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Weekly Book Club {8.8.18}

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This week I’m sharing 3 more books from my library’s ebook collection. Two were really good reads for me and one was just an ok read. I will tell you- the best thing about my library’s newly enhanced ebook collection is that I’m reading so many new authors that I wouldn’t have read before. It’s hard to justify spending $15 on a book that you’re not sure you will love. I’m way too cheap for that! And this year I’ve discovered so many new authors that are now on my must-read list!

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Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman– At any given moment in other people’s houses, you can find…repressed hopes and dreams…moments of unexpected joy…someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband…*record scratch* As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors’ private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton’s wife is mysteriously missing, and now this…After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that’s a notion easier said than done when Anne’s husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families–and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

This was so close to being a 5 Star read for me. I’m not even sure I can explain why it’s only a 4.5 star read. I think maybe it was because there were so many different POV’s and plots going on at one time. It wasn’t hard to keep track of or anything like that but I think it disconnected me from the main plot a little bit. Still- a fantastic read and if you’re deep in the mommy life right now like I am, you’ll enjoy this story. Also- this story is why you don’t get that close to your neighbors/carpool buddies. Ha!

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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory– Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend. After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other. They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I was really excited to read this story when I saw it. I love fake to real relationship stories with unconventional beginnings, which this one definitely had. I liked that the two characters had real life issues to work through. The beginning was a bit stilted for me though. Once it got going (about 1/3 the way through) it reminded me of a rom com movie. I liked the way Alexa’s personality was portrayed- independent, sassy, spunky, and driven. She had backbone and I liked it! I enjoyed the story but it wasn’t a 5 star read for me. 

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Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery– Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgeling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies. Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant. Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

My Rating: 4 Stars

This was SOOOOO close to a 5 star read for me. It was on track to be just that until a main character did something so out of character that it threw me right out of the story. I found my way back but it wasn’t the same feeling as before. I hate when that happens. Other than that one thing, this book was amazing. It had family drama, romance, comedy, and a sulky teen daughter. Definitely a worthy read! I haven’t read any of the other books in this series but I will now!

 



Weekly Book Club {8.1.18}

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Sharing a few more books from the library this week. Two were exceptional 5 star reads and the other one was good but not a favorite. There have been so many great books available from my library’s ebook catalog lately that I haven’t read anything from my TBR lists in months! I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved this year on books!

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Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak– It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down. In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I had very high hopes for this book and it did meet some of them. The characters were well developed but I didn’t connect with them very well. There were a number of surprises and twists which were good but the story wasn’t as fast paced. It reminded me a bit of The Family Stone, which is one of my favorite movies, but it didn’t connect as well. Still an enjoyable read and I’m glad I chose this one and stuck with it. 

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The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard– Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room. But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun…or else be out of a job. Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina—who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice—making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them. Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country. But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

My Rating: 5 Stars

I adore Linda Howard. I’ve read every book she’s ever written and almost all of them have been 5 Star reads for me. This one was no exception. It was fast paced, high tension, and HOT! I loved it! I loved the feisty attitude of the main character and how she never gave up. I loved her connection with the team and their interactions together. I finished this book in 6 hours and stayed up until 3am so I didn’t have to stop reading. There aren’t many books that I’ll lose that much sleep for. Ha! Definitely a must read for me!

