The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, Amy E Reichert

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Title: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go

Author: Amy E. Reichert

Pages:  352

Genre: women’s fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: May 15th, 2018

Summary:

Gina lost her husband and best friend, Drew, two years ago.  Her sister Victoria has been a great help with trying to heal and being a sounding board; with the help of Grilled G’s- the food truck Drew fixed up for her- she might just look normal.  Looks can be deceiving.  She’s broken to the point of keeping his shirt in a zip lock baggie, keeping his old cell active so that she can hear him.  She knows she has to be strong, that May needs her…. and so she won’t allow herself to grieve in front of her daughter, instead giving space.

May lost her best friend too- her father.  The man that taught her how to take apart an engine and put it back together.  The level head of the family.  Her support system.  Regina won’t even talk about him!  She has lists upon list to get through the day, but as far as May can see her daughter’s name isn’t on any of them.

Victoria was always the good daughter- the one that did as expected.  She married Jeff, as her parents wanted and had four children that she loves, even as they exhaust her.  She keeps the peace and keeps her head down- isn’t that what one does in exchange for security?  She can’t help thinking about what she missed though, a deep and crazy love like Gina had with her Drew.  When secrets come out, she has to decide what’s most important.

Lorraine has spent a lifetime covering up her secrets.  When she and Floyd married she knew there would be certain expectations.  She would bring him into the Milwaukee society, give him a perfect family, act as his hostess, never rock the boat.  Even after his death, she was too terrified of the fall out to give up her secrets.  A stroke brings to the forefront what she’s done.  Watching her daughters, unable to talk to them- to explain…. she finally understands that she needs to come clean; but how?  As these women’s lives come together, a story comes together of love, joy, grief and the different ways to let go.

My thoughts:

This book broke me.  Each character is a well developed disaster.   You can’t help but be pulled into their drama, dreams and regrets.  Each one is multifaceted and oddly easy to love.  I know I say this in a lot of my reviews- it’s honestly one of the top things I look for in a book- can I identify with these characters?  Are they well developed?  These things are important to me as I read to fall into a different world- escaping work, stress and boredom to give myself to a set of characters for however long I have.  I also read to learn about new places or ideas… but mostly it’s been my escape since I was an overly-angsty  pre teen.

But I digress.  The story is told in three points of view- Gina, Lorraine and May with gorgeous flash backs and memories.  Now, I have a bit of issue here.  The transition between POV’s is flawless.  The story flows smoothly from one very different voice to another.  I was disappointed that Victoria didn’t have a chapter though.  She is pivotal to the story, a support system for May and Regina as well as loving (if crazed) daughter of Lorraine.  The secret touches her just as deeply as the others.  Plus, she has her own things going down, but we never get to see into her mind.  I cannot help but feel like this is a missed opportunity… unless of course she’s getting her own story?  Unlikely, but a girl can dream.

Still, this is a beautifully written, sweet story that shows the strength of family, and the art of forgiveness and letting go.  I loved it.  I am most likely buying it for my own library as well as several copies for friends and family.  Five stars!!!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale there’s language, drinking and some very mild sexual content.  I would still let my niece read it, so I would give it a four.  General.svg

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Gallery books in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 5-15-18- who’s excited?!?!

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

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Weekly Wrap-up, April 24th-30th

So I am two weeks into my LOA and climbing the walls.  I hate being contained.  Don’t get me wrong- I get out with Warren and the family, but it’s odd not being able to do everything I want when I want to.  Being able to drive has spoiled me terribly.  Today I took a taxi to the library because I couldn’t think with Boo climbing my back and I wanted to do some posts (btw, Boo literally climbs my back when I am at my computer.  She has to supervise).  I love her, but there are times when it simply isn’t congruent with writing a review.

