Series: standalone

Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Posted March 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Swimming Lessons by Claire FullerSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Series: standalone
Published by Tin House Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 350
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.
Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

I really wanted something different from my current reads and Swimming Lessons took care of that.

The book was written in an interesting style that I found I enjoyed.

It follows a family whose mother disappeared a couple of years ago and no one knows why. Well, the mother, Ingrid left for them clues in the form of letters scattered throughout the books in the house. So when her daughters come home due to their father’s accident, we get to find out through the letters what happened to the mother and what caused her disappearance.

It was interesting, like I have mentioned, I really enjoyed the format of the story. We got the current events in one chapter and we get to read Ingrid’s letters the next chapter and as it progressed, we kind of get the sense of what has happened.

The book in itself was okay. Nan and Flora kind of felt one dimensional because I outside of Ingrid mentioning them in the letters, we only get to see them at this specific point in time and I never felt there was much character growth. Flora felt like an absolute disaster at times and Nan was the more mature one who seemed to try hard to keep everything from falling apart. I was also very confused about how Flora has managed to cloud her memories and she remembers things differently than they really were in reality and that pisses Nan off.

The letters part, I enjoyed, for the most part. It was at times hard to read because of the situation that unfolded. I was very confused why Ingrid stayed in the situation she was in with her marriage. I also never really felt the connection between her and her husband Gil. He was twenty years her senior. Ingrid never wanted children, but apparently did not know how birth control works? She gave up so much for this man. Her life, her dreams, her education and instead did everything she hated including having children – that she never really felt any connection to.

Gil, her husband has done some really horrible things. The story was heartbreaking with the amount of stuff Ingrid had to endure, but I also felt like it was her own fault. She was warned and yet she put herself in that kind of situation. Did she deserve any of it? No, but she knew. I get that the time period it was set that she might not have been able to walk away as easily, but there was always that choice… So… I don’t know… The story felt weird at times.

Overall, it was okay. Nothing amazing. It was page turning, it was kind of a cozy read. It was a bit emotional, but I mostly really felt anger. I don’t think I projected the emotion that the author wanted from me, and that was maybe anger at Ingrids situation and pity or sorrow? I couldn’t relate. I felt she basically built her own misfortunate.

The writing was good, I don’t think I ever felt bored.

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Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Posted March 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  I See You by Clare MackintoshI See You by Clare Mackintosh
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 21st 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose...A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

When Zoe Walker sees a picture of a woman that looks exactly like her in a classified ad for a FindTheOne.com, during her commute home from work, she finds herself more than a little concern. It doesn’t seem to help that despite the fact that she is sure that the picture is of her (but she doesn’t know where and how it was taken) her family doesn’t seem to feel the same way.

Not too long after, Zoe finds another woman that she knows of in the ad and the fact that a crime was committed against her. Soon a string of women appear, not too long after their pictures are displayed in the ad, with crimes committed against them.

Now Zoe is scared, not only for her own life, but how the ads might be related to the crimes.

This was an interesting story. It is told from the POV of Zoe Walker and also follows Kelly – a police officer that Zoe contacts about one of the women – that ends up working on the cases under a detective.

I admit, it took me a bit to get into the story and it wasn’t until about 40% in did I start to find myself invested. It felt slow at first, but once it took off I found it to be a real solid page turner.

I really liked the format of the book the most I think. I like how we got to see Zoe’s POV and how she was feeling and the fear she was dealing with while waiting for the police to do something. I also liked that we got to see Kelly in her role, while battling her own demons – and how the case slowly unfolded.

It was gripping, chilling, exciting, and nerve wrecking when it had at one point crossed my mind that things like this – can in fact happen.

It also makes me happier that I no longer take the subways in New York late at night like I use to before coming here.

Is the entire situation plausible? Maybe not. Not all women had crimes committed against them in the book, not all women followed, but there is a sense of realism to it that can feel a bit terrifying.

The ending was a bit nerve wracking and the epilogue was chilling. I wasn’t sure exactly if I agreed or liked, by the way things ended – because that part did not seem to make sense to me (about how someone like that is capable of what they did) – but nevertheless, the ending was jaw dropping and unexpected.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Once the book started to move for me, I was immersed in the character and their stories. I wanted more, I needed to know who was behind this plan and what would come of it. As the layers peeled away, I found myself glued to the edge until the story was over.

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Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted February 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Review:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 330
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I really wanted another book that would engross me and force me to pull an all-nighter and I got just that with P.S. I Like You. West was a new to me author, but I have heard some really amazing things from blogger friends about her, so I wasn’t afraid to throw myself fully into the book from the start.

What I got was an adorable, fluffy, heart fluttering, young adult novel about two very unlikely teens who become pen pals through shared interest and the boredom and chemistry class.

It was super sweet. Lily was so awkward and her humor amused me throughout the book. I found her to be someone I could relate to from my days in high school.(and not just with that fact that she has my name ya’ll) When Lily writes the lyrics of her favorite song, in pencil, on her chemistry desk she never expected for someone to reply to her. Nor did she expect to start exchanging letters with this anonymous teen. I enjoyed reading the exchange and how to letters started about music and eventually, with words, the two hit much more meaningful subjects that hit close to home and expose different layers of themselves. I loved that they could use words on paper to express a different part of each other, especially since Lily feels like she is more awkward in person.

I don’t think it was meant to be a secret as to who the boy that she was writing to be. Even though Lily isn’t aware of who her pen pal is for a while, the readers catch up on what is happening fairly quickly. What we do witness is how writing, interesting and music peals away layers and builds a strong relationship at a deeper level.

