Always With a Book

Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Title: The Other Woman
Author: Sandie Jones
Published: August 2018, Minotaur Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

A deliciously disturbing, compulsively readable debut domestic suspense--prepare to meet The Other Woman: there’s nothing she won’t do to keep you away from her son ...

Emily thinks Adam’s perfect; the man she thought she’d never meet. But lurking in the shadows is a rival; a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever.

The Other Woman is an addictive, fast-paced psychological thriller about the destructive relationship between Emily, her boyfriend Adam, and his manipulative mother Pammie.

My thoughts: I was so excited when this book showed up on my doorstep. First, I had been getting these awesome emails about the book and it definitely intrigued me...and then I was already seeing a lot of buzz about the book around Instagram, so I was quite excited about it, but on the other hand, I have to admit, I was a little nervous going in. Sometimes a book is so heavily buzzed about that it falls a little flat - but that is definitely not the case here...this book totally lives up to all its expectations and then some!

I loved everything about this book - from the setup to the crazy characters to the delivery. It totally hooks you from the first chapter and really never lets up. I had so many different theories about what was going on and never once did I guess where this book would end up - not at all!!! You may think you know how this story is going to go...but think again.

This book is one of those addicting, quick reads. The short chapters only add to that and you quickly become immersed in the story line. This psychological thriller definitely plays with your mind, and you find that you just can't get enough of it. The characters are great - some you will love and some you will love to hate. I love characters like that and I love authors that have the ability to create characters like that. And what's even better is that it's not just the main characters that are well developed, but also the secondary characters, too. Sandie Jones really takes the time to flush out all the characters.

This is one of those books where it really is best to go in is so much more enjoyable that way. I read this during my vacation at the beach and totally lost myself to Pammie's crazy world and loved every minute of it. I highly encourage you do to the same...just pick up the book and enjoy it for what it is...a fun, engaging, crazy psychological thriller!


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Review: The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner (audio)

Title: The Husband Hour
Author: Jamie Brenner
Narrator: Christie Moreau
Published: April 2018, Hachette Audio
Length: 10 hours 47 minutes
Source: Hachette Audio via

When a young widow's reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind. 

Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny.

Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time.

One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future.

My thoughts: Jamie Brenner is a new-to-me author, but I know this is not her first book. And based on how much I loved this story, I will definitely be keeping her on my list of authors to read.

This is such an emotional and powerful story. It tackles a topic that is just starting to gain traction in the media and one that really needs to be given our full attention - that of traumatic brain injuries not only in pro athletes but also in our younger athletes. And it also looks at PTSD. Both these topics are quite heavy in and of themselves, but the way Jamie Brenner weaves her story around them, was both poignant and touching and you actually feel a glimmer of hope that awareness is forthcoming.

The story also delves into family relationships and all the complexities that come with that. Family drama, love and grief are all explored here. The characters are all perfectly flawed and relatable. The characters relationships and struggles were believable. Having two sisters myself, I felt horrible for Lauren about the complicated relationship she had with her sister. Especially at a time like this. This is when you need that relationship even more. As things are slowly revealed,  you understand why that relationship is the way it is, but boy did my heart break for her.

This book really was a fantastic read. While it wasn't the light and fluffy read I was at first expecting it to be, I still completely enjoyed it and would totally recommend it, plus it's set at the Jersey shore, so I think it still counts as a beach read, don't you?

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Christie Moreau narrate a book and I think she did a good job. Her pacing and intonation was good. I enjoyed this audio book.  


Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Title: Rust & Stardust
Author: T. Greenwood
Published: August 2018, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

My thoughts: This is the first time I've read anything by T. Greenwood, though I am familiar with her name, and do have another book sitting on my shelf (or rather in a box somewhere is storage) by her. This book, though, will certainly go down as one of my favorites of hers - it is so beautifully written, despite the fact that it tore my heart into pieces time and again.

This book is the fictional retelling of Sally Horner's kidnapping by Frank LaSalle and I fully admit to not knowing much about this case. And I purposely did not look anything up prior to reading this book as I wanted to experience it as T. Greenwood presented it. And I'm so glad I chilling and heartbreaking as it was.

This is the kind of story that totally gets under your skin, yet it is also one that you cannot walk away from until you read that very last page. T. Greenwood does a fantastic job putting us right into the story, telling it from not only Sally's point of view, but also from other peoples points of view that were integral in Sally's life - her mother, her sister and a few other important women Sally meets, as well as Sally's brother-in-law, Al. You feel their pain and their despair at not knowing what to do to get Sally back.

