BLOG TOUR – Impersonation

Title: Impersonation

Author: Heidi Pitlor

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 18th, 2020

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Allie Lang is a professional ghostwriter and a perpetually broke single mother to a young boy. Years of navigating her own and America’s cultural definitions of motherhood have left her a lapsed idealist. Lana Breban is a powerhouse lawyer, economist, and advocate for women’s rights with designs on elected office. She also has a son. Lana and her staff have decided she needs help softening her public image and that a memoir about her life as a mother will help.

When Allie lands the job as Lana’s ghostwriter, it seems as if things will finally go Allie’s way. At last, she thinks, there will be enough money not just to pay her bills but to actually buy a house. After years of working as a ghostwriter for other celebrities, Allie believes she knows the drill: she has learned how to inhabit the lives of others and tell their stories better than they can.

But this time, everything becomes more complicated. Allie’s childcare arrangements unravel; she falls behind on her rent; her subject, Lana, is better at critiquing than actually providing material; and Allie’s boyfriend decides to go on a road trip toward self-discovery. But as a writer for hire, Allie has gotten too used to being accommodating. At what point will she speak up for all that she deserves?  

A satirical, incisive snapshot of how so many of us now live, Impersonation tells a timely, insightful, and bitingly funny story of ambition, motherhood, and class.

Review

Impersonation is about a ghostwriter, Allie Lang, who writes books for celebrities or other famous people – without getting any of the credit. She lives a simple life with her son, Cass, in Western Massachusetts. Her life may look different than the norm, but she strives to be a good mother while also teaching her son how to grow up well in the years following the 2016 election. Allie is hired to ghostwrite for a feminist activist, Lana Breban, who is looking to improve her image and seem more “motherly”. But getting information for the book from Lana is like pulling teeth, and Allie is forced to supplement from within her own life. Things get complicated, and Allie must figure out how to continue on.

I felt that the message of this book was very powerful. It’s something that realistically could happen in this presidency, and a lot of it is focused on the aftermath of the 2016 election. It is a somewhat political book, it takes hard stances on certain people. The overall message of the book Allie is ghostwriting is how to raise boys to be feminists, and respect women – which is really a questions plaguing society. The highlight of this book is how real Allie is. She’s honest, raw, and not trying to be someone she isn’t. She doesn’t have the typical nuclear family, she has flaws and makes mistakes. So often books pain the prettiest pictures of characters, but that isn’t Allie – which I think is the whole point.

This leads into the characters. No one is particularly “great”. Each and every characters has a mountain of flaws, so if those aren’t characters you enjoy reading about, this book may not suit you. I guess this book also just made me sad that this is the state of our country right now, but it’s real! There’s no getting around that, and Pitlor is right to call it out and grow attention to it. Especially in an election year.

Thank you to Algonquin Books and Netgalley for and early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy readings, folks!

BLOG TOUR – A House Is a Body

Title: A House Is a Body

Author: Shruti Swamy

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 11th, 2020

208 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. In “Earthly Pleasures,” Radika, a young painter living alone in San Francisco, begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy and the sense of a new beginning. In the title story, an exhausted mother watches, distracted and paralyzed, as a California wildfire approaches her home. With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories of A House Is a Body travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

Review

Shruti Swamy crafts a collection of such beautifully written and evocative short stories, depicting women in all different areas of life and situations. Each story is so gripping that you get lost in it, and wish for more when it inevitably ends far too soon. But there is something so right about the abrupt ends to the stories, because life continues on for women, not matter what happens to you. Your responsibilities continue on endlessly, and the short stories seem to really try to just catch a snapshot of these women going about their lives.

The writing in this collection is truly the highlight. The prose is so lyrical and emotional, it’s hard to tear yourself away from reading the next perfectly crafted line. Swamy really weaves intricate tales, giving detail when necessary, withholding information when needed. Some stories appear to be set in the current world, some could be set in worlds gone and dead. She travels back and forth from India to America in her stories, without it feeling disjointed or broken up.

A short, but powerful read for anyone who enjoys short stories and women’s lit.

