Truly Madly Guilty

26247008 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/26/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

My thoughts:

Okay, so this book both intrigued and frustrated me at the same time. I wanted to keep reading to find out the big secret, but was also frustrated that I didn’t know from the beginning. Basically, for the first half of the book, you know that something happened at a BBQ at a neighbor’s house, but you have no idea what that something was. The story is told in both flashbacks to the bbq and current day (weeks later) and is also told in alternating viewpoints. Sounds confusing, but it actually isn’t at all. I had my predictions about what the secret would end up being, and I was close but not spot on. Even though I wish I had known earlier in the book, I still found it to be a pretty enjoyable read. I liked most of the characters (even though some were a little weird or off-putting) and their background stories, especially the story of Erika’s mother and her hoarding habits. I also like learning new things when I read, so I thought Clementine’s cello-playing was pretty cool too. This was an everyday story about everyday people, but that’s what made it interesting.

I do enjoy Liane Moriarty’s storytelling and she is on my list of authors to read each time a new book is released by them. I would recommend this one to friends and family.

My rating: 4/5

Falling

28110094 Falling by Jane Green

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/19/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.
On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.
Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.
But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.

My thoughts:

I had planned on posting this review several days ago. This is normally a book that I could have read in a few days, but I had other things going on that stretched it out quite a bit. This is a good love story though, which managed to keep my interest when not much else was doing so. (I DNF’ed 2 other books right before this, which I rarely do.) I have come to expect these kinds of stories from Jane Green, and I know I can rely on her for a generally good book.

I am not a fan of insta-love in books, so that irritated me a bit; but, at least, there was some questioning and drama to keep it from being too easy. I really liked Emma’s character and that we got a bit of London, but without the story being set there. Dominic was a likable character as well, though I would have liked to know more about his background growing up with lots of domestic issues. How did it affect all of his relationships and how did he keep from turning out the same way? This was addressed a bit, but more would have been nice. One of my favorite characters was Emma’s best friend, Sophie, and I would have liked more of her for sure.

Without any spoilers, I was not a fan of the ending so much, but I can see why it was the way it was. It was necessary for Emma to find out who she really is and what matters most. I felt like things wrapped up a bit too nicely (should be happy about that, right?), but I also can’t offer any critiques on how to change that, so….I can’t really take away from my rating for that. I would recommend this title to family and friends for sure.

My rating: 4/5

The Singles Game

27276380 The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 7/12/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.
After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I love this author, I have read all of her books since I first read The Devil Wears Prada and have enjoyed them all. I was excited to get approved for this one, and then I realized it was about tennis…which is something I am not remotely interested in. BUT, like any good author can do, Lauren made me interested in something that I normally wouldn’t be. I also learned a lot about the game of tennis, and it’s always fun to learn something new!

I love Charlie’s character and found her struggles relatable, even though I’m nothing close to being an athlete.  I also liked the “Hollywood” factor that was involved in the story–gossip, affairs, and all. I also really liked Charlie’s brother, Jake, throughout the story and found myself rooting for him to find a happy relationship. I hated Marco, but could understand why Charlie was drawn to him–we all like the bad boy that everyone else wants sometimes.

Overall, I just really enjoy this author’s writing style: sometimes snarky and always entertaining. I am wondering if there will be a follow-up book…I would definitely be open to reading it if so. Another great read by an already great author! I will recommend to friends and family.

My rating: 5/5

First Comes Love

26192467 First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley and from BEA, release date 6/28/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

My thoughts:
I have read all of Emily Giffin’s books, except the one right before this (going back to it as soon as I get a chance though), and have always enjoyed her writing. I got the chance to meet Emily and get this book signed while at BEA in Chicago, so I was super excited to read and review it.

