2021 Book #87 – When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Date finished: 9/22/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Pages in book: 371
Stand alone or series: Stand alone (kind of hoping to see more books for the friends or the sisters though!)
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Charming, hilarious, and emotional…When Sparks Fly is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Avery Spark is living her best life. Between her friends, her sisters, and Spark House, the event hotel her family owns, she doesn’t have much time for anything else, especially relationships. She’d rather hang out with her best friend and roommate, Declan McCormick, than deal with the dating scene. But everything changes when she is in a car accident and needs someone to care for her as she heals.

Declan avoids relationships, giving him a playboy reputation that he lives up to when he puts a one-night stand ahead of a promise he made to Avery. While he may not have been the one driving the car, he feels responsible for Avery’s injuries and is determined to make it up to her by stepping into the role of caretaker.

Little did they know that the more time they spend in compromising positions, the attraction they’ve been refusing to acknowledge becomes impossible to ignore. When they finally give in to the spark between them, neither is prepared for the consequences. Their love is fragile and all it will take is a blow from the past to shatter it all.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read a few other books by this author and really enjoyed them so I was excited to read her new release! Helena Hunting is an interesting author to me because she spans the genre between more steamy (her Pucked series from what I remember is on the steamier side) to very low steam level. This book was on the lower side and I have to say I thought there was a lack of chemistry really between the protagonists. They definitely were well suited for each other and it was still a romantic story but I just didn’t necessarily buy into there being a strong attraction between the two of them. Other than that I thought this book was pretty good. I liked the plot – it was different from a lot of others in the romance genre and I found it pretty original. I would recommend it, especially if you like romance that is a little less graphic!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #74 – The Telling by Alexandra Sirowy

Title: The Telling
Author: Alexandra Sirowy
Date finished: 9/15/21
Genre: Young adult, thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A chilling new novel about a girl who must delve into her past if she wants to live long enough to have a future when a series of murders that are eerily similar to the dark stories her brother used to tell start happening in her hometown.

Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten. Love, blood, and murder.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read many young adult books lately so this was a nice change of pace. And the mystery plot line was interesting and had an unexpected outcome that I was surprised by. I’m getting further away from my young adult years so I have trouble connecting somewhat to the characters. There were parts of the plot that I thought were a little ridiculous but overall it was a good story. I was surprised at how much murder there was considering it was a young adult book but I would still recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #83 – Lies by T.M. Logan

Title: Lies
Author: T.M. Logan
Date finished: 9/13/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 406
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Six days ago, Joe Lynch was a happily married man, a devoted father, and a respected teacher living in a well-to-do London suburb. But that was before he spotted his wife’s car entering a hotel parking garage. Before he saw her in a heated argument with her best friend’s husband. Before Joe confronted the other man in an altercation where he left him for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

Now, Joe’s life is unraveling. His wife has lied to him. Her deception has put their entire family in jeopardy. The man she met at the hotel has vanished. And as the police investigate his disappearance, suspicion falls on Joe.

Unable to trust the woman he loves, Joe finds himself at the mercy of her revelations and deceits, unsure of who or what to believe. All he knows is that her actions have brought someone dangerous into their lives—someone obsessed with her and determined to tear Joe’s world apart.

What if your whole life was based on LIES?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I didn’t love this book at first – it took me a little while to get into it but once I did the plot line was very intriguing. I didn’t want to put it down because I had to find out what would happen next. And there was a great plot twist at the end that I didn’t really see coming. It was just so sad though – without giving the ending away I just felt so sad for Joe. he honestly was just a nice guy and the police attacking him every second as well as just what he went through on a personal level through the story was so depressing to me. It was a great thriller though with a very good twist so if you like suspense novels this is a great one to read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #75 – Walking the Bones by Randall Salvis

Title: Walking the Bones
Author: Randall Salvis
Date finished: 8/28/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense, mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Pages in book: 466
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Next in the literary, emotionally propulsive Ryan DeMarco Mystery novels from Randall Silvis, critically acclaimed master of crime fiction.

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface…

The bones of seven young girls, picked clean and carefully preserved, discovered years ago… that’s all Sergeant Ryan DeMarco knows about the unsolved crime he has unwittingly been roped into investigating during what is supposed to be a healing road trip with his new love, Jayme.

DeMarco is still reeling from the case that led to death of his best friend months ago and wants nothing more than to lay low. Unfortunately, the small southern town of Jayme’s idyllic youth is not exactly a place that lets strangers go unnoticed—especially strangers who have a history of solving violent crimes. And if there’s anything DeMarco knows, it’s that a killer always leaves clues behind, just waiting for the right person to come along and put all the pieces together…

Walking the Bones is a story about things buried—memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies. Acclaimed author Randall Silvis delivers an investigation as macabre and impenetrable as bone in this new addition to his riveting book series. DeMarco finds himself once again drawn into a case that will demand more of himself than he may be willing to give.

My rating:  1.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This is outside my normal realm of what I read but I wanted to give it a try. It wasn’t my cup of tea though, there was a lot about the book that I struggled with. The mystery plot itself was pretty good and was interesting to follow along with. Other than that there were some antiquated pieces of the book – the way that the book portrays genders was odd to me. There were some odd descriptions, like when someone was eating it was described as feminine. I didn’t know there was a feminine or masculine way of eating. And Jayme’s character was presented weirdly to me and there were a lot of odd points in her background – specifically the description of her sexual background felt kind of unnecessary to the story line to me. There was also so much description – each new location and person had like two pages of description and it just got to be too much. This wasn’t a great book for me but if you like copy mysteries featuring a mature male then this would be a good read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #70 – Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

Title: Under My Skin
Author: Lisa Unger
Date finished: 8/18/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Pages in book: 369
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From New York Times bestselling author and master of suspense Lisa Unger comes an addictive psychological thriller about a woman on the hunt for her husband’s killer.

