Say Goodbye for Now Review & Giveaway

I first heard of Catherine Ryan Hyde when the movie Pay it Forward was released, as I found out she was the author of the book the film was based on.  Since then I have marked all her books as “to read” but haven’t read one until now.  And after finishing this one, I don’t plan to wait so long until the next.

Say Goodbye For Now tells the story of Lucy Armstrong, a doctor who lives with the animals she rehabilitates and prefers to be left alone.  Right away we are also introduced to Pete, a 12-year-old boy who happens upon a wild animal and determines it’s up to him to keep him alive.  As Pete befriends a new boy in his rescue mission, the reader quickly learns that the 1959 time setting of this novel makes all the difference because Justin is African-American, and the townspeople in this Texas town do not treat newcomers so nicely, especially ones who look different from them.

A lot of this story reminded me so much of a favorite book of 2014, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  Both tell of interracial relationships that were not approved of by outsiders.  You can even see the resemblance in both book covers.

I loved the character of Pete and thought he was so well fleshed out.  Even coming from an abusive background, he was a promise-keeper and knew better than what he learned from home.  Seeing as most of the book takes place with Pete as a soon-to-be teenager, this book would make a great read for high school students to get a glimpse of the prevalent racism of the ’60s.  Even the Loving vs. Virginia case is touched upon.

Book clubs will also have a lot to discuss, especially in the character relationships and choices that affect adult and child alike.  There’s also a list of questions ready to go in the back of the book.

Thanks to BookSparks, I have one paperback copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Regulars Review

In today’s society, we all know the value placed on being pretty.  Magazines are Photoshopped so even supermodels look better on the page than they do in real life.  Actors get styled and made up before television appearances and red carpets.  With the ability to see a picture taken immediately, how many of you have had a redo when the angle is wrong or you need to reapply your lipstick?

That is the concept Georgia Clark brings us in The Regulars.  It tells the story of three friends (Willow, Evie, and Krista) who are ordinary 20-somethings trying to navigate life in New York City. Willow is a photographer trying to make a name for herself outside of her famous dad’s shadow. Evie dreams of a life writing rather than editing the glossy Salty.  And Krista aspires to be an actress, if only she can make it to her next audition on time.

Until one day someone gives Krista a jar of Pretty, a magical elixir that will change the girls’ appearance to make them look like supermodels.  What will happen if they take it?

I was entertained by this book a lot more than I expected to be.  Think of it as a fairy tale for adults. After reading an interview about how this book came to be, I couldn’t help but suspend disbelief for the few days I was immersed in this story.  It made me think of the pressure placed on women today just based on looks.  Girls as young as preschool age putting way more thought than necessary into their clothes and their hair.  Little girls telling their moms they look fat when compared to their friends.  So what can we do to change it?

Unfortunately, I think we have a long way to go before red carpets become more about the roles women play in movies rather than what designer they’re wearing.  Props to Reese Witherspoon for starting the trend with #AskHerMore last year. Hopefully, the generation of young girls will start following Evie’s attitude from this book a lot sooner.

image About the author:

Georgia Clark is the author THE REGULARS (Emily Bestler Books/Simon & Schuster), and two YA novels, SHE’S WITH THE BAND and PARCHED. THE REGULARS is her debut adult fiction and is being released around the world.

Georgia was born in Sydney, Australia. Her BA in Communications (Media Arts & Production) saw her becoming active in the student movement and blow way too much money on making short films and music videos.

After graduating she became a professional hipster for a while as Editor of The Brag, an excellent weekly music street press magazine. This also involved being in a band, the seminal electropop trio, Dead Dead Girls. She went on to become an Online Producer for a soapie called Home & Away, and Online Writer for Fremantle Media Australia.

In 2008 her first novel, She’s With The Band was published by Australia’s largest independent publisher, Allen & Unwin. She’s With The Band was released in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2011. It attracted five-star reviews.

Georgia has worked as a freelance journalist and copywriter for ten years. She is published in Cosmo, CLEO, Daily Life, Sunday Life, Girlfriend and more. She has attended writers’ residencies in Martha’s Vineyard and Portugal, and has also received grants for her work.

Georgia moved to from Sydney to New York in 2009 just for fun. Here, she performs improv and enjoys meeting new and interesting cheese platters. She writes from the New York Writers Room, which involves macaroons and many, many cups of tea. She lives in Brooklyn and is hard at work on her next book.

