Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review: The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B.A. Paris
Published: June 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My thoughts: I've been a fan of B.A. Paris for quite some time now and even had the opportunity to meet her a few years ago. While she usually writes thrillers, this latest one is a bit of a departure but I loved it all the same!

I'm always a big fan of stories that focus on family drama and one that involves people keeping secrets and this one absolutely delivers on that 100%. It is told from alternating viewpoints of a husband and wife and essentially takes place over the course of a 24-hour period. I loved the build-up to the eventual reveal of what the secrets were - both Adam and Livia each had their own secret they were keeping from the other - and as the book progresses, the tension builds which just hooks you further into the story.

I also loved that because of the alternating view points, we are experiencing what is going on from each of the characters' perspectives. Events are happening and because of the secrets, reactions are very different. We are privy to some things, but not everything and this proves to increase the readers anxiety - at least it did for me!

I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely more of an emotional read, filled with some suspenseful moments. There were times I was afraid to see what would come next, but I also could not put this book down either...I was so invested in these characters that I needed to keep reading. 

This book, while definitely not the thriller that B.A. Paris is known for, was such a great read. It's the type of read that will stay with you long after you finish that last page as you think about what you would have done if you were to find yourself in either character's position. I highly recommend picking this one up.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Published: December 2019, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Format: ARC Paperback, 307 pages
Source: Publisher

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

My thoughts: I was fortunate to pick this book up last year at BookExpo, but for some reason never got around to reading it. Well, I finally did and now I'm kicking myself for not getting to it sooner...this book is highly readable and very thought-provoking. It's definitely a book that absolutely lived up to all the hype that it got.

As soon as I started this book, I was completely hooked. The story grabs you right away and really keeps you engaged throughout. You may not love the characters but you will be unable to walk away from them until you see this book through to the resolution. I loved that not only does it deal with race, but also with class and how the two intersect. 

While the book is quite intense, there are many light-hearted moments to keep it from getting too bogged down and I appreciated that. It's a very relatable book in many instances and I loved the relationship that Emira develops with Briar during her time babysitting...this I could totally relate to as I babysat for many years myself and often got attached to the children I watched. 

This book will take you through a range of emotions. It is both an entertaining read and one that will make you uncomfortable at times. But that is why is such an important read, especially in light of what is going on the world today. This would absolutely make a fantastic book club pick - there is so much to discuss.

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel because this writing is fantastic. I know without a doubt that I will be on the lookout for whatever comes next from the talented author.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Book Spotlight: Silent Scream by Angela Marsons -- with link to #Giveaway

Earlier this month, Angela Marsons' 1st book in her D.I. Kim Stone series, Silent Scream, was released in the U.S. I have long been a fan of this series, discovering it through a UK publisher and have read quite a few books in the series already. I am thrilled that the series is finally being published here in the states. And I am thrilled to be able to offer two readers a copy of this book...But - the giveaway is over on my Instagram page. 

You can find my review of Silent Scream here.

Read on to see what others have to say and then you can find out where to enter the giveaway below!!! 

Title: Silent Scream
Author: Angela Marsons
Series: DI Kim Stone, #1
Published: June 2020, Grand Central Publishing
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

When a wave of murders sweeps through Britain's Black Country, a detective must face her past -- or risk letting a killer walk free -- in this crime novel perfect for fans of Rachel Abbott and Val McDermid.

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken, but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood . . .

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. But when human remains are discovered at a former children's home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realizes she's on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it's too late?

What others are saying:

"D.I. Kim Stone is the most fascinating character to arrive on the scene since Val McDermid gave us Tony Hill." -- Mark Edwards, author of Follow You Home

"With its clever, neatly joined plotting, electrifying twists and tensions, and brilliant characterization, Silent Scream heralds a dynamic start to a gripping new crime series." -- Lancashire Post

"It's perfectly plotted, complex, and succeeds in adding something new to the serial killer sub-genre." -- CrimeFictionLover.com

"A brilliantly written, complex story, and a great start to a fantastic series of books." -- JenMedsBookReviews.com

"A cracking debut novel with a fantastically feisty female lead who also has a wicked sense of humor." -- CompulsiveReaders.com

"By the time I finished the novel, I was left with the feeling that I wanted MORE Kim Stone. Silent Scream is highly recommended by me." -- Fictionphile.com

"One subtle difference makes this book stand out for me over many I have read recently. Emotion. Tons and tons of emotion." -- ConfessionsofaReviewer.blogspot.com


Giveaway Details -- (US/Canada Only) 
Thanks to the publisher, two readers will win a finished copy of  Silent Scream  by Angela Marsons. To enter the giveaway, please head over to my Instagram page to this post. The giveaway ends Wednesday, July 1st and is not affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Review: The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

Title: The Wife Stalker
Author: Liv Constantine
Published: May 2020, Harper
Format: ARC Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Breezing into the tony seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

My thoughts: I've been a fan of this writing duo ever since reading their debut novel, The Last Mrs. Parrish, which I absolutely loved. And I feel that this book, their third one together, is definitely more in line with that one, which I loved!

