Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “Girls’ Night Out” by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Hello bookish friends… how’s your summer reading coming along?  Mine is in full swing, and today I have a new Book Notes review for you.

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is the duo’s fifth novel together, and their second offering in the suspense genre.  I’d previously read The Year We Turned Forty (a women’s fiction with a magical twist) and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to another good read with this thriller.

Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren have been friends for more than twenty years, but a lot of wounds have been inflicted on their friendship over time.  So they agree to a girls’ trip to Mexico to bond and reconnect.  But as they reunite, everyone is keeping secrets of their own, and nothing about the trip is going as planned.  Their adventure culminates in a disastrous night out where one of the women goes missing, and another can’t remember anything about what happened.  The story alternates among several different time points both before and after that fateful night, as we learn how things went so badly wrong.  It’s truly a tale of trouble in paradise!

Whew!  At its core, this book is about women’s friendships, and it seems to ask how much a friendship can survive before it implodes.  Our author duo, Liz and Lisa, have themselves been best friends for decades, so they know a thing or two about complicated, long term pairings.  In fact, they have described how this novel temporarily put a huge strain on their relationship through the process.  In the acknowledgments of this book, they state,

Girls’ Night Out broke us open, hard and wide, before putting us back together again. Our friendship and our partnership were put to the test in a way we’d never experienced before.”

I think we’ve all been there, right?  Maybe not to the extent of the women in this book, but we all have examples of friendships being tested by life’s stresses and struggles, and by the fact that we’re all human and will inevitably disappoint one another.

The women in this book though, went beyond all that.  They’d said horrible things to one another, carried huge resentments, cast blame for serious events, and kept major secrets about their own lives.  They were deeply flawed.  I have to say, I had a hard time finding any of them to be sympathetic characters.  They all had their moments but none of them were particularly likeable, and they made poor choices again and again.  That’s not to say they weren’t well written or developed… they were.  I just had a hard time imagining wanting to be friends with any of them!

As I mentioned above, the story alternates between different time frames, and it also skips around to different points of view so we get a window into the thoughts of each character.  It begins with one of the women, Natalie, waking up the morning after this fateful night, disoriented and with no idea what had happened the night before.  She and Lauren soon realize that Ashley is missing.

As the story unfolds, we learn of all the different events and conversations that have led to this moment, then follow along as the situation is investigated.  This serves well to build anticipation and make the reader wonder where the clues are leading.  The message I sent a friend when I was mid-book sums it up: “I kind of want to strangle the characters, but I’m dying to find out what happened!”

We eventually do learn what happens, of course, but just as important is why and how it all ended that way.  By the end, each character is second guessing their decisions, wondering “what if” they’d made different choices, and determining how to live with the consequences of this trip.  (I’m purposely being pretty vague here, as it would be easy to give away spoilers.)

I do want to mention one trigger warning… the book deals with spousal/domestic abuse in part of the storyline, so please be aware of that fact.

All in all, this was a good suspense novel.  The authors did a great job of setting up the scenario and balancing timeframes to unfurl the story at a nice pace, with just enough information to keep you guessing.  They also painted the setting well with descriptions of the resort and the surrounding areas.  I’m adding their previous book The Good Widow to my TBR list as well.

Girls’ Night Out is a great, engrossing summer beach read that will keep you turning the pages! Grab a copy here:

Amazon   ~   Barnes & Noble

 

So, Biblio-Babes… what are you reading?  What’s been your can’t-miss book of the summer so far? Leave your suggestions in the comments!  Happy reading!

(I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.  All thoughts are my own.)

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

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Posted in Reading List, Reblogs

Summer Book Review Roundup!

Hello, friends! There have been so many great books coming out this summer, and you’ve probably been hearing a *lot* about some titles! I’m scouring book review blogs to round up some reviews of a few buzz-worthy novels that I haven’t had a chance to read and review myself… yet!  But it’s making me want to read faster so I can get to these, and you may find a new summer favorite!

So… what are some hugely popular reads of Summer 2018?

 

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Order The Perfect Couple!

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

A beach, a wedding… a murder mystery?  It’s summer on beautiful Nantucket, but when one lavish ceremony is halted by sudden death before it can begin, the entire wedding party comes under scrutiny.

Elin Hilderbrand’s books are perfect beach reads, with juicy storylines, well developed characters, and lots of sand and sea! I’m determined to read this during July!  Here’s a couple of great reviews I’ve seen on this one:

Novelgossip, who reads and reviews more books than anyone I know, is calling this the best book of the summer, saying it’s “Juicy, Secretive, and Fun.”

