2016 Book #36 – The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

51vl1T1gaGL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Year We Turned Forty
Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Date finished: 4/19/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.
Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.
Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.
Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.
But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

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 actually won a free copy of the ARC by entering a contest on their Facebook site and was so excited to read it! Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a book with a blue cover” since this book has a blue cover. This book was about three best friends: Gabriela, Claire, and Jessie. In some way or another their lives all change on their fortieth birthday that affects them for the next ten years. We next meet them in Las Vegas on their fiftieth birthday when they are offered the chance to travel back in time and relive their fortieth year, thereby possibly changing things for the better by doing things differently this time around.
Things don’t go quite as they expected though. Gabriela, who always wished she had a baby, has trouble conceiving. Claire repairs her relationship with her daughter but comes close to losing her again. And Jessie has managed to hold onto her husband Grant but only by keeping a huge secret from him, and how long can she really expect to keep him in the dark? The three friends journey through their fortieth year (for the second time) hoping that the mistakes their making this time somehow turn out better for them than the mistakes they made the first time. It almost reminds me (very loosely) of when you’re taking a multiple choice test and you have the option of a, b, c, or d and you have no idea which one it is. So the first time you guess a and get it wrong so the next time you guess b and hope its right but have no way of knowing. Gabriela, Claire, and Jessie had no way of knowing how their actions would affect not only themselves this time but all the loved ones that surrounded them as well.
Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot. I thought the plot line was immensely creative. It was heart-wrenching to see the characters struggle through the challenges in their relived lives but at the same time it allows the reader to connect more with the characters and their emotions. The ending was heart-warming and moving and I didn’t want to put the book down until I found out what happened. I also thought that this book dealt well with a variety of relationship issues, including husband and wife and parent and child in many different forms. I loved one of Jessie’s “lessons” from her relived life, that you should learn to love and appreciate what you have instead of always looking for the next thing that will help you be happy. I think that is an important thought since many people are continually trying to buy the next released phone or the next gaming system or the next whatever to gain some sort of happiness. But happiness is something that comes from being content in who you are and what you have and who is in your life. An important concept for people to think on nowadays.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, this one was definitely a tear-jerker and hit me hard in the feels. Definitely have a couple tissues handy. This was such a moving book though and was such a creative plot idea. Great book and a definite must read for summer!!

Link to author website

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

2016 Book #7 – Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco

51goyFUe8+L._SX357_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Down the Wormhole
Author: Ana Franco
Date finished: 1/24/16
Genre: YA, mythology
Publisher: Appears to be self-published
Publication Date: September 21, 2015
Pages in book: 171
Stand alone or series: #1 in Wormhole series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

Jane “Kitty” Doe isn’t sure when her life started being so weird for the simple fact that she can’t recall much of her early life. She knows she’s an orphan and that her former tutor was obsessed with cats – hence her name – but can’t honestly fathom when having a Greek sorceress wanting her to be pregnant became part of that life.
Oh, and did she mention that the man said sorceress wanted to be the father of her child was one who, within months of his life, usurped Loki’s place as a Prince? She must have forgotten to mention that he also has fabulous legs. And a stupidly charming face. And that he actually wants to have a child with her?
Oh, right – that’s because he was under the effects of a love potion, courtesy of the witch that now stalks Kitty.
Ah, and then there’s another thing: inside her bathroom is a statue of Aphrodite, gift from her new roommate, Medusa.

