Reviews: April Adult Reads Part 2

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The rest of my adult reads for the month of April 2017 ~ I had to break it up this month because there are so. many. books! Read Part 1 HERE

Now, get your cup of coffee………and settle in to meet some new books!

These are listed in order of date finished……..as always, there is a disclosure telling the source of each book and as always, no affiliate links.

TheUndateableThe Undateable: Librarians in Love #1 by Sarah Title
(Zebra Shout MMP – Feb 28, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

One San Francisco librarian would rather check out a good romance than dare to experience it herself. Luckily, her own next chapter is full of surprises…

Melissa “Bernie” Bernard isn’t familiar with fame. After all, she works at a college library with hardly any visitors. But when a video of a marriage proposal in her stacks goes viral, it’s not the bride and groom who capture the Internet’s attention. It’s Bernie—caught rolling her eyes. Now, just as she’s ready to go into hiding and permanently bury her nose in a book, a handsome reporter appears with a proposal of his own…

If Colin Rodriguez doesn’t do something big to attract new readers, his boss will hire someone else to dole out dating advice. Determined to prove he’s an expert at romance—despite his own pitiful track record—he pitches a story: He will find dates for the undateable. Specifically, for the now-infamous, love‑hating librarian at Richmond College.

Even though Bernie doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters, she’s not one to resist a good challenge. Yet with one disastrous date after another, she’s ready to give up. Until Colin proves he’ll do anything to find her the perfect match—even if it means putting himself up for the role…

OPINION: 4/5

How could a librarian like me not love this book? A fun, witty, sweet modern romance with enough sass and librarian-ness to make it different than most. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

I purchased this book from Amazon.

TheFifthLetterThe Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty
(William Morris – January 24, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: 

Nicola Moriarty makes her US debut with this stunning page-turner for fans of Jojo Moyes, Emily Griffin, Kate Morton, and Jessica Knoll, about four best friends on a relaxing vacation that turns devastating when old secrets are revealed, long-held grudges surface, and a shattering betrayal is discovered that shakes the foundation of their lives.

Best friends from high school, Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina had always looked forward to the vacations they spent together. But the demands of careers, husbands, and babies gradually pulled them apart, and now their annual getaways may be a thing of the past. Joni doesn’t want to lose her friends, and this year she’s coaxed them all back together for some fun at a beach house.

Late on a laughter and wine-filled night, the women dare one another to write anonymous letters, spilling her most intimate thoughts like they did as teenagers. But the fun game meant to bring them closer together turns painfully serious, exposing cracks in their lives and their relationships. Each letter is a confession revealing disturbing information. A rocky marriage. A harrowing addiction. A hidden pregnancy. A heartbreaking diagnosis.

Days later, Joni notices something in the fireplace—a crumpled and partially burned fifth letter that holds the most shattering admission of all. 

Best friends are supposed to keep your darkest secrets. But the revelations Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina have shared will have unforeseen consequences . . . and none of them will ever be the same.

OPINION: 4/5

I listened to the audio version of this book from Audible and really enjoyed it. Friendship, secrets, love and intrigue – this light and fast-paced book has it all! I didn’t know Liane Moriarty had author sisters, but she DOES! Nicola is the youngest and she also has another book coming in 2018 that I already marked as TBR in Goodreads. Regarding the audio version from Audible, I also have listened to (rather than read with my eyes) every one of Liane Moriarty’s books and there is just something about the Australian accent in the narration that make me love them even more….this book was the same in that regard. Recommended for anyone who likes LM’s books!

I used one of my Audible subscription credits for this book, paid for with my own funds.

slightly south of simpleSlightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
(Gallery Books – April 25, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION: 

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

OPINION: 2/5

While this is most definitely marketed as, and is, a summer beach read, it’s not one I’d necessarily recommend when there are so, so, so many great ones in this category. My main issue with this book is the almost nonstop comments about weight and appearances, none of which are necessary to the storyline. The characters would be much more likable if these comments weren’t in the story, and for me, they completely overshadow the positive aspects of the book. I have a major soapbox to stand on regarding body positivity and acceptance, and the characters in this book are not people I would ever allow in my life, Caroline in particular. Ansley also includes comments about weight in her dialogue, and also includes a thought about Caroline’s breastfeeding and how she’s glad she never needed to do it because it wasn’t a think when she had children, and questioning the health benefits to the baby (another soapbox issue of mine).