Thank you to Algonquin Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – With or Without You

Title: With or Without You

Author: Caroline Leavitt

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After almost twenty years together, Stella and Simon are starting to run into problems. An up-and-coming rock musician when they first met, Simon has been clinging to dreams of fame even as the possibility of it has grown dimmer, and now that his band might finally be on the brink again, he wants to go on the road, leaving Stella behind. But when she falls into a coma on the eve of his departure, he has to make a choice between stardom and his wife—and when she wakes a different person, with an incredible artistic talent of her own, the two of them must examine what it is that they really want.
 
Unapologetically honest and intimately written, With or Without You is a contemporary story of what happens to relationships as the people in them change, whether slowly or in one cataclysmic swoop.

Review

Stella and Simon have spent 20 years of their life together, even though they are very different. Stella is an organized nurse, Simon is a rocker whose band never quite hit the big time. She is buttoned up and professional, he is dressed down and casual. They love each other, even though the people in their life don’t exactly understand it. One night during a fight, Simon suggests they take drugs like they did in their younger day, except Stella ends up in a coma for a long time. When Stella wakes up, she and Simon are markedly different people, and now must learn to live together again – even though it seems their roles have reversed.

This story was absolutely fantastic. It’s told from three different perspectives: Stella, Simon, and Libby, one of Stella’s doctors and her friend. Each has a rich history and backstory that is revealed, with inner turmoil and stress. Together they create and odd group, but each needs the other in different ways. I LOVED Libby as a character, and was less invested in Stella after she woke up from the coma. She was so different, but it really shows how one event in your life can really derail and change you at a fundamental level. I thought the artist savant story line of Stella post coma was very intriguing and added depth to her character. The growth in each character, regardless of the end, was fascinating to read.

I read this book all in one night. I was so invested in each character separately, and as a group. I definitely felt there was some hypocrisy in Stella during the event that caused the main conflict, because she basically did the same thing too but never owned up to it. I feel like that thread was just dropped without much thought. I would’ve wanted that to be explored more. And I thought the amount of page time each perspective got was a bit unequal.

If you enjoy contemporary fiction, please read this book. It’s so insightful, and raw, about the experience of life and living with others. It also has theme of change, growth, and really figuring out who you are. The art plot line just adds to it. Absolutely stunning.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Hieroglyphics

Title: Hieroglyphics

Author: Jill McCorkle

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: July 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely.

Now, after many years in Boston, they have retired in North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d rather forget. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.

Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.

Review

Hieroglyphics is told from three POVs, Lil, Frank (who are married), and Shelley. The timeline skips around a lot, so sometimes it’s the present and sometimes it’s the past. Lil’s story is told through journal entries, whereas Frank & Shelley’s are told through narration. Shelley lives in Frank’s childhood home, and this is the connecting factor between their stories. It’s a powerful story about their lives, childhood, growing & changing, and hiding from the past.

The ending of this book was fabulous. Some books are meant to have an ending that leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and that’s exactly what Hieroglyphics does. It’s not a true conclusion, but it didn’t leave you hanging. It ended just like life does, abruptly & without warning but with the overall sense that everything will be okay. And that was beautiful.

I had a hard time with the shifting timelines in this book, but if this is something you like & are used to then it shouldn’t stop you from reading this book. The writing, though amazing, rambles at times – but I believe it’s meant to be indicative of the person’s state of mind at the time. It does serve this purpose & give depth to the story but it also made it hard for me to focus on the plot.

At times each story was so heartbreaking and moving that it was even hard to read. It just showed how much people go through in life, and how often people hide from their past. But this book relives the past, celebrates it, because the journey to the end of the magical part even if it doesn’t go as planned. Reading the three characters growth over time was an experience that I’m not used to as Hieroglyphics is out of my normal genre. But at the end, you really see exactly what all the build up was for, and it was worth it.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Trouble with Hating You

Title: The Trouble with Hating You

Author: Sajni Patel

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: May 12th, 2020

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy debut about first impressions, second chances, and finding the love of your life in the most unexpected way. 

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

Review

**Thank you to Forever, Netgalley, and Sajni Patel for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

TW: sexual assault, domestic abuse, slut shaming

The Trouble with Hating you is a more serious contemporary romance where both characters have more tragic backstories and have some demons to overcome together. Told in alternating POV’s, Liya and Jay are being set up by their traditional Indian families. Neither wants to be set up to get married, but in this culture it is hard to say no. They both have different reasons for not wanting to get married, by when Liya flees the meeting Jay is interested in knowing why she is so against the idea of marriage.

