8.13.2019

Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Published: Scribner
Publisher: May 28, 2019
Format: via audiobook
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

My Thoughts
Ask Again, Yes is the story of two families who endure a tragedy and how they overcome and try to move on from it. Francis and Bruce were two rookie cops who worked briefly together but later find themselves neighbors. When they moved in Francis wife, Lena wanted and needed a friend but Brian’s wife Anne was very closed off from the get-go. Soon Kate, Francis and Lena daughter and Peter, Brian and Anne’s son become close friends. Over the years we see their friendship grow and they become each others consent.

Peter has always known his mother is different than other moms, she has episodes and doesn't come out of her room for days or weeks and her highs are highs but her lows are really low. She continues to have these manic episodes and Peter doesn't know what exactly is wrong with her and his father is no help at all. She needs help but doesn't know what to do and all of this comes to a head one night and what happens as a result of it could end Peter and Kate’s friendship but also tie the families together forever.

This novel spans over 40 years and shows us overtime how these two families lives are embedded into each other. We see Peter and Kate grow up and apart but are always thinking of each other until they finally reunite. Kate’s life while it has its struggles family wise isn't as hard as Peter's. His family life is all but destroyed after that one night, his mother is in a mental institution and his father basically leaves him behind with his uncle never to be heard from again. Of all the characters I felt for Peter, his life is the one that could've destroyed him but his uncle and Kate were two people who wouldn't give up on him. As he got older he family problems and his past got the better of him which led to a dark period in his life but once again Kate was there to help him through it.

This is a story of love, friendship, hardships, mental illness, and addiction. We get the highs and lows of these two families who were destined to come together for better or worse. I loved the spanned of decades and how we see them grow and overcome their demons with help from each other. Ask Again, Yes is a wonderful yet gritty story at times that shows us we can overcome anything in life.

8.12.2019

Review: Birthday by Meredith Russo

Birthday by Meredith Russo
Published: May 2, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: via audiobook
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis
Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

My Thoughts
Morgan and Eric are soul mates in all ways, they were born the same day and time and have been best friends forever. They have always had a shared birthday party but as time moved on and life dealt them tragedies, like the death of Morgan’s mother they tried to keep their friendship intact. 

Each one is dealing with family and personal issues, Eric has a father who isn't the most supportive person and while Morgan is trying to come to terms with his true identity and these feelings he's having towards his best friend. Eric has known for a while that Morgan is dealing with something but doesn't want to push, he wants Morgan to come to him when he is ready but deep down Eric has an idea what Morgan is going through. Morgan hasn't been dealing with the death of mother well and with a father who isn't very expressive he doesn't know who to turn to, he wants to tell his best friend but is scared to lose the one person he truly loves in this world.

Birthday is soulful and heartbreaking at the same time. You feel for these two teens who are trying to find themselves in a world that can be cruel. The one thing that they have is each other, no matter what happens, no matter what they may do they always will be there for each other. That love is real and it will transcend everything. That love is so deep that even they become surprised as to how much its true. This story is about friendship and love and how some people truly are soul mates from birth.

Healing Heather & Accepting Aerin by Tinsley Sellers


Healing Heather by Tinsley Sellers
(Beckley’s Daughters Romance #1)
Publication date: July 20, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She’s going 120mph in a 65 zone—and if driving even faster could change history, Professor Heather Harris would floor it. She’s on a collision course with Sergeant Brian Daniels, a state trooper determined to enforce the speed limit and slam the brakes on his own heartache. Can a fast-moving physicist find love with a laid-back law officer, or will ghosts from their pasts keep driving them apart?
“All relationships come with an expiration date. All of mine just happened to fall on the same two days.” —Heather Harris
After a long year of tragedy and loss, Dr. Heather Harris is finally ready to come to terms with the deaths that have left her devastated and alone in the world. Spending summer break at the lake cottage she inherited from her grandparents is the first step in coping with her crushing grief, but she soon finds herself on a collision course with Sergeant Brian Daniels, a police officer whose passion for classic cars won’t stop him from enforcing the speed limit.
Brian Daniels embraces his small-town, laid-back, lakeside life. After years of heartbreak at the hands of his first love, he’s finally free—and a fast-driving, karaoke-singing physics professor offers an exciting diversion. Opposites attract, but the sudden appearance of a blonde on a Harley threatens to throw a monkey wrench in the works. Will the pull of his past be stronger than the promise of his future?
Welcome to the small-town world of Beckley, Michigan. The two-lane roads are long and winding, the many lakes are cool and blue, and the dense forests are green and shaded. Summer days are warm and sunny and summer nights are clear under the glittering stars. The people are warm, friendly, smart, funny–and very, very real. When you need a place to call home, Beckley welcomes you—and sometimes the family you choose is as strong as the bonds you’re born with.


