Great Reads

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

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Publish Date 
: 3/1/06
Author:  James Patterson
Started: 7/20/18
Finished: 7/22/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Okay, about to give you some shocking info, I have never read a James Patterson book. I know, he’s great, a thriller god, and super popular but I haven’t had a chance to read him. I had no idea that he dabbled in some love stories. I had a friend recommend this book and she let me borrow it. I’m glad she did and I’m actually excited to get into some of his thrillers sooner rather than later now.

Summary from Goodreads:

Grief-stricken by a recent tragedy, Jennifer returns to the resort village where she grew up to help her beloved grandmother. There, Jennifer will discover new meaning in life and experience not one, but two of the most amazing love stories ever.

My Review:

This wasn’t necessarily a tear-jerker for me. It was beautifully written and very cute. This is not a book of love letters from a man named Sam to his lover, Jennifer. Sam is actually “Samantha”, Jennifer’s grandmother. Their relationship is super strong and Sam leaves letters for Jennifer for her to understand more of her life. Their relationship is sincere and amazingly beautiful. Their closeness made you feel for both characters. Sam’s lessons on love to Jennifer seem to really help her figure her own life out BUT, Little spoiler alert: I did find a little fault in how quickly Jennifer and Brandon fall in love. At first, she seemed to find a lot of fault in him and then out of nowhere, their relationship was very serious. I understand how Sam’s letters helped progress this relationship but it didn’t see exactly realistic.  I loved Jennifer and Brandon’s relationship and how sincere they were but I wish that there was more substance on how he won her over.

This was a very cheesy love story but let’s be honest, most love stories are. It wasn’t too cheesy that it was unbearable to read and I enjoyed reading about Sam’s past and and Jennifer’s present.

I did have a little issue with the glorified affair. I don’t  really think that the love affair was justified even though Sam and Doc do have a loving relationship. I wish their relationship had unfolded in some other way. This knocked a star down for me.

I recommend the book as it is very quick and will pull at your heart strings a tad for better reasons overlooking the two issues I did have.

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Mr. and Mrs. American Pie – ARC REVIEW AVAILABLE TODAY!

Publish Date : 8/7/18
Author:  Juliet McDaniel
Started: 7/31/18
Finished: 8/1/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

First off, if you’re reading this, the book is available now to purchase TODAY! I highly suggest you do because it’s witty and hilarious. I want to say thank you to the author, Juliet McDaniel, Netgalley, and the publisher, Inkshares, for sending me a copy prior to publication to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

The year is 1969. Dick Nixon was just sworn in as the thirty-seventh President of the United States. Neil Armstrong just took one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. And notable Palm Springs socialite Maxine Simmons just found out that her husband is leaving her for his twenty-two-year-old secretary.

After a public meltdown at Thanksgiving, Maxine finds herself not only divorced, but exiled to Scottsdale, Arizona. However, these desert boondocks will not be her end―only her Elba. The former beauty queen sets her eyes on a new crown: that of the Mrs. American Pie pageant, awarded to the nation’s best wife and mother.

Maxine only has one problem: to win the crown she’ll need to find―or build―a family of her own.

My Review:

From the second I started reading this, I was laughing hysterically. McDaniel does an amazing job with imagery. Her Thanksgiving scene in the beginning was unfortunate but what Blockbuster hits are made of. I cannot wait to see if this gets picked up because whoever would adapt this to the big screen would have some pretty hilarious scenes.

Maxine is a character to be reckoned with. Her antics never surprised me and the leaps and bounds she makes to reach her goals in the book are hilariously cringeworthy. As crazy as she is, I found her to be very likable with quite a few redeeming qualities for all of her questionable ones. Charles is utterly adorable and Jim and Dawn’s life really pulled at my heartstrings and Maxine, as crazy as she is, does do some great things for the two of them with Robert along for the crazy ride. I’m not always on board with stories told from different points of views for each chapter. I can sometimes find them daunting and I often find myself struggling to pay attention when I’m reading a chapter focusing on a character I haven’t connected with but this book does a great job. The different POV’s lead to more satire and show how ridiculous the lives of the Hogarth’s really are during this beauty pageant. Getting Robert’s take on everything also helped bring the over the top antics back down to reality.

Although silly, this satirical read is well worth it to pick up. I found it very funny it was a great change of pace for my darker reads lately.

