2017 Book #67 – Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

512C5hRsk8LTitle: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Date finished: 8/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

My rating:  3.75 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 tells the story of Josie Buhrman and her family, and how their lives are all turned upside down (again) when a woman starts a podcast to reexamine the murder of Josie’s father, Chuck. Thirteen years ago, Chuck Buhrman was murdered in his home with his twin girls in the house. A man named Warren Cave was arrested, tried and convicted on scant evidence that he had killed Chuck, and now Poppy Parnell, an “investigative journalist,” is using the case as a subject matter for her true crime podcast. Josie and her twin sister Lanie were both affected in different ways by the murder of their father and their mother’s subsequent abandonment. And after all that happened too, Lanie did some very awful things to her sister that cause Josie to run away and basically abandon her whole life. After traveling abroad for 5 years, she returns to the States and settles in New York City with her boyfriend Caleb. The podcast though, is bringing a lot of truths to light and there will be unfortunate consequences.

Overall I liked this book. There were some pieces of it that I couldn’t buy into (Josie’s reaction and the running away to Europe seemed extreme and I thought Lanie should’ve actually like apologized without trying to also be manipulative) but overall I didn’t want to put this book down. I was dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen in the end. And maybe it was that build up of extreme tension throughout the book that made the ending kind of seem slightly anti-climactic but I think that’s how I ended up feeling. I was so intensely into the story but then at the end I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. And none of the characters in the book were particularly likable, they all had so many flaws and many of them were actually awful not nice people. Even with these draw backs though I still really liked the story and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I couldn’t wait to see how the ending turned out. That being said I was the slightest bit disappointed in the ending because I thought it was just a tad flat. I still really liked the book though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #66 – Leave The Night On by Laura Trentham

519Uqdwv8ELTitle: Leave The Night On
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 8/3/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 331
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Cottonbloom 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:

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

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. This book tells the story of Wyatt Abbott, a mechanic, and Sutton Mize, a judge’s daughter. Wyatt has had a crush on Sutton since they were kids, but being from the wrong side of Cottonbloom, he never acted on it. Well that isn’t entirely true, he acted on it in the sense that, like a young boy does, he teased her and played pranks on her, but Sutton appropriately interpreted this as him being mean rather than him liking her. Now that they’re all grown, Sutton brings her fiance’s car into Wyatt’s family shop to get renovated. She’s completely thrown for a loop when she finds another woman’s panties under the front seat of the car. She’s thrown for an even bigger loop when her fiance (Andrew) admits to everything she feared, and so in a spur-of-the-moment decision Sutton tells Andrew that she doesn’t really care anyway since she’s been fooling around with Wyatt. And so begins a tangled web of lies that really only end up acting as a cover for Sutton and Wyatt’s growing infatuation. But with a relationship that began on so many unfounded facts (aka lies), can they really build something lasting?

Overall I like this book okay. It was a pretty solid read for a romance novel, it didn’t do anything to wow or surprise me but at the same time I did enjoy it for the most part. Some of the conversations are a bit cheesy, and the miscommunication between the hero and heroine was frustrating since the reader can read their thoughts the whole time. Books like that I always get frustrated thinking ‘if you could just be honest with each other we wouldn’t have these issues.’ Maybe that’s something that we as humans should strive more for is being honest with people around us whether we know them super well or not. But I think that’s a talk for another time. Anyways Wyatt and Sutton’s love story was sweet and cute and I like the setting of the book especially. This one had a bit of a Grease (like the musical) feel to it since the goody-two-shoes girl is a good influence on the guy and the guy is a little bit of a bad influence on the girl (just enough to let her experience some different things). In the end they develop great affection for each other and it’s a pretty good love story. I would recommend, especially in connection with the series, which I enjoy.

 

The bottom line: I thought this was a fairly good romance novel. I think the series overall is pretty cute, I would recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #65 – Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes

51BaCBQAllLTitle: Emerald Coast
Author: Anita Hughes
Date finished: 8/1/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date:August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.
Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.
Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.
Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

My rating:  1.0 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. This book is about Lily Bristol and her ex-husband Oliver, who through one of those crazy twists of fate end up both trying to use a reservation after their divorce. Oliver brought his new girlfriend (Angela) and Lily ends up hooking up with a guy named Ricky from Sardinia (where they are) but while all this is happening they both also can’t stop thinking about each other and their shared memories.
Overall I did not care for this book. I’m going to try to be honest here without being (a) cruel or (b) overly dramatic. I found Lily’s character to be a complete mockery of a strong and independent woman. She has random conversations with strangers and just is everything that I would hate to become as a women and as a wife. Oliver has some extreme jealousy issues and may be addicted to sex since he can’t seem to stop having it with his new girlfriend. However (**SPOILER ALERT**) he apparently NEVER THINKS TO ASK HIS NEW GF ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL. Sorry the caps were dramatic I just can’t believe that any logical person in this day and age would overlook that in a new relationship. Anyways moving on the characters were irrelevant and unrealistic, the story line was half-hearted and not at all engaging, and I honestly couldn’t even read most of the conversations they were so awkwardly structured. I did not care for this novel. However, all of that being said I know these are popular novels and that some people do like them so that’s fine. Amazon has mostly 4 star reviews. So maybe its just me.

