Reviews

Book Review: The Party

The Party, by Elizabeth Day

Publication: Little, Brown & Company; August 15, 2017

the partyAbout the book:

A taut psychological tale of obsession and betrayal set over the course of a dinner party, THE PARTY tells the story of two married couples who, in a single evening, will come to question everything they thought they knew about each other, as the long-buried secret at the heart of their friendship comes to the surface, culminating in an explosive act of violence.

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben’s wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben’s dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she’ll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Martin and his wife Lucy are invited to Martin’s best friend’s (Ben) 40th birthday party. Ben and his wife Serena have an amazing, sprawling home they purchased from monks, with more than enough room to host Martin and Lucy for the night, however, they are not invited to stay over and have to book a sub-par hotel. 

Shifting between the 1980’s to the present, the novel outlines Martin’s childhood, his attendance at a boarding school where he met Ben, through college, into adulthood. However, early in the novel, Martin is in the police station being questioned about Ben’s 40th birthday party and what happened. 

Thoughts and Reactions

If you have read The Dinner, by Herman Koch, chances are you already know the overall makeup of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Day’s writing was impeccable, beautiful, and eloquent. However, I couldn’t get past the deja vu and the feeling that I had already read this story, just with different age groups and circumstances. 

There are several themes and issues in this novel including the power of family money, entitlement, struggling with sexual identity, mental illness, and so on. Very early in the novel, it is clear that there is something a little off about Martin. Although intelligent and creative, there’s this inner obsession that devours him, keeping him from leading a normal, healthy life. 

The time periods flip-flop throughout the novel between Martin and Ben growing into adulthood, the party, and after the party. During these shifts between time, it becomes evident that all of the involved parties are completely insane. Martin, his wife Lucy, Ben, his wife Serena, Ben’s family, and so on. There is a complete disconnect between these characters and any possible resemblance of moral compass. 

The plot and character development were satisfyingly complex, however, I struggled to connect, like, or even tolerate any of the characters in this novel. Each and every character was either self-absorbed, trying too hard to be different, or putting on a show of who they should be, rather than, who they really were. This was truly the most pretentious gathering of characters that I have ever seen, and I’m not sure it added to the novel in any way. 

This is another novel that is difficult to adequately review without spoilers, but I will leave you with these thoughts. The writing, once again, is impeccable. However, given that I was unable to connect with any of the characters and there were times the story seemed to drag, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this novel. Although, if by chance you are a fan of Herman Koch’s The Dinner, this novel will completely float your boat.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order The Party on Amazon

Book Blitz, Giveaway, Reviews

Book Blitz, Giveaway & Review

 

Title: Forever Hearts
Author: CJ Martín 
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2017
Blurb
Best friends
aren’t meant to fall in love with each other…
 
From the time I was
five, Jesse Collins was my world. He was my partner in crime. My best friend.
My confidant. 

We were
inseparable. Soul mates. Forever hearts. But all that changed when he took on a
new role. Lover. 

He told me to
trust. To have faith. To believe in our love. 

And I did. 

But we all eat lies
when the heart is hungry. And mine was damn hungry for Jesse Collins. I
couldn’t stop myself from falling for him, even if I wanted to. 

This is our story.
The good. The bad. The heartbreaking. 

But in the end,
will the thread that binds us together be strong enough to weather the storm? 

I used to think so,
but now I’m not quite as sure… 
Forever Hearts is a
friends to lovers new adult romance. If you like sexy and sweet, hot and
handsome, mixed with a whole lot of spice, then you’ll love this steamy romance
by best-selling author CJ Martín.

 

My Review:

Who, What, When, Where

Forever Hearts is the story of Jesse and Riley that have been best friends since they were five years old and Jessie’s family had moved in across the street from Riley. Jesse is a very hot, popular, biracial young man who becomes one of the star basketball players in high school. Riley sticks to smaller groups of friends and works hard to make good grades, eventually leading to college and a career in design. But during their senior year and throughout college, they struggle with their feelings for one another that progress way beyond just friendship.

Thoughts and Reactions

I really loved this novel! I’ve started to realize that I’m a huge fan of best friends to lovers novels, but this one was amazing. They had such a close bond and a strong friendship making me feel the love and commitment between them. Jesse was somewhat of a player while in high school while Riley hadn’t even experienced her first kiss. The author walks the reader through their growing up, dealing with romantic and sexual feelings, as well as, challenges among friendships and romantic relationships.

Riley’s college roommate Liza was a fantastic secondary character in that she was fun, spunky, but also very supportive of Riley and her feelings for Jessie. Riley’s police officer father was definitely a challenge due to his being against Riley dating someone who was biracial, although Riley’s mother had absolutely no issue with it. Her Dad went above and beyond trying to keep them apart whether as friends or more, adding to the conflict that they already created for themselves. There was amazing chemistry and some very hot scenes between Riley and Jessie, however, their main problem was communication due to both of them struggling to be honest about their feelings. 

The plot definitely held my attention as it depicted Riley and Jessie growing up, experiencing relationships with others, and dealing with their underlying feelings for one another. There were funny moments, heartbreaking moments, and definitely sexy moments from beginning to end. I highly recommend this romantic and addictive novel!

