Book Review of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

368 pages

Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

”Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. 

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Numbers floated round my head like stars.”


If you enjoy books about books, then you’ll absolutely adore this one. It’s all about the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running to this day. I enjoyed the female power and determination that takes place in the story. We love strong female roles. The writing is no doubt beautiful and well done. I believe that the author spends quite a bit of time in Paris, so I’d say it’s pretty accurate, if I had to guess. It’s overall a great novel, but it just didn’t keep my attention. Historical fiction typically captures my attention, but I never wanted to pick this one back up. It was honestly a two-star read up until the last 50-ish pages.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters even though I could recognize how tough they were. There’s a strong community and family dynamic that I think a lot of people would enjoy. It’s more of family by choice type of situation. I can appreciate all of that.

I think the main thing that caused me to give it three stars was that it felt too long. Whenever I thought the story was about to come to a close, there was quite a bit left in the story. I’m sure no one else felt that way, but when you’re already not enjoying a book, that’s something that makes it feel even longer.

I know this author has written one other novel, so I’m interested in seeing if it’s something I’m interested in. I’d definitely give her a second chance. I really thought I’d fall in love with this one. It’s such a wonderful read, but I couldn’t get myself to give it more than a three-star rating. I would still recommend this since it’s a beloved book to many readers out there.


Janet Skeslien Charles divides her time between Paris and Montana. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family. 

The backdrop of her debut novel MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA is the booming business of email-order brides, an industry where love and marriage meet sex and commerce. 

Her second novel THE PARIS LIBRARY is based on the true story of the courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. Janet learned about the story when she worked at the Library.

Website: https://www.jskesliencharles.com


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Book Review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

336 pages

Publication date: 6/29/21 by Dutton Books

ISBN: 9780593183168

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

“It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.”


Since this isn’t a finished copy, I’m not able to post a first line.


Thank you to Dutton Books and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I guess I’ll start with what I actually did like about this book.

I enjoyed the uneasiness this made me feel in the beginning. I thought Josh was such an odd character. He definitely served those serial killer vibes. He seemed almost robotic and cold. I actually loved his character when I first started the book.

I can also say that it’s very fast-paced. I probably could have read all of it in one day if I didn’t work all the time.

Okay, that’s about all for the pros.

I don’t want this to be super negative because I respect Sager as an author. He definitely has some great books, but this one just didn’t work for me.

This gave me I’m Thinking of Ending Things vibes when Charlie first got into Josh’s car. Obviously they’re not in a relationship, but it was the uneasy driving scene that made me think of it. This book just didn’t deliver the craziness that is Reid’s book.

I really, really didn’t enjoy the ending of this one. There was so much going on that I just didn’t care. I didn’t predict it, but at one point it all clicked in some weird way.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so that’s about all I have to say. Even if I did spoil it, there’s not much to the book. It’s mainly one long car ride with some flashbacks and movie-filled daydreams. I just didn’t find the story thrilling in any way. I wouldn’t recommend this to Riley Sager fans or anyone in between.


Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”


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Book Review of Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

384 pages

Published: 11/5/2019 by Avon

ISBN: 9780062941220

Genre: Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

“Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…”



Triggers: Chronic pain (fibromyalgia) and discussion of abuse (physical and verbal).

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the early digital copy in exchange for honest review!

I’m pretty much two years late with this one, but it’s better late than never. *he he* I’m trying to make 2021 a better NetGalley year. Cheers to that. *holds up non existent champagne glass*

Anyway, let’s talk about the book that I didn’t like as much as I’d hoped. Let’s start with the positive, though.

I enjoyed the writing, the steam, and the discussion this book brought to the world’s attention. It doesn’t go into extreme detail about Chloe’s chronic pain, but it’s definitely brought up. She talks about how if the pain is below a 5, then she needs to kiss the feet of the universe. It bums me out that people actually have to live that way. I wish those people better days ahead.

There’s also discussion about Red and his ex, Pippa. He talks to Chloe about how she was actually abusive, but he never paid any attention. He just thought she was a brat. It just proves how much men are kind of looked over when it comes to abuse, and that also makes me sad. I hate that this particular topic is swept under the rug most of the time. We as a society need to be better about that.

