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 Guncle

The Guncle by Steven Rowley / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is honestly a bit out of his league.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting—even if temporary—isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

Thoughts

A funny, endearing book that made me laugh out loud and shed a tear or two as well. Watching the relationship develop between Patrick, Maisie and Grant in the pages of this book is shear perfection.

An overall enjoyable read that I gave 4 stars.

Book Review – Us Against You

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman / Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Thoughts

I have yet to read a book by Fredrik Backman that I don’t love.

Book 2 in the Beartown series did not disappoint at all. Another emotionally charged read and I am patiently waiting for the third book to come out.

I gave this book 5 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 – 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 – 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 – How To Fail At Flirting

How To Fail At Flirting by Denise Williams / Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Synopsis

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again. 

Thoughts

A really good fast paced read and while most of the book was light hearted the subject of domestic violence was woven throughout the storyline (mostly towards the end) so this could be a difficult read for some.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Thoughts:

There was a fare amount of controversy surrounding this book when it first came out and I did my best to not pay attention to it. I wanted to be able to read it without any preconceived opinions formed. I’m so glad I did that, because I truly loved this book!! I read it every chance I got and I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. My heart ached for what Lydia and Luca went through and what they had to endure making their way to freedom in the U.S.

If you haven’t read this book yet, I would highly recommend doing so.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I gave this book 5/5 stars!

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life, where weekends mostly consist of frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office, whose big heart will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Thoughts

This was the first book chosen to read for a book club that I recently joined and it did not disappoint! It was funny and was very moving. I was cheering on Eleanor throughout her journey. There are some twists at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming which broke my heart. A great book to finish 2019 with . . . a definite must read if you haven’t done so yet!

A gave this book 4.5/5 stars!