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Book Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes– In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: June 25, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: Charming and real are the best ways I can think to describe this story. Evvie Drake is the woman everyone in town wants to feel sorry for because they don’t know the full story. They only see her as the widow who lost her husband too soon. They don’t know that her marriage was over and she can’t figure out how to live her life without exposing the truth to those close to her. I’ve seen this book compared to a Hallmark movie and I don’t disagree but there was definitely more substance and more raw real life lived within the pages than you typically find in a Hallmark movie. 

I enjoyed the connection between Evvie and Dean. They formed a solid friendship based on a very particular set of rules that worked for them. It was more of a slow burn fall into romance but it worked for this story. If I had any gripes at all about the story it would be Andy, the best friend of Evvie. I found him selfish and a bit too quick to dismiss the friendship for a “best friend”. By far my favorite thing about this book was the grown up thoughts, feelings, and actions. There was no juvenile over-the-top drama or crazy antics thrown in just to have a conflict. The conflict that did exist was organic to the story and was handled like adults would handle it in real life. I definitely recommend this book!



New Releases This Week {9.17.19}

These are the new releases for the week of September 17 that I’m adding to my wish lists.

Save Your Breath by Melinda Leigh– When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late. As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients. As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger– Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice—and killed him in cold blood. Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand– Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a plane crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John. After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures. 

Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux– Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth–even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd– I have three deadly problems: 1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer. 2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain. 3. My new daughter is growing up too fast–and she’s in the line of fire. Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…. Or does it? Family time becomes terror-time, and at last, alone, Kellen faces a killer playing a cruel game. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.



Book Review: The Floating Feldmans

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The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland– Sink or swim! Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo. 

Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring–and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: July 23, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: Standalone

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: What happens when you gather an entire family of parents, grown children, and grandchildren together trapped on a cruise ship with no way out? Feelings are hurt, secrets are shared, fights are had, and truths are outed. Just imagine it- three generations of a dysfunctional family stuck together on a claustrophobic cruise ship! Nothing good can come from all that togetherness when a family isn’t particularly close to each other.

The story is told in multiple points of view, which really made me feel the story and root for the characters in specific ways. Tensions start to appear the moment the matriarch of the family, Annette, invites her grown children, their significant others, and the grandchildren on a cruise. Secrets start to be revealed to the reader immediately and it was really humorous to read along as the family members discovered those secrets. The story wasn’t all humor and family tension though. There were real issues within the family that needed to be addressed and I thought the author handled those issues with extreme care. I definitely recommend this book and I will read more by this author. 



New Releases This Week {9.10.19}

These are the new releases for the week of September 10 that I’m adding to my wish lists.

The Deception by Kat Martin– After searching for her sister for two long years, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she’s called to the morgue to identify Chrissy’s body, the runaway teen the victim of a brutal attack. Guilt and grief send Kate into a tailspin. She failed Chrissy once…she won’t do it again. Even if finding her sister’s killer means following a lethal bounty hunter into the heart of darkness, placing both their lives in danger. Working at Maximum Security has taken Jason Maddox down some dangerous paths, but never for a client he’s so drawn to, or for a case so monstrous. As clues lead them deeper into the city’s underbelly, connections to human trafficking draw them closer and closer to peril, but even Jase’s warnings can’t convince Kate to walk away. As the deadly operation puts a target on their backs, they’ll have to decide what matters most: the truth…or their lives.

Code Name by Sawyer Bennett– As a former member of the United States Secret Service, I’m no stranger to putting my life on the line in the name of duty. Having left the nation’s capital to re-settle in Pittsburgh, the skills I acquired during my tenure in Washington have made me a valued member of the team at Jameson Force Security. But when the President comes seeking a favor to protect his niece, I find myself on the fast track back to the Oval Office. Simply put… she’s beyond brilliant. A nationally renowned energy scientist, Barrett Alexander is on the verge of a breakthrough that will change the world. Unfortunately, that has also made her the target of a suspected terrorist cell. And while Barrett doesn’t believe she’s in any real danger, the President isn’t willing to take chances with her life. As the threats against Barrett become more calculated, I decide taking her on the run is her best chance of survival. Danger, isolation, and attraction ensure we grow closer than I’d ever thought possible. When I realize I want to keep her safe for reasons that have nothing to do with my job and everything to do with the woman I’ve fallen in love with, no one is safe from the hell I’ll rain down on those that threaten her.

