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Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

5 out of 5 Stars

Okay I did it. I gave this one all the love. It takes A LOT for me to give a 5. It has to have a significant impact on thoughts and create a connection. This is everything I could want in a book.

This story takes you on quite a journey. Vivian is a well-to-do young girl in the 40s trying to sort out who she is and where she belongs. She is writing a letter to Angela who has asked Vivian how she came to know her father. (I’m purposefully not telling you who Angela is). This sets the scene for the retelling of her rollercoaster adult life. After dropping out of college, Vivian is sent to live with her zany Aunt Peg (I also have an Aunt Peg).  Viv takes her seamstress talent to work at her aunt’s off beat theater. She quickly finds herself swept up in the fast and tawdry lifestyle of the years before WWII. Men, cocktails, late nights (early mornings), fancy clubs, you get the idea. In what may be the apex of the story and the turning point, her need to “be a part of” and her naivety leads her to make a decision that turns her life upside down.  Along the way we all have the privilege of meeting many interesting characters, with interesting stories that are unique for the time period. She goes on to tell the story of her adult life, of which she does find fulfillment. Angela gets to learn (perhaps more than she wanted) about how Vivian knew her father. I won’t spoil it because you will be wondering, “who is Angela’s father” for the majority of the book. And it is SO GOOD! I didn’t see it coming. This book throws you curveballs when you aren’t expecting them. And at times, the writing was funny, making you smile.

There is also a serious tone to this book. Dark and serious. We also get to feel the impact, and societal shift, that happens when the U.S. joined World War II. NYC would never be the same. Women went to work in professions that perhaps they had not in the past. Men (and some women) went to war. Some rushed to marry. Some never came home. And after the war ended, NYC was a different world.

At one point during the first half, I was like, okay, I get it move on. I was becoming “done” with hearing that arrogant accent of fancy Golden Age “The-a-tah” actors have been portrayed to possess. But yet it was vivid, dense, and delicious. Goodness the second half of this book I could NOT put down. I was highlighting so many introspectful quotes (29 total). I would read some lines and sit there pondering them. City of Girls is full of surprises and full of depth. I can see this book becoming a movie, and I truly hope it does.

 

Quotes that I loved:

-“A person only gets to move to New York City for the first time in her life once, Angela, and it’s a pretty big deal.”

-“But this is a city that gets born anew in the fresh eyes of every young person who arrives here for the first time. So that city, that place—newly created for my eyes only—will never exist again. It is preserved forever in my memory like an orchid trapped in a paperweight. That city will always be my perfect New York.”

-“This is what flirtation is in its purest form—a conversation held without words. Flirtation is a series of silent questions that one person asks another person with their eyes. And the answer to those questions is always the same word: Maybe.”

-“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it. Someone makes a promise, and then they break it. A play gets good notices, and then it folds. A marriage looks strong, and then they divorce. For a while there’s no war, and then there’s another war. If you get too upset about it all, you become a stupid, unhappy person—and where’s the good in that?”

-“When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim to the misconception that time will heal all wounds and that eventually everything will shake itself out. But as we get older, we learn this sad truth: some things can never be fixed. Some mistakes can never be put right—not by the passage of time, and not by our most fervent wishes, either. In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all.”

-“After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain—yet somehow, still, we carry on.”

-“When something ends, let it end.”

-“This is what I’ve found about life, as I’ve gotten older: you start to lose people, Angela. It’s not that there is ever a shortage of people—oh, heavens no. It is merely that—as the years pass—there comes to be a terrible shortage of your people. The ones you loved. The ones who knew the people that you both loved. The ones who know your whole history.”

[I lost it reading this last one. The flow of the text into this conversation and the raw truth of it.]

 

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Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Uncategorized

Our Ten Most Anticipated Summer Reads

Summer 2019

What We Are Reading

Well, July starts in a couple of days, so it’s past time for us to talk about the books that have us most excited this summer. Bekka and I generally have similar taste in books, but I think it will be fun to see how different our lists are! In no particular order, here are five of the books that I am looking forward to reading this summer!

Beth’s Summer Must Reads

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Summer of 69 by Elin Hilderbrand

“Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changedin New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel”

There are certain authors that I can count on to release a book in the summer, and I don’t even have to know what it’s about in order to put it on my TBR list. Elin Hilderbrand is one of those authors. Her books primarily take place on Nantucket, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t made it yet, despite the fact that my dad grew up in New England. Her books are wonderful written, moving and funny, and characters from her other books pop up from time to time. I love when authors do that! If you haven’t read her books, my favorites are The Blue Bistro, The Rumor, and Barefoot. Her Winter series is also very good. I’m especially excited to read this one, since it takes place during the summer of the year I was born.  Summer of 69 was released on June 18, 2019.