Great Reads

Tiffany Blues – ARC REVIEW


Publish Date : 8/7/18
Author:  M.J. Rose
Started: 7/23/18
Finished: 7/29/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A little back story, the Tiffany family has always intrigued me. My father worked for Tiffany’s for some time selling jewelry and as a female, I love a good Tiffany piece so that alone intrigued me.

Thank you to Netgalley, author M.J. Rose, and Simon and Schuster for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

My Review:

At 24% in, Tiffany’s had rarely been mentioned. It took quite a while for me to recognize the book I had been reading to the description of the actual book. I wasn’t drawn in and it was a rather slow start. We didn’t even get to the Tiffany estate until 30% in and if you are a regular on my blog, you know how much I hate slow beginnings or unnecessary information. The first 30% of the book is slow and is drawn out probably about 15% more than it had to be.

A pro is how great Rose helps paint the setting (pun intended). She does great with detail describing so much even down to the ornate wall coloring and decorations. It really helped move the story along in my head. Even her characters are fully developed. She definitely has mastered many facets of writing.

When starting the novel, it felt more historical fiction. Midway the novel turned more into romance and then the ending (my favorite of this book) turned into straight mystery thriller. Although I had figured everything out rather quickly, there were still some surprises and overall, Rose did a great job keeping me interested during this second half of the book as everything was thoroughly described yet still mysterious.

I still think there are some flaws and unanswered questions I would have liked resolved. I also feel like coincidences should have been better explained because although everything makes sense, it seems a little unbelievable in areas that I would have liked clarified.

All in all, I’m glad that I stuck it out because I did end up enjoying it more than I thought from the beginning.

Great Recipes

Poor Man’s French Onion Chicken

This is literally the most juicy and moist chicken I have ever made. Even without the extras, I will start to make my chicken like this a lot more in hopes that the juiciness transpires in all my chicken recipes. Feel free to change up the spices used below. I don’t usually measure my spices for this recipe and just sprinkle enough to make sure each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated. I also use two HUGE chicken breasts cut in half to make four servings. Feel free to change the chicken servings to your desire. The recipe is very easy to increase or decrease to your needs. The ingredients are also pretty standard and inexpensive. YUMMY!

Continue reading “Poor Man’s French Onion Chicken”

Great Reads

July Wrap-Up and August TBR

Hello! I’ll be leaving for another vacation this weekend and again don’t have a ton of ambition for the month of August because as soon as I come back from vacation, work starts again for the 2018-2019 school year. I’m not looking forward to it. I’m ready to retire in my 20’s lol.

I’ve been stacking up a few reviews here and there again so that there’s some stuff posted while I’m away. Last month I finished everything that I anticipated and an extra thrown in there.

This last month I finished:

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea  – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ A little predictable for me but still a great thriller.  This review is up on the blog.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I loved this one. It was a great read that held some twists and turns along the way. This review is up on the blog.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – ⭐⭐⭐ I anticipated more from this with all the hype this received in the past. There was too much fluff in this thriller for me that I felt unnecessary. This review is up on the blog.

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson– ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This was a cute love story but I had some moral issues with it. It was still cute and actually my first James Patterson. I’ll be reading more of his soon. This review will be up on the blog soon.

Tiffany Blues by M.J Rose – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This started very slow for me but picked up and I’m glad I continued through it. It was a great read. The review will be published soon.

Pretty Ugly Lies by Pamela Crane – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ This book is not for the feint of heart at all. I really enjoyed it and finished it in one day. The only issue I had with this is that it was very disturbing so keep that in mind when reading it but also don’t keep that from reading it if you think you can mentally handle it. Many thrillers are disturbing but this one had some heavier material than your average thriller. This review will be up on the blog soon.

As I said, I don’t have a ton of ambition for this month like last month. I won’t be bringing my Kindle or Nook on vacation again so I should get some more physical books that I have on my shelves again. I do want to get through at least these but I honestly don’t think that I will get through all seven. A girl can hope though, right?:

Inferno by Dan Brown – Physical copy borrowed from a friend. Not my first Dan Brown or my first time following around Robert Langdon. Nothing has ever topped my love for Angels and Demons though.

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel – Netgalley. This should be a nice change from my heavier and lately disturbing reads.

Outlander by Diana Galbadon– Physical copy. I’m going to try and jump on this bandwagon and see what all the fuss is about!