This is a fast-paced thrilling psychological thriller that really keeps you on your toes. It's told from two view points, alternating between Joanna and Piper, and really keeps you on the edge of your seat as you get the sense that something is not quite right, but you aren't sure just what. I also loved that I didn't necessarily love either character, but I couldn't put my finger on why. But they are written in a way that you want to know more about them and understand their motivations.

I love a book where you think you know what's going to happen, that you think you have all the information, but you couldn't be more wrong. I knew there was a big twist coming, and maybe that upped my anxiety as I was reading it, but I just couldn't figure out where this was heading and boy that did ending floor me! So much so that I actually had to reread it to make sure I read what I thought I had just read. It was just so good & clever and I totally did not see it coming!

This was one book that I just could not put down and the short chapters combined with all the drama that was unfolding kept me completely engaged with the book. Again, it wasn't necessarily that I loved the characters, but I just NEEDED to know where everything was headed.

This is the perfect beach read - it's fast-paced, thrilling and really keeps you guessing as to where things are headed. I've met these authors before and I don't understand how such lovely ladies can be so twisted in their writing. Can't wait to see what they come up with next!


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Review: A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

Title: A Good Marriage
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Published: May 2020, Harper
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Personal copy

Big Little Lies meets Presumed Innocent in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, in which a woman’s brutal murder reveals the perilous compromises some couples make—and the secrets they keep—in order to stay together.

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

My thoughts: A while back, I read and loved Kimberly McCreight's Reconstructing Amelia, and ever since reading that, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. I do have one or two sitting on my shelves, but for some reason just haven't gotten to them. When I saw A Good Marriage was a Book of the Month selection, it was an easy pick...and I'm so glad I got it as it was just the push I needed to get back to reading her books. 

Once again, I did this as a buddy read with two other friends and it was so fun to read this one together. We had such a great discussion afterwards and knowing that you are going to be discussing a book makes you read it a little more carefully, I think. You look for things to discuss, at least I do.

This book has a lot going on and further you get into the book, the more hooked you become. There's the domestic drama aspect but then there's the legal thriller aspect and I loved the way the two were intermingled. It really kept it moving and while I did feel that the court transcripts did get a little repetitive at times, the book as a whole is rather a quick read - I read it in one day.  

This is such an intricately plotted mystery with lots of little twists that keep you completely engaged. I was totally caught off guard when the killer was finally revealed. I thought I had things worked out a few times only to be completely off guard...and I love that! I love when you realize you don't know who you can trust. The web of lies that McCreight builds is so twisted that you find yourself not knowing where to turn.

I really enjoyed this and now am more excited to read this authors backlist as we wait for what comes next from her. A Good Marriage is definitely a good pick for your summer reading or your book club!


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Review: The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor

Title: The Mountains Wild
Author: Sarah Stewart Taylor
Series: Maggie D'arcy Series, #1
Published: June 2020, Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

In a series debut for fans of Tana French and Kate Atkinson, set in Dublin and New York, homicide detective Maggie D'arcy finally tackles the case that changed the course of her life.

Twenty-three years ago, Maggie D'arcy's family received a call from the Dublin police. Her cousin Erin has been missing for several days. Maggie herself spent weeks in Ireland, trying to track Erin's movements, working beside the police. But it was to no avail: no trace of her was ever found.

The experience inspired Maggie to become a cop. Now, back on Long Island, more than 20 years have passed. Maggie is a detective and a divorced mother of a teenager. When the Gardai call to say that Erin's scarf has been found and another young woman has gone missing, Maggie returns to Ireland, awakening all the complicated feelings from the first trip. The despair and frustration of not knowing what happened to Erin. Her attraction to Erin's coworker, now a professor, who never fully explained their relationship. And her determination to solve the case, once and for all.

A lyrical, deeply drawn portrait of a woman - and a country - over two decades - The Mountains Wild introduces a compelling new mystery series from a mesmerizing author.

