2017 Book #90 – The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

51aoPrUgPHLTitle: The Dirty Book Club
Author: Lisi Harrison
Date finished: 10/26/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 321
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:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series comes a novel about the importance of friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of a dirty book.

M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up.

One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.

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 M.J. Stark, a woman still recovering from the tragic death of her family three years earlier. M.J. works for The City as an editor and is looking forward to an upcoming promotion. When she finds out that she will have to share her position with another employee though, she runs off to be with her boyfriend while she figures out what to do. Her boyfriend is a doctor opening a practice in California and is happy to have her there, but their up til now long-distance relationship is tested when they start living together. M.J. befriends their neighbor, an older woman named Gloria, who soon after meeting M.J. moves away and leaves a legacy behind. The Dirty Book Club, where they gather to read scandalous books. M.J. doesn’t have girlfriends and welcomes this chance to be a part of a group. But with such different women, can they really come together as friends and survive the drama that is life?

Overall I did like this book a lot, it was really interesting and I really connected with M.J.’s character with all her odd quirks. I loved the author’s dive into women’s relationships and how they’re formed and how they struggle. All the characters in this story were flawed but the reader still ends up liking them (for the most part). I loved how brave M.J. was and how much she was willing to risk for her friendships and her relationship. The story line was not too graphic despite the title and it was actually heart-warming and very sweet, but there were some holes and things that didn’t quite add up. By the time we get to the end especially there were a couple scenes that I found somewhat anti-climactic, like when Jules “finds out” Britt’s secret. Other than these few things though it was a good book and I enjoyed it a lot.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, although there were some holes to it. I thought it was an interesting book about female friendships and I found parts of it laugh out loud funny. I would recommend giving this one a try!

Link to author website

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

Advertisements

2017 Book #79 – The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel

51PXLpnvIJLTitle: The Uncertain Season
Author: Ann Howard Creel
Date finished: 9/9/17
Genre: Historical fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 320
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:

The Hurricane of 1900 devastated Galveston Island, but a storm of betrayal is still brewing.

Nineteen-year-old Grace’s golden age is just beginning. She and her mother live a privileged life. Beautiful and talented, Grace is looking forward to a pleasant summer celebrating her engagement to a wealthy young gentleman.

But when her lovely, charming, and disgraced cousin Etta arrives, Grace finds her place in society—and in her mother’s heart—threatened. Etta enchants everyone as she maneuvers to secure a station in Galveston’s upper echelons. Grace, in a reckless moment, reveals Etta’s scandalous past, and as punishment, she’s sent to work in Galveston’s back alleys, helping the poor. There, a silent waif known only as Miss Girl opens Grace’s eyes to new love and purpose. She’s determined to save this girl who lost her entire family in the hurricane and now slips along the shadows of the unfinished seawall with a mysterious resolve.

Soon, the lives of the three young women will converge as betrayal, mistaken identity, and a family secret sweep them toward a future that defies all expectations.

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 centers around the stories of cousins Grace and Etta. Grace is a sheltered rich girl who grew up on the island of Galveston, which three years prior to this story was the site of a catastrophic hurricane that killed 6,000 people, including the family of a character we only know as “the girl.” Etta is Grace’s poor cousin who is sent to stay with Grace and her mother after she falls in love with a circus man and defies her mother. It is in Galveston that Etta learns about money and how it can improve your life, and realizes she should marry well and create an easier life for herself. Grace, through a mistake of her own, is sent to work with a local missionary in the alleys of Galveston, where she learns things about life that she never knew existed.

Overall I liked this book a lot. It was really interesting to see the character development in this book, as all the characters end up in a completely different place than where they started. I loved the setting and the history that was included, the hurricane and the devastation it caused were a true part of history and I always find that to be pretty fascinating. I found the book and the plot to be engaging and fairly fast paced, though there were a few dry parts. The ending was left a little more open than I usually like but it didn’t detract from the story for me. I liked this book a lot and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a good deal. I loved the development of the characters and the story line was very interesting. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #76 – Luck, Love and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert

512ycx9OzFLTitle: Luck, Love and Lemon Pie
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Date finished: 9/2/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Pages in book: 320
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:

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

My rating:  1.5 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 MJ and her struggles with her self and her marriage to husband Chris. When we first meet her, she’s been waiting over three hours for her husband to show up for their anniversary lunch. When he finally does show up (4 hours late) he runs right back to playing poker at the casino. Deciding it may be her only chance to spend time with her husband, MJ asks him to teach her how to play. And while she does find that she’s actually pretty good at this poker thing and even manages to win a local tournament, she doesn’t find that its bringing her any closer in her marriage. In fact just the opposite, Chris and her drift even further apart while she’s off practicing her poker hand.

Overall I very much did not care for this book. I found the plot to be frustrating and even quite angering. Chris takes on absolutely no responsibility for their failing relationship and actually flat out rejects MJ’s repeated attempts to talk to him about it. And then he actually goes and tries to end a twenty year marriage without even having a discussion with her about it first. If it were me I would’ve signed the papers and said see ya round jackass. MJ was a half hour late to dinner and Chris decides that is a good reason to just not come home that night? Where did he go?! But when he is FOUR HOURS late to an anniversary lunch every thing’s perfectly fine!!?? Freaking kidding me. I’m getting mad again thinking about it like a week after reading it. Anyways, as you can tell by my venting this plot had a lot of points I just couldn’t understand or agree with. If you can see past those points I guess give it a try. I like other books by this author, and it isn’t like the writing was bad I just couldn’t identify with the plot.

