictions are correct or not.
An easy read, Lost You is a good read for people who like shock drama.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Keeping Lucy

Keeping Lucy is a beautiful tale full of heartbreak and love.

Ginny gives birth to a daughter with Down’s Syndrome but since it is 1969 and those with disabilities are treated less than human. Ginny is unaware that her daughter is sent 41150385away to school until it is too late. Her husband and his powerful lawyer father brush it all aside saying it is what is best or everyone. Two years later, a series of articles exposes what is going on at the school: horrible conditions, suicides, and uncared for children. Ginny is compelled to go to the hospital and sees her daughter for the first time. Even though her husband disagrees, she takes Lucy for the weekend. What she found horrifies her and she knows she cannot take Lucy back to the school. Ginny finds herself at war with her husband and his family while trying to take care of her precious daughter.

T. Greenwood brings the same humanity to these characters that she did with Rust & Stardust. Ginny’s reactions to what was done to her child were mine; I felt her heartbreak and determination and cheered her own.
Others charters moved me as well. Ginny’s friend Marsha was amazing, and I was so glad Ginny had Marsha in her life. These characters were so real to me. Especially little Lucy who couldn’t walk because she was neglected in that “school.”
Because of this, the ending brought tears to my eyes. This journey had gutted me. Greenwood never held back giving the book heart and real emotion. The topic would have been too sugary without any depth in any other writer’s hands.

I will recommend this anyone who loves a good tale but isn’t afraid to see the ugly side of the world and feel despair. I know there will be those who this is too much for and there will be people who understand the struggle from experience. To them, I let them decide on their own.

Publication Date: August 6

 

Bonus Review

Engaging and griping, Rust and Stardust is the fictionalized story of Sally Horner, the inspiration for the infamous Lolita.

Sally Horner is caught trying to steal a cheap composition notebook in New Jersey in 1948. The “FBI agent” tells her she must go with him to face trail over her crime. So begins the years long capture of an eleven year old girl by a 50-sometyhing pervert. While the novel is the fictionalized version of these events, the majority of the story’s rust-stardust-book-covercomponents are factual.

I finished this book in two days because the book was engaging and the chapters short enough to spur the reader to want to know what happens next. The story follows the point of view of a variety of characters including Sally, her mother, and those she meets along the way.

As both a novel lover and a true crime buff, I loved Rust & Stardust; I was entranced on page 1.

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

I received ARCs from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

What’s Next

In What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and A Life That Sets you Free, Daniel Ryan Day walks you through figuring on what steps you should take in your life to heed God’s call. While the goal is to help you find what the next step in your career, it’s not really a book about careers or a dream job; instead the book focuses on the idea of God’s calling.
This approach makes sense in the fact that Day is trying to dispel the idea that God’s calling exclusively refers to your occupation. He walks you through a variety of biblical figures whose calling aren’t considering jobs as well as looks into the New Testament ideas of what we are called to be. We are called by God to be a specific kind of person, not just a laborer.
42046635._SX318_But fear not; the final chapter gives you ideas to help you figure out what you want to do next occupation-wise. The author provides readers with ideas of how to apply Biblical concepts of calling to find your dream job.
The book is well written and Ryan has a voice that is straightforward to the average reader. He doesn’t get too bogged down in scholarly material or wording letting the book flow from one pint to the next. The fact that he makes these ideas accessible to a broader audience is the best part of the book and shows that the author understands his audience.
For me, I had decided a long time ago my calling was’ necessarily my job. Personally, this book wasn’t helpful for me, and I wasn’t as invested as some might be. But I do believe it can be helpful for others. If you still think that your calling only refers to your occupation, then this is a book you need. God is calling you for so much more than a paycheck.
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Is There Still Sex in the City?

Is There Still Sex in the City is the story of one writer’s midlife crisis.
Candace Bushnell finds herself in middle age, divorced and worried about money. 42360872.jpgThings truly come apart when her dog dies and she moves out to Village. Bushnell chronicles the experience of Tinder “dating”, having younger boyfriends and the suicide of one her close friends.
This is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. Bushnell refuses to accept she is in a middle life crisis and gives it a cute name and acronym. This is sad in and of itself. She refuses to truly accept her life. And then writes this book in order to make money from it.
It was hard to identify with her and her friends. Unlike her previous essays, there is no fantasy of being in the thrilling world of New York. I rolled my eyes when she complained living in the Upper East Side (if you can’t afford it don’t live there. Damn.). I despised her desperateness at thinking she would get something real from Tinder. And don’t get me started on her “not mom but acting like mom” chapter.
Maybe this something people her ages (late fifties/early sixties) would enjoy. But I don’t see many of normal people being able to empathize with a life that is still better than their because of economic status. Plus, many of the topics have been covered before in more entertaining and engaging ways (specifically The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode about the older woman/younger guy dynamic).
In her book, she mentioned she wrote several novels no one would publish. After reading this one, which has been chosen for publication, I have to wonder how bad those are.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

 

Those People

42041520Those People looks at the idea of how far you will go to be rid of horrible neighbors.
Welcome to Lowland Way, the perfect home for the upper middle class. Everything here is idyllic and makes for the perfect place to live. This resident’s world is turned upside down when a lower class family member inherits the house on the corner. The homeowner has no respect for his neighbors selling cars from his front yard; playing loud music keeping the home next door’s baby wake; being generally rude when spoken to. When disaster strikes, everyone in the neighborhood is a suspect. Who is cruel enough to actually harm their neighbor?
The chapters include the testimony of the characters then looks back from the dangerous event that happens on their street. This unique set up gives your insight in both what the characters though when the even occurred while giving the reader the background to understand their statement to their police. The characters are not exceptionally long moving the story along at a great pace, keeping the reader guessing and getting them invested in the cast of characters.
Those People works well thought out its first twist. But Louise Candlish overreaches including a second twist instead of dealing with the plot she had created. This second twist ended up having no pay off for the overall plot and just seemed a little too extra. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending as it seemed that no one really put anything on the line.
Those People keeps you on your toes and engaged with the character though the ending isn’t overly satisfying.

Publication Date: June 11
I received an ARC for review; all opinions are my own.