Jaclyn at Literary Treats provides a great, in depth overview of this title, and says this is a great story to lose yourself in, preferably on a beach!

 

 

Something in the Water: A Novel
Order Something in the Water!

 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This title has gotten a lot of press as the June selection for Hello Sunshine, a book club curated by the lovely Reese Witherspoon! Here’s a partial story description from Goodreads:

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Sounds intriguing! So what have our blogger friends had to say about it? Two differing viewpoints:

Abby from Read This, Not That says this book has a strong theme of the characters making bad decisions.  She didn’t give it her highest rating but says, “The writing is good, the pace is rapid, the plot is entertaining, and this is a fast read.”

Berit at Audio Killed the Bookmark (clever title – reviews are on audiobooks and other digital forms!) gave this one five “tension filled” stars and declared it the best listen so far in 2018!

 

Limelight: A Novel
Order Limelight!

 

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I discovered this one when friends kept mentioning it on Twitter!  After moving her family to Manhattan, Allison finds that New York is not exactly what she’d envisioned and that she may be in over her head. Then she unexpectedly meets Carter, a teen pop star doing a new Broadway Musical, and discovers a unique opportunity.

This sounds like a really fun summer story! On to the reviews:

First we’ll go back to Novelgossip (seriously guys, she reads everything!), who loved the story and calls it “Savvy, Modern, and Sparkling.”

Kait from Kait’s Bookshelf found this book entertaining and really enjoyed “getting lost in the world of Manhattan and Broadway with Allison.”

Whew! Great opinions on a few really popular books, all of which are on my personal reading list!

And just in case that isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while, check out my Book Notes posts for titles that I have reviewed already this summer… more on the way over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading! Drop a note in the comments and let me know what great titles you’ve been enjoying this summer!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “The Cottage on Sunshine Beach” by Holly Martin

Hello, friends! Now that summer is officially here, time to check in on our summer reading lists!  How’s yours going? Found any gems? I’m still working my way through some advance copies of some great new titles!

 

 

I just finished The Cottage on Sunshine Beach by Holly Martin. This novel tells the story of Melody and Jamie, two friends who live in a seaside village. Their lives are entwined by family, friends, and puppies, and Melody takes the big step of asking him out to see if there could be more between them. But with the baggage and past heartbreaks that both of them bring to the table, can they find their way to a happily ever after?

Late into the book, I realized this was the second in a series. I normally always read a series in order, but I decided to just keep going with this one. It works just fine as a standalone story! I enjoyed the side stories of all the different characters, and I could see potential for a third book – perhaps one is planned? I also loved the setting… this is the kind of little community where I dream of living!

My favorite scene in the book, hands down, was the training class with the puppies… I was literally laughing out loud, which would have been fine except it was two o’clock in the morning and everyone else was sleeping. Whoops! But it was hilarious and summed up the craziness and quirkiness of this little community.

If you’re looking for a light, fun summer beach read, this will fit the bill quite nicely! Happy reading!

 

(I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this title from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.)

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin

Every so often, a novel comes along that makes you feel uncomfortable.

That may sound like a negative thing.  It isn’t.  I’m talking about a book that gets you to rethink some things, and that makes you realize how surprised you can be by someone you thought you really knew.

 

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This edition of Book Notes is about Emily Giffin’s new book, All We Ever Wanted.  It’s told from the viewpoints of three different characters: a wealthy “society” mom who appears to have a golden life; a teenage girl who often feels like a fish out of water (looking back, didn’t we all); and a dad who has gone to great lengths to protect his daughter.

The book begins with an innocuous enough sentence, that you soon realize holds a dark promise: “It started out as a typical Saturday night.”  The story goes on to reveal a single incident at a teenage party that got out of control (think, a terribly inappropriate photo that goes viral), which has now torn apart the lives of several families.

We get to know the families’ backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and secrets.  I sympathized with each of the three POV characters in different ways.  Of the additional characters, though, not everyone is telling the truth, and I found my allegiances and conclusions shifting at a couple different points in the story.  Once the truth finally comes out, several characters are left to pick up the pieces and put them back together into something resembling a life.

I won’t give away more details about it, except to say this: both as a woman, and as the mother of a teenager, the party incident that caused all the trouble was uncomfortable.  And that’s where the wondering begins…

… Will “kids be kids” no matter how “good” they are or whether they come from a “nice” family?  (As one of the characters indicates: kids do this all the time to each other!)