What I didn’t like was Red and Chloe’s relationship as a whole. They were so up and down that I didn’t know what to think half the time. I couldn’t even tell if they wanted to be together. One minute they were so in love, then they were at each other’s throats over small mishaps and miscommunications. It was mainly Red that blew up because of the pretentiousness of Chloe. I couldn’t see the chemistry between the two of them, and I think that just about ruined the book for me. There are cute moments though. I will be the first to admit that some lines they share with each other are sweet.

No. No. This was the sort of moment she experienced, lists, worries, razor-sharp shyness and all. Bravery wasn’t an identity so much as a choice.

She chose him.

I would read more Hibbert, and I plan on continuing on with the series. This one in particular just didn’t work for me. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t get all of the buzz it receives, because I totally understand where everyone is coming from. If you think that you want to read this one, then go ahead and give it a whirl. I’m just hoping the next one is better.


Talia Hibbert is a USA Today bestselliing author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. She also rambles intermittently about the romance genre online.

Talia self-publishes via Nixon House and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.


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NetGalley November — Learning From My Mistakes

Hello, friends! I have a confession to make and I’m sure you all can tell from the title of this post. November is going to be dedicated to the (long) list of NetGalley books that I need to read. I’m not going to discuss the amount because I went through a phase when I first started blogging where I would request everything. I feel terrible about it, but I’m slowly trying to make up for that. I’m writing this so I can hold myself accountable. If you have books from NetGalley that you need to read then let this be motivation. You got this!

For the month of November, the majority of the books I read will be from my NetGalley checklist. I don’t want to put myself in a slump, so I’m not going to commit to only picking up NetGalley books. I have a good variety to choose from, and I’d say a lot of them have already been published, but I’ll do my best to make sure I balance the old with the upcoming. This will be a list of nine books I want to knock off of my list.

Thank you to all the publishers for the early digital copies in exchange for an honest review!

*click on images for the link to their Goodreads page*

“But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…”

Published: 11/5/19 by Avon

3.86 average rating on GR

369 pages

Genre: Romance (own voices)

“In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.”

Published: 8/20/19 by Celadon Books

4.06 average rating on GR

355 pages

Genre: Thriller

“An addicting and twisty debut about an apartment building devastated by the disappearance of a teenage girl–and by the secrets that won’t be kept behind each closed door–that will thrill fans of Lisa Jewell and Shari Lapena.”

Publication: 2/16/21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

4.50 average GR rating

304 pages

Genre: Suspense / Thriller

“Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.”

Published: 3/10/20 by William Morrow

4.05 average GR rating

373 pages

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

“A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.”

Publication: 1/12/21 by Tor.com

4.22 average GR rating

176 pages

Genre: Fantasy

“Showing that truth is stranger than fiction, Sylvain Neuvel weaves a scfi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence in A History of What Comes Next.”

Publication: 2/2/21 by Tor.com

3.11 average GR rating

304 pages

Genre: Science Fiction

“A middle grade fantasy adventure about a trio of royal siblings who unlock a long-forgotten magical language in their bid to reclaim their stolen throne.”

Published: 9/8/20 by Balzer + Bray

4.18 average GR rating

368 pages

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

“Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.”

Published: 8/6/19 by Avon

3.68 average GR rating

387 pages

Genre: Romance

“A hauntingly powerful novel about how the choices we make can stay with us forever, by the award-winning author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and 84K.”

Published: 11/12/19 by Orbit

3.74 average GR rating

420 pages

Genre: Fantasy


I love NetGalley and I’m so happy that it’s a resource readers can use, but sometimes it can get out of hand. Publishers allow you to read the novels early so you can review them and get the word out. It gives other readers something to go off of rather than going into a book blind. That’s why I want to do my best to read the books I requested. There are some on my checklist that I don’t want to read anymore, and I will figure out what I want to do when I get to them (there are only a few options). My end goal, really, is to get my percentage past 80, which is a lot of books. Wish me luck!

Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss? Do you have a habit of requesting too many books at once or is it just me *nervous laughter*?


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Book Review for Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams – HAPPY PUB DAY!

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kay Adams

352 pages

ISBN: 9781984806130

Publication: 10/27/20 by Berkley

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

B&N | Book Depository

“Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush.

