Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

April 22, 2019

Becoming Us {Robin Jones Gunn}

becoming us robin jone sgunn
Five young moms, including beloved Gunn character Christy Miller, gather to share meals and soon become unlikely best friends. The regular gatherings provide opportunities for the women to reveal their stories, and those life stories endear them to each other. They experience their lives naturally meshing as they raise their children together in the community. In Becoming Us the group finds ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They unite to be remembered for what they do as moms and not for what was done to them.

My Thoughts:
I admit this is a very difficult review to write because my feelings are all over the place about this book. I truly loved these characters and the small piece of their life I was able to be a part of.

I immediately felt a connection to Emily and Trevor as soon as we met them. This book is written in the first person and told by Emily as she navigates a new life she and her husband have created for themselves and their daughter. The couple has moved across the country, far away from all their friends and family, to being a new life together. I admit that while I love all our family dearly, I have contemplated how fun it would be for my small family to pack ourselves up and head out on an adventure of our own. But watching Emily and Trevor struggle with their finances, their marriage, and their friends just proved to me how fortunate we are to have our family near and dear.

I especially loved their daughter, Audra. Audra is around the same age as my daughter and seemed to have much the same personality and interest as we experience at our house. I felt connected to Audra as a mother and appreciated the insight I gained into the life of a tween through her character.

I enjoyed watching Emily and Trevor struggle together, remain as a team, spend time on their marriage, and ultimately turn to God for each decision that had to be made in their lives. I thought they served as a great example of how a couple must detach from their former lives and their families to become a family on their own.

The ultimate focus of this book was the friendship Emily formed with the other four moms in her community. However, I honestly felt this was such a minimal part of this book and the story told of Emily and her new life in California.

With all that said, I struggle with this review because while I did enjoy the book, the characters, and the story that was told, I also found myself wishing this book moved so much faster. I kept waiting for a major conflict or struggle - something these characters would have to fight hard to overcome - yet I never felt that moment ever arrived. I felt the book ended without a real ending. It was literally as if we began watching this family one day and then simply stepped away a few months later.

I felt the book was beautifully written, an exemplary example of a couple working together to keep their marriage strong, and a sweet bond between a group of women. But I never felt the connection strong enough to push me to finish quickly. It was a very slow read for me, and one I felt I had to force myself to keep coming back to.

I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley

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April 11, 2019

Thursdays with Ting: Fish in a Tree {Lynda Mullaly Hunt}

fish in a tree lynda mullaly hunt
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.
Ting's Thoughts:
I think Fish in a Tree is a great book. I love all the characters, especially Mr. Daniels. He was super cool and nice to Ally. I liked reading about Ally making mistakes and then correcting them.

I also like how in the end she made new friends who were loyal and kind. Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, for writing this wonderful book to read.

I checked this book out from my local library

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April 8, 2019

Sunset Beach {Mary Kay Andrews}

sunset beach mary kay andrews
Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth-grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing person case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

My Thoughts:
I spent this entire book trying to decide if liked Drue or not! Sometimes I was a huge fan and found myself cheering her on. And other times I just wanted her to chill out and play by the rules. Ha!

This book has several plots running at the same time, and it does a great job of keeping those stories separate but also intertwined as we follow Drue on a crazy adventure of moving home, working for her dad, and trying to find her footing after her world has been turned upside down. At times I really felt she made decisions that seemed too young for her age, but I am thankful that I cannot put myself in her shoes and the circumstances she was living with.

One of my favorite stories in this book was that of a 40-year old missing person case. I live in a town with a very similar case: girl vanishes without a trace, and decades later no one has any clue what happened to her. I thought Drue and her work to finally solve the case was in depth and exciting.

There were parts of this book I really enjoyed, and parts I only felt so-so about. But overall, this is a great read and I am glad I got to meet these characters and this moment in their lives.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley

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April 4, 2019

Thursdays with Ting

I'm a little excited to write this post today and share with you the news I always hoped would come to this blog: my daughter is joining me on the book blogging journey!

My daughter, Ting (her internet name), is nine years old and currently in the 4th-ish grade (it's a long story). She has been a book lover since she was tiny and I would read to her on the couch. As soon as she learned to read on her own, she took off at a pace that even I'm envious of.

With books always an important part of her life, I was hopeful she would one day have the skills to write her own reviews about the books she was reading. I am so excited that day is finally here.

From here forward, Thursdays will be dedicated to Ting (and I'm going to move my reviews to Mondays). She will share with you the books she borrows from the local library, books we purchase, and advanced reads she will obtain from NetGalley, and hopefully directly from publishers.

I hope you will encourage her in her book blogging journey. Her reviews will be shared on my social media accounts, and I will be sure to share your comments with her. Come back next week for her first review!

April 2, 2019

Stillhouse Lake {Rachel Caine}

stillhouse lake rachel caine
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My Thoughts:This book kicks off the prologue with Gina/Gwen discovering her husband is a serial killer. And the story only gets more exciting from there. As Gwen does what she believes is necessary to protect herself and her children, she lands in a Tennessee town and finally starts feeling safe and comfortable. She even begins to open up about the truth behind her identify.

Then it all falls apart.

This story had me up until the wee hours of the night wanting to read faster and faster to get to the end. At one point I had a theory on how the book would end, but I was quickly thrown off that trail as events began to develop.

Characters were shown to not be who we thought, circumstances were twisted in all kinds of ways, and the ones we liked the most disappointed us so much.

And I loved every second of it. I got to the book and was shocked to see that it really left us hanging. But a quick search on Amazon and I found the second book. I cannot wait to dive in.

I received a free copy of this book through the Amazon Prime reading program.

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