My thoughts: As soon as I as heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. There are just so many things that immediately appealed to me right from the start - police procedural, the settings of Long Island and Ireland, and the fact that it is the start of a new series. Well, it completely exceeded all my expectations and then some...I loved this book!

I fully admit that this cover completely hooked me - it totally evokes the atmospheric nature of the book. And luckily the story itself captivated me right from the start. I loved that it was told all from one character's point of view - that of Maggie, who is such a great character. We see the mystery unfold layer by layer, alternating back and forth in time. It is full of richly developed characters that round out the story and quite a few times I thought I had everything figured out only to be completely blind-sighted at the end. The twists and turns are expertly thrown in so that you think you know where things are headed, but then a new clue arises to turn it all upside down.

I loved learning about the relationship that Maggie had with Erin. The little snippets we get from the past when they were young provided clues about Erin and just how troubled she really was. I also love that we get details about Maggie herself - we learn a little bit about why she became a detective and find out about the major case that made a name for her. This case, didn't quite have the ending she wanted and I wonder if it will be revisited again in future books?

This book kept me glued to the pages and the further I got into the book, the harder it was to put down. It's not so much a fast-read as it is a captivating one, where you become so engaged in what is going on that you just need to keep reading. This is more of what I would classify as a character-study than a plot-driven book and I really found that I was fascinated with the way Maggie's mind worked. She truly is a fascinating character and I hope she is the focus of the series, but I guess that is to be determined.

I loved this book and as a series debut I look forward to seeing where things go from here. All I can say is I am all in and will be anxiously awaiting the next book!


Short & Sweet Review: The 20th Victim by James Patterson

Title: The 20th Victim
Author: James Patterson
Series: Women's Murder Club, #20
Published: May 2020, Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Personal copy

Three victims, three bullets, three cities. The shooters' aim is as fearsomely precise as their target selection. When Lindsay realizes that the fallen men and women excel in a lucrative, criminal activity, she leads the charge in the manhunt for the killers. As the casualty list expands, fear and fascination with this suspicious shooting gallery galvanizes the country.

The victims were no angels, but are the shooters villains . . . or heroes?

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: Once again, we are back with another thrilling, action-packed installment in this series, which is probably my most favorite in the James Patterson series I read. I will say, though, that there were so many different storylines to follow that I felt the ending was just a bit rushed in order to wrap everything up, but overall it was a pretty good book. 

One thing I was not expecting was the storyline involving Clare...that was a tough one and despite it having a relatively good ending, it still got to me. I could relate to how this impacted Lindsay, and I felt that that was well done. And I don't know if it was because of this news or just because, but I loved that there were a few get-togethers with all four of the women. This is one thing that I was just complaining in my review of the previous book that I missed from the older books and I was so happy to see!

I'm not sure what to expect next or how many more books will be coming in this series, but I will for sure be reading until it ends. These books are fun, quick reads that I just enjoy as I do with all the James Patterson books I pick up.

Books in this series:

1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction
     9.   The 9th Judgment               19.   The 19th Christmas
    10.  10th Anniversary                 20.   The 20th Victim
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never     


Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Title: The Splendid and the Vile
Author: Erik Larson
Published: February 2020, Crown Publishing
Format: ARC Paperback, 464 pages
Source: Publisher

On Winston Churchill's first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally--and willing to fight to the end.

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows how Churchill taught the British people "the art of being fearless." It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it's also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill's prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports--some released only recently--Larson provides a new lens on London's darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents' wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela's illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill's "Secret Circle," to whom he turns in the hardest moments.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Erik Larson and it absolutely will not be the last. It's also the first time I've ever read narrative nonfiction and I really like this style - it totally reads like fiction. I don't know if all his books are like this, but I sure hope so!

This book took me a bit longer to read than I expected, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. And reading it during the pandemic really put things into perspective. This book is all about Churchill and what life was like in London during the Blitz during his first year as Prime Minister. Life was chaotic, you never knew when bombs would be dropped, if you would make it through the night, if your loved ones who were part of the RAF would come back to you. It really put being in lockdown for a virus in perspective.

I loved that we learn so much from Churchill's inner circle through diaries and letters, including his own daughter, Mary. Her entries not only show us what it was like to come of age during this time, but she also provides insights into her father. She was able to see just how much this war weighed on him. She really was quite a remarkable woman in her own right, just like her mother, Clementine. I had recently read a book on Clementine (Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict) and knew what a strong support she to Churchill. She was just as important to him as his trusted advisors and both books prove that. 

