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 #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

2021 Book #19 – The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Title: The Girls at 17 Swann Street
Author: Yara Zgheib
Date finished: 3/7/21
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 384
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:

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.


The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

My rating:  4.25 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.

I had requested this book awhile ago (over two years ago at this point) because it sounded interested but I didn’t get the chance to read it until now. This book brought up so many emotions for me. I’ve never experienced the struggle of having anorexia but it seemed like an accurate representation of what those with anorexia must actually deal with. It becomes almost like an addition that they must overcome – and they have to recondition themselves to love their bodies, but they also have to struggle with this for years. The sense of hopelessness that Anna experienced was so heart-breaking – watching what her and the other girls in the house went through. I tend to struggle with eating too much and the guilt that comes from that so I could understand some of the emotions and struggles that Anna went through dealing with her internal demons. A lot of the book was just such an emotional upheaval for the reader – it was a very moving story that ended with feelings of hope. Overall it was a good book and I really enjoyed it. Definitely emotional but I’d still recommend!

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

2021 Book #6 – The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/12/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 413
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:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE

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 enjoyed other books that I’ve read by Delaney and was intrigued to read this one too. It turned out to be not quite what I expected but was very interesting. The main narrator is an artificial intelligence robot and it was really compelling how human like her character and her voice was even though she was a robot. There was a weird ending though that I didn’t expect and that I didn’t quite follow how it came about. There were some good twists and turns along the way and the book took an interesting psychological look at Tim’s obsession with women. Overall this was a really engaging read and I enjoyed it – I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. It was a good book but some of the ending didn’t click for me so I wouldn’t say I thought it was great. I still think it’s worth a read though!

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

2020 Book #82 – One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase

Title: One Night at the Lake
Author: Bethany Chase
Date finished: 11/9/20
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 289
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 tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Leah has been waiting for this moment a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple have been together four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her grief.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is an emotional novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: Can love overcome what happened on that hot summer night?

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 had read another book by this author before and really liked it – and though I am very behind in reading this one, I have been looking forward to getting to it. I really enjoy this author’s books so much, they are so raw with emotions and have such genuinely written relationships in them. I loved the dual points of view in this book – switching back and forth with the past and the present and between Leah and June. I also thought this book dealt so well with grief and how it affects people, especially those who go through traumatic events like those in the book. I was hooked on this book from the start – I didn’t want to put it down and even when I had to I felt like my thoughts were still trapped inside the book. I loved the portrayals of relationships in this book, not only of romantic relationships and the interplay between the participants of those but also within strong friendships, siblings and also child-parent relationships. The characters in this book were very well written, I thought the plot and especially how the plot was approached was super, and I would definitely recommend this one – it was a great read!

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

2020 Book #64 – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

03a507f4-0e8d-44a7-8f60-29878f5d228c.__CR0,0,300,300_PT0_SX300_V1___

Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Date finished: 9/13/20
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Park Row
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
Pages in book: 308
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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 forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

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.

The cover on this book looked so intriguing, as did the book description, so I was excited to get the chance to read this. This book was an interesting combination of historical fiction and a contemporary viewpoint. The plot was great – the plot twists at the end I just didn’t see coming and I really liked the overall plot line. Caroline’s character was intriguing and curious, and her growth throughout the story was wonderful to see. And I LOVED that she didn’t stay with her husband, who was a manipulative asshole. Overall this was a sweet story and I really enjoyed it, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #41 – I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

Title: I Heart Forever
Author: Lindsey Kelk
Date finished: 6/11/20
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #7 in the I Heart series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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 wedding in Manhattan…and someone’s keeping a secret.

The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground.

So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely?

And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and arguing with your boss isn’t that bad, is it?

Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.

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 had requested this book a long time ago and finally got around to reading it. The book was ok, I liked some parts of it. I ended up liking it more than I expected to honestly. It reminded me a bit of Confessions of a Shopaholic series, kind of bimbo-y sounding narrator and main character. And I’m sure this is just because I hadn’t read the other books in the series but I didn’t feel all that invested in the characters, therefore the story fell apart a little for me. The plot seemed a little scattered to me, fitting with how it seemed the narrator’s mind worked but not my favorite. There were still some entertaining / funny parts but overall it wasn’t my favorite.

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #23 – The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

Title: The Sunday Potluck Club
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 5/6/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Pages in book: 247
Stand alone or series: #1 in Sunday Potluck Club series
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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 recipe for living . . .
 
New friends can be found in unexpected places. For Bridget and Amy, that place was the cancer ward of an Anchorage hospital. Now, as each struggles to overcome loss, they lean on each other for support—sharing suppers, laughter and tears.

