Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Lion's Den

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  Sex, betrayal, and intrigue: A dream vacation on a luxurious yacht turns deadly in this pulse-pounding beach read "chock full of delicious characters who flaunt their sins . . . like the latest Birkin bag" (Adriana Trigiani).

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend's yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Belle hopes the trip will be a much-needed break from her stalled acting career and uniquely humiliating waitressing job, but once she's aboard the luxurious Lion's Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.

Belle's dream vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare as she and the handful of other girls Summer invited are treated more like prisoners than guests by their controlling host-and in one terrifying moment, Belle comes to see Summer for who she truly is: a vicious gold digger who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Belle realizes she's going to have to keep her wits about her -- and her own big secret closely hidden -- if she wants to make it off the yacht alive.

The Lion's Den

Katherine St. John
HARDCOVER BOOK - 1538733633 / 9781538733639

ELECTRONIC BOOK - 1538733641 / 9781538733646

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Jackie Collins + Nina Laurin = Katherine St. John's novel The Lion's Den!  Luxurious days of the rich in the Mediterranean on a yacht with not one murder, but two (sort of) make a great read.  I knew from the start that something was off about Summer, but had no idea how unbalanced she really was until 1/4 into the book.  I also thought Belle put up with too much of Summer's crap and never saw Belle's own plans unfolding.  Crazy good ending as it all comes together.  Great, fast, and easy read. 

Katherine St. John is a native of Mississippi and graduate of the University of Southern California. Over the years she has worked as an actress, screenwriter, director, photographer, producer, singer-songwriter, legal assistant, bartender-waitress, yoga instructor, real estate agent, and travel coordinator . . . but finds she likes writing novels best. Katherine currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.  

Facebook: @thekatstjohn  Twitter: @thekatstjohn  Instagram: @thekatstjohn

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Little Bit of Grace

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  Grace McAdams is familiar with loss—she runs a law firm that prepares clients for the end of their days. But when her father skips town with a younger woman, her mother passes away, and her picture-perfect husband, Brian, divorces her for a woman who is pregnant with his unborn child, Grace is completely unprepared to lose the comfortable life she’s built for herself. She moves back into her childhood home and falls into the throes of grief.

When a letter from a long lost relative arrives in the mail, and Grace has the chance to connect with a virtual stranger, she decides she has nothing else to lose.

For the first time in her life, Grace is impulsive—she books the first flight out of small-town Missouri to warm and sunny Florida to meet her great aunt, Millie. Grace is flabbergasted when she is greeted by an exuberant, if not eccentric, octogenarian who seems to be full of life and sunshine. Even more surprising is the fact that this gregarious woman was cast aside by Grace’s family. It’s only here in her new tropical paradise, alongside Aunt Millie, that Grace begins to rediscover herself, find her passions, fall in love all over again—and uncover the secret her family kept buried for more than 50 years. 

A story that teaches us to live our lives to the fullest and to embrace the best parts of ourselves, A LITTLE BIT OF GRACE is a warm and insightful look at love, acceptance, and the definition of family.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  A Little Bit of Grace is a very pleasant read.  It explores all sorts of different relationships and self-discovery.  While I  found Grace to a tad weak at the beginning of the book, I was happy to witness her develop into a very strong woman.  An easy quick read with family dynamics. 

Phoebe Fox is the author of the Breakup Doctor series (The Breakup Doctor, Bedside Manners, Heart Conditions, Out of Practice), and has been a contributor and regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications, including the Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and She Knows. A former actor on stage and screen, Phoebe has been dangled from wires as a mall fairy; was accidentally concussed by a blank gun; and hosted a short-lived game show. She has been a relationship columnist; a movie, theater, and book reviewer; and a radio personality, and currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two excellent dogs.

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Glass Hotel

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, Bustle, Buzzfeed, GoodReads, Houston Chronicle, Writer's Digest, Medium, Washington Independent Review of Books, The Millions, Boston Globe, USA Today, and Women's Day Most Anticipated Book of 2020

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events-a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients' accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan's wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:   Crazy good.  I couldn't put it down.  All the different stories woven together are amazing.  Well done and a must-read!  I know understand why so many people are praising St. John Mandel's work.  I need to go read Station Eleven!