 

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Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

“From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.”

Kristin Higgins is another of the authors that I always read during the summer. She started off as a romance author, but has recently moved into women’s fiction. I enjoyed her romance books, but her past few books have been deeply moving and wonderful. She’s one of those authors that can make you laugh one minute and cry the next. I’ve read so many of her books, that I can’t even list my favorites! Life and Other Inconveniences will be released on August 6, 2019.

 

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Gin Fling (Bootleg Springs #5) by Lucy Score and Claire Kingsley

“A slow grin spread across his face and I had to turn away from the wattage. It was like staring at the sun. The handsome sun that was making my core temperature rise and causing a hormone dump in my brain. — Shelby Thompson “

In order to get the most out of this book, you would need to read the first four books in the Bootleg Springs series, but I’d definitely recommend that! This series centers around the Bodine siblings and the disappearance of a young woman, Callie Kendall, that took place years ago in their hometown of Bootleg Springs, West Virginia. Lucy Score and her writing partner, Claire Kingsley, have split up the six books in this series, each taking three of the stories. Gin Fling is Lucy’s third Bootleg Springs book, and I can’t wait to get closer to finding out what happened to Callie Kendall. This book also reveals the relationship that develops between Jonah Bodine and Shelby Thompson. Gin Fling was released on June 25, 2019 and is available on Kindle Unlimited.

 

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Superfan (Brooklyn Bruisers # 6) by Sarina Bowen

Sometimes lady luck shakes your hand, and sometimes she smacks your face. Sometimes she does both on the same day.

Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series is about the lives of the players on a fictional hockey team. It occasionally crosses over with True North, another of Ms. Bowen’s series, but each book can be read as a standalone. I actually have a couple of books in this series that I haven’t read yet (Hard Hitter, Pipe Dreams, Overnight Sensation) so it looks like it will be a hockey summer for me! Sarina Bowen is one of my favorite authors, (her Man Hands series with Tanya Eby and her standalone titled Top Secret are amazing!)  I can’t wait to get caught up on the lives of Bruisers Patrick, Mike and Jason so I can see what trouble Silas is getting into! Superfan was released on June 25, 2019.

 

 

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Preservation (Walsh Series #7) by Kate Canterbary

Two lonely hearts. An arrangement of mutual benefit. One wild weekend. Some things have to fall apart before they can be put back together.

I read the first book in this 8-book series about the Walsh siblings a couple of years ago, and was excited to read the rest of them (I even bought book 2, The Space Between, right after reading the first book, Underneath it All), but other books always got in the way. When a 99 cent deal came along for Kindle Unlimited last month, I jumped on it and decided to read the rest of the Walsh family books while I had the chance. I’m so glad I did. Last week, I devoured books 3 and 5 (Necessary Restorations, and Restored, which were both about Tiel and Sam) and am currently reading (and listening to!) book 4 (The Cornerstone, which is Shannon and Will’s story). I am eagerly anticipating getting to Preservation, which is about the youngest Walsh sibling, Riley, but I’m not going to rush through the rest of the series because it’s way too good for that! The Walsh series is available on Kindle Unlimited.

 

Bekka’s Summer Must Reads

Every Spring I spend quite a bit of time combing through summer reading lists and “season’s best beach reads” to develop the perfect list. I talk to friends, I scour Amazon editor picks, Good Reads “summer” shelves, and popular magazine most-anticipated lists. Here’s what I’m reading this summer!!!

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

The New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and The Good Luck Charm delivers a Hollywood happily-ever-after where a famous heartthrob falls for his ultimate fangirl.
 
“As charming as its title, but it’s also so much more… Fans of Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date and Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient will love Meet Cute.” —The Washington Independent Review of Books
Read my review here.

 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Belly has an unforgettable summer in this stunning start to the Summer I Turned Pretty series from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (soon to be a major motion picture!), Jenny Han. – Amazon

I just finished this one and it is summer-rific! Transporting you back to what it was like to be a teenager dealing with changes, hopes, possibilities. Set at a beach house, you’ll get right into the feel of summer with this one. Stay tuned for a full review.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things, a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person.

Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.  – Amazon

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

I added this one because all good summer book lists have a Beatriz Williams novel on it (sorry Beth, LOL).

Beatriz Williams, the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives, is back with another hot summer read; a dazzling epic of World War II in which a beautiful young “society reporter” is sent to the Bahamas, a haven of spies, traitors, and the infamous Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  – Amazon

 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Named a “Must-Read” by TODAY, Us Weekly, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, Southern Living, Book Riot, Woman’s Day, The Toronto Star, and more!

 From one of Beth and my favorite author duos comes what I anticipate to be a hilarious and satisfying summer read. Read Beth’s full review here.