*Thanks to the author and Give Me Books for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
Excerpt
I shower, get dressed, make it all the way to my car, before
I realize that I left my cell phone in my apartment. I pat my pockets, check my
purse, and glance at the dashboard to see if the Bluetooth symbol is
illuminated—it isn’t. I groan audibly as I switch off the ignition and rush
back into the cold. It’s mid-March, yet the thermometer has barely reached
thirty degrees this week, and with the wind whipping through the air, the “real
feel” is in the single digits.
Back inside my apartment I locate my phone on the kitchen
counter, still plugged into the charger. As I pick it up, my eyes scan over
several notifications, one of which is a text message from Bill.
Bill: Hi, Sweetie. Just got back from the airport with my
parents. Reservations are at seven. Are you on your way?
I glance at the clock. It’s five forty-five. I can make it
across town with plenty of time to spare—I think. Bill’s
perpetually early, as in if we do not arrive twenty minutes prior to the start
of any function—and I do mean any and every function—
he panics. He’s chronically early; I’m chronically late. We balance each other
out…in theory, anyway.
My thumb swipes the screen, but my fingers are too cold to
register the touch, so I drop the phone and blow into my hands in an attempt to
warm them up. A minute later, I type a quick message to Bill.
Riley: Omw. Left ten minutes ago.
This is an outright lie; I’m still standing in my
kitchen and I would never text and drive. He should know
that after nine months of dating, but he simply agrees.
Bill: Ok.
His response is simple. Quick. Efficient. Just like him.
I knock on Bill’s front door thirty minutes
later—traffic was heavier and slower than I anticipated. His mother and father
are seated on the sofa. It’s not the first time I’m meeting them, but every
time they visit I have the feeling I should be walking on eggshells. They’re
prim and proper, formal, refined—the exact opposite of me.
“Mr. and Mrs. Lewg.” I smile as I embrace first his father,
then his mother, in the world’s most awkward hug. “So good to see you.”
“Lovely to see you, dear.” Mrs. Lewg—Carole, though she’s
never told me to call her that—says. “Bill was just telling us he has a special
announcement before we leave for dinner.”
“Oh?” I raise my eyebrows as I turn toward Bill. My mind
quickly scans over our last few conversations. I can’t remember him talking
about any major deal specifically, apart from the new property, but that deal
closed weeks ago. All right, okay, I may not pay one hundred
percent attention when he blabs on and on about investment properties or the
price per square foot of Building A versus Building B, but can you blame me?
Commercial real estate is freaking boring. Take it from me, I should know; it’s
all Bill ever seems to talk about.
“Riley.” Bill makes no effort to move from in front of the
mantle where he stands, but he extends his hand and pulls me toward him. “Can
you come here for one second? There’s something I want to ask you. Something
I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time.”
The smiling face of my roommate pops to mind and her words
bounce around my brain. You’ll be engaged before me. But
surely that’s not what this is. We haven’t been together that long. I haven’t
even given him a key to my apartment yet. He just met my
family.
“Riley Ann Jones.” He takes both my hands, and I will myself
to close my mouth, which gapes open in the most unflattering way.
Oh, shit. Oh, no. Fuck. Please don’t let him be asking
what I think he’s going to—
“This past year…” —nine months, I
automatically correct in my head— “has been the happiest year of my life.
You’re everything that I want in a life partner: smart, beautiful, kind,
honest…”
I swallow. I’m not so honest.
He drops to one knee, looks up at me with caring brown eyes.
“Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
My gaze darts around the room, heart beating wildly in my
chest, not from excitement, but from fear.
His mother smiles at me encouragingly, as Bill cracks open a
small, velvet jewelry box. “It was my grandmother’s. It’s been in our family
for generations. I asked my mother to bring it in with her.” He waves with his
free hand to where his parents sit. “It’s part of the reason why they flew in
early.” He smiles again. “So, will you? Will you be my wife?”
Holy fuck. Bill scrunches his nose and I press
my lips together, sending another silent prayer heavenward that I didn’t just
say fuck in front of his parents. In front of my (potential)
future in-laws.
“Kind of waiting on an answer here, Riley.” His voice jokes,
but I can see the tension around his eyes.
I squeeze my eyes tight, swallow a deep breath, and nod.
“Yes.” My voice is the faintest of whispers. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”
“Wonderful!” his mother exclaims, clapping her hands in
front of her chest. Bill pulls himself to his feet and slips the ring onto my
left finger. It’s delicate, a solitaire, round-cut stone, light and classy, but
it feels like a heavy anchor pulling me down. I’m suffocating. Sinking.
Drowning.
Mr. Lewg claps Bill on the back. “Congratulations, son.”
They shake hands as though they’re business associates rather than father and
son.
Bill locks eyes with me, the megawatt smile that is
plastered on every billboard within a thirty-mile radius beams at me. He mouths
“I love you,” but all I can do is nod because there’s only one thought looping
through my mind right now, and if I’m not careful, the words will escape and
topple the house of cards that I’ve struggled to build this entire year.
Those words are on my mind throughout our indulgent,
five-course meal.
They’re there later that night when Bill makes love to me
and tells me how happy he is.
And they’re still there long after his breath has slowed and
he has fallen asleep. Then, and only then, do I let the devastating truth fall
past my lips:
He’s not Jesse.
Author Bio
   
CJ Martín lives in
Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her adorable (sometimes
infuriating) dog, Albert. She is an avid reader and has been known to spend her
days ignoring her responsibilities while engrossed in a good book. She enjoys
traveling and yoga.
You can find her on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Author Links

 

Reviews

Book Review: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here: A Novel, by Renee Carlino

Publication: Atria Books; August 15, 2017

wishAbout the book: 

You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm? That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks.

Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.

Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.

Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.

My Review:

Who, What, When, Etc.

This is the story of Charlotte (Charlie) as she sort of stumbles through her twenties, unsure about what to do with her life. She is roommates with her best friend Helen and they also work together at a local diner. She’s never quite figured out if she wants to be a massage therapist or a hair stylist and certainly hasn’t had meaningful relationships with men. 

Soon she meets Adam and is immediately drawn to him, but when things abruptly end, she meets a baseball player named Seth. Thus begins her indecision about whether to find Adam and try to make things work, or to give Seth a chance. 

In the meantime, Helen falls for Seth’s friend and fellow ball player, Roddy, prompting Charlotte’s adorably aggravating brother, Chucky to move in with her and help with the rent. Helen, Chucky, and Charlotte’s parents all try to support her, but she really has to go on this journey on her own.

Thoughts and Reactions

I absolutely adored this novel. Wish You Were Here grabbed me from the first few pages and didn’t let go. Without giving spoilers, I warn that this novel requires ample Kleenex in your immediate vicinity while reading! There are such devastating moments in this story, but this novel is also packed full of love, commitment, and self-discovery.

Honestly, I struggled with Charlie as a character in general at the beginning of the novel. There wasn’t anything really unlikable about her, however, I struggled relating to her. As the novel progressed, so did Charlie. She went from not knowing what in the world she wanted or who she wanted to learning how to completely love and how to behave selflessly. Her relationship with her brother and parents strengthened, and although she and Helen had some struggles during the novel, theirs also grew by the end of the book. 

The plot was engaging and paced perfectly, but I felt that the character development fell short compared to the novel as a whole. Besides my initial struggles with Charlie, it occurred to me that although I just finished this novel last night, I cannot tell you what any of the characters looked like. What I did learn about them felt somewhat superficial, but even with this drawback, I loved this book

Wish You Were Here is a tearjerker, but it includes such important themes about love and life in general. I highly recommend this to lovers of new adult & women’s fiction.

*Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Learn more about Renee Carlino by visiting her web page!

Pre-Order Wish You Were Here on Amazon!

 

Reviews

Book Review: Bring Her Home

Bring Her Home, by David Bell

Publication:  Berkley; July 11, 2017

bring her homeAbout the book: 

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Review:

Who, What, When, etc.

Two fifteen-year-old girls, Summer Price and her best friend Haley go missing. After a few days, two girls are found in a park. Haley is dead, but Summer survived just barely. Bill and Summer have had problems the past year and a half since Bill’s wife and Summer’s mother, Julia died suddenly in their home. 

As the investigation surrounding their disappearance, Summer’s almost deadly beating, and Haley’s death, new things come to light every day. Bill is questioned about how well he really knew his daughter. People are questioned and things continue coming to light as the investigation continues, headed up by Detective Hawkins. 

Bill’s sister, Paige, comes to be with Bill during the investigation and he also has the support of his neighbor and friend, Adam. Bill is sure that someone knows something and points his finger at several of boys from Haley and Summer’s school, but things just continue to get complicated as the investigation continues.

Thoughts and Reactions

Let me start with this… Bring Her Home is hands-down the best novel I have read this year. I love suspense thrillers but good Lord, this one delivered one surprise and one twist right after the other. I sat down to read this about 3 1/2 hours ago and have barely moved since. 

Author David Bell has an uncanny ability to make the reader doubt themselves repeatedly, in a good way, of course. Each time I had it all figured out in my head, I was blindsided by a new revelation completely blowing my theory out of the water. Then, every time I would decide someone else had nothing to do with it, their names would pop up again with more incriminating circumstances. 

This novel is challenging to review without giving spoilers, so I can’t say much more about the plot than I already have, but let me stress that this is a complete, unexpected roller coaster ride from beginning to end. And if you are a parent of a teenager, prepare to cringe at times at the thought of these things happening to your child or the thought of your child being involved in the circumstances in any way. When you’re done reading this, I promise you will want to go sit down with your kids and ask them a million questions about their lives, lol! 

As stated before, this is my favorite book of the year. If you are a fan of mystery/suspense/thrillers, this is not a book to miss. Kudos to David Bell for such an amazing novel!

*Many thanks to David Bell, Berkley, & NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Bring Her Home on Amazon!

Learn more about David Bell by visiting his web page.

Book Blitz, Giveaway, Reviews

The Way it Hurts: Blog tour, review, giveaway

TheWayItHurts_BlogTour_badge

wayithurts

Title: The Way it Hurts

Author: Patty Blount

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Paperback and Digital

Print ISBN: 978-1-492632-788

Digital ASIN: B06XR172ZD

Synopsis:

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes there’s only one way to set things right…

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program–and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen’s performance and snaps a photo of her in a costume that he posts online with a comment that everybody misunderstands. It goes viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

Add to your “Want to Read” shelf:  Goodreads

Available at:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

**My Review**

The Way it Hurts is an upcoming novel by author Patty Blount that addresses challenges of growing up, especially when social media is involved. 

