Review: You Love Me

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 4/6/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Joe is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way… by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is… Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s… busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

Review: You Love Me is the third book in You series. This has been one of my most anticipated reads this year! Overall, I really enjoyed this and it gave me similar vibes to the first book. All the characters are deeply complex and perfectly flawed. The storyline kept me on my toes the whole time and I didn’t expect the twists and turns. I kept switching from reading the book and listening to the audiobook since Santino Fontana is one of my favorite audiobook narrators. Santino is an incredible audiobook narrator. I love that he brings the story alive and he does distinct voices for each of the characters. If you are a fan of the book series or the TV series, I highly recommend picking this up! Now I can’t wait to watch the third season of You!

Review: The Bad Muslim Discount

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
Publisher: Double Day Books 
Pub Date: 2/2/2021

Disclaimer: I received a finished listening copy from Penguin Random House Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, Bad Muslim Discount is a hilarious, timely, and provocative comic novel about being Muslim immigrants in modern America. For fans of Hanif Kureshi, Mira Jacob, and Mohammed Hanif.

It is 1995, and Anvar Faris is a restless, rebellious, and sharp-tongued boy doing his best to grow up in Karachi, Pakistan. As fundamentalists in the government become increasingly strident and the zealots next door start roaming the streets in gangs to help make Islam great again, his family decides, not quite unanimously, to start life over in California. The irony is not lost on Anvar that in America, his deeply devout mother and his model-Muslim brother are the ones who fit right in with the tightly knit and gossipy Desi community. Anvar wants more.

At the same time, thousands of miles away, Safwa, a young girl suffocating in war-torn Baghdad with her grief-stricken, conservative father will find a very different and far more dangerous path to America. These two narratives are intrinsically linked, and when their worlds come together, the fates of two remarkably different people intertwine and set off a series of events that rock their whole community to its core.

The Bad Muslim Discount is an irreverent, dramatic, and often hysterically funny debut novel by an amazing new voice. With deep insight, warmth, and an irreverent sense of humor, Syed Masood examines quirky and intense familial relationships, arranged marriage, Islamic identity, and how to live together in modern America.

Review: The Bad Muslim Discount is a contemporary novel that explores traditional vs. modern beliefs, immigration, family, and self- identity. I am not an own voices reviewer so please take my review with a grain of salt. I loved the dual perspective and the audiobook narrators did a phenomenal job bring these out! The storyline is entertaining, but I found it to be a bit all over the place. I wasn’t a fan of the romance in here. It just didn’t fit well with the rest of the story. The main characters, Safwa and Anvar, are complicated individuals. Safwa has a heartbreaking story, but her actions are so out of character which makes it a bit confusing. I liked Anvar’s relationship with his grandmother and his dry humor, but I couldn’t feel any empathy towards him. The author did an excellent job making their voices as distinct as possible which I appreciated. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book.

Review: The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/13/2021

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Review: The Good Sister is the second book I’ve read from from Sally Hepworth. This book felt more like mystery than a thriller to me. The storyline is intriguing, more character driven and it’s a slow burn. Though I picked up on a couple of clues in the beginning, I found it to be an enjoyable read. All the characters were well thought out. I really enjoyed reading the perspectives of past vs. present perspectives from the twins, Rose and Fern. I kept switching from reading the physical book and the audiobook. I really liked the audiobook narrator as I felt like she made the story come alive. Highly recommend picking this up if you’re looking for a domestic slow burn mystery!

Review: The Lost Apothecary

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Publisher: Park Row
Pub Date: 3/2/2021

GoodReads Synopsis: A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive. 

Review: The Lost Apothecary was my March BOTM pick. The storyline and mystery intrigued me. I really loved Nella and Eliza’s historical perspectives which really got me hooked. I could care less about Caroline’s present day perspective which didn’t add any insight to the story. Despite this having a gorgeous cover, this book ended up being a solid three stars for me. If it didn’t have Caroline’s perspective in here, I would have rated it higher.