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan – Netgalley

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison – Netgalley

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones – Netgalley

What is on your TBR list this month?!

Great Reads

The Woman in Cabin 10

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Publish Date 
: 7/19/16
Author:  Ruth Ware
Started: 7/14/18
Finished: 7/16/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐

I read this on my cruise to the Bahamas.  Was that a little bit crazy? I guess so. My cruise wasn’t as exclusive as the cruise in this book but being on the ship really helped my imagination run wild! I even was a bit scared to go on my balcony! I know this was a very popular one a while back but sometimes I like to let things die down a bit before diving in.  I’m glad I saved this book especially for my vacation. It was a great setting!

Summary from Goodreads:

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

My Review:

Once again, social media may have ruined this for me. I was expecting “blow you out of the water” good but what I got was just okay for me. I felt like there was a ton of information that was dragged out and even a little unnecessary in the beginning. The love drama between Lo and her current boyfriend seems a little out of place and an afterthought in my opinion. The beginning dilemma also seems a little dragged out and although important to the rest of the book, overly done.

The concept itself however is unique. It had a little Agatha Christie feel to it in the beginning that kind of fell off for me as I continued to read. I did figure out who was responsible for our mystery halfway through but not in its entirety. There were still surprises that I did not see coming. For me, this book didn’t have the creepiness factor that I was expecting.

One thing I had an issue with is how weak and whiny Lo is. Her relationship issues as well as her credibility rely heavily on this issue. As the reader, you believe she is telling the truth as there wouldn’t be much of a story without her beliefs but she can be viewed as unreliable because of her anxiety issues.

I also felt that some of the exciting parts ended quickly and as mentioned, scenes that felt overly drawn out and unimportant were given too much attention.

The twisted details are what saved the book for me because it was pretty unique and thought out. I just wish the events leading up to the ending were more thought out.

Great Reads

The Cheerleaders – ARC REVIEW

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Publish Date 
: 7/31/18
Author:  Kara Thomas
Started: 7/11/18
Finished: 7/22/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Just a heads up, I started this book on my Kindle on the 11th. I left for vacation in the morning on the 13th for a week. During that week, I did not bring my Kindle. This long read time has nothing to do with my interest in the book but my unavailability during the week of the 13th to the 20th. Take my started and finished dates with a grain of salt because I loved this book!

Thank you to Netgalley, author Kara Thomas, and Delacorte Press for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

My Review:

I’ll be honest, my eyes are drawn to covers and their art immediately. A good cover can sell me on a book and this cover did just that. I loved the simplicity yet creepiness to it and immediately was reading the summary to see if it was something that I would want to request to read and it definitlley was!

This book had me captivated from the start. “Connect the dots”. There’s something missing and I definitely had to keep reading to find out what that was. The cheerleader deaths all seemed fishy and connected from the start. Monica’s intuition leads her to explore these deaths and with the help of Ginny, they are quite the detectives which is more to say of her actual police stepfather, Tom. Monica’s family really got under my skin but it only added to the urgency of figuring out the mystery of the cheerleaders’ deaths.

This was a page turner and wasn’t very predictable at least for me. New information and “connecting the dots” wasn’t so easy for me. When I once thought I had made a connection, I was very wrong. The ending was twisted in more than one way and I was very shocked to to the end.

Although this is considered Young Adult (YA), the book was very mature and is recommended this for any age range. I don’t feel like a book should be !usted as YA solely due to the main characters’ ages. The teenage dilemmas that occur in the book are easy to understand through a teenaver’s eyes.

Another reason for my high rating and appreciation to the book is how all information given is important. Everything comes full circle and there is no information given that isn’t important to the story conclusion as there is nothing worse than reading a book and wondering why 50 pages was even relevant.

I highly recommend The Cheerleaders. It’s shocking, twisted, and full of drama the entire read!

Great Reads

Don’t Believe It

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Publish Date : 5/29/18
Author:  Charlie Donlea
Started: 6/30/18
Finished: 7/2/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you’re reading this, because it was just posted, I’m on vacation! YAY. Which means that if you’re lovely enough to make a comment, I won’t see it until I get back so please be patient. I’m not ignoring you! This was one of my prescheduled book reviews.

I was sent an Advanced Reader Copy at the end of May for this book. I am finally getting around to it. Thank you so much to Kensington Publishing Corp. for the chance to read and share my thoughts.