Elijah and his best friends, Nick and Sam, have a hard rock/metal band named Ride Out. Music is Elijah’s life and all he wants is for the band to gain exposure and make it big. Despite problems at home with his special needs sister, Anna, Elijah devotes as much time and energy as he can to grow their band.

Kristen has an incredible singing voice and Elijah is hypnotized by it when he first hears her in a school play. Kristen dreams of studying acting, dance, and singing at a music conservatory and eventually being on stage in Broadway shows. When approached by Elijah about singing with their band, she isn’t sure, but her outgoing performer grandmother, Etta, encourages her to step out of her comfort zone. 

The problem? A series of posts on social media promote Ride Out and Kristen’s voice, but it all spirals out of control. Between problems at home, the tension between the band members, and social media chaos – Elijah and Kristen have feelings for each other even though everyone has warned them against trying getting involved. 

Author Patty Blount includes so many relevant issues and situations in this novel that make it not only important to read, but it’s also very engaging. First is the social media issue that is so often the culprit for problems with adolescents today. Elijah sends out a comment about Kristen that he meant specifically about her voice, but it soon goes viral and is misconstrued. Excited about all of the attention, Elijah plays it off as being o.k. and that it will eventually die down, however, it only gets worse and results in several scary and dangerous situations. 

The Way it Hurts also addresses the life of a family having a child with Autism. Elijah struggles to protect his sister, Anna, while her parents are looking for help with their daughter who is getting stronger and more explosive. There is so much love between them all, but there is also an extreme amount of guilt that you could practically feel coming off of them while reading. 

Kristen’s family is also tested in the novel dealing with an illness in the family. The author depicts a normally happy-go-lucky family as they suffer through the fear of a loved one being ill in a very realistic way and details what an impact it has on our lives. 

The characterization and plot development kept me interested in this novel from the first page to the last, however, I found myself frustrated with several characters throughout the novel, especially Elijah’s bandmate Sam. Although this further proves the author’s fantastic ability at building her characters, there were moments that I just wanted to yell at Sam and Elijah for the repetitive selfish and immature comments and behaviors. 

I highly recommend The Way it Hurts to young adult fiction fans that want a mix of topics in their novels. So many issues are addressed from a young romance to the dangers of social media that I feel this novel is relevant to almost any reader. I look forward to reading more from Patty Blount in the future and will continue thinking about this novel and characters for quite some time. 

Advanced Praise for The Way It Hurts:

“Blount writes authentically; both protagonists’ voices are distinct. The author explores the rapidly consuming world of social media and how it affects relationships online and in real life. A relevant read and must-have for all YA collections.” – School Library Journal

“THE WAY IT HURTS draws our attention to the joy, heartache and confusing contradictions that arise as we try to find our place in the real world and the virtual one.” – Kimberly Sabatini

Elijah and Kristen’s personal evolutions through the novel, along with their chemistry, feel as authentic as the conflicts they face. A genuine plot filled with steady tension that will keep readers hooked.” RT Book Reviews

“This book sensitively covers topics such as sexism, handicapping conditions, communication, and ageism. Agency is also shown when Kristen says she wants to pursue studies in a conservatory rather than continue in the band and the three young men acknowledge her wish. Talking about what bothers us rather than trying to guess another person’s feelings is demonstrated through the actions of the characters. The characters’ issues are eventually resolved through hard work and understanding, making this an interesting and informative read.” School Library Connection

Excerpt:

Elijah took my hands. “Okay, look. Maybe you’re right. Maybe these people are taking this whole battle thing way too seriously. If you’re scared, then we’ll stop. No more posts except for appearance information.”

“So no more battle of the sexes, no more make Kris scream?”

He held up his hand. “Swear to God.”

“Okay.” I sighed in relief. “You’d really do that?”

He leaned closer and repeated the vow. “I promise, Kris.”

And just like that, I forgot why I was mad at him. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even blink because I was afraid he’d let go. This was the part of him I adored. I clung to him for a long moment, and when his gaze drifted to my mouth, I wondered if—hoped—prayed—he’d finally kiss me.

And then, Etta’s voice suddenly spoke inside my head. “Well, my God, darling, it’s the twenty-first century. What on earth are you waiting for? You can kiss him.”

I could. Yes. Yes, I could just lift my head and lean in and kiss Elijah Hamilton like it was a normal, ordinary occurrence.

Right. Like kissing Elijah Hamilton would ever be ordinary?

I’d watched him kiss that girl at the mall and was sure I’d memorized all the steps in his routine. He’d move in, grip my face between his hands, run his thumb along my jaw, and finally, glide his arm down around my body, pulling me against his own, all the while, peeking through his lashes to see if I enjoyed it.

I wasn’t sure when I decided—even what made me decide. I just touched my lips to his and waited.

It took a second or two. But then there was a sudden, tiny squeak from him, and I felt the pulse in his wrist leap under my fingertips.

And then, his hands were in my hair, angling my head just the way he liked it, his tongue brushing against mine, so soft it might have been my imagination…except imaginary kisses were never so intense. He kissed me like I was a song he wrote, lips wrapped around every word until it hummed with hidden meaning and promise, and his hands held me the way they held his guitar—like the music would stop if he let me go.