Fighting Absolution by Kate McCarthy– At fifteen, Jamie Murphy finds herself broken and alone, convinced she doesn’t need anyone. Until she does. Bear is the boy behind the fence, the one who was there for her when no one else was. Until he’s not. Left with nothing, Jamie joins the army hoping it will give her purpose. The last thing she expects is the best friend from her past to reappear in the dusty plains of a war-torn country. No longer the boy she once knew, Bear is now a man: big, bearded, and SAS—one of the army’s elite. Soon Jamie finds herself not only fighting against her enemies, but her feelings for a man who left her once before. Can she risk losing him all over again?

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan– When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind. Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew. Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother.

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane– If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: it’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And—make that two problems—he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat… what more could a girl really need? Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief—and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened twelve years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth… or a second chance with the one that got away? 

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan– Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne, a renowned scholar and television host. The beloved professor rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target. When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, she’s left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid. In the only way he knows how. The man gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear. No consequences. No traces. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call. Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks– Seventeen-year-old Veronica Clarke never thought she’d want to fail a test – until she finds herself holding a thick piece of plastic and staring at two solid pink lines. How her boyfriend managed to get her pregnant, even with the most consistent use of condoms, is a mystery–but with a college-bound future now disappearing before her eyes, Veronica considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make: an abortion. Except the closest place to legally get one is nine hundred miles away in New Mexico–and Veronica doesn’t have a car. Desperate, she turns to the only person who won’t judge her: Bailey Butler, Jefferson High’s own little black cloud of anger and snark–and Veronica’s ex-best friend. The plan is straightforward: a thirty-hour drive to the clinic and back. What could go wrong? Not much, apart from stolen cars, a crazed ex-boyfriend, truck stop strippers with pro-life agendas, ferret kidnapping, and aliens. Plus, the pain of a broken friendship that can’t be outrun, even when speeding down a highway. Soon, Veronica must risk everything to repair the hurt she’s caused. Under the starlit skies of the Southwest, Veronica and Bailey discover the road to adulthood isn’t easy–but it’s better with a friend by your side.



Book Review: You’ve Been Volunteered

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You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman– If you’ve ever been a room parent or school volunteer, Jen Dixon is your hero. She says what every class mom is really thinking, whether in her notoriously frank emails or standup-worthy interactions with the micromanaging PTA President and the gamut of difficult parents. Luckily, she has the charm and wit to get away with it—most of the time. Jen is sassier than ever but dealing with a whole new set of challenges, in the world of parental politics and at home.

She’s been roped into room-parenting yet again, for her son Max’s third grade class, but as her husband buries himself in work, her older daughters navigate adulthood, and Jen’s own aging parents start to need some parenting themselves, Jen gets pulled in more directions than any one mom, or superhero, can handle.

Refreshingly down-to-earth and brimming with warmth, Dixon’s next chapter will keep you turning the pages to find out what’s really going on under the veneer of polite parent interactions, and have you laughing along with her the whole way.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: July 23, 2019

Acquired: Public library e-book

Series: #2 in Class Mom series

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: If you remember last year, Class Mom was one of my favorite books of the entire year. I laughed out loud so many times while reading that my husband banished me to the couch until I was done reading at night. If you’ve ever been a class mom you will certainly find the humor in this book series. I was class mom for 2 years and I’m taking a break this year to save my sanity. It’s not a job for the weak or the timid, that’s for sure. 

I loved that Laurie Gelman brought back the main characters from the first book. It felt like reuniting with old friends who still didn’t have their mess together. Jen’s emails to her class and to the micromanaging PTA president are as hysterical as ever and some of the situations she found herself in were not unfamiliar to me. By far the biggest draw to these books for me are the interpersonal relationships between the moms. They’re complicated, layered, and very real. In addition to being class mom for her son’s 3rd grade class this year, Jen has also been tasked with heading up the new Safety Patrol program which provides for some of the funniest moments in the book. I sincerely hope that Laurie Gelman is already writing book 3!