Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – A 4/5 Star Review!

This is not a feel-good book. It drowns you in grief and chokes you with secrets. It deals with family dynamics, gender roles, racial discrimination, and death. This is the story about the interracial family in the 1970s in a small Ohio town and how they deal with their favorite daughter’s shocking death. Was it suicide or was she murdered?

The Lee family dynamic was full of underlying messages that were not well communicated and often conflicted. Parents having different expectations for the same child. Siblings fighting over attention but only one getting it. Therefore, there are many cases of misunderstandings that cut to the core. Celeste Ng did a fantastic job of making each member of the family a complex with their substantial secrets. Each of them hid their struggles and they all seemed just out of reach from each other. It was a heavy read as the narrative changed between each family member including flashbacks from Lydia, the deceased. It was also a hard read because one of the underlying themes is that you can’t always achieve your dreams exactly as you wish because unexpected life circumstances will throw you out of orbit.

My favorite character in this book is Hannah. My heart went out to her as she was the most innocent and the most forgotten. She seemed to be a vehicle to move the story along as it can get stuck sometimes dwelling in the grief. She also seemed to channel the inner child in all of them that was desperate to connect the family.

I would recommend this book for adult readers who are looking for something heavy and complex. This is not a light-hearted book about families coming together with a happy ending. This is full of grief and misunderstanding. I would not recommend this book for readers who may be offended or triggered by the following: violence, infidelity, misogyny, racial discrimination, sexually suggestive scenarios, parental abandonment, gender roles, and the death of a sibling, child, and/or parent.

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The Duke Is But A Dream by Anna Bennett (Debutante Diaries #2)- A 5/5 Star Review!

Anna Bennett is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  I absolutely loved the previous book in this series, First Earl I See Tonight (see review here ) and had similar feelings for this book.  The Duke Is But A Dream also had adventure, humor, and (of course) romance.  This time it focuses on the headstrong and bold Lily Hartley’s love adventure following memory loss from a bar brawl injury.  This injury brings her and Nash, the Duke of Stonebridge, together in a unique situation that forces them to show their true character.  Even if Lily can’t remember her character, or her own name for that matter.  It then forces the question: Can you truly love someone if you don’t even know who you are?

This is not a simple romance.  All characters are dealing with heavy subjects that are not simply resolved by a true love’s first kiss (sorry Disney, I still love you).  Grief is an ongoing struggle that cannot truly be resolved, just like the void cannot truly ever be filled in reality.  However, this novel does portray how to cope with the grief in healthy ways and that trying to avoid it just makes you stuck and does not honor their memory well.  Abandonment is another issue that is dealt with as there does not seem to be anyone looking for Lily as she is missing and going by the name Caroline (as she does not remember her own name).  Don’t worry, reader, it was a misunderstanding that has a happy ending.

Additionally, this book briefly catches us up with the characters from the previous book in the series, Sophie, Gray, and her sister Fiona.  However, this book could be read as a standalone as it does not rely heavily on previous events.  Probably because Lily does not have any memory of previous events.  I did like the new characters that were introduced and I hope there are more books in the series.  I would love to see a story about Lily and Fiona’s close friend and colleague, Sophie.  I would also love to see a story about Nash’s sister, the bubbly and lovely Delilah.

I would absolutely recommend this book for fans of regency romance novels that have to do with brooding dukes and concerns about the reactions of the ton.  I would also recommend this book for adults as there are graphically sexual scenarios, mild foul language, violence, and alcohol use.

Please note: An electronic Advanced Readers Copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you! 

Naturally Tan by Tan France – A 5/5 Star Review!

Tan France has a blunt sense of humor that comes off as fun and as if the reader were right there next to him as he spoke.  It was very authentic, sassy at times, and insightful. I found this book to be enlightening yet hilarious!  I found this book to be uplifting and I would recommend it to any reader, although I would advise that for younger readers there is foul language.  Even if you haven’t watched the new Queer Eye on Netflix (although I strongly recommend that show too!) don’t let that stop you from picking up this book.  It is not required before reading this but of course the show is referenced a fair amount.  Mostly it is about how he found himself, his career, love, and how he became an entrepreneur even before the show aired.

 

Please note: a physical advanced reader copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via GoodReads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

It is my understanding at the time of this review that the book is set to be released in the US on June 4, 2019.

Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant – A 3/5 Star Review

This book had a plot that progressed well, had vicious villains, and other great characters. However, it was very heavy on hunting and guns, as well as other things I am not interested in. There were a couple of scenes that were very graphically detailed. For example, there is a scene where Chase Hardy is hunting deer and intentionally decides to shoot one in a location where the deer would suffer an incredibly painful death, rather than killing it instantly. Another example is when Transom shoots a rabbit and then the narrator goes into gory detail on how the rabbit is then skinned. These scenes made me uncomfortable but I will say that they contributed symbolism and foreshadowing to the plot.

What also made me uncomfortable in this book was how Laney was treated for being a woman. Not only that but how she was written in the book as being weak, particularly around men. There is a scene where Transom literally refers to her as a piece of meat yet she still falls for his charms. I was screaming “GIRL NOOO!!”and it infuriated me how she was treated by Transom and she accepted it. Another example of this is when she tells Transom that she is seeing Chase and he blames Laney for their affair, even though she had initially told him she was no longer interested in their affair.

It is a well thought-out story and I absolutely loved how well the environment of the setting was described. It is very easy to be submerged into this plot and have strong feelings-good or bad- about each character. It is because the reader is so easily submerged that those graphic scenes and the Laney character in general had me more uncomfortable than I remember feeling about a book.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy hunting and/or may have grown up on a farm. This book is very heavy on farm life and the pros and cons of it. I would recommend this book also for readers who enjoy a surprise ending as this one is great.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered and/or offended by: grief, death, male chauvinism, graphic violence, kidnapping, hostage situations, violence towards animals, hunting, addiction (prescription pills in particular), fracking, deforestation, and betrayal.

Please note: an Audio CD of this book was generously provided by the publisher for free through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program in exchange for an honest review.

A Lady’s Virtue (Everton Domestic Society #3) by A. S. Fenichel- A 5/5 Star Review!

Sylvia Dowder, surrounded by shame from a broken engagement, joined the Everton Domestic Society.  This way her twin sister could still have a chance at an engagement this season.  Dumped due to her social status being lower than her fiancée’s, she gets back at the ton by moonlighting as a secret gossip columnist.  This is a creative outlet for her sparky nature to put certain gossipers in their place by calling them out in this column.  Getting a job through the Everton Domestic Society working for Anthony Braighton, the new Earl of Grafton, makes it harder to keep her writing a secret.  What other secrets is she able to keep?

 

Not too surprisingly, I loved this book! I have been a fan of A. S. Fenichel’s writing since the beginning of the trilogy before this series, the Forever Brides series (see my reviews #1, #2, #3, and Bonus).  The first book of the Forever Brides series (Tainted Bride) was about Sophia Braighton, Anthony’s sister.  It was fun to read the interactions between Anthony and his sister Sophia.  It was also fun to see the dynamic differences between the American siblings, Anthony and Sophia, and the rest of the English characters.  I found it very interesting how the author contrasted the character reactions to the new social status of Sylvia’s former fiancée and Anthony Braighton.  What also enriched the plot was how Sylvia and Anthony’s frank personalities brought them together.

 

This book is the third in the Everton Domestic Society series (see my reviews on the earlier here  and here ) but it can be read as a standalone.  There are references to previous characters, however, there are brief background updates for each of them that does not halt the pacing of the story.  I was very excited when a familiar character came into the story and it felt like a party was building with the familiar guests showing up.

 

I would definitely recommend this book for romance readers, particularly those fond of Regency Romances.  The romance is slowly built over situations and time making it more authentic for me as a reader.  I would recommend this book for adults as there are some graphically sexual scenarios.

 

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by: graphically sexual scenarios, public shaming, alcoholism, parental dominance, or mild foul language.

 

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

It’s Getting Scot in Here (Wild Wicked Highlanders #1) by Suzanne Enoch- this blog’s first 5/5 Star Review of 2019!

FINALLY! I had been struggling to find a book that I actually liked in 2019 and it has been a struggle.  Or, it was a struggle until I had the great opportunity to read Suzanne Enoch’s It’s Getting Scot in Here.  If the title alone doesn’t get you, the plot definitely will. Niall MacTaggert may very well be my new definition of swoon-worthy because I blushed, I giggled-I was swooning!

Amelia-Rose is stuck.  She and her big mouth has landed her in a position where she has barked off every suitor her mother has chosen for her.  Her mother insists on her marrying a man with a title, as she should have when she was younger.  Her father supports her mother but supports his drinking habit more.