The healing process has gone fantastic and I am walking more, albeit slower than my usual pace.  I feel like I could drive, but have one more week before I am supposed to.  I promised Warren I wouldn’t do anything stupid.  It just irks that the tiny things in life are such a pain right now.  For instance- Boo needs more food.  This is a ten minute car ride, and usually no problem for me…. except that it is now.  I don’t want to bother my family, and Warren and I have forgotten several days in a row.  While this would be a tiny errand, it’s become complicated.  Also grocery shopping can only be done with my adoring husband.  Finally, is it weird that I want to work?  I miss Wal mart.  I miss my coworkers and regular customers and interacting with people that are neither family nor feline.    Ugh, I probably sound like a horrible person.  Forgive me?

Now on to better topics: Books!!!! I have bought 17th suspect by James Patterson and cannot wait to dive in.  I also preordered The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan.  I am super excited about that one too, though this is my least favorite series of his.  Then of coarse there’s How I Resist coming out on the 15th, and a couple more May ARC’s.  Finally, I could not resist buying The Secret Book and Scone Society.  I am hoping I can get to all of these quickly, but as always ARC’s come first.  In fact, I just finished The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, and the review will be up today.  Then it’s on to Owen Laukkanen’s Gale force; I adore the Steven’s and Windmere series, and cannot wait to see what he does here.  Finally, my Facebook book club is going to have a May book- don’t know what it is yet, but I am excited!  If nothing else this should keep me sane until the post-op doctor visit.

So that’s me, what’s up with you?

-Amber

Bill the Vampire, Rick Gualtieri

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Title:  Bill the Vampire

Author: Rick Gualtieri

Pages: 292

Genre: humor, paranormal

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book one of The Tome of Bill.

Published: October 21st, 2012

Summary:

There are terrifying predators on the streets at night…. and then there’s Bill.  Living the life of an overworked programmer and gaming nerd, he is far from ready for the turn his life’s going to take.

A gorgeous woman chats him up on the subway and invites him to a party.  While he’s never been the one to be picked up…. he figures, why not?  This is no ordinary party, though…. this is a party to die for *insert demonic laughter*…. er sorry, I had to.

When Bill lives through being one of the appetizers and fights back, one of the vamps are intrigued enough to extend his protection- giving Bill three months to move from the bottom of the coven food chain to the top before he gets killed.  Again.  With his two roommates, an older vamp that’s often MIA, and the hottie that got him killed, Bill’s making a name for himself in the vampire world.  He’s special, you see, and not just because everyone else in the coven are model perfect and he…. isn’t.  He turns out to be a unique type of vamp- a freewill the likes of which haven’t been seen in centuries.  Will this be enough to keep the ones he cares about safe?

My thoughts:

I bought this eBook in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it (I think I gave it four stars then).  I have since bought the audio compilations for the series.  The pace is smooth, the play between characters often hilarious.  I liked Bill a lot.  He is funny, in a sarcastic wise-ass sort of way, loyal, and endearingly geeky (what can I say, I have a type).  There’s action, adventure, mayhem and missteps as Bill tries to adjust to the life of the undead.  I also loved Sally (heartless evil genius/ bad ass), and his two friends.

Now there were a few issues.  The talk about how the women looked got old.  Seriously, Bill’s a bit of a horn dog.  It’s often funny, sometimes pathetic…. and at times it goes a bit far.  I have to say it wasn’t my favorite thing ever, but everything else more than made up for it.  Think about if Vampire Diaries got together with Space balls- this is their love child.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s a lot of language (both cursing and sexual innuendo), and a ton of violence.  While I would give this to my niece, I am thinking older teens and above here.  Let’s give it a five.Parental Guidance

This book has been out a long time, has anyone else read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading and be well,

Amber

 

 

You Me Everything, Catherine Isaac

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Title: You Me Everything

Author: Catherine Isaac

Pages: 368

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Romance, family

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date: May 1st, 2018

 

Summary:

Jess has a lot on her plate.  Her mother is slowly fading due to Huntington’s disease and the one thing she wants is for Jess’ son, William, to have a real relationship with his father Adam.  After they broke up when William was a baby Jess was… less than encouraging.  That didn’t mean he had to move to France!  Still, knowing what may be in her own future she understands that her mother may have a point.