This book packs such an emotional punch. It is loaded with triggers - both physical and mental abuse - but written in such a way that you are left to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. It is not overtly graphic in any way, yet you know that abuse is happening. 

An intense read that requires introspection while reading, it is definitely one of the best works of historical fiction I've read in a long time and certainly one I will for sure not be forgetting any time soon. I've never read Nabokov's Lolita, but knowing that Sally Horner's disappearance is what provided his inspiration, I am definitely putting it on my list to read. And this book is most definitely getting a place of honor on my bookshelf - it deserves it!!!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Coroner by Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

Title: The Coroner
Author: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
Published: August 2018, Crooked Lane Books
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Publisher via Publicist

Summoned from her promising surgical career first to her estranged father's bedside, and then his post as medical examiner when his small town needs urgent help with a suspicious death, Emily Hartford discovers home is where the bodies are in this pitch perfect mystery debut.

Recently engaged and deeply ensconced in her third year of surgical residency in Chicago, Emily Hartford gets a shock when she’s called home to Freeport, MI, the small town she fled a decade ago after the death of her mother. Her estranged father, the local medical examiner, has had a massive heart attack and Emily is needed urgently to help with his recovery.

Not sure what to expect, Emily races home, blowing the only stoplight at the center of town and getting pulled over by her former high school love, now Sheriff, Nick Larson. At the hospital, she finds her father in near total denial of the seriousness of his condition. He insists that the best thing Emily can do to help him is to take on the autopsy of a Senator’s teen daughter whose sudden, unexplained death has just rocked the sleepy town.

Reluctantly agreeing to help her father and Nick, Emily gets down to work, only to discover that the girl was murdered. The autopsy reminds her of her many hours in the morgue with her father when she was a young teen—a time which inspired her love of medicine. Before she knows it, she’s pulled deeper into the case and closer to her father and to Nick—much to the dismay of her big city fiance. When a threat is made to Emily herself, she must race to catch the killer before he strikes again in The Coroner, expertly written and sharply plotted, perfect for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Julia Spencer Fleming.

My thoughts: It's no surprise that I enjoy mystery and crime thrillers, so of course I said I would read and review this book. I love that the author herself is the daughter of a medical examiner - I think that just adds to the intrigue and authenticness of the book. She herself got involved in the medical examiner world at the age of 10! How cool is that?

I really enjoyed this debut mystery and I really hope it is the start of a series, especially with that ending we are left with! My goodness - talk about a cliffhanger! But as to the rest of the story - this mystery really did keep me guessing and being that I read a ton of mysteries, that's saying something.

I liked that Emily is a realistic, yet flawed character. She has issues! She has unresolved conflict with her father that really needs to be dealt with before she can move on with her life. Running away all those years ago really did nothing more than put her head in the sand. These secrets need to be dealt with and while we all know that nothing drives a story like a good secret, at some point, that secret needs to be dealt with. But I also liked that she is not afraid to stick to her guns when it comes to working on this case! She's got gumption and I like that!!!

I liked that the mystery was well thought out and we were given just enough clues here and there that the identity of the guilty person wasn't easily guessed. There were plenty of red herrings thrown our way to keep us on our toes with just enough twists to keep it suspenseful without going overboard. 

This book had just the right mix of good characters, an interesting plot, a good mystery and a little romance to keep you engaged throughout. Throw in some long-buried secrets and family drama and you have an engaging story that is hard to put down. I really enjoyed this book and will be keeping an eye out for a potential sequel or next installment in what I hope becomes a new series!


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Bucket List by Georgia Clark

Title: The Bucket List
Author: Georgia Clark
Published: August 2018, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From the author of the critically acclaimed “lively and engrossing parable for women of all generations” (Harper’s Bazaar) The Regulars­ comes a deeply funny and thoughtful tale of a young woman who, after discovering she has the breast cancer gene, embarks on an unforgettable bucket list adventure.

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn't want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. Ultimately, this is a story about Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things she thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. Both are things she will change by choosing to have a major surgery that could save her life, and will give her the future she really wants.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The Regulars, The Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Georgia Clark and as soon as I read the blurb about the book, I just knew it was something I wanted to read. Let's face it...this is something we all think about, we all fear happening to us or a loved one. And this is the type of book that definitely makes you think - WHAT WOULD YOU DO? What if  you found out you had the breast cancer gene mutation?