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

A hacktivist and a cat café owner decode the friend zone in this romantic comedy from the author of Undercover Bromance.”


Thank you NetGalley and Berkley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t have the finished copy, so I will not be including any quotes.

The Bromance Book Club | Undercover Bromance

I meant to post this before it came out, but other things came up. Happy pub day! Go pick this up. 🙂

› There is so much love in my heart for this series. I’m so happy I found a romance series that I’m not bored with. I know there is one more after this one about Vlad, but I’m not sure about anything past that. I honestly think four books would be enough for this series. There’s really only one other person I could think of to write about, and that’s Colton. Do I want to read about that egomaniac, though?

› Why isn’t there more Noah Logans in the world? He’s so genuine and kind. I love how much he cares for Alexis, even though it does get to be a bit much. There’s also one long stretch of them doing the dirty, and it seems exhausting.

› The story that runs alongside the romance is interesting with this one. Alexis’s mother died and her father is non-existent until her sister shows up at the cafe. Alexis thinks she’s a victim of abuse when she really just wants to discuss their father’s health. Did I care about Elliott and his garbage kidney? No, not really. I honestly wanted more of Noah and Alexis.

› I will say that the excerpts from the book club pick feel a little forced at this point. I think if you’re going to make a series about a book club then there should be more of it sprinkled throughout. Otherwise, just leave it out. I don’t know if people don’t enjoy books inside a book, but I figured that was the whole point of the series. That’s probably my main complaint.

› I know this isn’t the most in-depth review, but it’s just a fun entertaining romance. There’s nothing crazy about it other than the stupid bromance. See what I did there? I highly recommend this series if you want to get out of a slump. I also think these are good starter romances for people who aren’t used to steam. Pick this up when it comes out, or at least start the series.

Lyssa Kay Adams is the pen name of an award-winning journalist who gave up the world of telling true stories to pen emotional romances. She’s also a diehard Detroit Tigers fan who will occasionally cheer for the Red Sox because her husband is from Boston.

Lyssa lives in Michigan with her family and an anxiety-ridden Maltese who steals food and buries it around the house and who will undoubtedly be a character in a future book.


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Book Review of The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

416 pages

ISBN: 9780062961488

Published: 8/4/20 by Harper

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Book Depository

*click on photos to view original source*

Sweetbitter meets The Firm in this buzzy, page-turning debut novel—already optioned to Netflix—about sex and power in the halls of corporate America.

Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever who lived her life by the book—star student and athlete in high school, prelaw whiz in college, Harvard Law School degree. Accepting a dream offer at the prestigious Manhattan law firm of Klasko & Fitch, she promises her sweet and supportive longtime boyfriend that the job won’t change her. Yet Alex is seduced by the firm’s money and energy . . . and by her cocksure male colleagues, who quickly take notice of the new girl. She’s never felt so confident and powerful—even the innuendo-laced banter with clients feels fun. In the firm’s most profitable and competitive division, Mergers and Acquisitions, Alex works around the clock, racking up billable hours and entertaining clients late into the evening. While the job is punishing, it has its perks, like a weekend trip to Miami, a ride in a client’s private jet, and more expense-account meals than she can count. 

But as her clients’ expectations and demands on her increase, and Alex finds herself magnetically drawn to a handsome coworker despite her loving relationship at home, she begins to question everything—including herself. She knows the corporate world isn’t black and white, and that to reach the top means playing by different rules. But who made those rules? And what if the system rigged so that women can’t win, anyway? 

When something happens that reveals the dark reality of the firm, Alex comes to understand the ways women like her are told—explicitly and implicitly—how they need to behave to succeed in the workplace. Now, she can no longer stand by silently—even if doing what’s right means putting everything on the line to expose the shocking truth.


Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Either you’re going to be perfect or you’re going to be alive. Can’t be both.

› There’s something about lawyers / courtroom settings that really intrigues me. I’ve had my eyes on this once since it was first put on NetGalley, and I immediately requested it.

› The beginning of the book is actually really good. It starts off with her getting ready for her first day at the new law firm, and she can’t decide what to wear. It’s also very clear that her boyfriend, Sam, doesn’t 100% support her. He definitely hesitates in the support department. After her first day, she questions whether she even wants to be a lawyer. It’s mainly because she made a lot of mistakes, such as accidentally calling 911.

