On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe
Follow Me by Kathleen Barber
From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.
Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.
Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.
But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.
With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.
February 25th, 2020
Domestic Thriller/Psychological Thriller
Follow Me is a psychological thriller full of twists and turns and kept me captivated until the end. I loved that the storyline was based around social media and the idea that nothing is ever as shiny or perfect as it may appear online.
This page-turner is shared in alternating chapters between the main character Audrey, her best friend Cat and a third narrator who is only known by the reader as “him.” I thought this was such a clever way to have the story unfold and I loved that it kept me guessing.
Audrey isn’t very likable and I think that is the author’s point. She may have over two million followers online, but she lives for the posts and likes while her “real life” is quite dull and lonely. Her best friend Cat is the complete opposite and I enjoyed the polarization between these two characters that ended up adding a lot of dimension to this storyline.
Follow Me was creepy but light enough for a weekend or beach read which was exactly what I was looking for.
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an advanced copy.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
You Are Awesome by Neil Pasricha
From Neil Pasricha—New York Times, million-copy bestselling author of The Book of Awesome series and The Happiness Equation, thought leader for the next generation, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world—comes a revelatory and inspiring book that will change the way we view failure and help us build resilience.
We are lucky. For most of us, famine, plague, economic depression, and other life-threatening catastrophes are the stuff of history books. We’re living in an era with the highest-ever rates of longevity, education, and wealth. Cars drive us home as our phones entertain us before we arrive to food delivered to the front door. We have it all!
But there’s just one side effect. We no longer have the tools to handle failure…or even perceived failure. When we fall, we lie on the sidewalk crying. When we spill, we splatter. When we crack, we shatter.
We are turning into an army of porcelain dolls.
A rude email from the boss means calling in sick. Only two likes on our post means we don’t have friends. Cell phones show us we’re never good enough. Yesterday’s butterflies are tomorrow’s panic attacks. Record numbers of students have clinical anxiety. And what about depression, loneliness, and suicide?
What do we desperately need to learn?
RESILIENCE. And we need to learn it fast.
Read You Are Awesome to learn:
• The single word that keeps your options open after failure
• What every commencement speech gets wrong
• 3 ways to dramatically accelerate your ability to learn and adapt
• The 2-minute morning practice that helps eliminate worry
• Why you need an Untouchable Day (and how to get one)
• and much, much more…
Because the truth is, you really are awesome.
November 5th, 2019
Self-Help & Personal Growth
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of personal development and self-help books. I think they can sometimes get a little misunderstood and there are books in that genre that are totally cringe-worthy but there are also some books that have changed my life.
These three books by Brene Brown totally changed my perspective in so many ways. I am not a re-reader of books but I have reread (and re-listened) to these so many times.
Sometimes just smaller tidbits from the books stick with me, like in Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass series.
“The only failure is quitting. Everything else is just gathering information.”
“We use words to communicate, and when you communicate optimism, inspiration and general badassery, you inspire other people and draw those who can help you toward you. Choosing your words wisely is one of the easiest and most powerful steps in changing your reality.”
“Once you start taking action you’ll be able to discover more things you like, more things you don’t like, and a clearer picture of what you desire to do will begin to form. Taking action leads to answers, mulling ideas around in your head forever leads to indecision and grouchiness.”
You Are Awesome
I was immediately drawn into You Are Awesome because of how relatable the writing is. Neil Pasricha is charismatic and resilient and the writing is conversational like you are talking with a good friend.
Everyone can relate to failure but how we react to it can change our paths entirely and keep us moving forward. Every” misstep” is a chance to assess, learn and then move up and onward. I love the balance of personal stories, accessible writing, and strategies that are approachable for everyone.
Pasricha writes with compassion and proactivity and reminds us that we are all works in progress. Sometimes self-help books can help you feel heard but not really have a plan, or make you feel like you are being talked down to and make you just feel worse. You Are Awesome contains straightforward steps that make you feel less alone but also help you move FORWARD.
Resilience & Positivity
Resilence is a skill and often the people that are most resilient aren’t ones that have had the easiest path in life but are the ones that use those bumps in the road to learn and grow. Positively doesn’t mean you don’t have struggles, it means using perspective to take what you can from them and continue on.
I loved this book so much and I know it is one that I will refer back to again and again.
Thank you to Gallery Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey
It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.
Unless that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her evangelical husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger fired from her job at the local pharmacy.
Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a busted Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.
With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn, but when the one that got away comes back, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.
In her warmest, wittiest, and wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.
April 28th, 2019
Southern/Family Life Fiction
Feels like Falling was my first book by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I read it while traveling home from vacation and it was the perfect balance of being easy and engaging without being too fluffy. It was the kind of book that I had a hard time putting down but I also didn’t want it to end because I wanted to follow along with these main characters even more.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the idea that sometimes “family” is the one we create ourselves. Harvey’s writing is emotional, engaging and has a perfect touch of humor. I loved the topic of friendship and supporting one another through tough situations and choices.
Feels Like Falling perfectly captured how sometimes the right people come into our lives when we least expect it and the amazing power of connection. The romance element was light and easy and helped round out this powerful story of friendship. I hope this becomes a series like her Peachtree Bluff trilogy!
Book #1: Slightly South of Simple
Book #2: The Secret to Southern Charm
Book #3: The Southern Side of Paradise
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
“Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.
