The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

Review:

Thank you to Jody Gehrman, Crooked Lane Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book started off pretty interesting. It was the story of women who went to college together, but lost touch over the 20 years since then. June is the main character who we learn most about throughout this novel. There are many different characters, but we see June and her old friend and famous author, Sadie, the most. When the group starts to party at Sadie’s mansion, things get weird. No one can remember things from the night before, Sadie is missing, and there’s a giant blood stain on the wall. No one can seem to remember what happened and there’s suddenly a lot of questions surrounding this story.

A very important part of this story is that Sadie’s husband, Ethan, is June’s old crush. They met in the woods during this little getaway, so it’s very easy and also explained in the synopsis that it could’ve been June that caused Sadie’s disappearance. Jody Gehrman’s writing was good to where you thought it was everyone at one point. However, I was able to guess who it was pretty early on.

I wasn’t really able to connect with the characters. I didn’t feel like there was really any growth or development. I’m someone who really enjoys seeing a difference in a character by the end, and I didn’t feel as though there was any difference.

The thing I liked the most was the fact that the story could’ve actually been real. You hear about these types of stories on the news all of the time. Once you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean by that. I don’t want to give anything away. This book felt real. The characters felt real and so did the story. I could definitely see the way they spoke and the dialogue being real.

Overall, I liked this story, but I wish I was able to connect with the characters more. The writing was well-done and I would definitely give Jody Gehrman another try!

That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★

Years ago, during a certain summer in Maine, two young women, unaware of each other, met a charismatic man at a craft fair and each had a brief affair with him. For Jane it was a chance to bury her recent pain in raw passion and redirect her life. For Sue it was a fling that gave her troubled marriage a way forward.

Now, sixteen years later, the family lives these women have made are suddenly upended when their teenage girls meet as strangers on social media. They concoct a plan to spend the summer in Maine with the man who is their biological father. Their determination puts them on a collision course with their mothers, who must finally meet and acknowledge their shared past and join forces as they risk losing their only daughters to a man they barely know.

Review:

Thank you to Brianna Wolfson, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this book as a participant of the 2020 Summer Reads Blog Tour.

That Summer in Maine is a story that alternates between past and present. There are three narrators, Susie, Jane, and Hazel. In the past, two women, Susie and Jane, meet a man named Silas during a trip to Maine. Susie and Jane have two different relationships with Silas. Jane gets caught up in a whirlwind romance until she finds out that Silas slept with another woman. Susie was happy in her marriage, but she ended up sleeping with Silas as a one-night stand. Both of these resulted in unexpected pregnancies.

Sixteen years later, Jane’s daughter, Hazel is contacted online by another sixteen year old, Eve, saying that they are sisters. Of course, to anyone, this would come as a shock, but especially to a sixteen year-old girl. Eve had already met Silas and spent the summer with him the previous year. Eve invites Hazel and with Hazel’s current predicament with her mother having twins and no time for her, she accepts.

This book was a very beautiful telling about something that truly can happen within a family. Hazel feels like she’s being replaced because her mother got married and had twin boys. She is unable to feel heard with her mother and doesn’t feel as though she’s a part of that family. She feels like she’s an outsider. With the age gap between her and the twin boys, she finds it hard to fit in with her mother’s “new family”. I think people with siblings that have an age gap definitely could find this book relatable.

There was a lot about this book that I wanted to love. I had a hard time finding any development within the characters except for Hazel. Eve and Hazel are both supposed to be sixteen and I found myself thinking that their ages were not even close to the same. Hazel portrayed herself as a child almost. Eve seemed like a mean girl, but not like “high-school” mean. I found her seeming older than sixteen while I was reading it. It was hard to relate because they didn’t seem the same age. I really didn’t like the characters either. I did towards the end when I saw why they acted the way that they did. However, it was a little hard reading this not liking the characters until the end.

I did like that this was a story between mothers and daughters. It was almost like it was two stories in one book. I learned about the mother’s stories and what happened and what they would do or wouldn’t do differently. I got to see the outcomes from sixteen years of secrets. That alone was pretty interesting as a premise of the story.