 

 

 

 

Because I just can’t help myself here are others that I am planning to read or have already:

The Mister by E.L. James

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

I Think You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Ready to Fall by Daisy Prescott (Recommended by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Hunter)

Fifth Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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4 of 5 original stars

I’ve blogged about my love for books by Christina Lauren in the past. I try to read their new ones as soon as they come out. I was able to snag this book pretty quickly at my library and dove into it right away. It’s an Enemies-to-Lovers story, with a bit of Vacation Fling thrown in for good measure. Enemies-to-Lovers is not my favorite trope, but since it was a CL book, I knew that I would enjoy it. And I was right.

The story begins at the wedding of Olive’s twin sister and Ethan’s brother, where suddenly the entire wedding party comes down with food poisoning, save Olive and Ethan. Since the bride and groom can’t go on their honeymoon to Maui, they insist that Olive and Ethan go instead. The problem is, they can’t stand each other, but how can they pass up a free trip to Hawaii? (It is free for Olive and Ethan, but was also free for Olive’s sister, Ami, who won it in a contest. But that’s a whole different part of the story!) They go on the trip, and are determined to keep to themselves and avoid each other at all costs, but of course, that’s not the way things end up.

If you’ve never read a CL book, I’m here to tell you that these two ladies write funny, funny stuff. I read most of this book on a bus full of middle school choir students on the way to/from an amusement park, and I kept chuckling and snorting loudly, and I do not apologize for that! My favorite ongoing joke is that at the beginning, Ethan pretends he doesn’t know Olive’s name, even though they’ve known each other for years, and calls her “Olivia” every time he sees her. But once they have gotten to know each other a little better, and like each other a little more, the two of them start calling each other by different names as more of a term of endearment than a show of disrespect. It made me laugh out loud every time. Olive and Ami’s huge, all-up-in-their-business family adds lots of hilarity, as well.

I’ve stated before that I often have an issue with the conflict a couple goes through in romance novels. A lot of the time, it arises over a stupid misunderstanding, or something that one person overhears, then proceeds to make an incorrect assumption. The conflict that Olive and Ethan go through is not only completely understandable, it’s also entirely unique to this story. (That’s the thing about a CL book: even if the trope is familiar, their treatment of it is one of a kind.) You can empathize with both characters, and see why each of them feels the way they do, and can’t figure out how the situation is going to be resolved. Again, being a CL book, I would be very surprised if ANYONE was able to guess their path to resolution!

If I’d been reading the kindle version, I would have been highlighting the crap of out this book. That’s how I know it’s an excellent story. If it were written by any other author/s, this book would have deserved 5 stars. But CL has ruined me for other books, and even their own work, as far as ratings go. It has to be a book like Roomies or Love and Other Words to earn a 5-star rating from me. While this book was original and funny, it didn’t grab at my emotions like the two aforementioned books did, (although I did cry a couple of times at the end.)

Bekka and I each have gotten an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Christina Lauren’s next book, Twice in a Blue Moon, which isn’t out until October. She’s read it already, and after I’ve read my copy, we will do a dual review. Looking forward to that!

Purchase The Unhoneymooners

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Review of The Promise of Us, Sanctuary Sound #2 by Jamie Beck

This is the second in the Sanctuary Sound series about three childhood friends. I enjoyed this story, though it took a while for me to get into it. If I had to classify it, I’d say it was a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers book. I love a couple with a complicated history!

Logan is the big brother of Claire’s childhood friend, Peyton, and she has had a crush on him since the moment she laid eyes on him. After Claire and Peyton’s relationship suffers insurmountable damage, it seems that Claire and Logan’s will, too. But this story is about how they make their way back to each other, and it’s both beautifully written and has its laugh out loud moments. Jamie Beck does it again.

Buy The Promise of Us on Amazon or read for free in Kindle Unlimited

Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release: Undeniable by Melanie Harlow

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“Whoa. Undeniable is one of my top reads! Sizzling
chemistry, off the charts sexual tension and all the feels I’ve come to expect with a Melanie
Harlow romance!”- Ilsa Madden-Mills, Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Undeniable, an all-new sexy
standalone second chance romance from
USA
Today
bestselling author Melanie Harlow, is
available now!

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When we were eleven, Oliver
Ford Pemberton dared me to jump off a barn roof. He said you couldn’t break a leg from a 12-
foot-jump.

He lied.

(You can also break a collarbone,
which served him right as far as I was concerned.)

I wish I could say it was the last
dare I ever took from him, the last bet I ever made with him, the last time I ever trusted Oliver
Ford Pemberton.

But it wasn’t.