Copyright © The Way It Hurts by Patty Blount 2017

Rafflecopter for The Way It Hurts Two Week Blog Tour Giveaway:

Patty Blount is offering one (1) lucky winner a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Patty Blount PicAbout Patty Blount:

Native New Yorker Patty Blount is the award-winning author of several critically acclaimed internet issues novels for teens as well as a few adult contemporary romances. She is inspired to write by such greats as Judy Blume, JK Rowling, and Gayle Forman. In fact, Judy Blume is the reason Patty elected to write under her real name…so she’d appear on shelves next to her idol. Patty adores writing; she’s written everything from technical manuals to song lyrics (see THE WAY IT HURTS, coming August 2017). Patty wants you to know she loves chocolate…really, really loves chocolate.

When not crushing on actors Gilles Marini or Sam Heughan, Patty can be found sitting in traffic somewhere on the Long Island Expressway, listening to audio books or talking wildly to herself about plots and characters. Prone to falling madly in love with fictional characters, Patty suffers frequent broken hearts when they all invariably prefer the heroine to her… go figure. When she’s not writing, Patty loves to watch bad sci-fi movies and live tweet the hilarity, and scour Pinterest for ideas on awesome bookcases. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that, sadly, lacks bookcases.

Connect with Patty:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  BookBub

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Reviews

Review: Elephant and Pinky Moon

Elephant and Pinky Moon: The perfect beach read, by Lilac Mills

Publication: Lilac Tree Books; July 31, 2017

ElephantAbout the book: 

Twenty-eight-year-old Nina lives a quiet, unassuming life, happy (ish) with her job, maybe not quite as happy with her non-existent love-life (but no one can have everything, right?) and content to trundle along with her nice, predictable daily routine.That is until Nina is persuaded to accompany her octogenarian grandmother on a beach holiday to Turkey. Nina envisages sedate walks along the promenade, afternoon naps by the pool, and bingo in the evening. What she actually gets is too much vodka, adult games of “pin the tail on the donkey” and dancing on a bar whilst flaunting her knickers – and that’s just her gran!

Nina envisages sedate walks along the promenade, afternoon naps by the pool, and bingo in the evening. What she actually gets is too much vodka, adult games of “pin the tail on the donkey” and dancing on a bar whilst flaunting her knickers – and that’s just her gran!

My Review:

Happy release day to Lilac Mills and her latest novel, Elephant and Pinky Moon!

Who, What, When, Where

Nina is a twenty-eight-year-old teacher in Worcester England and has a somewhat bland life. After her mother Alice calls her over to her grandmother, Flossie’s house, she learns that her eighty-four-year-old Gran has booked a vacation to Turkey, supposed before her grandfather passed away. Worried about Flossie traveling alone, Alice urges Nina to accompany her grandmother on the vacation. 

Leo is also traveling to Turkey with a friend who is suffering heart break over the woman he loves. Everyone that has met Gran has loved her, but when Gran starts trying to play matchmaker with Leo and Nina, sparks begin to fly. 

Besides enjoying the Turkish coast, Nina quickly learns that her Gran likes to go out and party, has no filter when speaking to others, and is quite sneaky. 

Thoughts and Reactions

This is my second time reading a novel by Lilac Mills and I’m not sure there are enough words to give her the praise that she deserves. Just as in her first novel, Under the Cherry Tree, Mills has created such unique, yet relatable characters. Nina was initially very cautious and reserved but as the novel progresses she slowly and realistically starts coming out of her shell. Flossie (Gran) is absolutely hilarious from beginning to end. Anyone that has one of those crazy grandmothers that will say or do anything without any concern about the opinions of others, this is the novel for you! At 84, she books a trip at resort meant for adults ages 30-45. Not long after their arrival, she’s partying with everyone at the bar and playing an x-rated version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. She plans all of these crazy experiences that have Nina completely stressing out, although Nina loves every one of them – much to her own surprise.

There was not a single boring moment in this novel. From beginning to end, I was dying to find out what Nina and Flossie would be getting into next. There are certainly a few serious and heart breaking moments, but otherwise, reading this novel is like taking a vacation for yourself! 

The funny moments aside, Lilac Mills reminds us all to actually live our lives, rather than just floating through the years. Unfortunately, life does not include do-overs, and through her Gran’s unconventional wisdom, Nina learned the importance of taking risks, facing fears, and taking control of her own destiny. 

Elephant and Pinky Moon is outstanding and I cannot recommend this novel enough! Get ready for such a fun ride of holidays, romance, and some serious laughter!

*Many thanks to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Elephant and Pinky Moon on Amazon!

Learn more about Lilac Mills by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Book Review: Chocolate for Two

Chocolate for Two (The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson Book 4),

by Maria Murnane

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; April 9, 2013

choc for 2About the book: 

Waverly Bryson’s life is officially perfect: She’s engaged to her gorgeous boyfriend, Jake; her Honey on Your Mind TV segment is more popular than ever, and Waverly’s Honey Shop is growing by leaps and bounds. What could possibly go wrong? For starters…everything.