Overall, I think more people should give this book a chance. The characters aren’t that likable until the end, but once you see the background development, you’ll like the ending and how everything plays out. I definitely would read Brianna Wolfson again as this was my first novel by her. If you are looking for a quick, feel-good family story, definitely pick this one up!





Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr

Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Rating: ★★★★

Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…

Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.

When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.

Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.

Neither woman knows how to start life over but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.

Review:
Thank you to Robyn Carr, MIRA Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I read this as a part of the Harlequin Blog Tour.

Robyn Carr really knows how to tug on your heart strings. I’m definitely someone who can get emotional easily, but Robyn Carr really got me with this one. This was a feel-good story about love, loss, and sisterhood.

First, Addie and Justine have a very interesting story. At 20 years apart, they never really had a sisterly relationship. Justine is a successful lawyer and her husband stays at home with their two daughters. Adele dropped out of college when she had a relationship go wrong and then she became a caretaker for her parents. This relationship was believable because there really are instances like that where there are significant age gaps between two siblings. The relationship that they had were more friendly than sisterly and I could really could see that happening in real life.

Now that Addie is done being a caretaker for her parents, she is in a panic of what to do with her life since that took up all of her time and she doesn’t have a degree. Justine’s life is falling apart around her as well and needs to decide on what she wants to do with her life. As they are going through similar life changes, the sisters really rely on each other. I loved the fact that this was a sister-friendly story. It was nice to see sisters relying on each other in such a hard time in their lives, especially because they are so far apart in their lives. Robyn Carr made both Addie, Justine and her daughters extremely relatable and I really liked that.

Robyn Carr did a great job identifying the issues in this novel and showing an ending to every single one of them. I didn’t have any questions at the end of who went where or how a situation ended up. This definitely was a feel-good novel about overcoming obstacles. There were many problems shown in this novel, but I didn’t think it was overdone or too much.

Finally, Robyn Carr wrote about something that isn’t mentioned enough. I won’t spoil it or give it away, but I was surprised to read about this situation. It was definitely unexpected, but a good surprise. This situation isn’t talked about enough and almost holds a “stigma” for it. I’m glad that this was written in here because it made this story that much more interesting!

The only reason why I didn’t give Sunrise on Half Moon Bay a five-star rating was the fact that there were somethings that seemed repetitive. There were somethings already explained or talked about, and they got repeated throughout the novel. I understand the concept of really driving it home, but this kind of took away from the story.

Overall, this was my first Robyn Carr novel, but definitely not my last. I fell in love with the way Robyn Carr writes, and how she makes everything in her stories come to life.

Love on Location by Cassidy Carter

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

Maybe what they needed most was there all along…

Delaney Phillips, a divorced mom, works for her longtime best friend Wyatt Andrews at Cabins in the Pines. Wyatt inherited the rustic resort from his father, and both he and Delaney have made countless happy memories there. After a highway bypass leaves it a little too off the beaten path, they’ll do just about anything to keep it open.

At Delaney’s urging, Wyatt auditions for a reality TV program that helps businesses in trouble. The show’s glamorous host arrives with her camera crew, turning the place upside down in hilarious and alarming ways.

But Delaney doesn’t like the woman’s new plans for the business…or her designs on Wyatt. Because even though Delaney’s known him since the first grade, she’s slowly but surely falling in love with him. Can she help him see the cabins—and their relationship—in a different light?

Review:

Love on Location was a sweet, clean, friends-to-lovers romance. It was super easy to see from the beginning where it was going to go, but Cassidy Carter did a really great job writing all of the details in so the reader doesn’t lose interest.

I really enjoyed the trope of friends-to-lovers mixed with reality television mixed with a fixer upper narrative. It was pretty different than anything I’ve ever read before in a romance novel. The fact that they were willing to make it work in this small town where the reality show wanted to come in and change everything was a true testament for how things are nowadays. It was an awesome way to show the other side of the small businesses and things of that sort.