Because he had the nerve to
grow up gorgeous, charming, and sexy. And as we got older, the dares only got dirtier—and the
betting stakes higher—until finally, he left me in pieces. I swore I’d never talk to him
again.

But twenty years after I took
that flying leap, he’s back in my life, daring me to risk everything for him: my job, my self-worth,
and my heart.

How many chances does true
love deserve?

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Download your copy today or
read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EjE51C

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/UndeniableMH

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2VKluH2

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2DEajVf

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About Melanie

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, Succession, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.

Melanie is the author of the ONE & ONLY series, the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
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Connect with Melanie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieHarlow/?fref=ts

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NPkYKs

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melanie-harlow

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/melanieharlow2/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melanie_harlow/

Website: http://www.melanieharlow.com

Stay up to date! Sign up for
Melanie’s mailing list:   
http://www.melanieharlow.com/subscribe/

 

Book Review, Romance, Uncategorized

Book review: 5 stars for Midnight Valentine by J. T. Geissinger. “True love never dies.”

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I read this book over a year ago, before the birth of the blog, and it’s still one of my favorites, so I wanted to post my initial review. I haven’t been able to read it a second time, but my feelings haven’t changed. I have read other books by J. T. Geissinger, but this one is still my favorite.

How do I even put into words how much I loved this book? I had never read any others by this author; it caught my attention when I saw that a friend had given it 5 stars on Goodreads. A review there referenced The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, which is one of my very favorite books of all time. I don’t give many 5-star reviews, so a book really has to blow me away to earn one. This book did.

It is one of those books that I immediately wanted to read again the second I finished it, so I could go back and find all the clues that the author left along the way to the very satisfying ending. I borrowed this from Kindle Unlimited but am going to purchase my own copy so I can savor it at my leisure.

I loved Theo, and the unique ways that he and Megan had to find to communicate since Theo is incapable of using his voice. I liked most of the side characters, especially Coop. I would definitely read a book all about him and his backstory.

Every book gets to a point where the couple has a conflict. You know it’s coming, you think you’re prepared for it, and when it arrives, sometimes it’s so intense, you have to take a break from the book and read something else for a while. At least that’s how it is for me. I had to take a break for several days, which is longer than normal, but my anxiety was so great that I couldn’t continue reading until I was in the right mood to handle the conflict and its resolution. A lot of books have a silly conflict, where the couple has a misunderstanding that could have been avoided if they’d simply talked to each other. (The author even references this kind of situation in the book!!) This conflict was not that simple, and I needed a few days to prepare myself for it.

This book really is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and it is such an amazing story. I can see that it will be the kind of book I return to, even if it’s just to read a little bit of it at a time, just like The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Buy Midnight Valentine

Buy The Time Traveler’s Wife

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Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

New Release Tuesday: Beauty in the Broken by Charmaine Pauls

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RELEASE BLITZ
Title: Beauty in the Broken
Author: Charmaine Pauls
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: May 14, 2019

BLURB
Six years ago, Harold Dalton framed me for theft and sent me to jail to steal my diamond discovery. He gave his daughter to Jack Clarke in exchange for the excavation rights. Today, I’m free, and I’m coming for him with a vengeance. Six years of cruelty make beasts out of men. I’m going to take back what he stole from me, and more. I’m not interested in his properties or shares. I don’t want his small change. I want his biggest asset. Beautiful, mentally unstable, Angelina Dalton-Clarke. Worth billions, she’s the wealthiest widow in the country, and also the craziest. Her self-harming tendencies had Jack declare her incompetent before he put a gun to his head and blew out his brains. Lina isn’t allowed to touch a cent of her riches. Her father manages her finances. He has all the signing power. As her husband, that chore will fall to me. But if she thinks I only want her for her money, she’s sadly mistaken.

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GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43920557-beauty-in-the-broken

READ CHAPTER ONE: https://charmainepauls.com/beauty-int-the-broken-exclusive-preview

PURCHASE LINKS
US: https://amzn.to/2EfeR55
UK: https://amzn.to/2Eefax6
CA: https://amzn.to/2EefmfO
AU: https://amzn.to/2DMjhyZ
B&N: http://bit.ly/2tpaUo4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2GuNeHx
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2EdA7Ih
Paperback: https://amzn.to/2PX3sLj

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AUTHOR BIO
Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.
After relocating to Chile with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published nine novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles. Two of her shorts have been selected by the International Literary Society for an anthology from across the African continent.
When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in France with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

AUTHOR LINKS
Website: https://charmainepauls.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ForbiddenArts
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1120749574670443
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Charmaine-Pauls/e/B005LY9B82
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5161287.Charmaine_Pauls
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CharmainePauls
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/charmaine-pauls
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charmainepaulsbooks

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