Great Reads

ARC REVIEW OUT TOMORROW – A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

michele campbell
Publish Date:
7/23/19
Author: 
Michele Campbell
Started:
6/1/19
Finished:
6/3/19
Pages:
352
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy of this to read and review before publication. All opinions are my own.

Goodreads Summary:

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

My Review:

This was my second Campbell book and I had some issues with it. I did enjoy it and thought that it was creepy at times but I wanted more from it. My issue with it is that it seemed like two different books to me. Although everything connected, I felt as if after Caroline disappears, the entire novel changes into a completely different book. I didn’t feel as invested at that point even though I had just reached the major turning point. It became somewhat predictable for me and I started to pull much of the plot together. Aiden was super unreliable as a character and I figured that the story couldn’t just rely on him creepy self. I have an unpopular opinion here and I can see why so many readers are giving high praises for this. It just didn’t work as well for me really due to the lack of cohesiveness I felt the story had. I also felt like the author could have given us more into Caroline’s husband’s life and less of Aiden and Caroline herself. That could have helped as I feel like there were some situations that were answered but just a bit cloudy for me. I still finished this read super fast and will pick up Campbell’s future works. For me, this one just left me wanting more.

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Great Reads

ARC REVIEW OUT 7/9 – The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

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Publish Date: 7/9/19 
Author:
Abbi Waxman
Started:
3/23/19
Finished:
3/27/19
Pages:
352
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐

A huge thank you to Berkley and Penguin Random House for sending me a copy to read and review! I loved every second of it!


Goodreads Summary:

“Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful.”–#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin 

The author of Other People’s Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings delivers a quirky and charming novel chronicling the life of confirmed introvert Nina Hill as she does her best to fly under everyone’s radar.

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

My Review:

Nina is socially awkward to the max but not in an Eleanor Oliphant kind of way. I don’t know if it was the cover but I was getting some major Eleanor vibes when looking at this book. Nina and Eleanor also have pretty ridiculous self-absorbed mothers. Nina is hilarious and so observant but that’s where the Eleanor comparisons end. This book also focused on some mental health topics but not in such an intense way. It was not as devastating and mental health informing as Eleanor. This is a much lighter read in my opinion.

I really love Nina. She resonates with me. She can’t make plans because it’s her one night of the week that’s free and she uses it for reading. Um, yes. I have often declined plans on my one free day knowing I just wanted to read in the bathtub. Her humor is great and I adore that she recognizes her own awkwardness and has no issue poking humor towards herself.

I had some issues with Tom. I really enjoyed his character but he also seemed to struggle emotionally here and there. More of an understanding of his character could have been beneficial. His attitude and actions towards Nina were justified but I still felt like they were a little dramatic from a character that seemed relitively calm throughout most of the novel. It was this that kind of had me a bit confused while reading but not in a confused way that I couldn’t understand the book obviously.

I loved how Nina’s father was tied in at the end and how Nina’s relationships grew with her family. I wish there was a little bit more on how her family stayed (or didn’t stay) in her life and how the family dynamics were with Nina. I really enjoyed that portion of the story and felt like it ended a little abruptly.

All in all, WOW. I love Nina and I loved the book! I’m sure this will be getting some rave reviews and will be seen from many book bloggers for great reasons! I highly reccommend this light yet serious read!

Great Reads

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson – OUT TODAY!

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Publish Date:
 6/25/19 
Author:
M.T. Eddvardsson
Started: 6/4/19
Finished:
6/10/19
Pages:
400
Rating:
⭐⭐⭐

A huge thank you to Celadon books for sending me a copy to read and review!

Goodreads Summary:

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Familyasks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

My Review:

Well, if you’ve been following ANY books lately, it is impossible for you to have not seen this one popping up everywhere. Everyone is loving it and it’s not hard to understand why! I really enjoyed it and loved that the book was told in three sections from Stella and a section for each of her parents. This is a pretty quick read and interesting but I had my own issues with it.

Morally, I did not quite understand the outcome and it’s acceptance from all parties involved. A good friend of mine and I both felt this why while discussing it. I felt like all of the characters were unlikable besides the father whereas my good fiend abhored the father as well (to each their own, right?). But the true reason why it did not get four stars for me is because the buildup was slow and I just felt a little underwhelmed after finishing it. I wanted more crazy and although it was indeed crazy, I was just wanting something bigger. I felt like I saw most of all of it coming and that’s a let down for me. This read as a drama in most places more than a courtroom thriller and that was my issue. I wanted more courtroom and murder suspense.