Review: Survive the Night

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin Random House) 
Pub Date: 6/29/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Dutton (Penguin Random House) in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

Review: I’m a huge Riley Sager fan so I was ecstatic to hear he releasing a new book this year, Survive the Night.  This thriller takes place in the ‘90s and dives into cat-and-mouse chase, grief, guilt, and instinct. I really loved the concept and plot of this book, but unfortunately, the execution fell a bit flat for me which is surprising because I loved Riley’s previous books. I noticed in the beginning I kept comparing this book to No Exit by Taylor Adams which is unfair since they are different type of books but they both involve abduction and takes place in the winter. The beginning of the book was a bit slow for me, but as we got 60% through, I found Riley Sager’s familiar adrenaline type writing which I love. I found Charlie’s character to be a bit dull, but I liked the complexity of the other characters. Overall, this was a 3.5 star read which I rounded to 4 stars. I’d recommend this book to fans who love Riley Sager’s work. 

Review: Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub Date: 6/1/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Review: Malibu Rising was one of my most anticipated reads this year. This historical fiction novel takes place in 1980s Malibu. If you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo then Mick Riva may sound familiar to you as he is one of Evelyn’s seven husbands! I found this to be an entertaining read. I loved the strong sibling bond between the main characters and the supporting characters were entertaining. It was great to read the present chapters spanning in a 24 hour day while we got glimpses of the past as well. I enjoyed the past chapters more because that had more action while the present chapters seemed to have little action until the end. One part I realized I wanted more of that was in her previous novels and not in this one was a strong background setting. Also being introduced to multiple characters was fun but it felt that it was a bit distracting from the main storyline. If you loved Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, then I highly recommend picking up Malibu Rising.

Review: The Four Winds

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 2/2/2021

Disclaimer: I received a finished listening copy from Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. 

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Review: The Four Winds is the third book I’ve read from Kristin Hannah and one of my most anticipated reads this year. This historical fiction novel takes place during the dust bowl era and dives into family, bravery, the American dream, and determination. I loved the author’s writing style and how it kept me on my toes from the first page. The struggle, emotion, and grit that Elsa goes through is seen and felt through every page. I highly recommend picking this one up if you loved Kristin Hannah’s previous books.

Review: A Promised Land

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Publisher: Penguin Random House / Crown
Pub Date: 11/17/2020

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making, from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Review: Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, was one of my most anticipated reads. Though I don’t necessarily agree with all of his political views, I appreciated reading his experience being president for 8 years. I kept switching from reading the book and listening to the audiobook. I enjoyed seeing the photos in the physical book. Obama does a wonderful job narrating the book which he has a strong and resonating voice. One downside of the book that I had a difficulty overlooking was that it was extremely long. There were a few parts I felt that dragged on and lost my interest. Also as unfair as it is, I found myself comparing his book to Michelle’s. I adored Michelle’s book so I had expectations to love this as well. Overall, I’d recommend reading this if you’re looking into more insight of Obama’s presidency.

Review: The Truth About Melody Browne

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 1/26/2021

Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past. 

Review: I didn’t realize that The Truth About Melody Browne is actually one of Lisa Jewell’s earlier books and that this book is more contemporary than thriller. Overall, I enjoyed the storyline and loved the fast paced writing style. Switching from past to present really kept me on my toes as I didn’t have an idea on how the story would end. I also really liked the way we got introduced to so many different characters. The only part that didn’t work for me was the ending which seemed to wrap up in a bow. If you enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s other books, I’d recommend picking up The Truth About Melody Browne

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/9/2021

Disclaimer: I was gifted this ARC from Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, California.

GoodReads Synopsis: Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the third book of the Brown sisters series. This book could also be read as a stand-alone. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. One aspect I really liked about this book was the character development. The main characters take ownership of their flaws and grow from their experiences. It was great to see scenes where the reader gets to see Chloe and Dani, Eve’s sisters and main characters from previous books, pop up. There is also quite a bit of steamy scenes in this one. I definitely recommend this book if you loved the previous books in the series or are a fan of romance!