Accepting Erin by Tinsley Sellers
(Beckley’s Daughters Romance #1)
Publication date: November 16, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Chet Coakley needs a quiet place to write the last novel in his best-selling series.
When a freak accident ends his baseball career, Chet finds his second chance writing a series of retro-detective novels. He’s on a deadline and can’t afford a distraction—especially not in the form of a vivacious blonde innkeeper who challenges everything he believes about himself.
Professional chef Aerin Buckholtz owns a vintage lodge and fifteen cabins on a secluded lake in the Michigan woods.
Betrayed by her best friend and self-conscious about her appearance, Aerin believes that romance isn’t meant for her. She’s building her business—and working to earn good reviews seems safer than admitting her attraction to a handsome former athlete who feels far out of her league.
Can Aerin and Chet learn to see themselves through each other’s eyes and accept a love neither one saw coming?
Welcome back to Beckley, Michigan! Autumn is in the air and as the days get shorter, the air gets cooler and the trees begin to turn every shade of gold and red. The people are just as warm, friendly, smart, funny, and real as you remember. When you need a place to call home, Beckley welcomes you—and sometimes the family you choose is as strong as the bonds you’re born with.
If you like small-town romance, you’ll like Beckley. If you like smart heroines who balance demanding professional careers with a commitment to family, friends, and finding love, then you’ll definitely like it here. If you like strong, sexy, hard-working heroes who have not-so-secret soft spots for kids, kittens, and classic cars, you may find that you never want to leave!
Accepting Aerin is the second in the Beckley’s Daughters Romance series. This series is recommended for adult readers and contains explicit language and intimate situations.

Get both for only 99¢ each for a limited time!