… What happens when we try to raise our children to be decent, moral human beings, and we don’t get the result we expected?  How about if one parent has a very different set of values than the other?

… How do we spend our entire lives protecting our child from harm, but step back and let them take the fall when they’ve done something terrible?

I don’t have the answers.  But I think it’s clear that this novel touches on so many issues being discussed these days: consent (#metoo & sexual boundaries); the role & responsibility of social media; an “entitlement” culture that lets a certain few think they’ll never suffer consequences for their actions.

All We Ever Wanted was hard to put down.  I read half of it one evening and didn’t want to stop, but forced myself to go to bed around 3am.  Oops.  I finished the other half in one sitting this morning.  I needed to learn what really happened, discover how each of the characters ended up, and process how I felt about it all.  I’m still working on the last part.

This was an insightful, thought provoking, and relevant story, and it’s been one of the hottest, most discussed titles in recent days.  Definitely pick this one up. Make sure you’re well rested before you begin.  🙂

Well, the bar for my favorite summer read is starting off pretty high!  This is definitely a contender.  How about you… what new books have you discovered?  What haven’t you been able to put down?  Share with us in the comments!  Happy reading!

 

Order All We Ever Wanted:      Amazon      Barnes & Noble

 

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this title from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

Posted in Reading List

Summer Reads Are Coming! (The Sequel…)

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If anyone knows where this paradise is…

 

Recently I featured a few great summer reads I’m looking forward to in the coming months, along with a fantasy of quiet time and tropical drinks on an isolated beach.  I haven’t found that beautiful beach yet, but I have found more great books coming out this summer for your enjoyment!

I stumbled across this Good Housekeeping article by Jamie Ballard:

The 25 Best New Books for Summer 2018

Wow… a treasure trove!  Now, not every book on this list is my cup of tea and probably won’t be yours either, but there’s really something for everyone no matter what you love to read.  I’m going to highlight a few of them that everyone will be talking about, and some that I’m adding to my TBR list for the summer.

(Ever feel like you spend more time adding to your TBR list than actually reading?  What’s that?  Um, no… me neither.  Just asking for a friend.)

 

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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer:  This title by the author of The Wife and The Ten Year Nap has already been getting a ton of buzz.  In fact, Barnes & Noble just launched a new quarterly in-store book club, and this was it’s first ever selection!  In this novel, college student Greer is trying to find her way in the world when she meets feminist icon Faith.  Through its characters and relationships, the book explores themes of power, womanhood, friendship, and women mentoring one another through a world that’s not always kind.

This one seems like a very timely read, and I’ve really enjoyed the author’s prior books.  It released in April, so if you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Meghan (A Hollywood Princess) by Andrew Morton:  Speaking of timely, this latest release from a powerhouse biographer covers a subject on everyone’s mind this month:  The Royal Wedding and the newest Royal-to-be, Meghan Markle.  With the wedding approaching this weekend, learn about Meghan, from her childhood, to how she met Prince Harry, to her Hollywood career, and more.

Whether you’re a fan of the British Royal family, or just want to be in-the-know for this big event, this book also released in April so you can pick it up now.

 

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By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank:  Honestly, any good summer reading list is incomplete without a novel set in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, delivered as only Frank can.

In this read, we meet two families coming together at an engagement party.  The novel shows us two very different worlds:  a family of hard working Southern peach farmers and an elite metropolitan family.  When their children fall in love, how do they come together?  What have their choices meant for their lives?  What kinds of secrets are they hiding?  And can they co-exist for the sake of young love?

By Invitation Only releases May 15th (*this week*), so I look forward to sitting down with this coastal tale very soon.

 

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware:  If you love a good thriller while you’re at the beach or the pool, order this read by the author of The Woman in Cabin 10!  In this novel, a woman receives a letter leaving her a substantial, and very unexpected, inheritance.  She realizes quickly that she wasn’t the intended recipient of the letter, but decides to attend the funeral of the deceased anyway, hoping she may be able to claim the money regardless.  But it’s quickly apparent that something is very, very wrong about the entire situation and the inheritance in question.

This one sounds intriguing, and I can’t wait to solve the mystery behind the inheritance.  The Death of Mrs. Westaway releases May 29th!

 

Go give the original article by Ms. Ballard a read.  She’s included a great mix of fiction and non-fiction, fun reads and intense ones… I wanted to highlight more but we’ll stop here!   (Elin Hilderbrand’s The Perfect Couple, which I mentioned in my previous post, is also on her list.)  Happy summer reading… have a mai tai or two for me!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)