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. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Start a New Series” square, since this book is the first in a series. This book is (mostly) about a girl named Kitty, who finds herself involved in the politics and old grudges of the Norse gods and goddesses, specifically Amerigin, Anubis, Medusa, Aphrodite, Eris and Set. Eris has some kind of master plan to gain revenge against Amerigin and it means that he must lose the thing he holds most dear. Which seems to be Kitty. So anyways, all of them except for Eris and Set end up at the same orphanage (somehow) and also somehow the guys didn’t even know the girls in their orphanage were goddesses. When Eris attacks though they band together to protect Kitty, who they believe to be an innocent but who is surprisingly unperturbed by the fact she has goddesses for roommates.
Overall I liked the story line of this book, it kept me interested and I stayed engaged in the story. However, there were A LOT of grammatical errors in this book (mostly verb tenses). After reading a little online, it seems that this book was the author’s first ever book in English which explained the poor grammar. Luckily I also read online that this book is currently being revised/rewritten with the help of an editor which I think will greatly improve it. This book I thought had a lot of potential story line-wise but needed a lot of help with grammar and pacing. For those who are seriously bothered by grammatical issues I would wait until the revised version comes out and hopefully that issue will have been dealt with. I have to say though I ended up getting invested in the story line and I am interested to see what happens next. Though the characters are slightly frustrating, the plot line (for me) was almost enough to overcome the issues present in this book.

The bottom line: While I thought this book had a lot of potential in the story line, the wealth of grammatical errors would deter some readers. If you think you can move past those though, the story line is fairly interesting and keeps you hooked. A little all over the place but its a shorter novel anyway so it fits the length of the book I think.

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

Link to author’s website

2015 Book #110 – Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

41gqky7Ud9LTitle: Smoke
Author: Catherine McKenzie
Date finished: 10/22/15
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Pages in book: 351
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 the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.
After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.
For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.
As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

My rating: 3.25 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 book tells the story of Elizabeth Martin, an ex-firefighter who as the story opens we learn is planning to get a divorce from her husband, Ben. Elizabeth used to be friends with Mindy Mitchell but they had a falling out about a year ago. Anyways, there is a fire within the town of Nelson, where they both live, and its spreading through the forest area in/surrounding the town I believe. Elizabeth used to be an arson investigator and she now works for the local police department so she is called in to investigate the fire. Since she has been fighting fires for 10 years as well, she knows a lot of the people called in to help control the situation. Unfortunately there is no rain on the horizon and the fires are spreading like… well like wildfire. Elizabeth ends up having to figure out what is important to her while she is drawn back into the fire-fighting world.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mindy is trying to figure out what’s been up with her oldest son lately. He’s been acting weird and she thinks he might be sneaking out at night but can’t seem to find a way to prove it. Mindy feels awful for the man who lost his house in the fire and wants to do something to help, so she has the upcoming fundraiser divert their funds from the high school hockey team to this man who lost his home and everything else in the fire. Then Elizabeth discovers the fire started in this man’s fire pit outside his house, and the twists and turns start coming as we journey through the days following the start of the fire while staff try to contain it and put it out and Elizabeth tries to figure out who is behind all of this.
Overall I am not 100% sure how I felt about this book (which doesn’t usually happen for me). There were some parts of it that I really liked and that made me not want to put the book down but I had some trouble getting into the book until I was about halfway through. Also, one of my biggest book peeves is when we get a hint of something that seems like its going to be an issue and then that item is never followed up on, maybe in the interest of time or the author just forgot about it, I don’t know. That whole thing with the teacher named Elizabeth and how Ben never mentioned her and what not, I felt like that was leading somewhere. At the very least I felt like that should have been a discussion item, seeing as how Ben was all bent out of shape that Elizabeth was friends with Andy but Ben is friends with this Stephanie girl and never even mentions her? Weird. Also Elizabeth makes some vague mentions of something that happened between Kate and her husband but we never find out what and that is annoying. Also Tucker (while not technically the “villain” we are looking for) is a freaking psychopath shithead and I really wanted somebody to punch him. I was kind of upset he didn’t get in any trouble really. And my final issue was with the divorce in the first place. Obviously if you’re miserable and you can’t do it anymore and you’ve tried all you can, no one can expect you to stay miserable fort he rest of your life, we all deserve to be happy. But yanking this guy around telling him you want a divorce and then you don’t, that just bothered me. Obviously he is going to be confused and hurt and distrustful, honestly what do you expect?
So as you can see I had some overall issues with this book but that’s more of a personal thing. The story line was interesting and some parts of the book kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what was going to happen next.

The bottom line: This was an ok book for me. I’m glad I read it but I’m on the fence about recommending it.

Link to author website

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