Healing Heather Sneak Peek:
That’s your truck?” I almost dropped my ice cream. My hot caramel, double scoop, butter pecan with whipped cream and two cherries sundae, to be precise. All over the front of Brian’s blue and white striped button-down shirt.
After I had hung up on him, I couldn’t shake the image of the ice cream. The craving got too strong, and I had decided that spending my dinner calories on that outrageous sundae made perfect sense. A tiny voice in the back of my brain had whispered that I might be trying to run into someone—not naming any names, not pointing any fingers—accidentally on purpose. You’re not helping, I had whispered back to the voice, but hopped in Violet and hit the road rolling towards Bowdon anyway.
Johnson’s was an old-fashioned soda fountain, and entering it was like stepping back fifty years in an instant. The fresh-faced teenage girl behind the counter wore a pink and white striped apron, and an exaggerated pink bow held back her blonde ponytail. Her hand-drawn name tag read Lizzie, with a tiny pink heart dotting each ‘i.’
When I had placed my order, she grinned. “One Sergeant’s Special, coming right up!” She had cheerfully gotten busy, scooping and topping like someone who had built that particular confection on more than one occasion.
“The Sarge likes his with an extra cherry,” she held up the half-empty jar of maraschinos as evidence. “One or two for you?”
“Two, of course,” I peered over the counter as she worked. “And maybe just a little more whipped cream?”
As I emerged from the ice cream parlor with my enormous probably-better-than-sex sundae, the first thing I saw was a fully-restored classic pick up. Parked directly in front of Johnson’s, right next to Violet, it was a Dodge, 1951 or ’52, five-window. From the pristine condition of the Sea Mist Green paint to the spotless whitewall tires, I surmised that it still had the original straight-line 6-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission. Brian stepped wordlessly aside while I handed him my sundae and circled the truck, utterly transfixed. I may have been drooling just a little. Clicking the latch, I lifted the driver’s side bonnet—and gasped out loud.
“Yeah,” he nodded over my shoulder, “it’s a 392 Hemi. Just like yours.” He grinned and started spooning my sundae into his mouth. “I bought her about eight years ago, and it took me six years to bring her back to life. I figured she deserved the Hemi.”
He scooped another generous spoonful of my ice cream into his mouth and savored. “Dang, did Lizzie make this? Just gets better every time.” He handed me back the paper bowl and closed the truck bonnet. “Wanna go for a ride?”
Did I ever. Girl Code or Common Sense 101 be damned, there was no way I was turning down a ride in that beauty-on-the-outside, beast-on-the-inside truck. Without a word, I climbed into the cab on the passenger side. The interior had been meticulously restored, and the tan leather bench seat had been customized with intricate stitching.
He roared the engine to life, and my heart skipped a beat. In seconds, he had turned off the main highway, and we headed east an empty two-lane, windows rolled down and radio turned up.
“So, if I remember correctly, this is the part of the country song where I kick my shoes off and put my pretty bare feet on the dash.” I smiled sweetly and licked the caramel from my spoon, a little more suggestively than was strictly necessary. Something about the rolled-up sleeves and half-unbuttoned casual shirt he wore over a plain white tee spoke to me on an almost cellular level, triggering a sensual response I couldn’t really control. I took another bite, swirling my tongue through whipped cream with exaggerated innocence.
“Followed by the verse where I kick you out of my truck for spilling ice cream all over the leather,” he looked meaningfully at the paper bowl and its rapidly melting contents. The molten caramel and the summer heat had conspired, almost liquefying the butter pecan.
“Sorry,” I said meekly, sitting up straighter and corralling my wayward thoughts. “I won’t spill, I promise. But you may have to help me finish this, it’s a double.”
“Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse.” He kept his left hand on the wheel, and while I held the bowl, tried unsuccessfully with his right to secure a spoonful. “I’m a lefty. Help me out here?”
I slid over a bit closer and held the sundae-loaded spoon to his lips. Without taking his eyes from the road, he took the bite with obvious relish. I repeated the process, then helped myself to a spoonful. Sharing the single spoon felt intimate and little romantic.
We drove in comfortable silence. Neither one of us mentioned our recent conversation, and it didn’t feel necessary to bring it up. The road wound through the silent forest, then suddenly opened up with hayfields and horse pasture on either side of the road. Three horses glanced up briefly, then resumed their leisurely grazing. A white farmhouse stood about a hundred yards from the road, flanked by a tidy barn and a stable. I imagined a young family: a father leading his young daughter on the back of a pony; a mother laughing and pushing a baby boy on a tree swing.
“Can I tell you something?” he asked suddenly, startling me from my reverie. “I just don’t want you to misunderstand.”
“Of course you can,” I replied, curious. “But don’t feel like you need to explain anything to me. I don’t want you to think I…” I trailed off, not knowing exactly how to finish my thought.
“Think you what? Judge me? Pity me?” He slowed the truck, pulling over on the shoulder, and turned to face me. “I don’t think you would do either. But let’s just set the record perfectly straight. Yeah, I had a relationship with Amanda. It was a lot of years, a lot of chaos, a lot of pain, and now it’s over. It’s been over for a long time.”
“Okay…” I exhaled. “She made me think you were still seeing each other pretty exclusively. I didn’t—I don’t—want to be in the middle of anything.”
“You aren’t. You couldn’t be. There’s nothing to be in the middle of.” His green eyes still showed pain, though. I reached over and took his hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. The pain in his eyes gave way to something that looked like optimism. Or maybe hope. Either one was fine by me.
“Well then. That’s resolved. I’m sorry I was rude this afternoon, it was uncalled for.” I smiled an apology. “So, Sergeant SeaMist, is this a ’51 or a ’52?”


