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Review: The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

[ 0 ] May 2, 2016

the good neighbor book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

Have you ever told a lie that seemed to develop a life of its own? That is exactly what happens to Elizabeth “Izzy” Lane in The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan.

Izzy, a newly single mother, is having a rough time dealing with her recent divorce and move back home. Although she has her elderly next door neighbor, Mrs. Feldman, and her two best friends, Jade and Rachel, to lean on, she finds herself in the middle of a huge lie…one that she created.

After meeting her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, she does something that she never thought she would ever do—she invents a boyfriend to get over her embarrassment of being alone. However, when she begins to blog about her “boyfriend” after her son, Noah, goes to sleep, she finds herself swept up in her virtual world…one not anchored in reality. After her friends start to talk about meeting Izzy’s mysterious and seemingly perfect boyfriend, she finds herself not only lying to the strangers reading her posts, but also to the people closest to her.

Will she work up the nerve to tell her friends the truth? Or will someone find out about her lie and tell them first?

I loved this book! Izzy is very relatable and real. We have all told a lie or done something that we wish we hadn’t. Amy Sue Nathan puts a spotlight on not only the repercussions of this, but also on the fact that no matter the motivation behind telling the lie, it still carries the potential to hurt people. I adore reading novels about real world situations, especially ones that are as well-written as this one.

I could not find anything in this book to complain about. I loved the story line, the writing style, the catchy chapter headings, the overall moral of the book, and the perfect ending!

Although this book is predictable (it reminds me of the feel good Hallmark movies that I love so much), it was an enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to read more novels by Nathan.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: Pound for Pound by Shannon Kopp

[ 2 ] May 2, 2016

pound for pound book coverI have 1 copy of Pound for Pound by Shannon Kopp to give away! Open to U.S. residents only

About the book

“The dogs don’t judge me or give me a motivational speech. They don’t rush me to heal or grow. They sit in my lap and lick my face and make me feel chosen. And sometimes, it hits me hard that I’m doing the exact thing I say I cannot do. Changing.”

Pound for Pound is the inspirational tale of one woman’s journey back from the brink of self-destruction, and a heartfelt homage to the four-legged heroes who unexpectedly saved her life.

For eight years, Shannon Kopp battled the silent, horrific, and all-too-common disease of bulimia. Stuck in an endless cycle of bingeing and purging, Shannon was overwhelmed by broken promises: to herself, to her family, to her future. Finally, at twenty-four, she got a job working at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, where in caring for shelter dogs, she found the inspiration to heal and the courage to forgive herself. With the help of some extraordinary homeless animals — dogs like Sweet Pea, Big Girl, Abby, Stewie, and countless others — Shannon realized from her suffering, something beautiful had been born. Compassion.

Shannon’s poignant memoir is a story of hope, resilience, and the spiritual healing animals bring to our lives. Pound for Pound vividly reminds us that animals are more than just friends and companions — they can teach us how to savor the present moment and reclaim our joy. Rich with emotion and inspiration, Pound for Pound is essential reading for animal lovers and everyone who has struggled to change.

About the author

Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound, is a writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked and volunteered at various animal shelters throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a healthier, more joyful way of living. Her mission is to help every shelter dog find a loving home, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and animal welfare issues.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

[ 2 ] May 1, 2016

curious charms of arthur pepper book coverReviewed by Alysia George

In The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick, we meet lonely widower Arthur Pepper, who has been stuck in a bit of a rut since his wife passed away. As he faces the difficult task of finally clearing out her things on the one year anniversary of her death, Arthur makes a discovery that will take him on a life-changing journey. Tucked in an old boot, he finds a charm bracelet he doesn’t recall ever having seen before. As he studies the bracelet, Arthur ponders the meaning of each of the charms; they seem so personal and significant that he is quite surprised he knows nothing about them and what they meant to his wife. One phone call later and Arthur is off; not only to find the hidden meaning behind each of his wife’s curious charms, but also, along the way, his own dormant charms.

Throughout his long marriage, Arthur became comfortable with a simple, predictable lifestyle. Sharing a close and loving relationship with his wife, he assumed he knew everything about her, and never thought too much about her life prior to their meeting. Finding her charm bracelet sends him into a tailspin, as he questions everything he thought he knew about his wife and their relationship. In an effort to learn more, Arthur cautiously abandons his routine, and, one by one, begins making decisions and taking actions that seem completely foreign to his character. Reluctant to begin, he nonetheless embarks on the greatest adventure of his life thus far. Travel, friendships, family relationships, and new (albeit sometimes uncomfortable) experiences suddenly take on a new meaning for Arthur. He learns a great deal about his wife, but perhaps more importantly, he also discovers aspects of himself that he had previously failed to recognize, and comes to terms with how he’d like to continue on in the next stage of his life, without his wife by his side.