› Once she moves up to M&A, the book completely changes. I still turned the pages because it continued to keep me interested, but Alex managed to get on my very last nerve. She tries to get into M&A for the wrong reasons. She does it to prove she’s “better” at the job than Carmen—another new girl at the firm that Alex went to law school with. Given, Carmen wasn’t always good to Alex. That’s what I got out of it, anyway. That feeling went away as she got to know the men in the firm. She became a morally gray character, which doesn’t make or break a book for me, but she wasn’t an interesting one. She just cheats on her boyfriend with a man who sleeps around. That’s a hard no for me.

› There is quite a bit of sexual harassment / assault in this book, which didn’t surprise me. Of course, the egotistical men of the novel made it seem like Alex had to endure it.

I watched his lips moving, and in a crystal-clear moment, I saw it: my cheating with a serial adulterer, my assault by a rich scumbag, my entire existence in corporate America, was just so . . . typical.

› It becomes clear to her that she doesn’t have to put up with it, but that happens at the end of the novel. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t have the type of ending I expected. I didn’t really know where the book was going when I started it. It’s not one that has a clear end in sight. I will say that there’s no justice, but there is a glimmer of hope and determination. That’s all I’ll say about that. That doesn’t mean that I enjoyed the ending. I thought it was on the cheaper side, and it didn’t make the novel anymore interesting. It just didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the book.

› One last note about what’s inside: Gary Kaplan can take a long walk off a short pier. Thank you and goodnight. 🙂

› I didn’t have any issues with the writing style. I wouldn’t mind reading another novel by Katz. I believe she’s also involved in law. I can’t confirm or deny that the information about law is right or wrong, as I am not a lawyer. I will say that the jargon went right over my head, as I had expected.

› Would I recommend this one? Sure. I know a lot of people enjoyed it.

Triggers: cheating, lying, sexual assault / harassment, drugs.

Erica Katz is the pseudonym for a graduate of Columbia Law School who began her career at a major Manhattan law firm. A native of New Jersey, she now lives in New York City, where she’s employed at another large law firm. The Boys’ Club is her first novel.


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Book Review of Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

320 pages

Publication date: 10/13/20 by Harper

ISBN: 9780062881922

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

B&N | Book Depository

“Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.”


Thank you to Harper / Harper Audio for the early digital copy / early audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my most anticipated novels of 2020, and I’m sad to announce that I’m disappointed. I’ve looked at reviews on Goodreads, and I seem to be in the minority. I’ve never read the book by Stephen King that this resembles, but I can tell you that the plot seems to be quite similar. It’s even mentioned and read by characters in the story. I read Molloy’s other thriller, The Perfect Mother, and I really enjoyed it. It had so much commentary, and this one does too, but this felt forced.

I try not to be a Negative Nancy when it comes to books that don’t work for me, but this story line just felt botched. There’s clearly so much potential; The building blocks for an amazing psychological thriller. But it honestly feels like a ripoff of a Stephen King novel, which I’m tired of seeing. I want originality, crave it.

The characters were empty shells, checking off the boxes to requirements for a thriller. There was no growth, no personality. Half the time I couldn’t even tell who was speaking. The only plus was that I was listening to the audiobook. There are three different voices narrating the three different perspectives. I think it would be a spoiler if I told you who each character is. Also, that ending was one of the most unsatisfying endings to exist. What even happened? It reminded me of the epilogue of a romance novel. Maybe I’m just being salty.

I will say, the beginning did throw me off a bit. It did have a twist that I didn’t expect. Maybe that’s why I gave it a two-star rating.

I had such high hopes for this, and I don’t want to give up on this author. I’ll probably continue reading from this author unless the next book is like this one (if she decides to write another). I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t recommend this.

Aimee Molloy is the author of the New York Times instant bestseller, The Perfect Mother. Aimee is also the author of However Long the Night and the co-author of several works of non-fiction, including Jantsen’s Gift, with Pam Cope. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters.


Let me know what you thought about this if you’ve read it!


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Book Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

369 pages

ISBN: 9780593135235

Published 3/3/20 by Ballantine Books

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Thank you to Goodreads for the finished giveaway copy. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the early digital copy.