         Author Bio
Tinsley Sellers grew up in Chicago, spending her summers with her grandparents in a tiny town a lot like Beckley, Michigan. Life took her to Arizona, Washington, and Idaho before she finally found her home in Arkansas. She is married to an amazing, supportive (and handsome!) man, with whom she has rescued three dogs and two cats. When she’s not writing, she teaches physics and engineering at the local university. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably trying new recipes. She enjoys fast cars, loud music, fine whisky, and big books. In no particular order.

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8.06.2019

Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Published: July 30, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: via Edelweiss
Rating: 5/5


Synopsis
Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it--teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy's sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.


Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it's naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way--a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.


When they're alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn't give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she's going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.


To protect herself and her family and save the life she's built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can't beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.


My Thoughts
In Never Have I Ever we met Amy who lives a pretty ideal life, she married a man who loves her, stepmom to a teen and new mother of a baby boy. She has a good circle of friends and one night during book club the new neighbor makes her presence known. Roux is unlike any of the other moms on the block, but she came to play and Amy is her target. Unknown to anyone else Roux has a secret about Amy that could truly blow up Amy’s life but little does Roux know that Amy isn't one just to lay down and be exposed.


Amy has made a new life for herself after years of running from her past. She did something in her teens she isn't proud about and someone else took the blame for it and she hasn't gotten over it. She has made it her mission to help and protect the ones she hurt and although she wants to do right she doesn't want her past to claim her present.


Roux has come to town with the sole purpose to ruin Amy’s life. She has something that Amy has and she wants it now. However, Roux has no idea that Amy is doing a little background check of her own and soon she discovers who Roux really is and the devastating secret(s) Roux has. Roux is sick, twisted and a master manipulator but she has met her match with Amy who isn't backing down and wants Roux to pay for all her wrongdoings.


Never Have I Ever is pure genius, this book had me on my toes from the first page. I love the banter between Roux and Amy and how they always one-upped each other. Just when one thought they were winning the other comes back with something stronger. This is a game that at the end no one really wins, but the reveals are masterpieces. Joshilyn Jackson has outdone herself with this novel of twist and turns and with each revelation, you are bound to be amazed. If you want an honest to god amazing read look no further than this jaw-dropping story.

Review: The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess
Published: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Format: via NetGalley
Rating:4/5

Synopsis
In the summer of 1987, 25-year-old Eve Rosen is an aspiring writer languishing in a low-level assistant job, unable to shake the shadow of growing up with her brilliant brother. With her professional ambitions floundering, Eve jumps at the chance to attend an early summer gathering at the Cape Cod home of famed New Yorker writer Henry Grey and his poet wife, Tillie. Dazzled by the guests and her burgeoning crush on the hosts’ artistic son, Eve lands a new job as Henry Grey’s research assistant and an invitation to Henry and Tillie’s exclusive and famed "Book Party"— where attendees dress as literary characters. But by the night of the party, Eve discovers uncomfortable truths about her summer entanglements and understands that the literary world she so desperately wanted to be a part of is not at all what it seems.

My Thoughts
The Last Book Party centers around Eve and her summer on Cape Cod working under famous writer Henry Grey and his his wife, poet Tilly. Eve is an aspiring writer but hasn't written anything worthwhile. Eve is drawn into this literary world with its intellectual elite and talented writers that she finds herself in a situation that she never thought she would be in. She falls for Henry and Tilly’s son but soon finds her sights on someone else, someone she never imagined but the situation is one that will change things. 

The spotlight of the summer is the “Book Party” hosted by Henry and Tilly that has the who's who in the literary world invited. This is the place when all of the secrets that have been ongoing finally come to the surface and not only will Eve’s secret come out but all of those around her. She finally realizes that this world she has been wanting for as long as she can remember isn't what’s it's cracked up to be.