Captivating and sweet, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper serves as a reminder that it is never too late to choose a different path, to try new things, to repair or forge relationships, or to make a conscious decision to live more fully.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 4 ] May 1, 2016

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Here are the books that made their way into my physical and digital mailboxes last week:

Paper Review Copies

keep you close book coverask me how i got here book coverlow-hanging fruit book coverlost and gone forever book coverfading starlight book coverloving eleanor book covera self-made man book cover

Digital Review Copies

we could be beautiful book cover

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Review: Husband Wanted by Charlotte Hughes

[ 1 ] April 30, 2016

husband wanted book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

When Frannie gets a letter from the daughter she gave up for adoption 13 years prior, she begins to weave a web of deceit. She tells her daughter that she is happily married, rich, and a lot better off now than she was when she gave her daughter, Mandy, up for adoption. However, when Frannie learns that her daughter is going to come for a visit, she must figure out how to make her lies a reality. This is where Frannie’s friends and customers at the diner come in. After rallying together, she has a fancy house to stay in, an expensive wardrobe, and some time off of work. Now all she is missing is a husband.

Clay Coleman, a bachelor afraid of commitment, agrees to play the role of Frannie’s husband. When he moves back in to his father’s house, the house they will be bringing Mandy to, he begins to wonder what exactly he got himself into. He and Frannie have lived in the same town most of their lives, so why hasn’t he gotten to know her before then? And when the lies catch up to all of them, will they be able to make it out the other side unscathed?

Husband Wanted is a fun and carefree read. However, it is a little cliché and everything that happens is pretty predictable. Although I enjoyed reading this book, I’d describe it as a definite “beach” read. One where I can get lost in the “happily ever after” feelings of the novel, and escape the real world for a while. It didn’t take me long to read, as it is a fairly short novel…a little over 200 pages, I think.

I have said this before, and I will say it again: this book reminds me of a Hallmark movie. It ends the way you would expect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun getting to the end. I would be interested to see if the rest of Hughes’ novels are as “feel good” as this one.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Charlotte Hughes. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: In the Country by Mia Alvar

[ 0 ] April 29, 2016

in the country book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

In the Country by Mia Alvar is a collection of finely crafted short stories about people from the Philippines. These are rich stories that span the globe from the Philippines to Bahrain to New York and places in between. In the Country is a collection of captivating snapshots of people tied to history or beauty or family or living or attempting to live in an ever changing world.

In the opening story, “The Kontrabida”, a young man returns home to the Philippines. After years of living and working in New York, he is an outsider in Manila and seeing his childhood home and family as perhaps a familiar stranger might see things. In the story “Legends of the White Lady”, a fading beauty is contemplating her empty life as she ponders leaving the modeling industry. “The Virgin of Mounte Roman” is narrated by a young man with a physical disability who relays his mother’s mystical reasoning for his deformity harkening back to the liberation of the Philippines during the Second World War. The title story, “In the Country”, is an engrossing tale that flows back and forth through time merging the Philippine history of the early 1970s with the rising coup d’état of the late 1980s. The narrator, Milagros, is both defiant and defeated. She is not one to leave her home country because life is better elsewhere. She works to make life better at home even though the work seems insurmountable.

I enjoyed each of the stories within Mia Alvar’s In the Country. These are deep narratives that indulge the senses. These are stories that a reader might devour and savor. The characters are varied from all walks of life. Within these passages, one gets a sort of backdoor access into the lives of real people in all their glory and misery.

Mia Alvar’s writing is beautiful. Her command of words brings each story alive. I could almost feel the heat and discomfort of the blistering temperatures or sultry air described with clarity and resonating with the surrounding emotion of events taking place. Alvar’s characters are vivid and multidimensional. She is showing a snapshot into the lives of seemingly real people. This is an exquisite collection of stories about people and the sense of finding community no matter where life might take them.

One could read In the Country through as a whole book in one sitting. However, I recommend reading one story at a time then take some time to savor the journey before moving on to the next story. Each story in itself is worthwhile, making the book one that a reader might want to come back to at some point in the future for another visit.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Vintage. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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