HOWEVER, so many people are loving it and I can see why! I would definitely recommend the book and may even like to reread it to catch things I did not catch on to before. I’d also like to reread it and be more open  to reading it as a family drama than just a courtroom thriller that I wanted. I feel like the way you anticipate a book could seriously make or break a book and that happened to me here. I’m happy to have read it and will definitely recommend it in the future to friends! Just be weary that there are quite a few triggers such as sexual assault in this one.

 

 

Great Reads

Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook by Stassi Shroeder

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Publish Date:
4/16/19
Author:
 Stassi Shroeder
Started:
6/10/19
Finished:
6/10/19
Pages: 
240
Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER 

Discover how to embrace your best basic self in this laugh-out-loud funny guidebook from the breakout star of Bravo’s hit reality show Vanderpump Rules, perfect for fans of the relatable and entertaining books by The Betches and Andi Dorfman. 

Millions of Vanderpump Rules viewers and podcast listeners know Stassi Schroeder as a major defender of Basic Bitch rights. There’s nothing more boring than people who take themselves too seriously or think that you have to be pretentious to be cool. Stassi champions the things that many of us are afraid to love publicly for fear of being labeled basic: lattes, pugs, bubbly cocktails, millennial pink, #OOTD (outfit of the day, obvs), astrology, hot dogs, the perfect pair of Louboutins, romantic comedies…the list goes on and on.

This book is for people tired of pretending they would rather see a Daniel Day-Lewis movie about sewing or read War and Peacethan watch a Saw marathon or read…well, this book!

In Next Level Basic, the reality star, podcast queen, and ranch dressing expert gives you hilarious and pointed lessons on how to have fun and celebrate yourself, with exclusive stories from her own life and on the set of Vanderpump Rules. From her very public breakups to her most intimate details about her plastic surgery, Stassi shares her own personal experiences with her trademark honesty—all with the hope you can learn something from them.

My Review:

I couldn’t expect anything else from Stassi! Is this an instant classic? No. But it’s hilarious and embodies her spirit, attitude, and all of the sarcasm I’ve grown to expect from her. You won’t take home a life lesson, unless you want to be reminded that Birkenstocks are never in style (oops) or that Universal Studio’s serves possibly the best hot dog around; BUT, did you expect something different from this book? If so, shame on you! I definitely didn’t pick this up looking for a serious or life altering nonfiction read. It’ checked off my boxes though.

I could literally imagine Stassi’s voice the entire time reading the book and for what it was, it was highly entertaining and funny! I enjoyed it and if you’re a Vanderpump fan, I’m sure you’ll be a fan of this as well! Bravo (no pun intended)!

Great Reads

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

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Publish Date:
2/13/18
Author:
 Kimmery Martin
Started:
5/10/19
Finished:
5/14/19
Pages:
 348
Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by Southern Living, Elite Daily, and Writer’s Digest 

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

My Review:

First things first, THE COVER! How beautiful is this cover? They really hit it of the park for this and I’m sure this is what drew so many people to read it like myself but this is more than just a pretty face!

This is a book of friendships and forgiveness. I enjoyed both Zadie and Emma (for the most part of the book) and thoroughly enjoyed peeping into their lives as both doctors and mothers. Zadie’s daughter was a beyond hilarious toddler who I absolutely adored. I’m not huge into medical dramas and have never watched Grey’s Anatomy (gasp! I know) but I enjoyed this. Sometimes the medical stuff would get a little in the way but I understood. Zadie as a character is a way better person that I am. She embodies some awesome qualities.

My issue I think was how long it took to get to the actual drama of the story and how quickly it was cleared up. The drama was bubbling the entire time and I was anxious to figure out how it was connected. After reading this, I had some conflicts within myself over it. It’s hard to explain without actually giving away the plot and mystery behind it all.

This book deals with some pretty heavy issues so be cautious.