I really liked the characters. Delaney and Wyatt for sure had the chemistry that I like to see in a friends-to-lovers novel. I felt it in every word between them which is hard to do! The only reason why I gave this story a four-star rating is because I’m not someone who likes woman/woman jealousy. I don’t like the idea of a woman being so jealous over another woman and holding back because they don’t want to interfere. This book doesn’t really have the room for a jealousy intrusion. I didn’t really see how it fit.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love on Location‘s story. It wasn’t something I’ve read before and I really loved the character development. I will for sure read more of Cassidy Carter’s books when they come out!

Incomparable by Nikki & Brie Bella

Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★★

A raw, honest, and revealing co-memoir by Brie and Nikki Bella: twin sisters, WWE Hall of Fame inductees, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and stars of the hit E! shows Total Bellas and Total Divas.

As twins, the Bellas have always competed. Legend has it that Nikki drop-kicked Brie in the womb so that she could make her grand entrance first. But the rest of the world often treated them as identical and even interchangeable, so they decided to do something about it.

In WWE, the Bellas accomplished so much together: bringing in young girls and women while building the Bella Army, helping the transition of female performers from Divas to Superstars, starring in Total Divas and Total Bellas, and founding companies like Birdiebee, Nicole + Brizee Beauty, and Bonita Bonita Wine.

Though their early journey began with loss, abuse, and plenty of rough times, these challenges “shined the diamond.” They resolved to be survivors and the heroes of their own stories, and to take control and responsibility for their lives. Eventually, they would come to show girls everywhere that they can do anything.

The Bellas may be identical twins—but as individuals, they have proven themselves Incomparable.

Review:

I started watching WWE in 2008. When I watched religiously every Monday, Friday (& when it moved to Tuesdays), I latched onto these two wonderful women. The Bella Twins, Nikki & Brie. I’ve watched them throughout the years, watching them on the microphone on tv every week, but also through their shows Total Divas and Total Bellas. It’s been over 10 years since I started to see these lovely ladies that they’ve almost become part of my own weekly routine.

When I received this book, I just knew it was going to be powerful. The best part of watching them once (at least) a week, was that I could read their stories in their voices as if they were speaking to me right from their hearts. It was so interesting to see these two ladies in how similar they were as twins, but also how different they were. You could just feel that they’ve done some crazy things in their lives, but they also were showing that one could be the quieter one or the more reserved one. It was really a beautiful thing to get such a up-close and personal look into their lives.

I think this book is a testament that no matter how public someone’s life is, you will never know someone’s whole story. The amount of things that I literally gasped at, teared up at, and laughed out loud at were amazing. You see these things on TV and just assume that you know all about them. You see what you see on TV and that’s it! These two ladies really spoke about their childhood and how hard of an upbringing it was. That’s really hard for someone to do and I commend these ladies for it.

This is the Bella Twins’ first book, but you would think that it was their 3rd. They wrote so well and really captured the reader with their words. It was amazing to see these ladies, who do so well on TV in their shows, really get gritty and down-to-it in this book.

I hope that these two come out with 100 more books in the future because I’d love to read them all!!

May 2020 Reads

In May, I read *drum roll* a whopping two books. I’m just trying to get back in the groove of reading and trying to adjust to life during this pandemic! June is going to have a lot more reads!

  • Game On by Britney Bell
  • Hot Mess by Emma Hart

Both of these books received a three star rating from me. There were definitely points of interest with each book, but nothing more than that really! Here’s to many more enjoyable reads in June!

Introducing the Tactical Crime Division by Harlequin Books

Perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and Blacklist

Uncover the lives and loves of the FBI elite as they take on the toughest assignments. This is a new four-book miniseries featuring an ensemble cast of characters spread across 4 books, featuring 4 urgent cases, with one stellar team of crime solving experts. 

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI. Because of the growing concerns and need for ever increasing response time to criminal events, the FBI created a specialized tech and tactical team combing specialists from several active divisions that include: weapons, crime scene investigation, protection, negotiation and IT. 

Each title can be read as a standalone novel, featuring a unique hard to solve crime case.

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGQTOGlXW-c.