I haven't read a lot about Churchill and this book provided me with quite a fascinating look into his life and his role as Prime Minister. I've read many books on WWII, but this was a unique perspective I hadn't read before of the struggle Churchill faced to keep the country together, and his willingness to fight to the end even though winning really didn't seem a likely outcome. This book may look daunting because of its length, but once you start reading it, it really becomes quite compelling and you quickly find yourself engaged. 

Now that I've read my first Erik Larson book, I know I'll be reading more. I've already bought a few and just need to find the time to read them. If you've read his books, do you have a favorite?


Friday, June 19, 2020

Review: The Mist by Ragnar Jonasson

Title: The Mist
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Series: Hidden Iceland, #3
Published: June 2020, Minotaur Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

The final nail-biting installment in Ragnar Jonasson's critically-acclaimed Hidden Iceland series, The Mist, from the newest superstar on the Icelandic crime fiction scene.

1987. An isolated farm house in the east of Iceland.

The snowstorm should have shut everybody out. But it didn't.

The couple should never have let him in. But they did.

An unexpected guest, a liar, a killer. Not all will survive the night. And Detective Hulda will be haunted forever.

My thoughts: This is the third, and final, book in Ragnar Jonasson's Hidden Iceland series and all I can say is WOW! It was so amazing and I still am in awe that it was told in reverse order...what a unique concept that worked so brilliantly here.

This book was such a brilliant, yet tragic way to close out this series. I felt like I knew part of what was coming due to the way the series was crafted - and if you have read the previous books, you will know that I am talking about - and this had my heart aching for Hulda as things unfold in real time in this book as opposed to the flashbacks that we had gotten from the other books.

I will say, if you have not read the previous books, this is a series where it really does benefit you to do so. The series is told in reverse order, but the author did so for a reason and each book is built on knowing the ending and then going back in time to see why things were that way. 

This book is so cleverly crafted. The case Hulda finds herself involved in has so many layers and that, coupled with her own personal tragedy, really hits home how we never really know what secrets lie hidden within someone.

Once I started reading this book, I had a hard time putting it down. It's so atmospheric and the setting once again is such an integral part of the story. The farm is so isolated and you feel that sense of claustrophobia that only heightens the tension.

Now that I've finished this series, I have this need to reread it all again...but do I start at the beginning or the end? I highly recommend this series to all fans of crime fiction - I don't think you will be disappointed! 

Books in this series:  
  1. The Darkness
  2. The Island
  3. The Mist

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Review: That's Not a Thing by Jacqueline Friedland

Title: That's Not a Thing
Author: Jacqueline Friedland
Published: April 2020, SparkPress
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Source: Publisher

Meredith Altman’s engagement to Wesley Latner ended in spectacular disaster. When Wesley lost his parents in an accident, mere weeks before the wedding date, he blamed Meredith and left for an open-ended journey to Europe, breaking off their engagement and shattering Meredith.

It was Aaron Rapp, a former Ivy League football player and baby-saving doctor who finally helped lift her heart off the floor. Now a couple of years into their courtship, Aaron and Meredith have just gotten engaged, and she feels her life is on a positive trajectory at last. As they celebrate their engagement at a new TriBeCa hotspot, however, Meredith is stunned to find the restaurant owner is none other than Wesley, the man she is still secretly trying to forget.

Now that Wesley is back in the States, Meredith is bumping into him everywhere, and he clearly still has the feels for her. Before long, she learns that he has been diagnosed with ALS, and her feelings about their past become all the more confusing. 
As Meredith spends more time with Wesley and is pulled further under his spell, she learns what kind of man her new fiancĂ© really is—and what kind of woman she wants to be.

My thoughts: This book grabbed hold of my heart and never let up. I loved everything about it and I'm so glad I decided to read it, knowing I would probably be an emotional wreck. Sometimes, you just need a book that tugs at those heartstrings.

I loved that while this book is all about the love that got away, it is also pretty thought-provoking. This book hit a little close to home for me as we had a family member pass away from ALS, so we know all to well the struggle that comes with this disease. I appreciated the way Friedland handled this part of the story and while I was not in Meredith's position myself, I could imagine had I been, I would have probably been having similar internal struggles myself.

I loved the way the story unfolds, the flashbacks at the beginning of the story, so that you slowly warm up to all the characters. I felt this was the perfect way to introduce everyone and you can't help but become completely invested with all the characters. You find yourself ending up wondering what you would do not only if you were in Meredith's position, but in each of the character's position...something I don't usually find myself doing. Usually I identify with one character, but here, I kept wondering about everyone. 