This is Waverly, after all, and drama follows her wherever she goes. Why should her trip down the aisle be any different? Now, before she can marry the man of her dreams, she’ll have to go head-to-head with his high-society mother, whose vision for their wedding isn’t exactly meshing with Waverly’s. Adding to the chaos is the impending departure of Paige, Waverly’s very pregnant retail partner; the arrival of her suddenly secretive best friend, Andie; and the meddling of a new TV producer who’s promising to “shake things up.” Suddenly Waverly’s perfect life feels like it’s about to come crashing down…unless the irrepressible Miss Bryson can prove to the world—and to herself—that she really can have it all.

My Review:

I have to begin with the fact that I am heartbroken that this series is over! It took me years to discover Waverly and now she’s gone. But what a fabulous ending 🙂

Who, What, When, etc.

Waverly and Jake are back, living in New York and engaged. Not only is Waverly’s spot on Wendy’s t.v. show doing well, her Honey merchandise business is booming. More great news is that Andie has work in New York bringing her out to the east coast for awhile and McKenna is still happily adjusting to motherhood back in California.

Problems arise when Waverly’s sales guru, Paige, announces she can no longer work for Waverly, and of course the insane control and meddling from Jake’s mother.  

Thoughts & Reactions

Besides being run ragged from her tv show and the merchandising of her Honey brand, Waverly’s biggest challenge this time around was Jake’s mother. Poor Waverly was willing to put up with just about anything in the hopes that she would start to like her, and she put up with a load of different crap between Jake’s mom trying to take over the wedding planning, choosing dresses, and then throwing in her trademark vicious remarks from time to time. Waverly being completely railroaded became irritating at times, but I also understood her desire to please Jake’s mom and earn her respect and affection.

Jake was as fabulous as always and although I wished he would step-in to defend Waverly from time to time, he was basically left in the dark about his mother’s controlling actions, so it wasn’t exactly his fault. 

Andie was different this time, battling her own fears about things getting serious with Nick, however, Waverly’s two interns picked up right where Waverly and her friends left off as far as experiencing and relaying tales of dating nightmares!

Once again, I fell in love with one of Waverly’s tales and Chocolate for Two was a wonderful conclusion to this series. It was fast-paced, funny, frustrating, and fabulous all at once! These have become my go-to novels when I am in the mood for something smart but funny, so now I must find my new happy place among new characters. However, I have been so impressed and honestly blown away by Maria Murnane’s writing, characterization, dialogue, and mostly – her beautifully crazy and somewhat inappropriate sense of humor! All of the stories about various bodily functions and freak happenings on their dates have made me laugh harder than I ever remember laughing at a book and I loved it. 

Maria Murnane is talented, creative, takes risks, and has become one of my absolute favorite authors. I cannot recommend this novel and this series enough!

*Many thanks to Maria Murnane for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Chocolate for Two on Amazon!

Learn more about Maria Murnane by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Review: Going Down and Man Candy

Going Down and Man Candy (Five Wishes Book 1), by Elise Sax

Publication: June 15, 2017

going downAbout the book: 

The Five Wishes Series: Novellas about wishes that go terribly wrong…fortunately. Five Wishes…A happy ending is just a coin toss away. Each novella is approximately 100 pages with NO cliffhanger.

Book 1: Going Down:
Marion MacAlister wants to nail her audition, not get nailed. Truly. Honestly. All right…maybe she does want to get nailed, but that’s just because her hottie landlord and local diner owner Mack Ryan is confusing her. Can friends become lovers? Especially friends who might not even be friends in the first place?

Book 2: Man Candy:
Raine Harper is in love with Wade Gates. But Wade likes women who are model thin, and Raine is model thin plus a whole lot of pounds. Desperate to make him love her, she trains just a little too hard and passes out in the arms of superstar movie star Dirk Adams. Dirk thinks Raine’s junk in the trunk is perfect and proposes to make Wade jealous by becoming her pretend boyfriend. Pretend soon seems very real. Is Dirk a great actor, or is something really developing between Raine and the movie star?

My Review:

I read the combo of Going Down (Five Wishes book 1) & Man Candy (Five Wishes book 2), the funny, light-hearted novellas by Elise Sax.

In Going Down, I loved the undeniable chemistry and sassy banter between the wannabe actress, Marion and diner owner, Mack. Mack has been serving up yummy diner food to Marion for two years and is also her landlord, but after a stroke of luck, they are stuck together in a compromising situation that gives them a chance to get a little closer. 

In Man Candy, Raine works with her parents catering to guests of their lakeside cabins. Raine is trying to lose as much as weight as possible before her forever crush, Wade returns to town. Instead, she meets a movie star named Dirk Adams. When he offers to pretend to be together to make Wade jealous, Raine learns a lot about herself and the type of man that she deserves. 

Both of these were very quick reads but packed with plenty of laughter, as well as, some pretty steamy moments. The most relevant thing that comes to mind thinking back on these stories is the very realistic and relatable female characters. Marion is trying (unsuccessfully) to become an actress while Raine is struggling with her self-esteem and weight loss. There are very real moments in their struggles, as well as, laugh out loud moments that we have all experienced. 

I also noticed that despite the short length of these novellas, Elise Sax developed these characters wonderfully, making it feel as if we had been reading about them much longer than you actually do. I could easily see and hear these characters throughout their stories and felt connected with all of them.