Goodreads synopsis:

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Written with Josie Silver’s trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life’s crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them. 

Review:

Tonight has felt much like trying to walk a tightrope. In fact, that’s a good analogy for how life is for me at the moment—I’m constantly standing on an invisible wire between two worlds and hoping like hell that I don’t plummet to my death. For a girl with bad balance, it’s hard work.

Trigger warnings: Death of a loved one, grieving, addiction to medication, miscarriage.

I know you’re probably asking, “Vivian, did you really give this four stars?”

Yes, I did give it four stars. I’m just as shocked as all of you, I think. I really found myself enjoying it the further I progressed. It’s just really cute, sad, and raw. It does get a little weird at some points (Lydia and delivering a baby), but I looked past them. They did mess with my rating a little if I’m being honest.

ANYWAY, I digress.

I’m sure you’ve heard by everyone that this a book about grieving. That’s basically all it us, but there’s actually a lot of growth with the characters that I didn’t expect.

Let’s start with Lydia, obviously. She loses her fiancé in a car accident he was in with his best friend, Jonah. She struggles to sleep because of it, so she ends up taking medication to help her sleep. She starts to dream about another life with Freddie causing her to become addicted. She soon realizes that the two lives are very different. She isn’t reliving the same memories she had with Freddie. Freddie doesn’t really act the way she remembered. As the story progresses, though, she notices more of what their relationship was about. She has to decide the right thing to do, which I found to be quite sad. This book did manage to break my heart a bit. I can’t imagine what I would do.

By the end of the book, she does have a lot of room to still grow, but I thought it ended in a good place. Nothing insanely sad about it.

If you thought I wasn’t going to talk about Jonah, then you’re wrong. He quickly became one of my favorite fictional love interests. He stuck with Lydia the entire time, even though he was dealing with the death of Freddie. He wanted to make sure that she was okay. I’m also happy that he got to live out a dream of his toward the end of the novel. He goes through quite a bit of growth as well, so don’t give up on him right away.

Jonah and Lydia do struggle in the beginning of the story because Jonah was with Freddie when he died, and Lydia has a hard time understanding it. She eventually loosens her grip. The good thing is that she doesn’t blame Jonah for the accident. She understands that what happened, happened, no matter how devastating it is.

There isn’t a handy grief blueprint. You don’t get over losing someone you love in six months or two years or twenty, but you do have to find a way to carry on living without feeling as if everything that comes afterward is second best. Some people walk up mountains, others throw themselves out of planes. Everyone has to find their own way back, and if they’re lucky they’ll have people who love them to hold their hand.

Overall, I recommend this novel, but it definitely won’t be for everyone. You need to have patience, and the ability to withstand a slow burn story. I really enjoyed this one, and I’ll probably check out anything else Josie Silver has written / will write. Go check this one out if you’re interested.


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Book Review: All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

368 pages

ISBN: 9781594634967

Published: 5/4/20 by Riverhead Books

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is intentionally pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.

Review:

Thank you to Riverhead Books and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Trigger warnings: Miscarriage/infertility, abortion, cheating, online pedophilia, bullying, transphobia, death, and probably a few others I can’t think of. Proceed with caution.

I managed to read this whole book in one sitting. It’s such a simply written yet complex novel about a family getting to know each other better. They all have secret baggage that they don’t want to reveal out of fear they’ll be judged.

The book opens with Astrid Strick, who witnesses Barbara Baker get hit by a bus, ultimately ending her life. Astrid was just getting ready to go in for her routine haircut when it happened. She was watching the small town of Clapham come alive—window shoppers, coffee drinkers, shop owners prepping their opening.

People their age—Astrid’s and Barbara’s—were too old for it to be outright tragedy, and seeing as Barbara had no children of her own, people were bound to call it a blessing, that is to say, a blessing that the school bus hadn’t run down someone else. But that didn’t seem fair to Barbara. She’d had a husband, and cats. She’d been a crossing guard at the elementary school decades earlier—oh, the irony!

It makes Astrid think about her life, and how much she loves her hairdresser Birdie. A secret she has never shared with her family. There is a bit of guilt because she was married to her husband Russell for so long. She didn’t even struggle as hard at his funeral. Now she has Birdie in her life, and she isn’t sure if it’s romance or her need for company.