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven (Knopf, September 2014.)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

28 Summers

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere -- through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise -- until Mallory learns she's dying.

Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: Every time I read an Elin Hilderbrand's novel, I kick myself for not booking a trip to Nantucket (or any of the islands in that area).  It is always on my bucket list.  28 Summers is another great book.  I loved going through each summer with Mallory and Jake.  Make sure you have some kleenex on hand near the end.  True love.....sigh.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:   I have read several of Elin Hilderbrand's novels and have enjoyed every one of them.

Elin Hilderbrand first discovered the magic of Nantucket in July 1993. Her recipe for a happy island life includes running, writing at the beach, picnics at Eel Point with her three children, and singing "Home, Sweet Home" at the Club Car piano bar. Here's to Us is her seventeenth novel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Love Her Well

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  Moms are eager for tips and wisdom to help them build strong relationships with their daughters, and Kari Kampakis’s Love Her Well gives them ten practical ways to do so, not by changing their daughters but by changing their own thoughts, actions, and mind-set.
For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to gloom and doom as moms are told, “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive.
Author and blogger Kari Kampakis suggests it’s time to change the narrative and mind-set that lead moms to parent teen girls with a spirit of defeat, not strength. By improving the foundation, habits, and dynamics of the relationship, mothers can connect with their teen daughters and earn a voice in their lives that allows moms to offer guidance, love, wisdom, and emotional support.
As a mom of four daughters (three of whom are teenagers), Kari has learned the hard way that as girls grow up, mothers must grow up too. In Love Her Well, Kari shares ten ways that moms can better connect with their daughters in a challenging season, including:
  • choosing their words and timing carefully,
  • listening and empathizing with her teen’s world,
  • seeing the good and loving her for who she is,
  • taking care of themselves and having a support system, and more.
This book isn’t a guide to help mothers “fix” their daughters or make them behave. Rather, it’s about a mom’s journey, doing the heart work and legwork necessary to love a teenager while still being a strong, steady parent. Kari explores how every relationship consists of two imperfect sinners, and teenagers gain more respect for their parents when they admit (and learn from) their mistakes, apologize, listen, give grace, and try to understand their teens’ point of view. Yes, teenagers need rules and consequences, but without a connected relationship, parents may never gain a significant voice in their lives or be a safe place they long to return to.
By admitting her personal failures and prideful mistakes that have hurt her relationships with her teenage daughters, Kari gives mothers hope and reminds them all things are possible through God. By leaning on him, mothers gain the wisdom, guidance, protection, and clarity they need to grow strong.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I loved this book, Love Her Well.  I have twin teen daughters and the book served as a great reminder of what is truly important, especially during the teen years.  The author got my heart hooked in her first sentence.  During her prelaunch of the book, her own mother passed away. We see Kari's raw side and how much Love Her Well means to her right from the start.

Each chapter is full of Kari's own experiences/examples, great advice (from Kari and others based on her research), and reflection questions.  The reflection questions were my favorite.    Some of the chapters that really hit home for me were 1. Choose your words (and timing) carefully; 4. Make your relationship a priority; 8. Enjoy her, laugh often, and have fun; and, 9. Take care of yourself and have a support system for hard days.

I seem to blurt out things and use words that I don't mean to be hurtful but have come to realize they most certainly can be, especially to a teen girl.  This chapter reminded me to vent to someone safe, before taking it out my twins.  I work a lot of hours, much more than my husband, and always have.  A sixty-hour week is a good week, if you know what I mean. My three kids are extremely close in age (well two are twins) and have always been very active. I find when I am stressed for time and trying to juggle everything (I refuse to miss events-unless they are at the same time, which my husband and I will divide and conquer) I become very short-sighted and snappish. Chapter 4 has provided me with a lot of homework with those reflection questions!  All good though.