Great Reads

Drowning Lessons (Red Frog Beach Mystery #1)

book
Publish Date:
5/1/19
Author: 
Rachel Neuburger Reynolds
Started:
5/3/19
Finished:
5/6/19
Pages:
357
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to Netgalley and Jeepers Way Press for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

You are cordially invited to a destination wedding to die for… Welcome to Bocas del Toro, a remote chain of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Five days of glorious sun and lush rainforest await the forty guests celebrating Bridezilla Olivia’s dream wedding—but will a grisly murder sink the catered affair? Before anyone’s got time to start working on a tan, an unfortunate snorkeling accident eliminates a member of the wedding party. Maid of honor Lexie Marino smells trouble, and takes it upon herself to investigate, hoping to solve the case before her bestie’s trip down the aisle gets tropically derailed.
Lexie’s a little too tall, a little too awkward, and a little too brokenhearted, but she’s determined to nail the real killer. Can this unlikely sleuth stay afloat as she’s hit by wave after wave of wildly entertaining characters, including an alpha bride, surfing detectives, and a high school flame long forgotten? You’ll find yourself laughing until the very end of Drowning Lessons, a debut cozy mystery that makes the perfect beach read. Rub in some coconut oil, dangle your feet in the crystal-blue waters of Starfish Beach, and sip a cool drink as Lexie discovers the deductive superpowers she never knew she had. Let the party begin!

This is the first book of five in the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series.

My Review:

Let’s start with a story of myself. Circa 1996, seven year old me, living life at the beach, never have I been anywhere where poisonous frogs have been a thing. I probably just enjoyed my time at the amphibian exhibit at the Cape May zoo. I wake up screaming from a nightmare that I’ve had. Thousands of poisonous frogs chase me into my house located in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (the opposite  of any tropical location) where the jump and crawl upon each other trying to reach me as I’m standing on a wooden chair in my parents’ kitchen. I have no clue why I had this dream but my parents won’t let me live it down. Two years later, my father buys me a Beanie Baby frog that I scream over and won’t accept. (see photo below thanks to Google). I have had this irrational fear of poisonous frogs now for 23 years. I knew I had to give this a read and try to at least validate my fears!

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I enjoyed this read! It was less cozy of a mystery than I thought. It contained more scandalous elements than most cozy mysteries ever do and that worked for me. The book was a mystery but also held drama elements as well.  Lexie was a likable character and deserves the reward of the year for being an awesome friend. She is put in situations that I would have lost my mind over and/or told off my friend ten times over. She is not an investigator by any means but somehow ends up pulling off what she needs to after the death of a groomsman during a pre-wedding snorkel activity. I also enjoy how funny Lexie can be and enjoyed many of the humorous scenarios that occur during the read.

My issue with the book was that it could be slow-paced at times. As the first book of the series, there could be more work to be done for readers to discover our character and I do hope that this is why we learned so much about Lexie. I hope that the author continues to use Lexie in this series or it wouldn’t make much sense for some of the background character driven knowledge we gained during the book.

Overall, there is some need for improvement in the series but it was a light-hearted mystery that still reads more than a cozy mystery. I do look forward to more of the series and figuring out the mysteries that Lexie (hopefully) finds herself discovering.

Great Reads

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

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Publish Date:
 8/16/16
Author:
 Amy Schumer 
Started:
5/9/19
Finished:
5/11/19
Format / Pages:
Audiobook / N/A
Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

My Review:

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Schumer. Her humor is hit or miss for me and she can be contradictory to her own statements in my opinion BUT I’ve heard good things about the book and I am fairly open to any genre or book you put in front of me so I decided to give it a go.

I’m glad I did. I found the book humorous and real. Even though I still find her a little contradictory to herself, I still ended up liking it and I respect her a lot more. Even my boyfriend who openly states his hatred towards her was laughing while listening to some of it. He denied that after he found out he was laughing at a Schumer book, but hey, it’s saying something.

This memoir is not all that serious except for certain chapters which helped my opinion of Schumer. I was able to relate to her and listening to some dark and disheartening chapters helped me look at her differently. Her ability to make light of dark situations in her life was admirable and I respect that she was able to talk about some experiences in her life that would be difficult to speak out about.

I liked the book. I’m not sure if I’ll find myself turning on Trainwreck any time soon but I’ll definitely watch appearances where she plays herself and I do root for her success wholeheartedly. I suggest you pick up the book for some laughs for sure.

Great Reads

The Mister by E.L. James

book
Publish Date:
4/16/19
Author:
E.L. James 
Started:
5/17/19
Finished:
5/21/19
Pages:
503
Rating:⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

London, 2019. Life has been easy for Maxim Trevelyan. With his good looks, aristocratic connections, and money, he’s never had to work and he’s rarely slept alone. But all that changes when tragedy strikes and Maxim inherits his family’s noble title, wealth, and estates, and all the responsibility that entails. It’s a role he’s not prepared for and one that he struggles to face.