The bottom line: I did not personally enjoy this book. I cannot personally say that I recommend it, though I know many people who enjoy this author’s books so maybe its just me.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

ARC August 2017 Reading Challenge Sign Up

arc-august2

Woo Hoo! ARC August is here again, and honestly it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m really glad to be participating in ARC August again this year to try and decrease my backlog a little bit at least. I still have 27 ARCs from 2016 that I never got a chance to read, plus I missed the “deadline” for 23 additional ARCs so far in 2017. PLUS I have 12 ARCs scheduled to be read in August. SO you could say I’m just a tad bit backlogged. For those of you that don’t know, ARC August is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. and the only participation requirement is reading ARC’s! I participated in this reading challenge last year and in 2015, and both years worked out really well for me and I was able to catch up a bit. I hope to be super productive with this challenge this year since I have so much to read! Plus in a beyond perfect twist of events I will on an island for a week in August with no wi-fi and no cell service and no electricity (again but different week than I was last year)! What else is there to do but read!

So here is the list I’m going to be working off of for this year’s challenge (more or less):

-Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
-Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
-Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham
-If The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
-Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
-Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
-Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
-13 Dates by Matt Dunn
-The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
-Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

This listing is honestly just my August ARCs, I’m not sure how true to this list I’ll actually stay. I really feel like flaunting the rules and just reading whatever ARC I feel like. Its hard to predict exactly what that will be though so we’ll start with this for now. I think 12 is a good goal though so my plan is (if I decide to read whatever I feel like) to switch out one book for every book I add to the list. We’ll see how it goes! I hope you all also have a successful August and Happy reading everyone!

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2017 Book #64 – The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

51TG3KmYm6LTitle: The Marriage Pact
Author: Michelle Richmond
Date finished: 7/30/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Pages in book: 433
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

My rating:  3.0 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. This book tells the story of Jake and Alice, a newlywed couple who are new members of The Pact. The Pact is a secret organization whose goal is to help its members have strong and lasting marriages. Founded by a woman in Ireland whose first marriage failed but was determined for her second marriage to succeed, The Pact is a complex series of rules and punishments which seem outrageous but each member of the group seems to be happy in a hypnotized / cult kind of way. And once Alice and Jacob start getting into trouble they realize that there is a lot more danger with being a part of this group than they first realized.
Overall this book was ok. There was some interesting pieces to the book and it was a creative idea. And there were definitely some good plot twists included. I wasn’t super thrilled with the ending though. I just felt like there was a lot of build up for a weird and kind of anti-climactic ending. It was still good so I would recommend but it wasn’t my favorite.

The bottom line: Eh, this book wasn’t my favorite. There were some interesting pieces and some good twists and turns but overall it was weird and slightly confusing. And I felt like it could’ve been a better twist ending.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #62 – Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

515tgDMkSOLTitle: Hello Sunshine
Author: Laura Dave
Date finished: 7/21/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
And then she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.

My rating:  3.25 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 tells the story of Sunshine Mackenzie (Stevens), a celebrity chef whose career is almost 10 years in the making. On the cusp of the greatest developments in her career, including a Food Network show and a book series, someone has apparently become determined to take her down. Within one day she loses everything: her career, her home, and her husband. Forced down about a million pegs and with no on else to turn to, Sunshine is forced to crawl home with her tail between her legs. And to her actual home in the Hamptons and not the Texas small town that everyone believed she was from. There she confronts a sister she hasn’t spoken to in years and a niece she doesn’t know at all. Sunshine comes up with a plan to put her life back to the way it was, but the enforcement of said plan becomes questionable after she begins reconnecting to her roots. And in the end Sunshine has to decide if her old life is something that she really wants back.
Overall this book was just ok for me. I didn’t love it but I didn’t dislike it either. It was interesting for the most part but there were also a lot of pieces that either didn’t make sense to me or just kind of annoyed me. Sunshine was an extremely hard character to care for, she is flawed and and selfish and just kind of an awful person at the beginning of the story, Her character evolves and really does draw the reader in but at the same time I never found myself wanting her to win. Still when you find out who it was that actually betrayed her, I felt so much pity for her. Her life is just so completely screwed up, its so depressing. I thought that the author’s commentary on technology through the book and the effect its had on the general population was interesting and completely true. Sunshine’s niece Sammy was amazingly cute and probably my favorite part of the whole book. And while I ended up liking the book more than I expected to, I still didn’t love it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend or not recommend, but the book was ok.

The bottom line: Eh, this book wasn’t my favorite. It was pretty good just had a few things that didn’t appeal to me personally. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it or not recommend it, I know its pretty popular with other readers.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page