Summary from Goodreads:

From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a pawn in a sinister game.

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.

As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.

Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.

My Review:

I honestly thought it may take me some time to get interested in the book and that it would be kind of slow at first but that wasn’t the case. The prologue painted a good picture but even chapters one and two were written so well I was already hooked.

This was honestly a very fast read. It took me a while because I was in a reading slump and didn’t pick the book up in a week during my reading time period. I was also enjoying the beach and pool down the shore but when I was reading, I was whipping through it. This novel reads and follows Sidney through her “real-time crime investigation”. Her chapters about ratings and pitching to the network at first were a little slow and predictable to me. Her relationship with Luke was a tad annoying. His cocky attitude reminded me of Horacio Herrara and I wonder where Donlea got his inspiration from.

The second story line about Sidney with the ratings, climbing up the tv network, and proving herself as worthy of the station didn’t do much for me. I felt like maybe there wasn’t enough just for the actual crime story to unfold and adding this second story line lengthened the story. I felt like this story line didn’t even allow for much character development for Sidney making it a bit fluffy for me.

About halfway through reading, I had made a hypothesis about what I believed had happened to Julian Crist. I continued to believe that idea the entire time. With 90% done and more details popping up, my theory was pretty much confirmed in my eyes. Sure enough, within the last couple pages, I was reassured that I was correct the entire time. I was a little disappointed that I had figured it out so quickly. Many people talked about the twist but it wasn’t much of a twist for me. I think this means I’m reading too many thrillers and need to step back a little so I can continue to have that element of surprise I enjoy while reading. Even with my theory turning out to be true, there was still a twist added which was a nice touch and a little redeeming for me.

I liked the book. It was a quick read when I actually had time to read it over the last two weeks. I’m giving it a four for the qualms I had with it that I already mentioned. A little too much fluff and I would have liked some more conspiracy content.

Great Reads

The Subway Girls – ARC REVIEW

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Publish Date 
: 7/10/18 OUT TOMORROW!!
Author:  Susie Orman Schnall
Started: 6/27/18
Finished: 6/27/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary from Goodreads:

“Schnall has written a book that is smart and timely…Feels perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Liza Klaussmann.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, acclaimed author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“A fast-paced, clever novel filled with romantic possibilities, high-stakes decisions, and harsh realities. Perfect for fans of Fiona Davis’s The Dollhouse, this engrossing tale highlights the role that ambition, sexism, and true love will forever play in women’s lives.” —Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions 

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was super cute how the author tied the past and present together and she did a wonderful job showing how alike women of the past were to women of today. Just because many of the stories and women we know of from the past were likely stay-at-home mom’s, they were equally as ambitious and deserving as we are today. I think this book really showed how far we as women really have come while also showing the struggles that we still run into. Equality is a touchy subject and although many say that women are equal today, there is definitely still a stigma about a working woman and what she is or isn’t capable of. Reading The Subway Girls reiterated that truth by showing Olivia and her struggle to balance her work relationships and responsibilities in a male dominated field.

Charlotte’s story was heartbreaking at first as her father made it very hard for her to succeed. As the time era is much different, I can see why his thoughts and actions occurred as it matched the thoughts of culture at the time. It was interesting to see how much time has really changed as most parents of today would be ecstatic for their child to be finishing college and working towards her career goals. I felt for Charlotte who had to stand up against the time period to work for what she wanted against the opinion of those who matter most in her life.

The plot was cute and I loved how both stories intertwined and became part of each other. The connection between the two stories was inspiring although extremely coincidental, a great story.

I have to say, before reading this, I knew nothing of Subway Girls. I spent some time researching them afterwards and ironically, understand how important this beauty pageant really was for some women. Although some may view Beauty Pageants as sexist, I understand how important this particular pageant was and how it actually opened up so many more outlets for the women that were involved. I also believe that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to confirm to women’s stereotypes such as beauty pageants so long as you acknowledge that that is a choice you want to do because you actually want to do so and that pageants do not define a person or lessen intelligence. Some women would never step foot in a pageant believing it can demoralizing but I feel like it can be very empowering to acknowledge that women can be both beauty and brains and no woman needs to conform to either theory traditional women roles vs. feminist values. This story really helped me put that opinion into words. As I continued to read with this thought in my head, I came across a quotation from the novel stating “The irony that a woman’s gender could be both a liability and an asset in business was not lost on her”. I knew that once I read this, the author and I were most likely on the same page with these thoughts.