This is such an emotionally-driven, intelligent book. It covers a lot of heavy topics but you never feel overwhelmed by it. In fact, I was quite captivated by the story and wanted to see how it all unfolded. I highly recommend this book and think it would make a fantastic book club pick as there is so much to discuss. Have you read this one yet?


Review: Fighting Dirty by Lori Foster (Audio/Print)

Title: Fighting Dirty
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate, #4
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Published: February 2016, Recorded Books / HQN Books
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC e-copy via Netgalley

He's the hottest MMA fighter in the game, but one woman is ready to try out a few steamy moves of her own in an unforgettable new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster...
With the life he's led and the muscles he's gained, Armie Jacobson isn't afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter's effect on him. It's not just that she's his best friend's little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that's all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life.

Good girl meets bad boy. It's a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they're both about to learn what's truly worth fighting for…

My thoughts: This is the fourth, and final, book in Lori Foster's Ultimate series and I really enjoyed this series. I'm so glad I finally made the time to finish reading it - these stories were so much fun...and I got a bunch of older Netgalley books read so double win for me!!!

While this book can absolutely be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the prior books in the series first. You will have a better understanding of the characters and their connections if you do.

As has been the style in this series, we jump right into the romance between our main couple, and having read this series in order, this is a romance that has been brewing for a while. I have been waiting for Armie and Rissy's story for some time and loved that they finally got their time to shine...but of course it wasn't without its bumps along the way. 

One thing I love about this series is that Lori Foster can go from steamy, sexy scenes to conflict and it doesn't seem forced. She creates tension and drama and it all works together to give you a cohesive story that keeps you invested and caring about the characters. She created this series about a group of MMA fighters and they are loyal to each other, always having each others' backs. It's nice to see this friendship outside the ring.

I really enjoyed this installment as well as the series as a whole. I typically don't read a whole lot of romance series anymore but based on my enjoyment of this one, I might have to change that!

Audio thoughts: Once again, I decided to do a combination of listening and reading with this book. I really enjoy Jim Frangione's narration. His pacing was good and he did a great job with all the characters, giving them all unique personalities.

Books in this series:
0.5  Hard Knocks
   1.  No Limits
   2.  Holding Strong 

   3.  Tough Love
   4.  Fighting Dirty


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbran (audio)

Title: 28 Summers
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published: June 2020, Hachette Audio
Length: 15 hours 26 minutes
Source: Publisher via Libro.fm

By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Summer of '69: Their secret love affair has lasted for decades -- but this could be the summer that changes everything. 

When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere -- through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise -- until Mallory learns she's dying.

Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

My thoughts: Is it summer if you aren't reading/listening to a new Elin Hilderbrand book? For me it's not. I look forward to getting my hands on her latest one and let me just say...this one is truly something special. I loved it, but that's a hard statement to make when you take a look at what this book is really about. But this is truly Elin at her best that she is able to make this book stand out!

There are so many things I loved about this book - most especially the way each chapter started with a highlight of key events that happened each year. Oh what a fun way to introduce a chapter and talk about flashbacks! I'm not going to spoil anything here, but boy did it bring back some good memories.

I've never seen the classic movie Same Time Next Year, though it is now definitely on my list to watch, but the romantic in me loves this idea of two people meeting up each year on the same weekend. Mallory and Jake have this amazing connection from the moment they meet, but circumstances seem to keep them from being together. All they can give each other is this one weekend...and this book becomes a love story that despite the wrongness of it, is one of the most memorable love stories I've ever read.

As usual, Elin Hilderbrand creates rich, deeply flawed characters that you come to love, and despite their actions, you can't help but want them to find their true happiness. I loved the way the story was crafted, starting at the end of the journey and then going back to the beginning. I loved that in addition to Mallory and Jake, other characters' stories are brought into the fray. It really keeps things fresh and you aren't quite sure what to expect. 

I have read every one of Elin Hilderbrand's books and I think this might be my new favorite. It is absolutely a beautiful, yet heartbreaking love story and I will be recommending it to everyone. I also think it would make a fantastic book club pick - there is so much to discuss here!

Audio thoughts: Erin Bennett has once again nailed an Elin Hilderbrand book. She is just the perfect narrator when it comes to Elin's books. She really gets the nuances of Elin's characters and her writing so that the narration and storytelling just comes naturally. Erin gives each character their own unique voices and personality and her intonation and pacing is spot on. I enjoy listening to Elin's books on audio and Erin Bennett did a good job bringing this story to life!

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