Jess and 10 year old William set off for Chateau de Roussignol, the restored castle-cum-hotel that Adam owns.  With friends coming along later as back-up, she has just one thing on her mind this summer- make Adam fall in love with William.  There’s gorgeous countryside, wonderful food and wine, good friends- it should be great right?  There’s also the current girlfriend, the fact that Adam has a bit of trouble prioritizing William, a dwindling marriage and too many suitors; and you’ve got yourself a bit if a situation.

My thoughts:

I am in love with this book.  It was sweet and charming, heartbreaking at times and hilarious in others.  I loved the dynamics between Jess and her girlfriends, and the crazed but most likely honest portrayal to the married couple- Becky and Seb- against two boys and a toddler.  Most of all, I loved William with his odd (sometimes macabre) facts and complete addiction to the I PAD.  It is absolutely impossible to not fall madly in love with Jess and crew.  Natasha is another character I love- funny, kind, hard working and ready to settle down.  She finds a man that checks all her requirements.  Forget the fact that funny, gorgeous, and intelligent Ben is also interested.  Then… there are Jess’ parents.  I adored her mother in all of the flashbacks, and I loved the woman struggling with a life threatening disease that could still be strong and, let’s face it, damn funny.  Her father was a loving man with a past that was less than perfect.  I loved that each character had their own issues.

Adam was a hard sell for me… I hated the Peter Pan vibe I got off him.  I hated that he didn’t try harder to be there for William.  More than anything I hated flash-back Adam.  It didn’t help that he had a girl friend and was obviously interested in Jess again.  There was also the fact that he allowed Simone to take priority over William at least once.  Toward the end, I got more insight into past- Adam; but it just didn’t save him for me.

The plot was good and the story line had a good flow.  I loved the book in it’s entirety!  For me it was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was a lot of language- some of it sexual.  There was sexual content as well, but not too graphic.  Oh, and there was booze.  Lots of booze.  I think this one, while mostly tame, was definitely geared toward adults.  mature audience.

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.   first to read *Side note, if you haven’t checked these guys out, you definitely should.*

The book comes out 5-01-18!  Be ready!

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy reading!

Amber

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli

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Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Pages: 325

Genre: YA romance, contemporary, lgbt

Is this part of a series?  No

Published: April 7th, 2015

Summary:

Being 16 is hard enough; being 16 and gay in a predominately straight area?  Well that just sucks, and Simon isn’t ready to be “out” yet.  Trying to get through high school and keep something like this from his best friends stinks.  Above that, he kind of “met” someone through email.  Blue knows him, and they understand each other…. only they don’t know each other.

When a schoolmate finds the emails, Simon is blackmailed into helping Martin win his friend.  Simon’s junior year is now beyond complicated.

My thoughts:

I loved Simon and Blue first of all.  I liked the way their feelings were portrayed.  At times I felt like the bullying aspect was a bit much- I wanted to believe it would never really happen… but these days?  I just don’t know.  I had issues with Leah, being a bit one note and jealous until the end.  Her anger at Nick and Abby got old fast.  The only part of her upset I could understand was Simon and even then not too much.

