Book Review – Golden Girl

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she’s assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

Thoughts

I haven’t read all of Elin Hildebrand’s books, but I have to say I think this might just be my favorite so far! When I heard what the premise of this story was, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but I loved the storyline and the characters.

There was some uproar (rightfully so) over a line in the book that references Anne Frank. While I do agree it was definitely in poor taste, the author has stepped up and apologized and indicated that the line will be taken out of all future publications of the book.

This book earned 4 stars from me.

Book Review – Same Beach, Next Year

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothy Benton Frank / Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis

One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Thoughts

This was the first book that I read by Dorothea Benton Frank and I was not disappointed! It was a beautiful story of friendship, heartbreak and the ups and downs that marriages can sometimes go through. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – The Last Thing He Told Me

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave / Genre: Mystery

Synopsis

We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

Thoughts

A great fast paced mystery which was also one of the Reese’s Bookclub selections with lots of twists and turns that kept me engaged from beginning to end!

I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – Good Company

Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney / Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis

Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?

Thoughts

Overall I liked this book. There were a few times the story switched between present and past and I didn’t realize it so that was slightly frustrating but the storyline was enjoyable.

I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – Slightly South of Simple

Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey / Genre: Women’s Fiction

Synopsis

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart. 

Thoughts

This was the first book I’ve read by Kristy Woodson Harvey and I have to say, I am now a fan!! I really enjoyed the dynamic relationships portrayed between the mothers, daughters and sisters. It’s heartwarming and funny and a quick read. The best part is that it’s the first book in a series and I can’t wait to read the next one!!

I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

Thoughts

Dual timelines and family drama! That always makes for a great book.

Taylor Jenkins Reid has quickly become one of my go-to authors and this book did not disappoint! It was super fast paced and I loved the characters and the storyline!

This book earned 4 stars from me.

Book Review – The Dead Season (Shana Merchant #2)

The Dead Season (Shana Merchant #2) by Tessa Wegert / Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis

Senior Investigator Shana Merchant has spent years running from her past. But she never imagined a murder case would drive her to the most dangerous place of all–home.

After leaving the NYPD following her abduction by serial killer Blake Bram, Shana Merchant hoped for a fresh start in the Thousand Islands of Upstate New York. Her former tormentor has other plans. Shana and Bram share more than just a hometown, and he won’t let her forget it. When the decades-old skeleton of Shana’s estranged uncle is uncovered, Bram issues a challenge: Return home to Vermont and solve the cold case, or the blood he spills next will be on her hands.

As Shana interviews members of her family and the community, mining for secrets that could help her solve her uncle’s murder, she begins to realize how little she remembers of her childhood. And when Bram grows impatient and kidnaps again, leaving a trail of clues Shana alone can understand, she knows his new victim will only survive if she wins the psychopath’s twisted game. In order to solve one mystery, Shana must wade into her murky past to unravel another.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed the first book in the Shana Merchant series (Death In The Family) and this second book did not disappoint!

We learned more about Shana as well as Bram, the serial killer who previously abducted her, and what their connection is.

Tesa Wegert recently announced 2 more books will be released in this series and I can’t wait to see what will be in store for Shana and Bram!

It’s a gripping, suspenseful story that I couldn’t put down and I gave this book 4 stars.

Book Review – What Comes After

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

After the shocking death of two teenage boys tears apart a community in the Pacific Northwest, a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into the lives of those same boys’ families–a moving and hopeful novel about forgiveness and human connection.

In misty, coastal Washington State, Isaac lives alone with his dog, grieving the recent death of his teenage son, Daniel. Next door, Lorrie, a working single mother, struggles with a heinous act committed by her own teenage son. Separated by only a silvery stretch of trees, the two parents are emotionally stranded, isolated by their great losses–until an unfamiliar sixteen-year-old girl shows up, bridges the gap, and changes everything.

Evangeline’s arrival at first feels like a blessing, but she is also clearly hiding something. When Isaac, who has retreated into his Quaker faith, isn’t equipped to handle her alone, Lorrie forges her own relationship with the girl. Soon all three characters are forced to examine what really happened in their overlapping pasts, and what it all possibly means for a shared future.

Thoughts

This is a very heavy book with regards to subject matter. It contains multiple trigger warnings such as suicide, rape, and domestic violence. I liked that the story is told from multiple viewpoints. Even with the heavy subject matter throughout, it did keep my interest from start to end.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Tell Me No Secret

Tell Me No Secret by Brandon Ellrich / Genre: Thriller

Synopsis

Can you keep a secret? High school student Joe wishes he’d never been asked that question. In the small town of New Haven, Missouri, murder is not a common occurrence, so when Joe kills his “best bud” Brad, a tidal wave of shock washes over the community. It makes no sense that Joe killed Brad. However, among teens, you never know what evil lurks beneath the surface.

Take a journey inside Joe’s mind as he reveals the details, planning, and tumultuous emotions that went into murdering his best friend. It’s no mystery that Joe is guilty; he admits that on page one. The question is why? What causes a nice young man to commit a murder? The answer isn’t as clear as it initially seems.

Details slowly float to the surface as time moves from the present into the past. Joe might admit guilt, but who is truly to blame for Brad’s murder? Will those responsible for heinous acts be brought to justice? Keeping a secret can be risky, but in Tell Me No Secret, a group of teen friends discovers just how dangerous it can be. 

Thoughts

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was provided a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this book! It was a super quick read and I enjoyed how the story started in the present day and then went backwards to tie all of the events together so the reader would know how everything related.

I’d definitely recommend this book!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton / Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Thoughts

I had heard this book was being compared to Daisy Jones & The Six. In my opinion, the only similarity was that this book is done in an interview format.

I liked this story and the characters. The only problem I had was that there were parts of the story that were slow for me (mainly in the first half). Other than that, this was a good debut novel!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.