Wednesday, August 3, 2022

All the Days

All The Days

All The Days by Elle Jayce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose this book based on the first page. Lara is choosing her song that represents the day, not a diary entry, but a song. I'm not a huge music person but I liked that concept so much I decided this was a book for me. Indeed, music does permeate the entire novel and at the end I found that there is a play list on Spotify. Bonus!

Lara is a construction designer who has been through a trauma resulting in PTSD. She meets Theo, an actor who is ready to drop his bad-boy image. They tentatively start dating in her tiny little village where Theo is filming. Lara knows this will go no further after the film wraps and resolves to keep her emotions out of it.

No spoilers but anyone can pretty much guess where this all leads to. I enjoyed the journey very much, occasionally humming the song of the minute. I haven’t ever had to deal with PTSD, but I felt the subject was written into the story in a very sensitive and appropriate way. I was viewing two characters who cared for each other and were about taking the time to really know the other. I definitely look forward to more from Elle Jayce.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Party of Two

Party of Two
by Jasmine Guillory 

This rom-com involves Olivia Monroe, a lawyer who has just moved from New York to LA to start a new firm with a long time friend, and Max Powell, the junior senator from California. Of course Max is one of those gorgeous "most eligible bachelor" types.

They meet innocently enough at a bar and flirt a bit and then go their separate ways. Olivia has no time in her busy schedule trying to build and market her new law firm, but thinks a quick fling with the man in the bar may have been fun. She later recognizes who he is when she sees him on a newscast. Max however is very intrigued by this 'mysterious' woman and can't get her off his mind. 

Olivia attends an event which Max is speaking at. He soon learns more about who she is and what she does which of course intrigues him even more. He follows up this encounter with a cake or pie, which becomes a theme for them throughout the book. I recommend not reading this when you are hungry. 

The book touches on some of the social issues we currently are dealing with and is one of the things I really liked about the story.  Olivia and Max are both passionate about helping people through their respective jobs as well as hands-on. 

Being a woman of color, Olivia thinks things through thoroughly before making decisions or commitments. Both her gender and her skin color could work against her if she missteps. She's known it all her life and behaves accordingly. Olivia has her doubts that this relationship could ever be more than a fling. Max on the other hand, has grown up a privileged white male. His actions and words are often spontaneous and not always thought through. While he would be comfortable 'rushing' into things, he's sometimes frustrated that Olivia is not. He does want to be with her in a very permanent way. 

Besides the basic personality differences, working on opposite sides of the country is not easy on a relationship. They see each other only on the weekends and try hard to keep their dating a secret. 'Going Public' is not just showing up together one day, but takes a team of Max's staff to plan press releases and photographers. Fortunately, he has prepped Olivia for that day. 

I enjoyed the story but I did feel like I wanted more drama.  There is an incident and of course the big question is will they make it or won't they, but it felt somewhat anti-climatic to me. For that I am giving this book 3 of 5 shots.  Of course if you know my rating system, that is still a good review. 

This is where I recount the story for my own poor memory... proceed at your own risk

Olivia has an incident in her past which she keeps secret. As a woman and a POC she feels it could make her be seen as less credible in her job. The incident is a high school break in when she was a teen. She has shared this incident with Max. 

Max puts her on the spot during a town hall meeting by revealing this bit of her past. Although not done maliciously, she can't accept that it happened and leaves the meeting. She breaks off with Max saying that his-speak-on-spur-of-the-moment style and her think-it-through style just are not compatible. Max is crushed and responds by sending her favorite cakes until she tells him to stop. 

It's Max's DC roommate, another junior senator and long time friend that helps Max see that he needs to fight and to start with an apology. As a result, Max sends a legal contract to Olivia, appealing to her thorough thinking side, with the seven things he will do to make the relationship work.  She counters, with a similar contract including changes to his. Both contracts to be revisited every August. 

Epilogue: A year later in August they are vacationing in Hawaii where he proposes to her - with champagne and a cake (of course!).


Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Summer Place


The Summer Place
by Jennifer Weiner

I always enjoy Jennifer Weiner's books and this one didn't disappoint. It's the kind of book that I do keep going back to because I'm just that nosy and need to know what's going to happen.  

Ms. Weiner introduces us to a family that is blended and has the usual issues.  I think Sarah is the main, most followed character of the story.  She has a twin brother, Sam, who is a single dad to his stepson. Sarah is married to Eli who is 10 years older than her and has a young daughter, Ruby, when they wed. Eli's ex is a woman who never wanted nor intended to be a mother. Eli has a "ne'er-do-well" brother. Sarah & Sam's parents are financially well off due to a couple of books Veronica, their mother, wrote prior to their birth. 