Was that romance or co-dependence, the overwhelming need for another person in order to properly function?


Cecelia is Astrid’s granddaughter who has an addiction to the internet, allowing her to get involved with online pedophilia. She jokes around about going to her “Gammy’s” house for the year, but her parents agree. Her father is Nicky Strick, Astrid’s youngest son, and he’s married to Juliette, who is French. They both take a passive view with parenting. Her mother was a dancer who smoked, and her father became a Buddhist, and spent a year in a monastery in Tibet.

Cecelia becomes friends with August, who I will mention later in the review, and helps him become who he really wants to be.


Porter is Astrid’s daughter. She graduated from Hampshire College, but ended up moving back to Clapham. She weirdly inherited her friend’s land and goats. Porter’s baggage? She wants to have a baby on her own, so she decides that the sperm bank is where it’s at.

It was hard to decide which was more off-putting; a man donating sperm just to make some cash or a man donating sperm because he liked the idea of having lots of children borne by strange women.

She struggles to think that her father won’t be there to meet his grandchild. He would have been more than grandpa but gramps, gamps, pops, popsy.

Porter also struggled as the middle child. It always felt like her brothers got all the praise, Elliot being the oldest, and Nicky being the youngest.


August is an eighth grader who loves going to camp for the summer. It helps him forget about all the kids he goes to school with. His parents always want to talk about what’s going on in his life, and it gets a bit annoying. August is also a bit confused and sad.

Here is a brief list of what it (being alive) was like: Being a naked person in Times Square. Being a naked person in the middle of the cafeteria. Being a hermit crab scurrying along the ocean floor in search of a new shell. Being a baby turtle in the middle of a six-lane highway. That didn’t begin to cover all the ways August felt weird and strange and wrong every day.

It’s very hard to read about an eighth grader dealing with these problems. They should be having fun with their friends and family. His struggle? He’s confused about whether he should actually be she or not. 

This was what the Sullivans did. They bought old things by the bushel and, through their touch, transformed them into something desirable, something new. August wished that his parents could work their magic on him too.


Elliot is married to Wendy, and they have two boys, Aidan and Zachary. He learns that his mother is in a romantic relationship with another woman; he flips. He is confused as to how he would explain it to his boys.


Yes, this book deals with a lot of different hot topics. What I liked most is that she didn’t make it a big deal, and honestly, they should be explored with more ease. These are real-life situations that can happen to anyone. Don’t sit there and tell me that they won’t or can’t. Was it a little long for what it was? Yeah, maybe. Did I only care about certain characters? Yeah, but that didn’t take away the enjoyment. It wasn’t a five-star read, but I thought it was still a great book. The writing isn’t special, but it proved a point. If you’re interested, then go pick it up! 


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Book Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

380 pages

ISBN: 9781542017022

Published: 5/15/20 by Thomas & Mercer

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

Review:

Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK (Thomas & Mercer) and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

It took me about three months to finish this one. I managed to get a good chunk of the way through, but it didn’t keep my attention. I found the audiobook for it, and I decided to push my way through it. I also feel like there are a lot of books being published surrounding the same topic. I guess it made me not want to finish it.

The best parts about this one are the fast-paced twists and turns, and the writing style. I love when thrillers don’t have the basic writing style, when the writing is just a little more sophisticated. It just really worked for me. There are also a lot of twists throughout this book, but you almost need it if you think about what the plot is. I never saw them coming, but I didn’t sit there thinking about it.

I didn’t like any of the characters in this book. I started out feeling bad for Maggie, and then I would feel bad for Nina, but I ended up hating both in the end. It didn’t affect my rating, and I will give the author kudos for writing such unlikable characters. They did get on my nerves a bit, but they were solid thriller characters.

My biggest issues dealt with how much the author shows rather than tells. All the twists are basically spelled out to the reader, and I wasn’t a huge fan. It also made it seem repetitive at times, and I definitely don’t want that in an almost 400-page book.

Overall, I see why this has so much hype surrounding it. It definitely deserves some of that. It’s intriguing, and the anticipation is definitely prominent. It didn’t work for me, but I will pick up other books by Marrs. I have The One checked out at my library. I’ve heard great things about that one too. Fingers crossed. So, go pick this one up if you’re interested.


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