If you are looking for a quick, happy read, then check out these first two novellas in the Five Wishes series. Elise Sax packed a lot of character and exciting plots into a wonderfully small package!

*Thanks to Elise Sax for providing this book in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Going Down and Man Candy on Amazon for free right now!

Learn more about Elise Sax by visiting her web page!

Reviews

Blog Tour and Review: High Hopes

HighHopes_TourBanner

Title: High Hopes

Series: Standalone

Author: Sue Lilley

Publisher: Sue Lilley

Cover Artist: Humble Nations

Release Date: April 19, 2016

Romance Genre(s): Contemporary

Words: 60,000

View on Goodreads

About the Book

Blurb

HighHopes

“It was one stolen night. He was my soulmate and I’d never felt more alive. I couldn’t tell him I got pregnant. It would’ve ruined everything. But now his daughter wants to meet him and I need to make things right.” Another tear escaped down her cheek. “Everybody’s going to hate me.”

Three friends are rocked when a 20-year secret blows their world apart. Steamy, passionate, and unpredictable. If you like sizzling love triangles you won’t want to miss it.

Grace has kept her heart-breaking secret for twenty years – a love child she gave up for adoption. She was a penniless student – how could she raise a baby alone? Then she receives a letter out of the blue. Her long-lost daughter is searching for answers.

Her two best friends are married and don’t know one of them is the girl’s father. If Grace confesses now, the marriage will be destroyed and it will surely be the end of their lifelong friendship. But what choice does Grace have?

Set in the wilds of Poldark-country – the stormy cliffs and windswept beaches of picturesque Cornwall – an engrossing saga filled with suspense, simmering jealousy and heartbreak. Can a future be built on the quicksand of secrets and lies? Surely there can be no second chances when three friends discover they don’t know each other at all.

My Review:

Welcome to my stop on the High Hopes blog tour!

This is the story of Grace and her best friends Sam and Dixie. Twenty years ago, Grace and Sam had a one night stand when he thought that he and Dixie had broken up. After learning that she was pregnant, Grace kept it a secret from almost everyone and then gave her daughter up for adoption. Grace has since gone through life, married a wonderful man Alexander, divorced him, but still maintains a friends with benefits relationship with her ex-husband. When her daughter contacts her wanting to learn more about her and her father, Grace is faced with the realization that she must tell Sam and Dixie the truth.

Once she returns to their hometown to visit, however, things are much different than she expected. Sam has had an affair, Dixie seems obsessed with her gallery owner boss, and their son Josh is dreading starting law school because he secretly wants to follow his true passion of music. Moreover, upon her arrival, Grace quickly meets the hot, sexy gardener Danny, who discovers Grace sunbathing topless. The longer Grace waits to tell Sam and Dixie the truth about the daughter that she gave away, the more tension builds between the three of them. Mixed in with all of this, Grace and Danny continue forming a bond between them that is not quite friends, but not quite sexual.

This is my second time reading Sue Lilley and I really enjoyed this novel.  I loved Grace’s style and charm and found that she is pretty thick-skinned to withstand some of the anger that Dixie shot her way. I also loved Danny!  I could practically picture him in my mind and found him adorable and witty, but also we got to see a sensitive and caring side of him as the novel progressed. The author created a suspenseful and emotional story line that was different from other romances that may read, making her characters and their lives believable and relatable.  There are so many exciting subplots among the characters in this novel, I would have liked an idea of what happened with them all. It’s not a cliffhanger ending by any means, but after getting so involved in the characters I wanted more!

High Hopes is a fantastic novel and highly recommended!

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

About Sue Lilley

Author Bio

SueLilley

Described as an exciting new voice in Women’s Fiction, Sue Lilley lives in the north east of England, when she isn’t escaping somewhere else in her imagination. She is often found eavesdropping for inspiration. Her first two novels were well received. Another Summer is “an alluring example of its genre”. High Hopes is “a story that holds immense appeal for readers who like plots containing sizzling love triangles.” She is hard at work on her third novel.

Connect with Sue

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Stops

June 26:
Author Interview with Amy’s Bookish Life

June 29:
Book Review by Booklove

July 3:
Author Interview with Drops of Ink

July 5:
Exclusive Excerpt at Obsessed by Books

July 11
Exclusive Excerpt at The Bookworm Lodge

July 13:
Exclusive Excerpt at Happy Ever After

July 18:
Exclusive Excerpt at My Fiction Nook

July 21:
Book Review by EskieMama Reads

July 25:
Exclusive Excerpt at A Naughty Book Fling

July 27:
Book Review by Dandelions Inspired

August 1:
Exclusive Excerpt at Up ‘Til Dawn

August 4:
Exclusive Excerpt at Book Lovers 4Ever

August 8:
Book Review by Underneath the Covers

August 10:
Book Review by All Things Bookaholic

August 16:
Exclusive Excerpt at Shh, I Am Reading

August 18:
Author Interview with Liz’s Reading Life

August 22:
Exclusive Excerpt at Lori’s Reading Corner

August 25:
Exclusive Excerpt at NerdGirl Official

August 28:
Exclusive Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

September 1:
Book Review by Wicked Babes Blog Reviews

September 4:
Book Review by The Bookery Review

September 6:
Exclusive Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews

September 13:
Book Review by Always Love Me Some Books

September 15:
Author Interview with I Heart Reading

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What Am I Reading?