This entire book had such a positive vibe to it. I loved that even though Lily has a big family that drive her crazy at times, that they provide such a great support network. I adored that the parents were so awesome and not evil like some Young adult books paint them to be. There was no absent parent, no tantrum over not understanding, just positive, healthy relationship that tugged on my heart strings. Lily’s relationship with her friend was also a joy to read, because I loved how it prevailed in the end and how close to two girls really are.

The one thing I did not understand was the need for the mean girl stereotype. I get it, they do exist, but I felt like West could have gone away with maybe a little less of it. It bothered me that she kept getting away with it, meanwhile in one scene Lily get’s in trouble for the other girls actions

I loved this book and its characters so much I found myself saying aww a lot, it has been just so stinking cute, I never wanted it to end. I also really wished we got the other POV. I would have loved the boy’s side of the story as well. I felt like he revealed a lot of layers of himself to Lily and it kind of made me want to know more about him. I don’t feel like we got that from just witnessing Lily’s POV. The story would have been even more compelling.

Overall, this book totally rocked my world and I am glad I picked it up. It was exactly what I was looking for and the storyline was fun and excited. I adored the dialogue and the characters and thankful for the humor thrown in

 

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 29 Comments

Review:  On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Standalone
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel
If You Only Knew
, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a Higgins book, but when this was brought to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

On Second Thought was a book that not only surprised me, but blew my expectations out of the water. To date, I think this is the best book Higgins has ever written.

The story is told from the POV of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. Kate is the older half sister from their father’s first and current marriage, and she is also a 39-year old widow. For twenty years Kate never thought she would have a chance to marry with her bad luck and a string of bad relationships, she gave up hope – until Nathan came over into her life.

I became Nathan’s wife. One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Nathan was sweet, talented, came from a wealthy family and wanted to have children. They dated for a few months before quickly getting married and not too soon after their marriage, Nathan dies, leaving Kate to pick up the pieces.

Ainsley is the younger half sister, who comes from a woman that the girl’s father was actually in love with. Kate’s mother took her in, and for the longest time Ainsley felt a little alienated. She was in a relationship with Eric for 11-years, up until after he recovered from his cancer, watched Nathan die at their life party and decided to cut ties with Ainsley with a very ugly public blog post to top of the hurt.

This book was everything, it had everything. I had my reservations at first, Nathan dies getting a glass of wine for Kate and it is mentioned several times as the guilt sits heavy on her chest. At first I was a little worried that this was going to be a very to shame anyone who drinks wine, but as the story went on, it was proven otherwise and I relaxed a little.
The story pulled on my heartstrings, squeezed my heart, broke my heart and cemented it back together with love and warmth.

It was frustrating, shocking, sad, heartbreaking, but at the same time it was wonderful, full of love and just downright realistic. There were moments that made me really feel for the two women, but Higgins hands the entire situation not only with wit and charm, but with humor cleverly woven in.

The story was about death, grief, moving on after, love, heartbreak, and family all the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved how the heartbreak and the events in both of the sister’s lives bought them together and formed a stronger bond. I liked learning  about their family, and how Candy (Kate’s mother, Ainsley’s step-mother) felt about having another woman’s child trusted upon her. For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about her, but Candy redeemed herself tenfold by the end of the book.

Kate’s story was rough. I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being widowed so fast, but I also had to take into the account that Kate didn’t even know her husband for a year, so the experience must have felt different to other widows who knew them for years.

I loved the romance, especially between Ainsley and her boss Jonathan. When Jonathan appeared more and more in the story, he won me over quickly. He isn’t your typical love interest, which was so refreshing. He is awkward, he doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, his interaction with Ainsley is amusing. She calls him Captain Flatline for a reason, he is hard to read and she often compares him to an alien. But I loved that, I loved that Jonathan wasn’t like the rest of the alpha males in the books, it made him so much more endearing and memorable.

Daniel the hot Fire Fighter was also an awesome addition to the book, and I loved the way he treated Kate and pulled her out of her funk.

The entire story was just great, but I think I already mentioned it. It was well over 400 pages and I was sad that it was over, I will definitely miss Jonathan. I liked both of the sister’s voice and their sarcastic witty humor, I never found a dull moment.

If you want to give Higgin’s a try, I strongly recommend this book.

“Are you crying?”

“Oh…I just…I’m a little, uh premenstrual.” Shit.

He gave me a long, unblinking look. Strange pale blue eyes, like an alien. “Will that be a problem during this interview?” he asked.

“Let’s hope not. But those first two days can be murder.” I smiled. He did not. I felt my uterus shriveling, as if his disapproving gaze was bringing on menopause.

Finally, he blinked. “I’m Jonathan Kent. This way.”

Inside the grocery store, it was as cold as a morgue. Poor choice of words.

I couldn’t remember what I’d come for, Vegetables? Why not? Whole Foods did have the prettiest produce in the entire world, even if it did cost a million trillion dollars.

I was dying to know what my stick-up-the-colon boss did in his spare time. Taxidermy seemed about right.

I pulled into Kate’s driveway, once again doing the walk of shame (though damn proud of it), went into the kitchen and screamed

A very large man was there.

“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“Who are you and why are you wearing my sister’s shirt?” I yelped..

He smiled. I smiled. The cat smiled.

He had a cat!

“You have a cat!” I said. Maybe shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Too late now.

I could seriously go on with snips and quotes forever. Go read the book!

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