What if the nightmares are actually memories?

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was murdered during his morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn’t recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?

The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts, unable to distinguish between what is real and what she’s imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband’s death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I didn’t end up loving this one, though I did enjoy pieces of it. I had trouble getting into the mindset of the narrator, and the lack of definition between real events and dream sequences was tough for me. I understand that it was supposed to add to the suspense but it made it hard for me to keep track of what was happening. There were some good plot twists in the story, but overall the story line was just so sad. And for how sad it was, the ending was oddly hopeful and didn’t jive with the feeling of the rest of the book for me. I enjoyed some of the book but didn’t like it overly much. I would recommend it if you like thrillers and you enjoy an unreliable narrator.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #68 – Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Title: Love and Ruin
Author: Paula McLain
Date finished: 8/13/21
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 432
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Paris Wife (since both are different periods of Ernest Hemingway’s life) but can be read as a stand alone easily
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed some and not really enjoyed others. I wasn’t expecting to love this book but I honestly couldn’t put it down. I thought it was astounding how the author took real historical figures and certain plot points of their actual lives and created flesh and blood characters that leapt off the pages. The reader can see the smoke from the bombings and hear the sounds of the shelling – it feels as if we’re right alongside the characters in the novel living on the front lines of war. The book was a little wordier than I usually enjoy but in this case it only added to the reader’s ability to experience exactly what Marty (and in certain cases Ernest) are feeling and seeing. Marty was an immensely interesting character – her bravery and determination to be right on the front lines reporting the war efforts was amazingly admirable and I loved reading about her. And while it was interesting to read about the development and ultimate deterioration of Marty and Ernest’s relationship, it was really Marty’s journey to find and fight for herself that I couldn’t tear myself away from. I’d definitely recommend this one, especially to historical fiction fans! It was a great read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #66 – You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

Title: You Were Always Mine
Author: Nicole Baart
Date finished: 8/9/21
Genre: Mystery, women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I couldn’t put this one down! The plot of this book was so good – the twist ending was not at all what I expected. I loved the little pieces of information disclosed at the start of each chapter from Evan’s patient notes too. I was so intrigued to figure out what the short hand notes meant and how it connected to the story. The whole story was really interesting and thought provoking in terms of adoption, having babies while incarcerated, process of child protective services, etc. Jessica’s emotions leapt off the page and I really felt myself inserted into her heartache. I thought it was so sad that Evan died (**spoiler kind of – you find out pretty early**) before he could reconcile with Jessica though because they did honestly love each other. Overall though this was a great book and I really enjoyed it, I would definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #62 – The English Wife by Lauren Willig

Title: The English Wife
Author: Lauren Willig
Date finished: 8/2/21
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I absolutely loved the cover on this novel, and the description sounded interesting. It was a little outside my normal go-to so I was excited to read something different. The book was a little slower than I expected, it was a little wordy and I found that the start of the book took a while to get moving plot wise for me. I struggled a little through the start, but once it got towards the middle of the book things started to pick up and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. The plot was interesting, there were some good plot twists in the story line. The characters were nuanced. I just found the plot to be a little sad, especially Georgie’s gradual disillusionment of her marriage. I did love the ending though, especially how things ended for Jane. Overall it was a good book and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say that I was super thrilling.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #60 – The Exes Revenge by Jo Jakeman

Title: The Exes Revenge
Author: Jo Jakeman
Date finished: 7/28/21
Genre: Thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A wickedly dark debut thriller about three women who’ve all been involved with the same man and realize the one thing they have in common is that they all want revenge against him…

Divorces are often messy, and Imogen’s is no exception. Phillip Rochester is controlling, abusive, and determined to make things as difficult as possible. When he shows up without warning demanding that Imogen move out of their house by the end of the month or he’ll sue for sole custody of their young son, Imogen is ready to snap.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable–something that puts her in control for the first time in years. She’s desperate to protect her son and to claim authority over her own life.

But she wasn’t expecting both Phillip’s ex-wife and new girlfriend to get tangled up in her plans. These three very different women–and unlikely allies–reluctantly team up to take revenge against a man who has wronged them all.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The premise behind this book had sounded interesting to me. And I ended up liking certain pieces of the plot line but overall the book was not my favorite. It had some interesting parts to the plot line and there were some plot twists that I didn’t exactly see coming. But at the same time the plot was a little slow in parts and also a little redundant in how naïve Imogen was in thinking she had finally escaped Phillip’s clutches. I also felt like Phillip got off a little light considering how shitty of a person he was. Overall the book was good and was an entertaining read but like I said, not my favorite read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #58 – When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

Title: When Life Gives You Lululemons
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Date finished: 7/24/21
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Pages in book: 354
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Devil Wears Prada series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home mom, band together to navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich and win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an unexpected ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book a couple years ago – even though I hadn’t read the first two books in the series, I have seen the Devil Wears Prada movie so I knew the players. I was worried when I first started reading that it was going to be an annoying story about white rich people woes, but I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected to. The plot lines ended up drawing me in, especially Karolina’s which was particularly rage-inducing. There were a lot of terrible people in the book, who were doing awful things to the people around them, which wasn’t always fun to read. And ended up being somewhat repetitive in terms of everyone being jerks to each other. I didn’t love too that Emily did a complete turn around from not wanting kids to being ecstatic that she’s pregnant. It’s ok for people to just not want to have kids, and I thought it would’ve been ok (and more in line with her character) for Emily to not want kids. Other than that – all the drama would likely be exciting for most readers but it isn’t my favorite type of story. Overall it was a good book but I didn’t love it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page