Liya and Jay do not initially get along, this is a definite hate to love plot line. Liya has her defenses up so high due to her past and she can’t accept that a man is seriously interested in her for more than just a night. Jay means well, but Liya’s brand of honesty and bluntness causes him to rile her up further, even without always meaning to. It was a good transition from hate to love, it wasn’t too fast or too slow. There also was not a lot of steam.

There were very serious aspects to this book too, which can make it hard to read or be triggering for some people. Please see the trigger warnings at the top of the page before you read. I do believe the scenes were handled well and weren’t too much to handle at any given point. It was heartbreaking to see Liya shunned by her community and her father over something that was done TO her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and think it was a solid contemporary romance.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – You Deserve Each Other

Title: You Deserve Each Other

Author: Sarah Hogle

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication date: April 7th, 2020

368 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

Review

Thank you to Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Sarah Hogle for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

You Deserve Each Other is a refreshingly new take on romance. Nicholas and Naomi are engaged, but seriously hate each other. Resentment has built silently on both sides for a year and their pride is too strong to be the first to break. But in love, there’s no room for mistrust or selfishness. They need to make a choice, but with a manipulative and conniving future MIL and Naomi’s unstable employment status – no decision is easy.

I’m here for this lovers to enemies to lovers action. Told from Naomi’s POV, the reader gets a firsthand look into how dysfunctional the relationship has gotten. It’s clear Nicholas and Naomi have both given up, but when Naomi realizes Nicholas is just as unhappy, they both snap into being petty and trying to make each other miserable enough to end the engagement. I loved the petty drama and it was LOL funny to see what pranks they would pull next.

Nicholas’ mother was a delightfully evil character. The drama she added to the story line was perfect and helped push Naomi and Nicholas along.

I adored that this book, more than anything, was about Naomi and Nicholas becoming friends again. It’s important for relationships to not just be about the romance, but also enjoying each other’s company and hobbies.

I absolutely adored this book and you should all read this pronto.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Night of the Dragon

Title: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)

Author: Julia Kagawa

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: March 31st, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Inkyard Press, and Julie Kagawa for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the thrilling finale of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy, Yumeko and the gang are still working on stopping the Wish from being made to the Great Kami Dragon by the evil Master of Demons. Night of the Dragon is action-packed, more so than other books. The action really started at the halfway mark and did not stop until the very end. I finished this book all in one day and it just flowed so easily.

By this point, I love all the characters. This group of fighters mesh so well and each bring something different to the table. They all have their own skills and abilities, while working together seamlessly to achieve their goals. I also love the ships that sail during this book, but no spoilers as to which ones!

The plot of this series was really top level, and it culminated in a very well scripted final action scene… which basically was the last half of the book. The ending made me feel so many emotions, all at the same time. I even cycled through several emotions a few times. It was back and forth, give and take, with so many twist and turns. The epilogue was SO needed and continued the emotions.

Seriously, read this series if you love Asian inspired fantasies such as Wicked Fox and Descendant of the Crane.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – What The Other Three Don’t Know

Title: What The Other Three Don’t Know

Author: Spencer Hyde

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Publication date: March 3rd, 2020

224 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Will I still be loved if I show people who I really am?  

Four high school seniors. Four secrets about to be told.

If Indie had it her way, she would never choose to river raft with three other high school seniors, mostly strangers to each other, from her journalism class.

A loner, a jock, an outsider, an Instagram influencer. At first they can’t see anything that they have in common. As the trip unfolds, the unpredictable river forces them to rely on each other. Social masks start to fall as, one-by-one, each teen reveals a deep secret the other three don’t know.

One is harboring immense grief and unwilling to forgive after the death of a loved one. One is dealing with a new disability and an uncertain future. One is fearful of the repercussions of coming out. One is hiding behind a carefully curated “perfect” image on Instagram.

Before they get to the end of Hells Canyon, they’ll know the truth about each other and, more importantly, learn something new about themselves.

What the Other Three Don’t Know is a poignant and gripping YA novel about the unlikely friends who accept you for who you really are and the power of self-acceptance.