Chapter 8 goes along with Chapter 4 - make relationships a priority and enjoy them....have fun, laugh.  I find once the "road trip" to whatever event I am rushing to gets underway, I tend to relax and my twins and I start to work on enjoying each other's company and creating new memories.  We often spend this time discussing our day (or week) and remember other trips and moments.  They often lead to laughing fits (not good when driving).  There will always be work to do, like with anything worth having.  

Chapter 9 really spoke to me.  I have recently really grasped the concept that isn't new.....take care of yourself so you can take care of others.  I recently started seeing a spine/wellness doctor and I had no idea how much I was hurting.  After eight weeks I feel amazing.  Now on to phase two - start exercising.  I need to remember - its okay to take care of myself and that requires time away from other things.  I will be a better person, mother, wife, and employee if I take care of myself first. 

This is a book that I will refer to through the teen years as the needs of my twin teens changes faster than I could change their diapers!  It is whirlwind of a ride and one that I wouldn't trade for the world.  Love Her Well will help make the rollercoaster a little smoother. Very well written, very practical with great thought provoking questions.


Monday, August 10th: @lyon.brit.andthebookshelf
Tuesday, August 11th: @theocbookgirl
Thursday, August 13th: @meetmeinthestacks
Friday, August 14th: @thereadingroom444
Monday, August 17th: @mom_loves_reading
Wednesday, August 19th: @wellreadtraveler
Thursday, August 20th: @bluntscissorsbookreviews
TBD: Thursday, August 13th: @thepagesinbetween


Tuesday, August 11th: The OC Book Girl
Thursday, August 13th: The Pages In-Between
Monday, August 17th: Mom Loves Reading
Monday, August 17th: @coffeekidslife
Tuesday, August 18th: Stranded in Chaos
Wednesday, August 19th: Well Read Traveler
Monday, August 24th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 25th: @sjthroughthelookingglass
Wednesday, August 26th: Seaside Book Nook
Thursday, August 27th: @so_chaotic
Friday, August 28th: Bookworm for Kids
Monday, August 31st: Openly Bookish
Tuesday, September 1st: @basicbookmomma
Wednesday, September 2nd: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie
Thursday, September 3rd: The Bookish Ramblings of Bookmama789! and @bookmama789
TBD: Thursday, August 20th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews

Kari Kampakis is a mom of four daughters who writes about everyday events and significant moments that reveal God’s movement in our lives. She loves girls and believes many world problems can be solved by music, dancing, and deep conversations with friends.
Kari’s work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show, EWTN, Yahoo! News, The Eric Metaxas Show, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp’s blog, Hands Free Mama, and other national outlets. Her two books for teen girls, 10 ULTIMATE TRUTHS GIRLS SHOULD KNOW and LIKED: WHOSE APPROVAL ARE YOU LIVING FOR?, have been used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Kari

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Crazy Rich Asians; China Rich Girlfriend; and, Rich People Problems

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Crazy Rich Asians
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

China Rich Girlfriend

It’s the eve of Rachel Chu’s wedding, and she should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond, a wedding dress she loves, and a fiancĂ© willing to thwart his meddling relatives and give up one of the biggest fortunes in Asia in order to marry her. Still, Rachel mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be there to walk her down the aisle.  

Then a chance accident reveals his identity. Suddenly, Rachel is drawn into a dizzying world of Shanghai splendor, a world where people attend church in a penthouse, where exotic cars race down the boulevard, and where people aren’t just crazy rich … they’re China rich.

Rich People Problems

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he's not alone. The entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe to stake claim on their matriarch’s massive fortune. With each family member vying to inherit Tyersall Park
—a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore—Nicholas’s childhood home turns into a hotbed of speculation and sabotage. As her relatives fight over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by her ex-husband—a man hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to China’s second richest man, billionaire Jack Bing, still feels second best next to her new step-daughter, famous fashionista Colette Bing. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong’s most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace, caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi, Kevin Kwan's hilarious, gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia's most privileged families and their rich people problems.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Absolutely hilarious.  Family drama at its best. Read the first book and watched the movie.  The movie was great too!  Had to dive into the second and third books as soon as they were available.  When are those movies coming out?  Kevin Kwan is an amazing writer.  I felt like I was right in the middle of all the craziness of the novels.

