2019 Book #63 – Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

41EO-wfyVJLTitle: Conversations with the Fat Girl
Author: Liza Palmer
Date finished: 8/21/19
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: September 3, 2007 – Reprinted in 2019
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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:

Liza Palmer will have readers cheering as she explores friendship, true love, and self-acceptance in this “engaging and poignant” (Jennifer Weiner) novel. 
Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At twenty-seven, she’s still serving coffee at Joe’s while her friends are getting married, having babies, and thriving in their careers. And now Olivia, Maggie’s best friend since grade school, is getting married too. The man in Maggie’s life? Well there isn’t one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop. Oh, and her dog, Solo (the name says it all).
When Olivia comes to town and asks Maggie to be her maid of honor, Maggie is thrilled… but she can’t help comparing herself to the new and “improved” Olivia. Way back then, they befriended each other because they both struggled with their weight. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the “women’s section” while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2. But as the wedding nears, Olivia’s seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, and Maggie realizes that happiness might not be tied to a number on the scale.
In this wonderful novel, Liza Palmer is both witty and wise, giving a voice to women everywhere who have ever wished they could stop obsessing… and start living.

My rating:  2.5 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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Free Space” box since I just didn’t know what to pick.

I was interested in the premise of this book after reading about it. I’ve struggled with weight issues during most of my life and after reading Kristan Higgins’ Good Luck With That last year I was hopeful that this book would give me similar feelings of connection and understanding. I didn’t end up feeling quite as connected to this book as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it. Even though I struggled with body-image issues due to my weight, I never once struggled with my self-worth. I am so thankful for the family of amazing women (and men) who raised me to be proud of who I am and realize how amazing I am as a person. I struggled connecting to the narrator of this book because for the first half (or more) of the book she doesn’t believe in herself at all, and she doesn’t think that her own life is worth standing up for. I found that hard to read as it is immensely sad. Once she was able to start picking herself up and really making strides within her own life I became more interested, but it just took so long to get there. I liked the ending but I struggled to much through the first half to say that I really liked the book – solely based on my personality not being able to connect with the narrator.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #59 – The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

514ieZC9mqLTitle: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Date finished: 8/11/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley and Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Edelweiss 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:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 ARC set in Summer ” box since this book takes place in the July to early September time frame.

There was a good amount of buzz going on about this book and I really wanted the chance to read it. I had read another book by this author last year (The Death of Mrs. Westaway) and didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it enough and I hear so many good things about this author that I wanted to give another book a shot. I’m glad I did because I really ended up liking this book. It started out a little slow and I had to struggle a bit through the first part of the book. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up liking this one either but once the action picked up towards the latter half of the book I didn’t want to put it down. There was a good build up of tension in the story and I thought it was appropriately creepy for what it was trying to accomplish. And the plot twists, holy bananas. I never saw it coming! There are only a handful of books out there that I’ve gasped literally out loud when getting to the plot twists and this book was one of them. If I hadn’t felt quite the struggle I did in the first half of the book I would’ve given the book higher stars rating. Also I felt like there were some things left unresolved at the end – like there was a mention of Jack also hiding secrets but I don’t remember them being revealed. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the first half of the book but the second half definitely made it worth it! I would recommend this one, I ended up really enjoying it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #54 – A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham

51tkiNhStZLTitle: A Highlander Walks into a Bar
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 8/1/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 311
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Highland, Georgia series
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:

The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland come to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same…

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?

My rating:  3.5 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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 ARC that DOES NOT have a picture of a girl on the cover” box since the cover only features one brawny looking Scotsman.

I’ve read a few books from Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom series in the past and I have enjoyed them, so I was excited to see she had a new series coming out. I enjoyed this book, it was cute and sweet. The relationship development between Alasdair and Isabel I thought was really well done. I was really engaged in their relationship and also their banter was hilarious. Isabel was precocious and charming and Alasdair sounded handsome and funny. The rest of the story line fell a little flat for me – there wasn’t anything overtly exciting about it – but it was a solid story. There was also an interesting lead in into the next book. The townspeople were a great asset to the story since they were all so funny and added to the overall charm of the story. I’d recommend this for a sweet and quick read!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #43 – The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

41BKiHPdKILTitle: The Starter Wife
Author: Nina Laurin
Date finished: 7/11/19
Genre: Suspense, psychological thriller
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Pages in book: 307
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author 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 bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll.
 
Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.

 

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.