Thank you to BookSparks and their #bestsummerever for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Spotlight: The Choices We Make

Synopsis from Amazon:

Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics of friendship and parenthood

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of an incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

image About the author:

KARMA BROWN is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Come Away With Me, who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make is her second novel.

Thank you to Book Sparks for allowing us to share this book with our readers.

Book Spotlight: You Will Know Me

Synopsis from Amazon:

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers–about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself–forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.

From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.

image About the Author:

MEGAN ABBOTT is the Edgar award-winning author of seven novels, including DARE ME, THE END OF EVERYTHING and her latest, THE FEVER, which won both the International Thriller Writers and Strand Critics Award for Best Novel and was chosen one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times. Her stories have appeared in anthologies including Detroit Noir, Queens Noir and the Best American Mystery Stories of 2014.

She is also the author of The Street Was Mine, a study of hardboiled fiction and film noir. Her next novel, You Will Know Me, comes out in July 2016. She has been nominated for awards including the Steel Dagger, the LA Times Book Prize and the Pushcart Prize. Currently, she is working on developing DARE ME and THE FEVER for television. Megan is a staff writer on HBO’s forthcoming David Simon show, The Deuce.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English Literature and went on to receive her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She lives in Queens, New York City.

Thank you to BookSparks for allowing us to share this book wih our readers.

Book Spotlight: So Close

Synopsis from Amazon:

From international #1 best-selling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a story about a girl from the trailer parks of central Florida and the two powerful men who shape her life―one of whom will raise her up to places she never imagined, the other of whom will threaten to destroy her.

Amanda Beth Luker has spent her whole life desperately looking for someone who can show her the way out of her trailer park Florida town. And then, finally, help arrives―in the form of Tom Davis, a successful lawyer with political aspirations who grew up just a few towns over from Amanda. But it’s his wife, Lindsay, who really captures Amanda’s imagination. Strong, smart, and determined, she gives Amanda something she’s never had―a role model. Meanwhile Amanda is introduced to the wealthy, charismatic, and deeply troubled Pax Westerbrook. He clearly desires Amanda, but if she gives in will that move her closer to the life she’s always dreamed of―or make it impossible?

Amanda rides Davis’s political success all the way to Washington, where he becomes Senator and will later be tapped for president and even make a bid for the White House. But when Amanda starts to suspect, and later confirms, his moral indiscretions, her loyalty is tested. Will a girl from a trailer park even be believed if she goes public with damning information? Will she be willing to risk losing everything she’s gained?

image About the authors:

Newsweek declared McLaughlin and Kraus’s The Nanny Diaries a ‘phenomenon.’ It is a #1 New York Times best-seller and the longest-running hardcover best seller of 2002. In 2007 it was released as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Alicia Keys. They are also the authors of three other New York Times bestsellers, Citizen Girl, Dedication and Nanny Returns. And the soon to be released Between You & Me, and Over You.

They have appeared numerous times on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and The View. Their work and partnership have been covered in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, TIME, Elle, Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar.

They have contributed to The London Times and The New York Times as well as two short story collections to benefit The War Child Fund: Big Night Out and Girls’ Night Out. In addition to writing for television and film, they travel around the country speaking to young women about gender issues in American corporate culture.

Thank you to BookSparks for allowing us to share this book with our readers.

All Is Not Forgotten Review

Wendy Walker sure knows how to hook a reader.  I don’t remember any chapter from this book that did not leave me hanging, ready to find out what happens next.

All Is Not Forgotten is a new psychological thriller dealing with the subject of rape.  Please be aware of this when deciding whether to read this novel because I know it may bother some.  The main character, Jenny, is a student who is brutally attacked at a high school party.  Her parents decide to try a new drug that erase her memories of what happened.  Trouble starts in that she is experiencing stress, fear, and panic but has no idea of how to connect those feelings to a memory.

Enter Alan, Jenny’s therapist, who tries to work with the family in helping her recover and find her attacker.  What I truly enjoyed about this novel is Alan narrates the entire thing, even before we initially meet him as a character.  I found that to be unique because this traumatic tale is told from an outsider’s look in, so we get a bigger picture.

If you liked Defending Jacob, this novel should definitely go on your summer reading list because they share a few similarities.  Throw in some family dysfunction and plot lines encouraging you to quickly turn pages and you have the makings of a perfect summer read.

Thank you to BookSparks for a copy as part of their #SRC2016 #bestsummerever campaign in exchange for an honest review.