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Accidental Heroes by Danielle Steel– On a beautiful May morning at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, two planes have just departed for San Francisco—one a 757, another a smaller Airbus A321. At a security checkpoint, TSA agent Bernice Adams finds a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge bearing an ambiguous—perhaps ominous—message. Her supervisor dismisses her concerns, but Bernice calls security and soon Ben Waterman arrives. A senior Homeland Security agent, still grappling with guilt after a disastrous operation in which hostages were killed, Ben too becomes suspicious. Who left the postcard behind, which flight is that person on, and what exactly does the message mean? As Ben scans the passenger manifests, his focus turns to the A321, with Helen Smith as its senior pilot. Helen’s military service and her tenure with the airline have been exemplary. But her husband’s savage death in Iraq was more than anyone should bear, leaving her widowed with three children. A major film star is on board. So is an off-duty pilot who has just lost his forty-year career. So is a distraught father, traveling with the baby son he has abducted from his estranged wife. Sifting through data and relying on instinct, Ben becomes convinced that someone on Helen’s plane is planning something terrible. And he’s right. Passengers, crew, and experts on the ground become heroes out of necessity to try to avert tragedy at the eleventh hour. In her stunning novel, Danielle Steel combines intense action with stories of emotionally rich, intertwined lives. As the jet bears down on its destination of San Francisco, strangers are united, desperate choices are made, and futures will be changed forever by a handful of accidental heroes.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Oh. My. Gosh. This book. It was amazing! I was hooked from the blurb and once I started reading I could not stop. I finished this one in less than 10 hours because it was THAT good! I had to know what happened. I’ve been a huge fan of Danielle Steel for over 2 decades (dang, I’m old) and this is probably in the Top 5 of my favorite books by her ever. I found myself flip flopping over what I thought was happening and who might be involved. It wasn’t until the very end of the book that I figured it out. The characters are well developed and you can feel their emotions as you read. This is a definite keeper for me! 



Weekly Book Club {7.25.18}

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This week I’m sharing a couple of non-fiction books and a third book from a longtime favorite series that I read from the library. Both the non-fiction books were a bit outside my normal genre selections but I enjoyed both of them. 

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Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames– In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog. In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums. Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

My Rating: 4 Stars

This book was so interesting! I’ve thought about moving away from everything and living on a homestead but let’s just be honest, I don’t have the discipline to actually do it. It was so interesting to read about how Elizabeth and Nate made it happen! 

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A Simplified Life by Emily Ley– Busy wife, mom, entrepreneur, and bestselling author Emily Ley knows how you feel. With a growing family, increased work demands, and more, she understands the struggle it is to keep the plates spinning. In A Simplified Life, you’ll find Emily’s strategies, systems, and methods for permanently clearing the clutter, organizing your priorities, and living intentionally in 10 key areas—from your home and meal planning, to style and finances, parenting, faith life, and more. Emily will show you how to truly make the most of your days with realistic, achievable, and tactical tools. Walk alongside Emily through each page of the book, working through her simple strategies toward your own goals as you simplify and make space for what matters most.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The idea of a simplified life is like the unicorn in my life. It’s what I strive to have but it never seems to happen. I was drawn in by the simple cover and the premise of the book. And it was good! The book revolved around living your life with intention, which is a huge thing for me. I got a lot of great ideas and it reinforced a lot of the things I’m already doing to simplify my life. I devoured this book in no time and it actually motivated me to make some necessary changes in our lives to achieve peace. If you’re a stressed out mom trying to juggle way too much crap I highly recommend this read!

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Hot and Bothered by Shelly Laurenston– It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late. Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Oh my gosh, I love the honey badgers. Love them! This is book 1 in a new series that is a spin off of her uber popular Pride series. I’ve read almost every book in her Pride series and they are great. The honey badgers were my favorite characters in that series so I was excited to see a whole new series revolving around them. This book did not disappoint. Charlie is a badass and I adore her. This book has romance, action, hot alpha males, and badass slightly psychotic honey badger shifter women. Basically it’s the best thing ever. Ha! Definitely recommend this one and you don’t have to read the Pride series first. This series stands on it’s own. 



Weekly Book Club {7.18.18}

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Three more books this week from the local library ebook collection! I’m not doing so well on my Unread Shelf Collection for this year but that’s mainly because I keep finding all these amazing books at the library to read!