This book is both sexy and will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you blush. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny and then it will have you shedding tears of heartbreak. As you journey with Lacey on this year of introspection and fun as she decides what it is she really wants to do after finding out she has the breast cancer mutation gene, you will be hard-pressed not to become emotionally attached to Lacey and all that she is going through. 

It's a unique story in that it somehow manages to balance all the emotional baggage of the radical double mastectomy with a bucket list all about boobs. What does Lacey want to do now with her boobs that she might not be able to do after having them removed? It's this balancing of the ridiculousness (this is where it heads towards the heavy blushing stage!) and the emotional that make this book such a good read. And it also brings up a lot of food for thought. What would you do if you were in Lacey's position? Would you do the surgery right away or take some time and do your own bucket list?

This is an extremely powerful read and I think it also is an empowering read. And I think one of the most important messages that it delivers is to live your best life while you can. I definitely recommend this book.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: Everything That Follows by Meg Little Reilly

Title: Everything That Follows
Author: Meg Little Reilly
Published: May 2018, MIRA
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley


For fans of Megan Abbott and Chris Bohjalian comes a novel of moral complexity about friends who must choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing in the wake of a fatal boating accident. Set in the moody off-season of Martha’s Vineyard, Everything That Follows is a plunge into the dark waters of secrets and flexible morals. The truth becomes whatever we say it is…

Around midnight, three friends take their partying from bar to boat on a misty fall evening. Just as the weather deteriorates, one of them suddenly and confusingly goes overboard. Is it an accident? The result of an unwanted advance? His body disappears quickly, silently, into the dark water. The circumstances are murky, but what is clear is that the other two need to notify the authorities. Minutes become hours become days as they hesitate, caught up in their guilt and hope that their friend has somehow made it safely to shore. As valuable time passes, they find themselves deep in a moral morass with huge implications as they struggle to move forward and live with their dark secret.

My thoughts: This is this first book I've read by Meg Little Reilly and I found it be to captivating and intriguing all the way through. I love books like that - ones that hold my interest and keep me guessing as to where it is going to end up. 

This book was a very quick, easy read. It is one that is chock full of secrets - and we learn about the main secret that drives most of this book right off the bat. This is definitely a character-driven novel and we see how the characters have to live with the consequences of their actions. These characters are certainly flawed and watching them struggle with their choices is what makes this book that much more realistic. 

I liked the way the mystery was played out. You think you know what happened, but do you really? Even the characters aren't quite sure. And let's not forget that both Kat and Hunter come from very different backgrounds, so when all is said and done, and they don't report the accident right away, they are left with different perceptions of what happens next. Hunter after all has his family's name to help protect him, while Kat has no one. Perception is everything, is it not?

This book is definitely not what is outwardly appears to be. You might think you have it all figured out, but think again. You might think you have all the characters figured out, but think again. This book plays on your everything instinct and it plays on everything you think you know. It's a fun little book that's not quite as simple as it appears to be.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

Title: When Life Gives You Lululemons
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Series: The Devil Wears Prada, #3
Published: June 2018, Simon Schuster
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

Welcome to Greenwich, CT, 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, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s 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.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.

My thoughts: I'm a big fan of the movie, The Devil Wears Prada - it's totally a guilty pleasure type of movie, the one you put on when there's nothing else on and you just feel like having a do-nothing, laze about on the couch type of afternoon or evening. I love Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep - they were made for those parts and it's just a fun, feel-good movie. I literally had no idea the movie was based on a book until Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns came out - not that I read it, or the first book in this series. But, I was asked to read this latest book and I just couldn't refuse...and I'm so glad I didn't - I really enjoyed this much in fact that I think I will go back and read the first two books!

As much as I love my thrillers and psychological suspense novels, sometimes you just need a palate cleanser - something lighthearted and fun and this was exactly that! It was funny and cheeky and I laughed my way through it and had a ball! 

This story is basically Emily's and it was nice to see a more personable side to her. I liked that we see her grow as a person in this story. I also loved the balance between the three women - these women couldn't be more different from each other and yet, they needed each other more than they knew. They had to learn to depend on each other, trust each other and through all that, really came to care for and understand each other. It wasn't always easy or pretty, but it sure was fun to watch!

This is definitely the type of book to pick up if you are in the mood for something funny, something empowering, or just something in the middle. It's even got a cameo of the famous Miranda Priestly! 

This was my first book by Lauren Weisberger and it was a treat. I know for sure I'll be picking up the earlier books in this series as soon as I can get to them. Have you read them yet? And I definitely see myself watching The Devil Wears Prada's been a while! 

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