The Last Book Party drew me in with the promise of all things literary and it didn't disappoint. We get a glimpse of this world but also so much more, Eve is a young woman who just wants to do what she loves, which is writing and being around all these great writers is something she could only dream of. However, this life she thought she wanted isn't so wonderful as she had imagined and realizes there has to be a better way. She is simply learning to come into her own and finding her path to being able to do what she loves. This read is a great coming of age novel that has a great storyline and characters that give us reasons to hate but also love them. This is an easy and quick read that is perfect for these last days of Summer.

8.05.2019

Blog Tour: Can You Heat It by Casey Diam

Today we have the release day blitz for CAN YOU HEAR IT by Casey Diam! 

Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

CAN YOU HEAR IT by Casey Diam

Genre: Sports Romance

About Can You Hear It

Secrets. Deceptions. Tragedies. Those were the root of all evil. One of those became the root of mine the day I lost the love of my life. My best friend. My lover. Everyone disregarded it, saying, “Let’s face it, Averie, you have the rest of your life ahead of you.” They were wrong. James Lawrence was my ever after . . . until Ashton. If only he didn’t come bearing his own brand of evil. A secret. The reason he wanted me to stay away. I should have listened, and he should have tried harder, but both of us failed. And if we hadn’t, if he had told me when we first met, would it have altered the moment I realized that I was falling for him? The slight variation in the air. The hitch in my breath. The lightness in my chest. Impossible to know; I’d already fallen. I was already ruined. ***A standalone sports romance that takes place in senior year high school. Due to explicit content, this book is suitable for 17+

Excerpt
At Ashton’s table in the cafeteria, I waved to the guys and a few other girls sitting there. While I sat on the small round seat between Brody and Ashton, Candice went for the empty one across from me, next to Ryker.
“Do you want to trade places?” Brody asked Candice when she was about to sit.
I hid my smile because I was pretty sure that was the last thing she wanted to do.
“Have a seat, pretty girl. I don’t bite.” Ryker grinned. “Unless you want me to.”
With my mouth ajar, I watched Candice take a seat, clearing her throat and swallowing.
I might not be able to tell from her cheeks, but I knew she was blushing, and bad.
“Are you sure you don’t want my orange?” Candice asked again.
I shook my head with a mischievous smile. “I’m good.”
Apparently, I did something with my eyes because hers widened in a silent plea for me to behave.
I grinned and lowered my head. A second later, while I was on my phone, Ashton held his spicy chicken sandwich to my mouth.
Leaning away from it, I said, “I’m not hungry.”
“I didn’t ask, but you should be.” He jutted his chin out to his sandwich. “Just one bite.”
His gray eyes distracted me as I looked at him, and suddenly, I felt too warm as I recalled that image of his arms around me while I’d slept.
“Fine.”
My eyes dropped to the sandwich, and I covered his hands with mine as I took a bite.
He looked slightly mollified, so I went back to scrolling through Instagram as I chewed. Once I swallowed, I realized how much I needed that bite. That was so good.
“Are you following me on there?” Ash asked, looking at my phone.
I wasn’t, but we were already Facebook friends. I typed in his name and he pointed to the second profile from the top. “That one.”
I clicked on it and my mouth fell open. Over seventy-six thousand followers. “How is this possible? You’re joking.” But as I scrolled through the account of all the images of him playing football, and him with some of the other guys, I knew for a fact this was his account. One that I would so be stalking later.
I narrowed my eyes at him after clicking Follow. “You better follow back.”
He chuckled. “I will.”
He held out his half-eaten sandwich to me, and I grinned, happily biting into it before playing on my phone again.
After a minute, his finger brushed a corner of my mouth, and my heart stuttered as my gaze lifted, halting at his lips before moving up to his eyes. Oh my God! Why did I just do that? His eye color transformed into a stormy gray, but there was so much heat in them, they melted my thoughts. He’d never looked at me like that before. Fascinated and still at a loss for words, my eyes lowered to his soft, full, raspberry-colored lips. Damn it, I did it again.

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About Casey Diam

  
Some years ago, Casey rediscovered her passion for writing and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her favorite genre is romance with edge which is why she writes sexy, funny, sweet, and emotional stories that are a little bit more in depth, but so much fun to read.  

 

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