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Closer than you know by Brad Parks– Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know. It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood–with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex–she thought that turmoil was behind her. Until one Monday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.” Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever. Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye–who has been assigned Melanie’s case–has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women. Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation . . . or her undoing.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Oh my holy cow. This was a super fast paced psychological thriller that kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning because I had to know how it ended. I’m a sucker for a foster care story (for obvious reasons if you’re a longtime reader). My heart was in my throat the entire time. I could feel the pain of the main character, Melanie. I could feel her hopelessness and her terror. The characters were so very real and it made the story come alive for me. Definitely a 5 Star read for me!

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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth– The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street. Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers. But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park – and returned home without her. As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I was completely unprepared for this book. I didn’t know some of the issues that the story would revolve around, including PPD, and was a bit caught off guard. That being said, it was a great read. It was fast paced, engaging, and had enough twists to keep me interested. The characters were well fleshed out and each had their own engrossing story within the story. I enjoyed the several different POV’s and they were so well written that I had no issue keeping up with who was narrating each part. Definitely a worthy read!

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Covert Game by Christine Feehan– Rescuing an industrial spy from the hands of a criminal mastermind is a suicide mission for the GhostWalkers. And there’s no one more up to the task than Gino Mazza. He’s the perfect killing machine–a man driven by demons so dark and destructive that his blighted soul has given up trying to find solace. But his laser-sharp focus on his target has transformed into something nearing desire. A treasonous senator dangled top secret GhostWalker data in front of a Chinese crime lord, and he bit. Zara Hightower, one of the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence, was sent in to psychically wipe the crime lord’s computer network. She succeeded, but at a huge cost. Now she’s the captive of a man who has descended into paranoid madness. Torture and death await her. But GhostWalkers never leave one of their own in enemy territory. And it’s up to Gino to save Zara, or kill her if it turns out she’s led them into a trap. Either way, heaven or hell won’t stop him.

My Rating: 5 Stars

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Christine Feehan. But for some reason I have not really gotten into her Ghostwalkers series. I’ve tried a couple of the books and they just didn’t give me the same reaction as her other series have. This one popped up on my library ebook list though and it sounded great so I downloaded it. I’m so glad I did! I loved it! The story had action, suspense, hot alpha males, and badass women. That’s all I need for a good story! I’m going to go back and try a few more of the books in the series now that I have a good grasp on the different characters and see if they change my mind. 



Weekly Book Club (7.11.18}

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This week I’m sharing 3 more books I borrowed from the local library’s ebook collection. I’ve saved so much money, gotten to explore different genres, and discovered so many great authors this year because of this library ebook collection. I love it!

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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella– After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades. In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this one. I always enjoy a Sophie Kinsella book and this one was no exception. I related to the characters because they’ve been married for awhile and I could imagine my reaction in their situation. It made the story much more real and even better for me. It fell firmly in the Chick Lit category for me but it did have some surprisingly serious parts. 

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Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake– Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all. Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend. Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Oh my gosh. I loved loved loved this book. I seriously could not put it down. The story was fast paced and full of tension. I loved all the twists and turns and couldn’t wait to see the ending. The characters were real and flawed and very easy to relate to. If you love psychological thrillers then you’ll enjoy this one. One of my favorite new quotes (that I posted on Instagram) came from this book.

“This is the way of fate – all of these pieces that must slot into place, one leading to the other, a progression toward a conclusion that seems inevitable only after the fact” 

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney– My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 1. I’m in a coma. 2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 3. Sometimes I lie. Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

I’m not sure about this one. The blurb caught me and I couldn’t wait to read it. The beginning was a bit slow and had a hard time holding my attention but then BAM. It was as if the author packed every single thing that could possibly happen into the last 1/3 of the book. It was a bit much all at once and that lowered the believable factor for me. But I didn’t guess the ending and the last 1/2 of the book definitely held my attention. The story is told in alternating present, past, and diary style entries but it doesn’t detract from what’s going on. If you like psychological thrillers then you’ll probably enjoy this one.