The plot was very coincidental but moving nonetheless and super cute. Although there is some heavy material in the story, it is a fairly light read. It’s a quick read and super cute for the summer. Grab this TOMORROW!!

Great Reads

The Myth of Perpetual Summer

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Publish Date 
: 6/19/18
Author: Susan Crandall
Started: 6/18/18
Finished: 6/26/18
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐⭐

First things first, I wrote this review, scheduled it to be posted, came back to the site, and the entire review which was very detailed was *gasp*… GONE. I don’t know if I can live up to my first review so I’m sorry for what I miss. What’s even more annoying is that I just finished my second review and remembered, I posted my first one on Goodreads and could have copied and pasted it! LOL. I’m giving up and just posting my new one below. I didn’t just do all this work for nothin’!

Next, I just want to inform anyone who reads this blog, I’m trying to get a bit ahead of my reading and reviews because I leave for vacation in a couple weeks out of the country. I won’t have internet because I really just want to disconnect for a bit from everything so I am trying to write and save some things to be scheduled to be posted while I am away. I most likely will be bringing some physical copies of books laying around so some not so new book book reviews may be coming up. When I get back from vacation, I will be home for two weeks and then again leave the country so ditto for that week as well. So, excuse me if my posts stop popping up immediately when I finish the book like usual for me. I’m saving some to have some data for you while I’m away!

Last, a big thanks to Netgalley, Susan Crandall, and Gallery Books Publishing for sending me a copy of the book to review. I picked this book up prior to its publication date but it’s out now and you can go purchase it! All thoughts on this book are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.

My Review:

I was hooked by this book almost immediately upon reading it but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. The book starts with resemblance to The Manson Family Murders which I’m a weirdo and love reading about. However, the book ended up being much less about the murder and more about the circumstances surrounding a family which influenced the family members into who they in their present time which happens to be the 1970’s. If I hadn’t been wanting more of a weird thriller kind of book at the moment, the book would have definitely appealed to me more which is completely my fault for picking up the wrong book at the wrong time.

With that being said, the book is actually very good. Tallulah is a very strong person and it makes her character very likable. You really feel for her and her siblings as their childhood experiences weren’t ideal to say the least. Tallulah’s father screamed Manic Depressive Disorder from the beginning and their mother although not discussed may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This book really focuses on the taboo of mental illness, especially during the 60’s and 70’s and it not only showcases the genetic factor of mental illnesses but how they can also play part of the nurture role and really affect a family. It is sad and I feel like one important factor I got from this book is how real mental illness is and how imperative it is to seek treatment for it even with today’s taboos about it.

As I mentioned, the book was less about juiciness and more about how experiences make us who we are and with this, I really felt for our family. I believe that the children in the James family all take certain personality traits from their parents and you can see the striking similarities even with the twins who seem to split where one takes personality traits from the father, Drayton, and one takes personality traits from the mother, Margo.

The ending to this was a bit rushed for me. I felt unsatisfied with knowing about some characters and felt like I was more interested in Walden and his decisions than the family aspects as a whole. I was left wondering. There was so much information that was given throughout the book in the chapters that highlight the past and I felt like some of that information didn’t necessarily lead to anything of importance and with that I was searching for some more connections.

I also feel like the Maise character was underdeveloped and would have liked that story to blossom more or maybe have Tallulah involved more with the Civil Rights movement in order to connect it more to that section.

This book is listed in some places under Historical Fiction and I feel like that’s a misnomer. Just because the story is taken place during a significant historical time does not mean it should be labeled as Historical Fiction. For this genre, I feel like happenings need to be written about in more detail and it should affect the outcome of the story. That didn’t really happen here. Historical happenings were vaguely  mentioned and they didn’t affect the story much other than saying what was going on. When I read Historical Fiction, I want to feel like I was there and that didn’t happen here.

If I can look past that this wasn’t what I expected it to be, it was actually quite good. It’s my fault that my preconceived notions led me to feel underwhelmed. Had I not been expecting something else, I would have appreciated the book a little more I think. With that being said, it is still a wonderful read. Family dynamics are really the center focus and although the story was much much different than Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir which you can find my review HERE, it has the same aspects of telling a story and understanding how the past can influence someone’s future and the way they deal with life. I suggest the read!