All of this put together means I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to like this book as much as I had hoped to, but will be willing to try future books in the series and will hope that all of the snotty fat-shaming has disappeared from the dialogue in those books.

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own.

TheMothThe Moth Presents: All These Wonders
(Crown Archetype – March 21, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

From storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages
Carefully selected by the creative minds at The Moth, and adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy of live storytelling, All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Alongside Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, John Turturro, and Meg Wolitzer, readers will encounter: an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, an Afghan refugee learning how much her father sacrificed to save their family, a hip-hop star coming to terms with being a one-hit wonder, a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s secret army during World War II, and more.
High-school student and neuroscientist alike, the storytellers share their ventures into uncharted territory and how their lives were changed indelibly by what they discovered there. With passion, and humor, they encourage us all to be more open, vulnerable, and alive.”

OPINION: 5/5

Imagine every single amazing short story you have ever read, all compiled in one book…..and they are all TRUE!  I have been slowly savoring this book since I received it in March and I finally allowed myself to finish it. I love The Moth podcast and The Moth Radio Hour, so I knew what to expect from this book, but I’m still blown away. There is every kind of story possible here, from a concentration camp survivor to the author Jane Green recalling a rocky time in her marriage, humanitarian rescues from a refugee camp in Africa to author Meg Wolitzer telling how she met her best friend. This book is one I want to return to many times in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

TheFWordThe F Word by Liza Palmer
(Flatiron Books – April 25, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

At once a funny, whip-smart sendup of Los Angeles culture and an irresistible love story, internationally bestselling author Liza Palmer’s The F Word is a novel about how sometimes who we become isn t who we really are.

We re all pushing some version of the life we want you to believe. It s all just PR.

Olivia Morten is perfect. Maybe her high-flying publicist job has taken over her life, but her clients are Los Angeles’ hottest celebrities. Maybe her husband is never around, but he is a drop-dead-gorgeous, successful doctor. Maybe her friends are dumb, but they know how to look glamorous at a cocktail party. And maybe her past harbors an incredibly embarrassing secret, but no one remembers high school right?

When Ben Dunn, Olivia s high school arch nemesis and onetime crush, suddenly resurfaces, Olivia realizes how precarious all of her perfection is. As she finds herself dredging up long-suppressed memories from her past, she is forced to confront the most painful truth of all: maybe she used to be the fat girl, but she used to be happy, too.

OPINION: 4/5

A fiercely real, funny and feminist story for any woman who realizes that food is glorious and happiness has nothing to do whatsoever to size or appearance. For those of us who have struggled to find or regain our sense of self and self love in this messed up world of diets, fanatic exercise, plastic surgery and a filtered portrayal to the masses. I really enjoyed this story and highlighted about 15 different passages that resonated with me. I found this book fantastically freeing.

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own.

ImpossibleFortressThe Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
(Simon & Schuster – February 7, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

OPINION: 4/5

As a completely nerdy child of the ’80s, I loved this book. This one is for those of us who remember playing LOGO as the only game available in the computer lab in elementary school, the ones who typed on typewriters as a hobby, and the ones who have at least once in their lives forgotten to eat, sleep or shower because of a coding problem. While I have never come close to the level of coding in this book, I can appreciate the obsessive nature of it and loved how imperfect Will was. Did he do stupid things? Totally. Was he a 14-year-old boy? Yes. Do those things naturally go together? Of course. I loved the wholehearted geekiness of this book and bow down to Rekulak for making Mary the better coder of the two main characters. This was a very fast read, and one that I won’t soon forget.

This was one of my April picks from Book of the Month Club, which I pay for. 

ChoicesWeMakeThe Choices We Make by Karma Brown
(Mira – July 12, 2016)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics between friends and mothers

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

OPINION: 5/5

This book ripped my heart out – I had tears running down my face for pretty much the entire second half, although the first half had a lot of heartbreak as well…….friendship, marriage, infertility, surrogacy, life and death decisions ~ this book has ALL of it. And it’s written in Karma Brown’s won’t-let-you-go style that has me anticipating her next book (COMING SOOOOOON!) just that much more! Her first book is still fresh in my brain, and this one won’t be letting go of me anytime soon. Required reading for fans of women’s emotional fiction.

