Normal People by Sally Rooney

normal people

Rating
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½

Genre

Fiction – Contemporary

Goodreads Summary

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Review

This book was completely different than what I usually read. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! You may think that means I’ll branch of out of my usual more often now but you’d be wrong. 😛

Sally Rooney has a unique way of writing. While at first I wasn’t sure about there not being quotations around conversations, I ended up finding it to work very well with the story. I went into this book knowing basically nothing about it other than that a #bookstagram friend of mine (@kaylagetsread) absolutely loved it. I think it’s best to go into this one with low expectations, personally. It is not filled with action or anything too jaw-dropping crazy. What it is is a beautifully written story that delves into relationship dynamics and the topics of mental illness, social class, and self-awareness.

I highly suggest this book! I’m planning to read Sally’s other book Conversations with Friends and look forward to her future book releases.

Have you read anything by this author? If so, what were your thoughts? Let’s chat!

Author Sally Rooney

Because You’re Mine by Rea Frey

because you're mine

Rating
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Genre

Fiction – Thriller

Goodreads Summary

But it’s the lies that keep you safe. 

Single mother Lee has the daily routine down to a science: shower in six minutes. Cut food into perfect squares. Never leave her on-the-spectrum son Mason in someone else’s care. She’ll do anything—anything—to keep his carefully constructed world from falling apart. Do anything to keep him safe.

But when her best friend Grace convinces her she needs a small break from motherhood to recharge her batteries, Lee gives in to a weekend trip. Surely a long weekend away from home won’t hurt?
Noah, Mason’s handsome, bright, charismatic tutor—the first man in ages Lee’s even noticed—is more than happy to stay with him.

Forty-eight hours later, someone is dead.

But not all is as it seems. Noah may be more than who he claims to be. Grace has a secret—one that will destroy Lee. Lee has secrets of her own that she will do anything to keep hidden.
As the dominoes begin to fall and the past comes to light, perhaps it’s no mystery someone is gone after all…

Because You’re Mine is a breathtaking novel of domestic drama and suspense. 

Prepare to stay up all night.

Review

This was such a unique and interesting thriller! First of all, I love that this wasn’t purely thriller but also weaved in family drama and dynamics. Through the storytelling, the reader gets to really know and understand the characters and their struggles. I appreciated this aspect that made it feel a bit deeper than a classic thriller.

The first quarter or so had me anticipating what was coming. I knew something was on the horizon but was on the edge wondering when and what it would be! I had many different theories as to what was going on but, as per usual, I was way off. The twists were well done and left me surprised. This book was equal parts heartbreaking and intense.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the first half or so, the middle lost my attention for quite a while. The ending did pick up for me, but the whole book felt a little longer than it needed to be.

Overall, this was a great thriller that I think many people are going to absolutely love! I’ve already been seeing exceptional reviews for Because You’re Mine. I will definitely read more from Rea Frey!

Available August 6th!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for my Advance Reader Copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author Rea Frey’s website

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

say you still love me

Rating
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½

Genre

Fiction – Romance

Goodreads Summary

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

Review

I’ve heard amazing things about K.A. Tucker’s books so I was excited to read my first book of hers! Say You Still Love Me was a wonderfully written love story that captured my heart big time.

The more I read, I more I fall in love with the contemporary romance genre. I’ve read so many great books that fall into that category this year and this adds another.

Piper and Kyle first met at summer camp and were quickly enamored with one another. Their enthrallment is completely relatable to anyone who ever fell head over heels for someone as a teenager. Can you remember those feelings of just not being able to get enough of one another and feeling like it’s the two of you against the world?

This book switches back and forth between the past and present as it weaves together the story of Piper and Kyle then and now. Once I got into this one, I was invested and couldn’t wait to see how it turned out. The characters are flawed and likable. The writing is well done and easy to read and follow along with. And this one didn’t wrap up exactly how I was expecting it to, leaving me surprised by some things that ended up happening.

I highly recommend this book! I already have some of K.A. Tucker’s other books on my TBR list and will be bumping them up to make them more of a priority.

I hope you love this one as much as I did!

Available August 6th!

Thank you to Atria Books for my Advance Reader Copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author K.A. Tucker’s website

Pub Day Books – 7/30/19

Happy Pub Day Tuesday! I haven’t read any of today’s new releases but am so excited to read a few of them! Hope you are too!

the arrangement

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favours are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

the one who stays

The One Who Stays by Toni Blake

Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, a local man she’s been seeing for years. What she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to her, his reluctance to be exclusive with her.

Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg.

When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?

that's what frenemies are for

That’s What Frenemies Are For by Sophie Littlefield & Lauren Gershell

Julia Summers seems to have it all: a Fifth Avenue apartment, a successful husband, and two adorable children attending the best private school in the city. She relishes wielding influence over her well-heeled girlfriends . . . but her star appears to be fading. That’s why, when stranded in Manhattan for the summer as the entire Upper East Side flees to the Hamptons, Julia is on the hunt for the next big thing–the hot, new fad that will put her back on top.