KEVIN KWAN is the author of Crazy Rich Asians, the international bestselling novel that has been translated into more than 30 languages. Its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, was released in 2015, and Rich People Problems, the final book in the trilogy, followed in 2017. For several weeks in 2018, the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy commanded the top three positions of the New York Times bestseller list - an almost unprecedented single-author trifecta, and the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians became Hollywood's highest grossing romantic comedy in over a decade. In 2018, Kevin was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. For the latest news and information, please visit:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Before We Were Yours

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): 
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017  Winner of the Southern Book Prize  If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Really great read.  Even though it was gut-wrenching, I could put it down.  A co-worker asked if I had read it.  I told her yes and loved it, but was still processing it.  A very difficult story written very well.

This is the first book I have read by Lisa Wingate.  I didn't realize she has almost 30 books published.  I can't wait to get my hands on more of her books!  Amazing author.

Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 for two years running, Lisa Wingate writes novels that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of literary works. Her novels have garnered or been short-listed for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the LORIES Best Fiction Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, Family Fiction's Top 10, RT Booklover's Reviewer's Choice Award, and others. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who promote greater kindness and civility in American life. She’s been a writer since Mrs. Krackhardt’s first-grade class and still believes that stories have the power to change the world.

IN THE WRITER'S OWN WORDS: A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, made a writer out of me. That may sound unlikely, but it's true. It's possible to find a calling when you're still in pigtails and Mary Jane shoes, and to know it's your calling. I was halfway through the first grade when I landed in Mrs. Krackhardt's classroom. I was fairly convinced there wasn't anything all that special about me... and then, Mrs. Krackhardt stood over my desk and read a story I was writing. She said things like, "This is a great story! I wonder what happens next?"

It isn't every day a shy new kid gets that kind of attention. I rushed to finish the story, and when I wrote the last word, the teacher took the pages, straightened them on the desk, looked at me over the top, and said, "You are a wonderful writer!"

A dream was born. Over the years, other dreams bloomed and died tragic, untimely deaths. I planned to become an Olympic gymnast or win the National Finals Rodeo, but there was this matter of back flips on the balance beam and these parents who stubbornly refused to buy me a pony. Yet the writer dream remained. I always believed I could do it because... well... my first grade teacher told me so, and first grade teachers don't lie.

So, that is my story, and if you are a teacher, or know a teacher, or ever loved a special teacher, I salute you from afar and wish you days be filled with stories worth telling and stories worth reading.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Other Mrs. Miller

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Two women are watching each other.

Phoebe Miller isn't sure when the rusty car started showing up in the cul-de-sac she calls home, or why its driver would be spying on her. What could be interesting about an unhappy housewife who drowns her sorrows in ice cream and wine and barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.

When a new family moves in across the street--the exuberant Vicki, who just might become the gossipy best friend Phoebe's always wanted, and her handsome college-bound son, Jake, who offers companionship of a different variety--Phoebe finds her dull routine infused with the excitement she's been missing. But with her head turned she's no longer focused on the woman in the car. And she really should be...

An addictive domestic thriller for fans of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Couple Next Door, The Other Mrs. Miller serves up a delicious brew of dark secrets and stunning plot twists that will keep you captivated until the very last page.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I listened to The Other Mrs. Miller on Overdrive and could not hit pause!  I listened to the book in one day.  An excellent book that will hook you right away and won't let you go until it's finished.    Loved the characters, suspense, twists, and turns.  This is a must-read book - any time of year.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  Absolutely - sign me up for her next book!

Allison Dickson is the author of several independently published horror and dystopian novels. She has also written nearly two dozen short stories, both independently and as part of anthologies. Dickson lives in Dayton, Ohio, and when not writing, she is typically gaming, blogging, or exploring.

PS Allison - I live in the 45459 zip code!