The bottom line: I did not enjoy this book unfortunately, though I greatly enjoyed Reichert’s Simplicity of Cider. Go read that one instead.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #71 – If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

61YmLjIcHpLTitle: If the Creek Don’t Rise
Author: Leah Weiss
Date finished: 8/28/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 320
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:

He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn

Sadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That’s long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby.

Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out.  When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline…if she can just figure out how to use it.

This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

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. Also be sure to check out my Blog Tour post on the book here. This book tells the story of a small  mountain town in North Carolina, Baines (which means “bones” in the local dialogue) Creek. It is there that we meet this interesting cast of characters, including Sadie Blue, a young pregnant woman trying to survive the beatings inflicted on her by her husband, Roy. Also included is Kate Shaw, the new local teacher, Prudence, the preacher’s sister, Eli, the preacher, and various others. We get to hear a little from each different character’s point of view, which I thought was really interesting for the overall story. The grammar was pretty hard to get through in some parts, the author tries hard to stay true to the dialect of the region being represented in the book and they are for the most part illiterate. The book follows the different characters lives through a strange course of events.
Overall I liked this book a good amount. I liked seeing things through each different character’s point of view and I liked that each section from each different person revealed a new piece of the story. The grammar was hard to get through and also I felt like there were a lot of open pieces to the story left kind of unresolved, even with all the different points of view. I liked all the different characters, especially Sadie and Katie Shaw. There was a lot going on with so many different points of view and sometimes it was a little distracting. Other than that though I thought this was a good book and I was interested to see what would happen in the end.

The bottom line: I liked this book an ok amount, it was interesting but the grammar was hard to sludge through, even though it seemed like it was done on purpose. 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

2017 Book #51 – The Party by Robyn Harding

51kYyM+RHmLTitle: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 6/10/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: June 6, 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:

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.
One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.
Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?
But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.
Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Hannah Sanders, a young girl whose life is altered forever on her sixteenth birthday. Chafing under the heavy thumb of her mother’s control, Hannah is determined that her sixteenth birthday will be one for the books. Her recent rise in popularity at school means that the two most popular girls in her class are coming to the party tonight, so it can not be lame, which unfortunately means breaking some of her mom’s rules. Tragedy strikes though and Ronni, one of the popular girls at the party, ends up literally losing an eye. Which is crazy and gross and sad. The fallout that comes afterwards will expose every dirty little secret of Hannah’s family, changing her family forever.
Overall I liked this book. I thought it was interesting and it kept you on the edge of your seat. The whole thing was overwhelmingly sad. After the incident the kids at school treat Ronni like crap, which sounds accurate for high school but really was just so unfortunate. There didn’t seem to be a decent person anywhere in the book. Every character in this story had flaws and selfish motivations. I didn’t really like the ending, I thought more justice should have been dealt out and I thought there was a sense of hopelessness instilled at the end. Even though I didn’t love the ending though I still really did like the book and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was really interesting and full of great tension. I didn’t love the way the book ended but I still really liked the book overall.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #46 – According to a Source by Abby Stern

519mxmgjKNLTitle: According to a Source
Author: Abby Stern
Date finished: 5/21/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: May 23, 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:

Ella Warren loves her job working for celebrity news magazine, The Life, as an undercover reporter. Her evenings are spent using her alias to discreetly attend red carpet events, nightclubs, and Hollywood hotspots like the fabulous Chateau Marmont, where her eyes are always peeled for the next big celebrity story.
When Ella’s new Devil Wears Prada-type boss starts a not-so-friendly competition among the reporters to find an exclusive story or be fired, the stakes are higher than ever. But is being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle worth jeopardizing her friendship with budding actress Holiday Hall and her relationships with her boyfriend and her family? As the competition grows fiercer, her life becomes intertwined in a public scandal that may cost her everything.
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

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 Ella Warren, an undercover freelance reporter for The Life, a gossip magazine. Ella’s job involves her going to the hottest clubs and restaurants in Hollywood to search for a new scoop each night. This unfortunately takes her away from her boyfriend of seven years, Ethan. And then one night all of a sudden Ethan decides he’s had enough. He moves out the next day and Ella is left adrift. But between her heiress best friend Holiday and her college best friend Jessica, Ella manages to pull the pieces together and actually even finds a new boyfriend. Her new editor at the magazine though has started using a points system to decide who gets fired or not, and so Ella is under more pressure than ever to get the biggest and best scoop, no matter the cost.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a lot of the Gossip Girl books, which I loved as a teenager. The gossip about all the celebrities included code names instead of real names, which made sense because I think otherwise it would have been too hard to keep track of who was who with the celebrities. The pace of this book was great and there was a good amount of scandal and intrigue. There was also betrayal and romance and family drama. I can’t imagine how anyone could have fit anything else into this book, it was bursting with interesting events. And while I liked it, there were pieces of it that I didn’t love. I thought Ella was just too self-absorbed for my tastes. Even after she turned things around at the end she still seemed a little too all about her. Other than that though I really liked the book and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: This was a funny and entertaining book. It reminded me a bit of Gossip Girl with the code names. I didn’t love the way the ending was set up but I liked the book overall. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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