I really liked this book and found myself excited to get back to it each evening before bed. I found myself really relating to Josie, since I started out as an elementary teacher (before moving to the high school level) and am still single, though not actively searching/needing a man like she thought she did. I have a very similar personality as well, so I found her chapters especially enjoyable. Emily also did her research on teaching (or maybe she has a background I’m not aware of!) and was accurate about the life of a teacher. I also found the dynamic among the two sisters quite entertaining, though Meredith was highly unlikeable for me (because I am pretty much her opposite, like Josie). It is always interesting to read about two sisters so different, as this is certainly the case in real life with my sister and me. Not that my sister is like Meredith either, we are just extremely different from one another.

Meredith is the more uptight, boring sister in this particular story…she has the life that Josie thinks she wants, but she is not happy with it herself. Throughout the book, she is trying to figure out where she went wrong and how she can be happy in the future. It is certainly a struggle, as she knows she has it good in the eyes of most other people. Josie struggles throughout the story for Meredith’s approval, while they both are trying to figure out how to move on from a tragedy that happened 15 years ago.

If you don’t like books with alternating viewpoints, you may not like this format, but I tend to like this style; since a lot of Young Adult books that I read are that way, I have become accustomed to it. I would say that it’s safe to say this is my favorite Emily Giffin book thus far and I have already recommended it to my own sister and mom, and I will be telling friends about it also. If you are looking for a great summer read, and if you enjoy a family story, then pick this one up for sure! I am hoping maybe we will get to read more about these sisters in future books. 🙂

My rating: 5/5

 

Modern Lovers

27209486 Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 5/31/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adults’ lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.

My thoughts:

This is my first book by Emma Straub, but I remember hearing a ton of buzz about her last book, so I was excited to get approved for this one on Netgalley. I’ve been working on reading it over the past few days and really enjoyed the story. Coming from someone who reads mostly YA, I have to be in a “mood” for Adult books. This one would actually be a pretty good crossover for YA, minus some content. I enjoyed this author’s writing style and the stories of all the characters. Everything intertwined well and I didn’t find one story more boring or more interesting than another. This is always a good quality, I hate nothing more than reading a book and just trying to get to a different part of the story. I want to enjoy it all.  I would recommend this one to my friends and those who like contemporary novels/women’s fiction. This is a good, not-too-serious summer read.

My rating: 4/5

The Witches of Cambridge

The Witches of Cambridge The Witches of Cambridge by Menna Van Praag

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 2/9/16.

Summary from Goodreads:
“Be careful what you wish for. If you’re a witch, you might just get it.”
Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.
Noa’s not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat’s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.

My thoughts:
I read a title previously by this author called The Dress Shop of Dreams and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I was glad to give this one a try. I ended up really enjoying it, but did feel that it had a bit of a slow start. The story is about multiple characters, but their storylines all tie together very nicely. I like that these titles have magic, but it is not so much that it seems unrealistic. I thought some of the characters were just okay, like Noa and Kat, but enjoyed most of them and found them likeable. My favorite storyline was probably Amandine, which could be because she kind of tied all the others together. This was not a fast-paced or high action book by any means, but still interesting enough to keep me reading. While I will probably not purchase it for my high school library, I will recommend to friends and family.

My rating: 4/5

He Will Be My Ruin

He Will Be My Ruin He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 2/2/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

“A woman who almost had it all . . .
On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?
A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .
Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.
Until he became her ruin.
On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.”

My thoughts:

As always, K.A. Tucker didn’t let me down with this one. She has become one of my all-time favorites since I was introduced to Ten Tiny Breaths when it first came out. I have read every title she has written since. This was a bit of a change for her, but not too much. It was more of a mystery, thriller than some of her others. I was able to read this quickly and it kept me intrigued throughout. I was unsure of who the killer truly was throughout and was still not sure when it was revealed. I liked the flashbacks in the story and they weren’t confusing at all. I also learned some information about things I wouldn’t be interested in, namely antique/art collecting. You know an author is good when they can get you to care about something you otherwise have no interest in. The characters were also well thought out and mostly likeable. I do not purchase the books by this author for my high school library, but I do recommend them to all my friends! Keep up the good writing!

My rating: 5/5 stars