But his biggest challenge is fighting his desire for an unexpected, enigmatic young woman who’s recently arrived in England, possessing little more than a dangerous and troublesome past.  Reticent, beautiful, and musically gifted, she’s an alluring mystery, and Maxim’s longing for her deepens into a passion that he’s never experienced and dares not name. Just who is Alessia Demachi? Can Maxim protect her from the malevolence that threatens her? And what will she do when she learns that he’s been hiding secrets of his own?

From the heart of London through wild, rural Cornwall to the bleak, forbidding beauty of the Balkans, The Mister is a roller-coaster ride of danger and desire that leaves the reader breathless to the very last page.

My Review:

Readers expecting this to be like Fifty Shades should tread carefully. It’s not that book but in a way, that was better for me. I literally abhorred Fifty Shades. It was too much sex (I’m not big into sex-filled books) and not enough story. In contrast, this book was more of a story and less sex (even though it is still there). I may be in the minority but because of that, I actually liked it more than Fifty Shades.

There were definitely some cons here. The different POV’s wasn’t the issue but I was confused as to why Alessia’s chapters were in third person. It was almost as if she wasn’t being viewed as  being important which may have been intentional as that was an issue brought up in the book as the help but that was a con for me.

For a 500 page book, you also wouldn’t think that details were skimped out on but for me, there were some conflicting or missing details. Early on in the book, I noticed that some characters were talking about things they should not have even known. I also found Maxim and Alessia’s relationship to have budded oddly quickly. I get that many romance novels have a fast budding relationship but Maxim and Alessia just felt unnatural to me. The physical attraction was strong fast but without that constant sex like in James’ previous, their emotional connection would have been greatly appreciated.

I also have to say it was a little cheesy for me in certain areas. Again, that’s a major romance cliche which may be why I steer away from romance often but in areas, I was literally cringing reading it.

If you read this with an open mind and without the comparisons, you may actually find this isn’t as bad as what others are saying.

Great Reads

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

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Publish Date: 
11/3/15
Author:
 Leah Remini 
Started:
5/6/19
Finished:
5/8/19
Format / Pages:
Audiobook / N/A
Rating:⭐⭐⭐
⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary:

The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.

Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

My Review:

I’ve always known Scientology was messed up, but my gosh is it bad. This was my very first audiobook. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook since it was nonfiction and read by Remini herself. I think that I will continue to partake in audiobooks if they are nonfiction and especially if they’re read by the author.

Remini is funny and I think this is what makes the book all that much better. It is informative but entertaining. Remini has no problem making fun of herself and I found myself cracking up multiple times during the read. She also portrays the information needed that readers may be searching for to this mysterious religion. I was shocked during so much of it. I knew it was crazy but I don’t think I could have ever imagined the truth behind so much of it.

This reads as not only a nonfictional book about Scientology or Remini’s experiences in the church but more of a memoir. It focuses on her life as a whole and the experiences Remini and what she went through that led her into the church. She also does a great job of not only explaining the cons of the church but some pros, even if the pros that she took from the church came about in horrific ways. I highly recommend this read and recommend it even more in the audiobook format!

Great Reads

May Wrap-Up

I’m still deciding not to set a June TBR. May’s freestyle worked out rather well. I tried out audiobooks for the first time this month! They worked out really well for my long commutes to and from work, having something to listen to while making dinner, and sitting in the tanning bed! I’ll keep to them during those times; however, I think I’ll only stick to nonfiction. I tried two fictions on audiobook. One I put down and one I completely hated the narrator’s voice and expression that it ruined the book for me! Here’s what I finished in the month of May:

Normal People – Review found here

Drowning Lessons (Red Frog Beach Mystery #1) – Review coming soon!

The Grownup

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology – Review coming soon!

Dear Mrs. Bird – Review coming soon!

Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Review coming soon!

Queen of Hearts – Review coming soon!

Food: A Love Story – Review coming soon!

Staying Up with Hugo Best – Review coming soon!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Review coming soon!

The Mister – Review coming soon!

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things! – Review coming soon!

Flowers for Algernon – Review coming soon!

The Proposal – Review coming soon!

Josh and Hazel’s gGuide to Not Dating – Review Coming soon!

I have so many of these reviews written and scheduled but with 14 books read this month and 12 last month, it’s becoming crazy to schedule them!  There would be a review almost every day which is awesome but I’m seriously looking for time just to write them, lol! I promise, you’ll see them!