Review

**Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing, Netgalley, and Spencer Hyde for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

What the Other Three Don’t Know tells the tale of 4 high school students who are going rafting down the rapids over summer vacation as part of a class they are taking in the next school year. Each student has their own drama, which we learn for about as the book goes on. The students are not friends, so it has a “Breakfast Club” type feel to it because of how they don’t get along in the beginning.

I have to say, this book did not do it for me. I was struggling to get through the first half and powered through the second half because I knew if I stopped I wouldn’t pick it back up again. The writing was fine, I more had an issue with the characters. I didn’t feel drawn to or connected with any of them, and their development didn’t mean anything to me. There was a weird dynamic between the students, which was seen during dialogue they were having with each other.

There was some action to this ending, which almost made up for the rest of it. I would have liked to see the book almost extend, to get some of the information about what happened when they went back to school. Like the Breakfast Club, you don’t get to see that piece of it.

If you are a fan of the Breakfast Club or morally ambiguous characters who don’t get along super well, I would definitely give this a shot. Also, if you like outdoor adventure settings in books.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Good Girls Lie

Title: Good Girls Lie

Author: JT Ellison

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – MIRA

Publication date: December 31st, 2019

384 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

Review

**Thank you to Harlequin Mira, JT Ellison, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Good Girls Lie is a boarding school mystery, which calls to me because I LOVED these types of books in my high school days. Give me some snarky, privileged girls, secret societies, old campuses, and some murder and it’s a great combination in a book for me. Good Girls Lie follows Ash Carlisle, a sophomore from England who moves to Virginia to attend the Goode School after both of her parents commit suicide. She is looking for a fresh start where she can just put her head down and get the education she always wanted. When her roommate dies after falling off the bell tower, her world starts to crumble around her. However, this is only the beginning of several events that will up end her life…

Good Girls Lie really allowed me to reminisce to my high school days where I read the Private series by Kate Brian, which is a similar take on ultra-rich, all girl, boarding schools where chaos, hazing, and murder happens. These are almost a guilty pleasure type book for me, and Good Girls Lie definitely fit that bill. There were twists and turns, mysteries, and some nefarious actions by our teenage characters.

One critique I will give is that the ending was fairly confusing. I’m still not 100% sure what exactly happened in that epilogue. Without giving any spoilers, there is a major twist towards the end that changes everything, with an epilogue afterwards. I might need to reread it to fully understand what happened, but some more clarity in the writing would have been nice.

For fans of Kate Brian’s Private series, JT Ellison looks at friendships, truth, and secrets in this new, dramatic boarding school based novel.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Couple leaning on brick wall

Title: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Author: Jacqueline Firkins

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: December 17th, 2019

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Jacqueline Firkins, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things follows upcoming high school senior Edie in her adventures as a foster child who has just been taken in by her wildly rich aunt in an effort to show off for her wildly rich friends and use her as a charity case. She will be going to the all girls prep school nearby with her spoiled cousins. She used to spend a lot of time at that house before her grandparent’s died, so she also gets to catch up with her childhood crush, who has gotten very attractive over the years… until she finds out he has a girlfriend. Then, a new boy, Henry, comes onto the scene and she’s confused. Henry is a stone cold player, but he seems legitimately into her. Which boy is right for her?

Edie has a lot going on. She ruined her friendship with her best friend from home by making out with her boyfriend and getting caught. She has no job or money for college, and is constantly put down for being poor by just about everyone in the book. She’s got it rough, but man I was not a fan of her character, or most of the characters actually.

I have real mixed feelings about this book. I liked it through most of the book, but the ending really lot me. The characters are not redeemable and not to spoil anything, but I did not agree with which boy Edie ends up with. I feel like it was so obviously the wrong choice and I’m still bitter about it.

This book didn’t end up being my favorite. It was not bad, by any means, just not as much my cup of tea. I enjoyed several pieces of it, especially Edie’s special lexicon blog where she posts fun definitions of words that relate to what’s going on in her life. There were redeemable parts to this book, and I do enjoy contemporaries, which is why I still rated this fairly highly.

If you like books with irredeemable characters and contemporaries, this will be the book for you.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