The main event is going to be the wedding of Sarah's step daughter to her college boyfriend. It will take place at Sarah's parents' summer home. 

I won't give away all the issues, but everyone has them and some may be unexpected.  I will say that secrets abound in and about this extended family.  As the secrets are revealed to the reader, I completely expected the story to end with a huge blowout at the wedding.  But... I'm not going to say more than that, either it does or it doesn't...

I really enjoyed the way the story was told, each character having a chapter devoted to his or her background and current life and JW braiding them all together revealing "just enough." To be honest, I though I had figured out the main issue early on, however, it wasn't held secret and so wasn't the "A-ha! I got the spoiler!" that I thought I had. 

I did find that the characters were a bit more understanding in one particular instance than I could have imagined them to be. I wonder if I am alone in that thought. I may explain more in the spoilers. 

My rating of The Summer Place is 4 shots of 5. It was a fun book, easy to read and get through - perfect for the summer months! 

This is where I recount the story for my own poor memory. Proceed at your own risk! 

Lets begin with all the secrets!  
Eli, Sarah's husband, formerly married to Annette.  When he was with Annette they were footloose and fancy free, traveling the world and working wherever they touched down. Annette wanted to live her life that way and had no interest in marriage.  Then she got pregnant with Ruby. She eventually left both Eli & Ruby, becoming an absent parent rather than a neglectful one.  Eli's secret is that he cheated on Annette and may have another child - who he believes is the boy Ruby is engaged to. 

Sarah, Eli's wife, still has a lingering love for her summer-before-college romance who promised to keep in touch but ended up ghosting her.  During a troubling time in her marriage and right before the wedding she indulges herself with the former love who just happened to pop back into her life. 

Sam, Sarah's brother, is famously shut down at the six month mark of every relationship he's had. When at last he find a woman who loves him beyond the six months and they marry, she is killed in an auto accident and he is left with her son who's father has no interest in raising him. Sam is happy to be Connor's father.  But, unrelated, he is soon questioning his own sexuality. 

Veronica, Sarah & Sam's mother has a sister who thinks it's a great idea to send the adult twins 23 & Me DNA test kits. As a result of this it's revealed to the reader that Veronica had a years long affair with an editor in NYC at the time she was also preparing to marry the man who becomes the twins' father.  She has never known for sure which man fathered the children. 

Ruby realizes right before the wedding that she had expected or at least hoped that someone would call her out on not being ready for marriage.  She flees with her bio mother the night before her wedding. 

Gabe, Ruby's fiancĂ©, hooks up with Sam at a gay bar that night. They haven't met prior to this point and don't realize who they are in relationship to each other.  This is the part that I have a problem with after all is said and done. They start a long relationship and no one is bothered by the fact that Gabe & Ruby were almost married.  I just don't think many families would be that accepting.  I could be wrong... 

I'm sure there is more I haven't covered but this should be enough to help me recall the book should I need to.  

And as an aside, yes, they live happily ever after. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Sewing Machine


The Sewing Machine
by Natalie Fergie

So it's been a while since I have blogged about any of the books I've been reading.  I don't really have a reason for letting this part of my reading experience slide, but I do have a reason for beginning it again. 

My memory is just not what I wish it was and the stories slip away from me almost as soon as I close the last page of a book.  With that said, I will warn you that I will at times be sharing spoilers.  But I hope to acknowledge their arrival with plenty of time and space for you to avoid them if you desire.  The spoilers will be to help me remember what I've read, no harm intended. 

The Sewing Machine is literally about a sewing machine, from the time it was constructed and the circumstances around that time, to it's place in the current world.  We follow the people who've built it, used it and restored it throughout the book but never quite sure how they all come together.  

It's an interesting story and it skips from past to present and back again and then suddenly, a new character pops in.  I have to say that threw me off a tad bit. 

The stories of the characters are good but not so good that I was constantly pulled back to the book.  In fact, the main reason I finished the book is to discover what thread (pun intended) was going to eventually connected them.  

I'm giving this a 3 shot rating.  It was "okay" but I don't know if I'd read it knowing it wasn't going to move me much. On the other hand, I don't feel like I wasted my time, either. 


The sewing machine created in this story was at a singer factory late 1800's early 1900's.  The workers tried to go on strike which failed and caused many to lose their jobs. The woman who tested this machine hid a note in a bobbin before she & her fiance left the community to find new work. 

That machine was eventually purchased by a couple, the woman used it to supplement their income. They kept detailed records of everything made on the machine. At a later time they take in a young pregnant woman who has been disowned by her family and they become her family.  