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Book 1_48 Hour Lockdown_Carla Cassidy

Book #1: 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy (on-sale March 17, 2020)

Book description: The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI.They handle the toughest cases in the most remote locations. When TCD learns of a school invasion turned lockdown, every agent is ready to engage. With children in jeopardy, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But it becomes personal for hostage negotiator agent Evan Duran when he learns Annalise Taylor is one of the captives holed up with the students in a school for the gifted. He’ll need every resource available at TCD and every ounce of his expertise to turn this disastrous situation into a rescue mission—and if he succeeds, maybe reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

About Carla Cassidy: Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer’s of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

Purchase links:

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Book 2_Secret Investigation_Elizabeth Heiter

Book #2: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter (on-sale April 21, 2020)

Book description: In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?

About Elizabeth Heiter: Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com

Purchase links:

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Book 3_Midnight Abduction_Nichole Severn

Book #3: Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn (on-sale May 19, 2020)

Book description: For the Tactical Crime Division, no case is left cold. When Benning Reeves’s twins are kidnapped, the frantic father knows who can help: the Tactical Crime Division and Ana Ramirez. Even though Ana once shattered Benning’s heart, the special agent is the only one he can trust. But Ana is still tormented by the unresolved case that brought them together years before—a case somehow entangled with Benning’s children. It’s up to the TCD and Ana to discover why…before it’s too late.

About Nichole Severn: Nichole Severn writes romantic suspense with strong heroines, heroes who dare challenge them, and a hell of a lot of guns. When she’s not writing, she’s injuring herself running and practicing yoga.

Purchase links:

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Book 4_Running Out of Time_Cindi Myers

Book #4: Running Out of Time by Cindi Myers (on-sale June 16, 2020)

Book description: When a terrorist is on the loose, the Tactical Crime Division is on the case. To find out who poisoned medications, two of TCD’s agents are tapped to go undercover posing as a married couple and infiltrate the company. But as soon as Jace Cantrell and Laura Smith arrive at Stroud Pharmaceuticals, someone ups the ante by planting explosives in their midst. Turns out that the small-town family business is hiding a million secrets. Could they unknowingly be protecting a vengeful killer?

About Cindi Myers: Cindy Myers became one of the most popular people in eighth grade when she and her best friend wrote a torrid historical romance and passed the manuscript around among friends. Fame was short-lived, alas; the English teacher confiscated the manuscript. Since then, Cindy has written more than 50 published novels. Her historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction have garnered praise from reviewers and readers alike.

Purchase links:

The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

Thank you Harlequin Books for allowing me to participate in The Sea Glass Cottage Blog Tour! I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

Review:

This was my first RaeAnne Thayne novel but definitely not my last!

This book was all female, mostly all of the time. There were many female characters, Liv, her niece and her mother, with whom she has a stressed relationship with. Sometimes, I would think this would be too much drama going on, but I think RaeAnne Thayne did a phenomenal job with the writing to keep the reader interested.

Like I said, there was a lot going on. If this was separated by character and chapters, it would’ve for sure been way too confusing. However, it was just an overall story about these characters and it was like watching a soap opera in my head. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It was as they say, “like a train crash, you want to look away, but you can’t.”

There are a lot of emotions in this book. It’s crushing and heartwarming all in the same book. RaeAnne Thayne did a wonderful job making sure all of the characters were heard in the same way. I didn’t feel as though I knew more about one character than I did another. Also, the story is a lot about overcoming obstacles whether they are physical or mental. I really enjoyed that aspect of this novel.

Lastly, RaeAnne Thayne did a great job with the talk of drug abuse in this novel. This is a really sensitive topic with the society we are in. As someone who has lost individuals to this epidemic, I felt as though RaeAnne Thayne handled this with care. She really did make this feel as though we were looking at this story through Caitlin’s eyes. Losing someone to this is soul-crushing and I really felt that with Liv’s niece.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Sea Glass Cottage. There was a lot going on, but I think it was really good. I will for sure be giving RaeAnne Thayne another read!

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See below for an excerpt of The Sea Glass Cottage!

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