This book sounded very interesting so I was glad to be able to read it. I haven’t read anything by this author before but the premise behind the book sounded like a couple of other thrillers I’ve read and enjoyed. This book had some crazy awesome plot twists and turns that rocked my socks. The main character was definitely flawed and seeing most of the book from her point of view really delves the reader into the extent of her psyche. There were some “holes” that I didn’t think ended up making the most sense but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. The book was kind of sad but it was really good, some of the plot twists really shocked me. The plot line kept me on the edge of my seat, I didn’t want to put it down.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #39 – It’a Hot in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson

51ZWbPBNkDLTitle: It’s Hot in the Hamptons
Author: Holly Peterson
Date finished: 7/4/19
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing 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:

In the Hamptons, no rules apply, especially in matters of money—and the heart…

Raised in East Hampton, Caroline never thought she’d be one of the “city people” who spent summers and weekends at the beach. But, once her husband’s business takes off, a job stint transplants the couple permanently into Manhattan life—where the phrase When you marry for money, you work for it every day, reflects her neighbors’ lives. And where entitled husbands, like hers, embark on affair after affair with little consequence.

Time for the wives to get even.

When Caroline’s friend Annabelle suggests they experiment as their wayward mates have, Caroline resists at first. That is, until a scroll through an iPad makes her reconsider…and a pact between two friends is made.

The agreement quickly turns serious when Caroline begins to confront the man her husband has become, or perhaps always has been. Will a summer affair give Caroline clarity or make her lose hold on the reins of her life? And, when an old lover returns, is she ready to risk all for a chance at happiness…

My rating:  2.25 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 requested to review this book because I loved the cover. I was dubious on the description but the cover looked like a perfect summer read. And I’m still sure that it would be the perfect summer read for someone, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I felt like the plot line was really good, and I was able to appreciate some of the great plot twists in the book, but overall the plot just didn’t appeal to me on a personal level, mostly because of the characters. They were all so entitled and flawed and it was just so sad. I couldn’t connect with a single character and that made the book a little hard to get through for me. It was just a personal issue with the characters though so I’d still recommend giving this one a try – it has great plot twists and a great setting for a summer read!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #37 – Rogue Most Wanted by Janna MacGregor

51oeFmRMi2L.jpgTitle: Rogue Most Wanted
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 6/30/19
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Pages in book: 380
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Cavensham Heiresses series
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:

Wanted: an engagement of convenience. Found: A noble suitor.

Raised on a remote Scottish estate by her adoring grandfather, Lady Theodora Worth has inherited an earldom as well as the land itself. But when an upstart duke challenges her claim to the title and the Ladykyrk estate, Thea is suddenly in need of a husband—in name, at least. An elderly neighbor with a thoroughly modern sensibility and a dashing great-nephew just might be the answer to Thea’s prayers. Except she has no intention of marrying the first man she meets. That would be utterly ridiculous.

It just can’t be him. . .

Lord William Cavensham is entirely too devoted to his family’s estate—ever since he was jilted as a lad–to wed, but he agrees to meet the woman his aunt has taken under her wing—and introduce her to possible suitors. But after just one meeting with beautiful, spirited Thea, Will is determined to help her reclaim her title. And even moreso, he can’t stop thinking that perhaps marriage to this bold, passionate woman may be the one thing he’s been missing all along?

My rating:  4.0 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’ve read all of the books in the Cavensham Heiresses series up to now and I was interested to hear William’s story. William was such a dreamy character – he was honorable and stalwart and swoon-worthy. And he had such a loving and supportive family, most of which have been featured in a previous book in the series. It was fun to revisit with some of the couples and see their interactions with both Will and Thea. Thea was a fierce woman in her own right, and I loved that the plot was about Thea fighting for her right to her inheritance and how it looked at what a patriarchal society this took place in. Thea was loving, honest, and kind and so much appreciated the gift of Will’s involved and boisterous family. Will and Thea had a little trouble getting together and I got a little frustrated that they couldn’t see what was right in front of them, but it almost turned out just as well that their friendship developed so deeply to start. I really enjoyed this book, it was a romantic and interesting story and I’d recommend it!

I also think it’s interesting that the next book is about Avalon and Devan since Avalon was disparaged in this novel – I’m excited to see how her character turns around and the different layers to her story.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #35 – The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

51xfHg4LizLTitle: The Good, the Bad, and the Duke
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 6/4/19
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Pages in book: 364
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Cavensham Heiresses series
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:

A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied, in The Good, The Bad, and The Duke by Janna MacGregor.

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

My rating:  4.0 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 read this as part of my Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR checking off line #27 – a book you meant to read in 2018. Especially since I’ll need to read the next book in the series within the next month, I was really wishing I had read this book in 2018!

The characters and emotions of this story really draw in the reader. Daphne was very obviously devoted to Paul and it was so touching to see the extent of her feelings for him. And Paul’s character was perfectly dangerous – like the historical “bad boy.” The story line ended up getting a little cliched towards the end for me but overall it was a sweet and romantic story and I enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series this month.

Link to author website

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