In the 2000's the child of that unmarried woman returns to his grandparents home to settle the estate. He doesn't know that the people he thought were his grandparents are actually not.  He discovers the notebooks full of details about the items sewn on the machine and becomes fascinated with it and begins to use the machine. This leads him to become friends with a woman who make jewelry from old sewing machine parts.  The book ends when they discover it was this woman's great grandmother who left a note hidden in the machine, which had been saved with the sewing records all those years by the man's grandparents.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Summer Darlings

Summer Darlings
by Brooke Lea Foster

1962. Summer on Martha's Vineyard.

Heddy is a girl working as a summer nanny for a wealthy family in Martha's Vineyard. She is a college scholarship student at Wellesly who was raised by a single mother barely scraping by. Heddy is a very naive girl, embarrassed by her background, needing and wanting validation from the people she believes are so much more than she is.

She arrives in Martha's Vineyard starry eyed, ready to step into a world of beautiful people living idyllic lives. What she discovers is the ugly underbelly of this picture perfect world, starting with the very family she is a nanny for.

Heddy falls for two men on the island, Sullivan, the son of a wealthy family, and Ash, a land developer selling homes in his new development in Florida. She is also befriended by Gigi, a movie star who takes her under her wing and tries to gently educate her as to what she is up against.

Eventually, Heddy begins to realize she can absolutely trust no one but herself.  As insecure and unimportant as she believes she is, she nevertheless is a pawn to be used or disparaged by those around her. As the reader/observer I wanted to stand and cheer for her at the point she arrives at knowing that only she can take care of herself and does just that.

A happy ending?  Maybe so, maybe no. I think you should decide for yourself when you read this novel. I can see the possibility of a sequel. I would definitely read it should it happen.

Summer Darlings gets 4 of 5 shots from me.

Thank you Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book for my reading pleasure & review.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

When I Was You

When I Was You
by Amber Garza

I'd like to thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book prior to publication.

The psychological thriller is very popular right now with the main character having had a breakdown of some sort and questioning his or her own sanity, or believing in their sanity but being questioned by others. This book falls into that specific genre. And I am okay with that!

Kelly Medina is an empty-nester who's husband works in another city and only comes home on weekends. We are aware early on that she has experienced some sort of trauma, but the specifics are elusive. A misdirected phone call alerts her to the knowledge that there is another Kelly Medina in town, the mother of an infant. She becomes obsessed with finding out who this other Kelly is. Old Kelly arranges a 'chance meeting' with Young Kelly and inserts herself into Young Kelly's life.

The story is told in the first person, personal. Which is to say that more than just relating the story, we are privy to Old Kelly's inner dialog and thoughts as well. It's a little scary at times knowing/hearing what is going on in the mind of someone who might just be a little off kilter.

Of course any good psychological thriller is going to provide some twists and turns and this is no exception. I found myself re-reading about five or six pages at one point just because the twist at that point was so subtle I was afraid I had missed something. You may or may not decide you know what the twist is early on, but never fear, even if you get it right, there is more to come.

I enjoyed Ms. Garza's style of writing and it makes the book fun to read. I give her a 4 of 5 shots and suggest you pick this one up when it's available.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Anne Aletha

Anne Aletha 
by Camille N Wright


“Meet Anne Aletha, who fought for equality for all … in 1918. Amid World War I, the Spanish Influenza, and a re-emerging Ku Klux Klan, a young unconventional schoolteacher inherits her uncle’s farm in the Deep South with the intentions of opening a school to educate all children—rich or poor, black or white. Her ambitions and her courage to challenge the systematic racial injustice she witnesses daily plunge herself and those she loves into the violence of the Klan."

I was expecting a lot more depth from this story. Having read the description I guess I focused on the promised KKK aspect and thought I’d read more about that, but it was a small part of the story and basically consisted of Anne Aletha standing up and walking out of church when the Klu Klux Klan was welcomed in by the minister.

Overall, I found the story to be very superficial and I wasn’t very engaged with the heroine. She had high ideals that were not developed enough to feel realistic for the era. The violence she experienced was not written about in such a way as to make me tense and worry for her safety. I prefer a book that draws me in to the story. I did not feel that. 

The most engaging section of the story was the writing about the Spanish Influenza. This most likely hit home because I can relate to it during the current Coronavirus pandemic.

If not for the unnecessary “love” scenes, I would have thought this a book was written for a middle grade or perhaps a high school reader of historical fiction.

My score for Anne Aletha is 2 of 5 shots. 

Thank you, Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.