Bridget and Amy aren’t about to let hardship knock them down—Bridget plans to return to her veterinarian school studies, Amy to her position as a second-grade teacher—but neither feels quite ready. And so the Sunday Potluck Club is born, a way for Bridget, Amy, and other women who have lost a loved one to find solace and understanding. Savoring favorite dishes while sharing memories and the comfort of connection, the members of the Sunday Potluck Club nourish body and soul.

As weeks go by and the group grows in unforeseen ways, both Bridget and Amy are inspired to find greater purpose.  Amy reaches out to a student whose father bravely faces his own struggle. Bridget volunteers at the local animal shelter, rehabilitating dogs whose unconditional love will bring others a chance to heal. And with the help of two special men, Bridget and Amy are realizing that there’s always room at the table for love and rekindled joy . . .

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 had read the first couple chapters of this book in last year’s BuzzBooks Romance sampler and was really intrigued. The first couple chapters really captured my interest and even though it was 9 months until the book would be published I was still very interested in being able to read and review it. And while I really enjoyed the book, it didn’t turn out to be quite what I thought it would be from the glimpse I got in the first couple chapters. Amy’s character was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And beyond that the way she kept going back and forth about Trent it got to be a bit too much for me. Overall there were pieces of the plot and the story line I thought could’ve been developed more, and I definitely would’ve liked to see some of the characters fleshed out a little more, especially Trent. That being said, I still did enjoy the book. It was a sweet read and was quick and easy to read. The end of the book got me pretty emotional and I wished there had been more of that emotional work throughout the book. I’d recommend giving this one a try, I think there was a lot to like about this book!

Link to author’s website

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

2019 Book #63 – Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

41EO-wfyVJLTitle: Conversations with the Fat Girl
Author: Liza Palmer
Date finished: 8/21/19
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: September 3, 2007 – Reprinted in 2019
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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:

Liza Palmer will have readers cheering as she explores friendship, true love, and self-acceptance in this “engaging and poignant” (Jennifer Weiner) novel. 
Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At twenty-seven, she’s still serving coffee at Joe’s while her friends are getting married, having babies, and thriving in their careers. And now Olivia, Maggie’s best friend since grade school, is getting married too. The man in Maggie’s life? Well there isn’t one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop. Oh, and her dog, Solo (the name says it all).
When Olivia comes to town and asks Maggie to be her maid of honor, Maggie is thrilled… but she can’t help comparing herself to the new and “improved” Olivia. Way back then, they befriended each other because they both struggled with their weight. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the “women’s section” while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2. But as the wedding nears, Olivia’s seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, and Maggie realizes that happiness might not be tied to a number on the scale.
In this wonderful novel, Liza Palmer is both witty and wise, giving a voice to women everywhere who have ever wished they could stop obsessing… and start living.

My rating:  2.5 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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Free Space” box since I just didn’t know what to pick.

I was interested in the premise of this book after reading about it. I’ve struggled with weight issues during most of my life and after reading Kristan Higgins’ Good Luck With That last year I was hopeful that this book would give me similar feelings of connection and understanding. I didn’t end up feeling quite as connected to this book as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it. Even though I struggled with body-image issues due to my weight, I never once struggled with my self-worth. I am so thankful for the family of amazing women (and men) who raised me to be proud of who I am and realize how amazing I am as a person. I struggled connecting to the narrator of this book because for the first half (or more) of the book she doesn’t believe in herself at all, and she doesn’t think that her own life is worth standing up for. I found that hard to read as it is immensely sad. Once she was able to start picking herself up and really making strides within her own life I became more interested, but it just took so long to get there. I liked the ending but I struggled to much through the first half to say that I really liked the book – solely based on my personality not being able to connect with the narrator.

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #55 – The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

51SWKLzVjxLTitle: The Book Charmer
Author: Karen Hawkins
Date finished: 8/4/19
Genre: Contemporary romance, women’s fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dove Pond 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:

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start one series” box since this book is the first in a new series by this author.

I haven’t read anything by this author before, I was intrigued enough by the description and the cover to give this a read! I love books with magical realism and this one was really just such a magical read. I loved the story building and how the author wove different pieces of magic into the story. The thing I found kind of frustrating was how unresolved the ending was. We spent so much time delving into Sarah’s character, which I understand was necessary to understand the whole book talking and saving the town thing, but I was super bummed that we didn’t get resolved on Sarah’s story at the end of this book. I usually prefer to read series consisting of stand alone novels for that reason, I like the connection but I like for things to be resolved at the end. I’m excited to read Sarah’s story though, whenever it may come! Also I thought there was a lot of build up to the Apple Festival and then the actual event only ended up taking up like a page, which left the event feeling a little anti-climactic to me. I loved all the tension and plot building, then when it was wrapped up so quickly it felt a little rushed. There were so many emotions in this book though, I loved it. I laughed, and I cried a bunch. There were so many touching scenes in the book. All of the characters were charming and I loved how much of a family was formed by the various town members. I’d definitely recommend this book.

Link to author website

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