I used one of my Audible subscription credits for this book, paid for with my own funds.

AnythingisPossibleAnything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
(Random House – April 25, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout comes a brilliant latticework of fiction that recalls Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity. Written in tandem with My Name Is Lucy Barton and drawing on the small-town characters evoked there, these pages reverberate with the themes of love, loss, and hope that have drawn millions of readers to Strout s work.

“As I was writing My Name Is Lucy Barton,” Strout says, “it came to me that all the characters Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories—of course!—and so the unfolding of their lives became tremendously important to me.”

Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

With the stylistic brilliance and subtle power that distinguish the work of this great writer, Elizabeth Strout has created another transcendent work of fiction, with characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned.

OPINION: 5/5

Stunningly crafted collection of linked stories that can best be described as riveting, meandering, and shocking. These stories are all based on characters from Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton (which somehow I missed reading) but the book is 100% capable of standing alone, as evidenced by my 5-stars. I wavered between 4 and 5 since so often while reading I was cringing and being flustered at the rawness of what I was reading, but Strout’s ability to capture the darkness of the human character is outstanding. I just don’t always WANT to know this darkness, which is why I understand this book won’t be for everyone.

Not a beach read, not a nicely wrapped book of happiness, but a book that makes you think and one that will linger in your mind. Strout is a literary fiction master.

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own. 

StartupStartup by Doree Shafrir
(Little, Brown – April 25, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business–in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.

Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.

Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya’s boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she’s been away.

Before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack’s scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it’s up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.

An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology’s inability to hack human nature.

OPINION: 3/5

Startup is an engaging tech-y read that sucked me in and kept me glued to the page. As a geek who reads a lot about startups and the tech world, I really enjoyed the storyline. I especially liked the discussion of women in tech and lack of minority representation – this is all real, and there are numerous reports out showing what an issue it is. All of that led to my 3 stars, but what kept me from adding more is the “now” of it – given the speed at which tech moves, this book will be outdated in less than a year. An example of an excellent book that is tech-y about social media, etc, is The Circle by Dave Eggers – by NOT naming company/app names, you can keep a book relevant for much longer. I liked the “older”-in-tech view from Sabrina, which was reminiscent of the movie “The Intern” (which I loved) and is also something I have seen elsewhere. As a 36-year-old mom, I also could relate to Sabrina’s storyline more than anyone else’s in the book.

I appreciate that Safrir is writing from a place she knows dearly, and do not question the authenticity of her experiences – I just wish she could have made the story more timeless. And writing about this story online is actually making me feel incredibly meta 😉

I received a digital ARC of this title for review – all opinions are my own. 

MarlenaMarlena by Julie Buntin
(Henry Holt – April 4, 2017)

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blond hair. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts—first drink, first cigarette, first kiss—while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

Alive with an urgent, unshakable tenderness, Julie Buntin’s Marlena is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.

OPINION: 4/5

Marlena combines all of my nightmares about children living with addiction and sexual abuse and poverty and neglect and wraps them all up into the most unforgettable and depressing book I have read in a long time. Honestly, I quit reading this book 5 different times, but forced myself to finish because 1) it was a Book of the Month title and I wanted to do it justice and 2) I had read many rave reviews and needed to find out for myself why others were raving.

I’m very happy I did finish this book, because Buntin did an excellent job of portraying addiction and meth and an aptly described “feral year” without in any way glamorizing it or tying it all up with a happy ending. For the masses of Americans living in the exact way described in this book (lives I have small glimpses into as a public school librarian), this is a heartbreaking testimonial to their reality. For those lucky enough to have escaped the horrors of addiction, this is one of the most powerful empathy-building books I have ever read. I withheld the 5th star because I reserve those for books I want everyone I know to read, and I really don’t want to purposefully inflict the misery I endured while experiencing this story. I look forward to reading more of Buntin’s books in the future – she is a masterful writer.

This was one of my April picks from Book of the Month Club, which I pay for. 


Find me on Goodreads for ALL of the middle grade, YA and adult books I read. All of my picture book reviews are on my Instagram ~ would love to see you there as well!

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