The MacTaggert brothers are also stuck.  They barge into London enraged yet encaged in a binding agreement between their father and their absent mother, Francesca, which forces them to marry a woman from London.  Even worse: one of them has to marry a woman that their mother has already chosen.  Their mother who abandoned them as children and took their youngest sister with her to London while they grew up in Scotland.

Amelia-Rose is chosen by Francesca to be married to Coll, the most brutish of all three, and the eldest who will take on the title.  Coll keeps getting into trouble and his younger brother, the dashing peacekeeper Niall (I am still swooning, by the way), steps in for him to court Amelia-Rose and save her from embarrassment from the ton.  No one expected them to fall for each other.

I love the bantering between Niall and Amelia-Rose.  I love his persistence in making sure that she stays true to her character, not what people tell her to be.  I also loved that the brothers were very respectful and supportive of their sister that they did not get the opportunity to see grow up.  The brothers were simply a hilarious trio of mischief.   It was very entertaining when the three of them were in the same scene.  They call each other out yet still humor and maintain a level of respect.

The pacing was great in this book and it is very easy to get caught up in the world that Suzanne Enoch creates.  The villains are very clear in this book and still haunt me.   The character development, particularly of Niall, is very strong and I cannot praise this book enough!

In conclusion, I am thrilled that this is the first book in the Wild Wicked Highlanders because I simply must have more of these storylines!  It has the perfect balance of humor, romance, and conflict. I loved every page and I highly recommend this book to readers of romance, regency romance, and highlander romances.

For those who may be triggered/offended:  There was mild foul language, alcohol use, bullying, violence,  sibling separation, divorce/parental separation, and parental abandonment.

Please note: an electronic advanced reader copy of the book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  (Thank you!)

 

Want to get the book? Click here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250296375

 

You can check out Suzanne Enoch’s website here: http://www.suzanneenoch.com

 

 

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser-DNF at 51%-A 2/5 Star Review

Two friends separated geographically and by one friend being a new parent.  They finally find time to connect via Skype.  The conversation is awkward then interrupted by a waking child.

One friend is left waiting, the other struggling with pain to get to the now-wailing child.

One friend sees an intruder break-in but has no way of alerting the other friend.

What happens next?

 

Gripping, right?  That’s not only the premise of the story but it is also the very first chapter in summation.  I have to say: the first two chapters were very riveting!  It felt like the plot was moving quickly and I kept being surprised.  Then the resulting chapters I was either confused at the characters’ reactions or bored with the inner monologues and kept skimming.  The inner ramblings of the narrating characters ended up being the downfall for the book for me.  It showed that the characters are as awful internally as their actions have shown.  Their secrets that they kept from one another appears to have been intended to contribute towards the idea that this book is a psychological thriller.  However, in my opinion, it was just a boring novel about entitled suburban strife.  However aversive the adult characters may have been, the children were redeeming in that they were adorable and pure. 2 stars: One for Nori and One for Rosie.

Back to the inner monologues: there were many diatribes in narration, mostly justifying how horribly they are treating the other characters, that I kept finding myself skimming.  They were so lengthy at times that I was relieved when the chapter was finally over so I could put the book down for awhile.  Or I would keep putting the book down because it was a series of the worst things that could happen to a character, happening to each character, more than once.  I am not sure if the author was going with the idea that “bad things happen to good people” because these characters were not exactly great people.  Which is drilled into the readers’ head repeatedly.    Or maybe the author was trying to use catastrophic events to help build character.  But at the point that I stopped, halfway through, that still did not appear to have happened.  Instead, the characters all seem to be self-absorbed and blaming the other for one bad event or another.

There were so many bad things happening with each character that I stopped being surprised at any new element thrown in.  OF COURSE! I kept screaming at my Kindle.  OF COURSE the HR guy’s name is Toby, just like in The Office.  OF COURSE they’re going to mention that his name is like the guy in The Office.  OF COURSE Toby isn’t that great, no one in the book is.  OF COURSE there’s a shady neighbor.  OF COURSE the intruder is not who they originally thought.  OF COURSE there are money issues involved.  OF COURSE their life fell apart, everyone in this book is falling apart! You get the idea.

In conclusion: I would not recommend this book at all.  I would especially not recommend it for younger than adult audiences.  Lastly, I would not recommend this book for those who may be triggered or offended by: foul language, infidelity, intruders/break-ins, stalkers, addiction, marital strife, or arson.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!