Happy Tuesday! Here are the wonderful novels I plan to read and review this week! 

Bring Her Home, by David Bell

Publication:  Berkley; July 11, 2017

bring her homeAbout the book: 

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…
 

Wish You Were Here: A Novel, by Renee Carlino

Publication: Atria Books; August 15, 2017

wishAbout the book: 

You know when you’re looking at someone and you can’t help but smile at how oblivious they are to their own charm? That’s what was happening to me, and it was making me feel…happy. Euphoric. Something indescribable. It was like we already knew each other like we had met in a previous life. Memories that didn’t exist began exploding in my mind like fireworks.

Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, searching for a spark to jump-start her life and give her a sense of purpose. She’s had as many jobs as she’s had bad relationships, and now she’s feeling especially lost in her less-than-glamorous gig at a pie-and-fry joint in Los Angeles, where the uniforms are bad and the tips are even worse.

Then she collides—literally—with Adam, an intriguing, handsome, and mysterious painter. Their serendipitous meeting on the street turns into a whirlwind one-night stand that has Charlotte feeling enchanted by Adam’s spontaneity and joy for life. There’s promise in both his words and actions, but in the harsh light of morning, Adam’s tune changes, leaving Charlotte to wonder if her notorious bad luck with men is really just her own bad judgment.

Months later, a new relationship with Seth, a charming baseball player, is turning into something more meaningful, but Charlotte’s still having trouble moving past her one enthralling night with Adam. Why? When she searches for answers, she finds the situation with Adam is far more complicated than she ever imagined. Faced with the decision to write a new story with Seth or finish the one started with Adam, Charlotte embarks on a life-altering journey, one that takes her across the world and back again, bringing a lifetime’s worth of pain, joy, and wisdom.

Going Down and Man Candy (Five Wishes Book 1), by Elise Sax

Publication: June 15, 2017

going downAbout the book: 

The Five Wishes Series: Novellas about wishes that go terribly wrong…fortunately. Five Wishes…A happy ending is just a coin toss away. Each novella is approximately 100 pages with NO cliffhanger.

Book 1: Going Down:
Marion MacAlister wants to nail her audition, not get nailed. Truly. Honestly. All right…maybe she does want to get nailed, but that’s just because her hottie landlord and local diner owner Mack Ryan is confusing her. Can friends become lovers? Especially friends who might not even be friends in the first place?

Book 2: Man Candy:
Raine Harper is in love with Wade Gates. But Wade likes women who are model thin, and Raine is model thin plus a whole lot of pounds. Desperate to make him love her, she trains just a little too hard and passes out in the arms of superstar movie star Dirk Adams. Dirk thinks Raine’s junk in the trunk is perfect and proposes to make Wade jealous by becoming her pretend boyfriend. Pretend soon seems very real. Is Dirk a great actor, or is something really developing between Raine and the movie star?

Elephant and Pinky Moon: The perfect beach read, by Lilac Mills

Publication: Lilac Tree Books; July 31, 2017

ElephantAbout the book: 

Twenty-eight-year-old Nina lives a quiet, unassuming life, happy (ish) with her job, maybe not quite as happy with her non-existent love-life (but no one can have everything, right?) and content to trundle along with her nice, predictable daily routine.That is until Nina is persuaded to accompany her octogenarian grandmother on a beach holiday to Turkey.Nina envisages sedate walks along the promenade, afternoon naps by the pool, and bingo in the evening. What she actually gets is too much vodka, adult games of “pin the tail on the donkey” and dancing on a bar whilst flaunting her knickers – and that’s just her gran!

Nina envisages sedate walks along the promenade, afternoon naps by the pool, and bingo in the evening. What she actually gets is too much vodka, adult games of “pin the tail on the donkey” and dancing on a bar whilst flaunting her knickers – and that’s just her gran!

The Party, by Elizabeth Day

Publication: Little, Brown & Company; August 15, 2017

the partyAbout the book: 

A taut psychological tale of obsession and betrayal set over the course of a dinner party, THE PARTY tells the story of two married couples who, in a single evening, will come to question everything they thought they knew about each other, as the long-buried secret at the heart of their friendship comes to the surface, culminating in an explosive act of violence.

Ben, who hails from old money, and Martin, who grew up poor but is slowly carving out a successful career as an art critic, have been inseparable since childhood. Ben’s wife Serena likes to jokingly refer to Martin as Ben’s dutiful Little Shadow.

Lucy is a devoted wife to Martin, even as she knows she’ll always be second best to his sacred friendship. When Ben throws a lavish 40th birthday party as his new palatial country home, Martin and Lucy attend, mixing with the very upper echelons of London society.

But why, the next morning, is Martin in a police station being interviewed about the events of last night? Why is Lucy being forced to answer questions about his husband and his past? What exactly happened at the party? And what has bound these two very different men together for so many years?

A cleverly built tour of intrigue, THE PARTY reads like a novelistic board game of Clue, taking us through the various half-truths and lies its characters weave, as the past and present collide in a way that its protagonists could never have anticipated.

Have you read any of these yet? Let me know your thoughts!