During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.
Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.
With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.”
October 22, 2019
Ever since I read Love and Other Words I have been a huge fan of books by Christina Lauren(the pen name for the writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). These women know how to develop relatable characters while also introducing a variety of scenarios for their engaging novels to take on. I think because I loved Love and Other Words SO much, the bar has been set high for me. While the premise of Twice in a Blue Moon was promising, and I do enjoy the idea of “second chance romance” this one fell flat.
I really struggled to connect or find any believability with these main characters and their romance. Knowing each other for a couple of weeks as teenagers…becoming lovers and sharing their deepest darkest secrets and then there being a HUGE betrayal just didn’t work for me. It was all just too quick and then way too dramatic. I get it, teenager love can work in many storylines (hello Love and Other Words!!), but in this situation, it just didn’t.
This lack of believability and connection with Tate and Sam made it hard to really feel engaged with the storyline and I felt myself rolling my eyes more than feeling engrossed in the writing. Maybe it’s just me, but I just didn’t love this one.
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
“Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.
Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.
So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.”
July 30th, 2019
The Arrangement was the first book I have read by Robyn Harding. I was looking for an easy and engaging summer read and this was perfect for that. We enter the world of city life, sugar daddies, obsession and murder…definitely brain candy but addicting!
The storyline was a little unrealistic but totally engrossing and while the characters weren’t totally likable I do think it worked for this storyline. Harding pulled me in and keep me curious until the very end. Sometimes you need a book that is totally unplausible in many ways but hooks you anyway.
Ws this amazing writing? Not really…but it was exactly what I needed during a more stressful time of year. It was a little racy and if you are looking for something different and definitely entertaining, you might like this too!
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
The Month of July:
July was filled with lots of family visiting, a wedding, berry picking and lots of time in the water, either on the lake or at the pool. It was a hot and humid the last few weeks for us around here and I am very grateful to have air conditioning both at work and at home. When I was growing up I remember summers sleeping next to a huge box fan and I still love sleeping with the sound of a fan now.
I actually read a lot more than I had expected. The only way I keep track of all my books is on Goodreads, so it is always a little bit of a surprise when I add them all up at the end of each month. I read a lot on Kindle, a few audiobooks and a couple of hard copy books.
My daytime reading was pretty low but I made up for it with audiobooks and reading before bed and also on some early mornings. I have the best memories of reading during the wedding weekend while drinking my coffee and having the most beautiful Jay Peak mountain view.
My favorite books this month and my only 5 star reads were After The End by Clare Mackintosh and Limitless Mind by Jo Boaler. They were both powerful in very different ways (one is fiction one is non-fiction)and ones that will really stick with me!
The Perfect Summer Reading:
The Escape Room, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and The Unbreakables were perfect books for a summer reading list. They were enjoyable, a bit different and had enough back story to fill my quota for understanding the WHY!! which is my general problem with some books these days…I like details that helps everything all come together and these were satisfying in that way!
I had a bit of a frustrating month with the “thriller genre” and The Turn of The Key and Lock Every Door were just 3-star reads and not ones I would recommend.
And while City of Girls started off well for me, it ended up dragging and felt a bit…boring? Maybe I was just in the wrong mood for it because I have read a lot of amazing reviews for it as well…
July Book Ratings:
After The End by Clare Mackintosh
*My full review of After The End can be found HERE.
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
*My full review of The Idea Of You is coming soon.
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of The Unbreakables is coming soon.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of City of Girls is coming soon.
Mine by Courtney Cole
*My full review of Mine is coming soon.
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill can be found HERE
The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of The Reckless Oath We Made can be found HERE
Limitless Mind by Jo Boaler
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of Limitless Mind can be found HERE
The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of The Escape Room can be found HERE
You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of You’ve Been Volunteered is coming soon.
The Turn of The Key by Ruth Ware
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of The Turn of The Key can be found HERE
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
*My full review of Lock Every Door can be found HERE
How was your last month of reading? Did you have any favorites? I would love to hear!
Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you.
The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe
The Summer Guests Book Summary:
“Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.
When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.
During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.
With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.”
Mary Alice Monroe is one of my very favorite authors and I adore her Beach House series. The Summer Guests is a spin-off of the Beach House series which I think definitely affected my reaction and perspective while reading this book.
Every year I look forward to another installment to this series and I love seeing what the Rutledge family is up to. Over the years new characters have joined in but the regulars were always there too.
The Summer Guests introduces us to a whole new crew of characters and also shifts from the usual focus of turtle rescue to the world of horses, dressage and rescue dogs. While interesting, I had a harder time connecting with these characters and the new themes. I do think that might have to do with my expectations for it being another Beach House book instead of a new stand-alone novel.
I did enjoy the involvement of Cara Rutledge but it was fairly minimal and the stories in the book didn’t connect as well as they normally do with Monroe’s storytelling. All in all this book was okay, just not my favorite.
Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Quoted from Goodreads.com
“In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heart-wrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?”
The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald was a suspenseful and engaging read. I have found that I am very drawn towards domestic thrillers and this book kept me on the edge of my seat.
I loved the alternating narratives and I was able to really connect with each of the main characters who were imperfect but real because of McDonald’s ability to portray them with such complexity. It was a very emotional read and kept me guessing until the end. I definitely recommend this one and it was a solid four-star book for me. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.