The book had been on my radar for a long time, but the movie clenched it for me.  I wanted to read the book and then watch Love Simon.  I don’t know if I would have read the book otherwise, though I am glad I did.  I loved the plot, and the use of the emails to move the story and relationship along.  For me, it is a four star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

As far as the adult content goes, there is some language and very light sexual content.  Oh, and drinking… a few scenes where there was a ton of drinking for such a young group.  All in all, though, it’s still one I would give my niece.  In fact, I think she read this one before me!  I give it a three.  General.svg

The book is out!  Have you read it?  What did you think?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

How to Walk Away, Katherine Center

 

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Title: How to Walk SAway

Author: Katherine Center

Pages:  320

Genre: contemporary fiction

Is this part of a series?  No

Publish date:  5-15-18

Summary:

Margaret Jacobson has it all- dream job, perfect guy…. everything a girl could want.  On what should have been a happy day, it all came crashing down.  After a terrible accident that left her broken, she must move forward the only way she can.  Weeks of therapy, skin grafts, and getting through the craziness of her family.  Secrets come out, relationships lost, and some strengthened.  This is a story it about loosing everything and still finding your way to the life you want.

My thoughts:

This book was hard to get through at times.  There’s a lot of depression, pain, and terrible characters.  Not terrible as in under-developed, but as in “who is this God-awful person and why should I care?”.  I hated Chip from the get-go.  He was self-serving, childish, and never seemed to care for Margaret and her wants.  He forced her into a situation she didn’t want, and then spiraled out of control when she was the only one hurt.

Now, I did like Kit.  She was, perhaps, one of my favorite characters.  She had a lot of issues, but loyalty both to her father and Margaret.  I found her reaction to physical relationships odd to say the least, but also saw a lot of personal growth there.  Margaret herself is very complex.  She is in great pain, and I nearly saw her give up a couple times.  It’s hard to believe in happiness and hope when you’ve been stripped of everything.  Then there’s the way she reacted to Ian- noticing his obvious pain and reticence and trying to pull him out of himself.  With all her issues- having lost her fiancée, job, looks and most especially use of her legs- and she’s trying to get a laugh out of this guy.  I kind of loved that.

The plot was interesting, though slow in areas.  I liked how the author portrayed the road to recovery.  I loved the play between characters.  This book really drew me in.  For me it was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s some language and sexual content.  Nothing over the top.  I would give it a five.   mature audience.

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  pro_reader_120

The book comes out May 15th, 2018.

Link to the book:

Amazon

Happy Reading,

Amber

 

 

The Luck of the Bride, Janna MacGregor

 

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Title: The Luck of the Bride

Author: Janna MacGregor

Pages: 384

Genre: historical romance

Is this part of a series?  Yes.  Book three of the Cavensham Heiresses.

Publish date:  May 1st 2018

 

Summary:

March has taken care of her family- two sisters and a brother- since her parents passed.  Over the years, as the money from her guardians dwindled further and further, she has had to…. get creative.  Facing destitution and up against an unwanted suitor for her sister’s hand she takes matters (and her guardian’s seal) into her own hands.

Michael Cavensham has a secret.  He can’t figure out numbers.  If anyone ever found out, he’d disgrace his family and title.  When he finds out what March has done he’s furious… until he meets her.  Intriguing and completely loyal, she isn’t like anyone he’s ever known.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s a wiz at math.  But can he truly trust her?  As outside influences try to tear them down their bond will be tested.

My thoughts:

This is the book I needed.  I loved the play between March and her family, and the obvious love and loyalty between Michael and his.  The strength of both of these characters was incredible.  Each character is well developed and interesting, and I will be looking into the rest of the series because I am not at all ready to let these characters go.  This book gave me all the things I love in a good romance: well developed characters, great dialogue, a fairly smooth plot, and a type of world building that has more to do with families and friends.

I will admit the “evil suitor” gets played a lot.  I don’t even read that many historical romances and it still makes me cringe because it’s been done (and done, and done…).  This one, though, was a bit different- just enough.  First that he wasn’t interested in March and second because of the pain the wanted to cause her other sister and brother.

All in all, this is a five star book for me.  I highly recommend it. normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there’s some language and sexual content- fairly explicit, but there is still more plot than sex.  I give it a seven.  mature audience.

I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.pro_reader_120

The book comes out 5-01-18.  Is it on your radar?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy Reading and be well,

Amber