Book Spotlight: A Girl Like You

Synopsis from Amazon:

Henrietta Von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago’s northwest side. It’s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and her father’s subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall—and just when she’s beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead.

When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him—and is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld. Meanwhile, she’s still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe—even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.

image About the author:

Michelle Cox has a BA in English literature from Mundelein College, Chicago. While her heart might lie in the eighteenth century with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy or in the crooked streets of Little Dorrit’s London, she tends to write of a slightly more recent age, a time closer to the World Wars, when all was not yet lost and the last roses of summer were first coming into bloom. Cox lives with her husband and three children in the Chicago suburbs. This is her first novel.

Thank you to BookSparks for allowing us to share this book with our readers.

Somewhere Out There Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Amy Hatvany could publish her grocery list and I’d read it.  She has this ability to hook a reader from the first page without her book being a thriller and make you feel every emotion.

Somewhere Out There starts off with a glimpse of Jennifer, a young mom to two girls, living out of her car and trying to get them taken care of and fed.  Not being careful enough, she is caught shoplifting and even after an explanation, the store doesn’t want to cut her any slack.  Her social worker suggests that giving up her girls will be the best thing she can do for them moving forward.

Fast forward 30 years where we meet mother and caterer Natalie and cocktail waitress Brooke, the two girls Jennifer gave up.  The reader is introduced to their current lives and how each grew up in very different circumstances.  The book flashes back to what happened to Jennifer once she was arrested for shoplifting and, subsequently, what happened in the past as the girls grew up and how that shaped them in the present.

I love how everything Hatvany does is so realistic.  She doesn’t have Natalie living a picture perfect life with a lawyer husband and two kids.  She struggles between work and motherhood and even has spats with her husband, just like real life.  What may look more perfect on the outside is anything but.

As I read this, I kept going back to the fact that I couldn’t put this book down starting on page 2.  It’s rare that a women’s fiction story hooks me so quickly.

This is one you’ll want to discuss with all your friends and will make you want to complete your Amy Hatvany library.   As usual, I cannot wait for another new release from her.

Thanks to BookSparks as part of their #mywinterisbooked campaign for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Come Away with Me Review & Giveaway

This emotional book made my top reads of 2015 list because months and months after finishing it, I still am thinking about it.  It blew me away with the the storyline, especially considering it is a debut by a new author.  I cannot wait to read her newest release this summer.

If you liked the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, think of this as a fictional version.  Here is the Amazon synopsis:

An unexpected journey leads one woman to discover that life after loss is possible, if only you can find the courage to let go…

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief—not to mention her anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it. Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, Come Away with Me is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.

If you do not experience complete wanderlust after finishing this book, you didn’t read it correctly.  It’s obvious Karma writes from experience as she describes these amazing cities.

And because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I don’t want to say much else.  Just keep tissues handy and message me on my Facebook page when you finish because I can’t wait to hear what you think!  Read it with a friend so you can chat about it together.  Thanks to Book Sparks, I have one print copy to give away to one lucky winner.  Click the link below to enter to win.  Giveaway ends 3/28/16 at 12:00 am CST.  Good luck!

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Losing the Light Review

A book about a wine-filled excursion to France?  Sign me up.  What I loved about this novel was that it doesn’t take place in the part of France we hear about so often, Paris, but rather the coastal town of Nantes with escapes to the glamorous Cap Ferrat.  It was a completely new setting for me, one which satisfied my wanderlust every time I picked it up.

Losing the Light tells the story of two college students, Brooke and Sophie, who study abroad for a year.  Brooke is sent away after an affair with a college professor her school needs to pretend didn’t happen, and Sophie is longing for a place where she isn’t just known as just the pretty girl.  At a mixer when they arrive, Brooke meets Veronique, who soon introduces both girls to her handsome cousin Alex.  And that’s where the trouble starts.

Dunlop easily portrays Brooke as an insecure and jealous woman who falls for Alex quickly and is seduced by his good looks and charm.  Several get-togethers have the girls alone with Alex and while Brooke is pining for him, her friendship with Sophie is tested when her paranoia seems to take over.  I just had a wish for more tension throughout, all to set the stage for what we learn in the opening chapter about how everything ends.

This book would be perfect to throw in your beach bag or grab for a quick read over spring break where you can get lost in a world countries away and think back on your 20s as a time you thoght the whole world was at your feet.

You can read more about Andrea here.  Thank you to BookSparks for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.