Enter Flame, the new elite fitness craze. Seductive and transformative, Flame is exactly what Julia needs–and demure, naïve instructor Tatum is her ticket in. Turning Tatum from giggly blonde to trendy guru proves hard work. Yet Julia’s triumphant comeback at summer’s end doesn’t quite go as planned, and when things suddenly get ugly–and even deadly–she realizes she may have been in way over her head. And Tatum, waiting in the wings, begins to grasp just how much power her newfound stardom holds . . .

Then, with Julia’s life already spiraling out of control, her husband is arrested for fraud and bribery. As her so-called friends turn their backs on her, and Tatum pursues her own agenda, Julia is forced to rethink everything she knew about her world to reclaim her perfect life.

But does she even want it back?

someone we know

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.” 

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets? 

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .

You never really know what people are capable of.

never have i ever

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

how to hack a heartbreak

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

the escape room

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to reach the top.

When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.

The biggest mystery to solve in this lethal game: What happened to Sara Hall? Once a young shining star—”now gone but not forgotten”.

This is no longer a game. 
They’re fighting for their lives.

the chelsea girls

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.


Happy reading! ♥ The Oxford Comma Momma

Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

love at first like

Rating
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½

Genre

Fiction – Romance

Goodreads Summary

Eliza Roth and her sister Sophie co-own a jewelry shop in Brooklyn. One night, after learning of an ex’s engagement, Eliza accidentally posts a photo of herself wearing a diamond ring on that finger to her Instagram account beloved by 100,000 followers. Sales skyrocket, press rolls in, and Eliza learns that her personal life is good for business. So she has a choice: continue the ruse or clear up the misunderstanding. With mounting financial pressure, Eliza sets off to find a fake fiancé.

Fellow entrepreneur Blake seems like the perfect match on paper. And in real life he shows promise, too. He would be perfect, if only Eliza didn’t feel also drawn to someone else. But Blake doesn’t know Eliza is “engaged”; Sophie asks Eliza for an impossible sum of money; and Eliza’s lies start to spiral out of control. She can either stay engaged online or fall in love in real life.

Review

You know when you read the right book at the right time? I love when that happens! My mood was just perfect for reading Love at First Like. This is a fun, light-hearted, entertaining read that is a great palette cleanser in between heavier reads!

While Eliza’s actions were a little outlandish, she was still somehow a very likable character to me. I could relate to her fear of losing the thing she had worked so hard for as well as her desire to find a companion she could truly be herself with. Her journey to discovering what life is really about was full of humor and heartbreak. Although some of the story is not necessarily believable, it was highly entertaining and readable nonetheless.

Hannah Orenstein wrote a fantastic rom-com that will likely keep you reading to find out what type of craziness will next ensue. I would definitely recommend this one! I hope you enjoy & would love to chat about it with you!

Available August 6th!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my Advance Reader Copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author Hannah Orenstein’s website

Pub Day Books – 7/23/19

Happy Tuesday! There are some great books out as of today! I’ve read and loved a few of them & can’t wait for you all to read them as well.

a stranger on the beach

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

You can find my review here.

the floating feldmans

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

Sink or swim. Or at least that’s what Annette Feldman tells herself when she books a cruise for her entire family. It’s been over a decade since the Feldman clan has spent more than twenty-four hours under the same roof, but Annette is determined to celebrate her seventieth birthday the right way. Just this once, they are going to behave like an actual family.

Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo. 

Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring–and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

You can find my review here.

the two lila bennetts

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

You can find my review here.

you've been volunteered

You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman

If you’ve ever been a room parent or school volunteer, Jen Dixon is your hero. She says what every class mom is really thinking, whether in her notoriously frank emails or standup-worthy interactions with the micromanaging PTA President and the gamut of difficult parents. Luckily, she has the charm and wit to get away with it—most of the time. Jen is sassier than ever but dealing with a whole new set of challenges, in the world of parental politics and at home.

She’s been roped into room-parenting yet again, for her son Max’s third grade class, but as her husband buries himself in work, her older daughters navigate adulthood, and Jen’s own aging parents start to need some parenting themselves, Jen gets pulled in more directions than any one mom, or superhero, can handle.

Refreshingly down-to-earth and brimming with warmth, Dixon’s next chapter will keep you turning the pages to find out what’s really going on under the veneer of polite parent interactions, and have you laughing along with her the whole way.

You can find my review here.

meet me in monaco

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

good girl, bad girl

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

we love anderson cooper

We Love Anderson Cooper by R.L. Maizes

In this quirky, humorous, and deeply human short story collection, Pushcart Prize-nominated author R.L. Maizes reminds us that even in our most isolated moments, we are never truly alone.

In We Love Anderson Cooper, characters are treated as outsiders because of their sexual orientation, racial or religious identity, or simply because they look different. A young man courts the publicity that comes from outing himself at his bar mitzvah. When a painter is shunned because of his appearance, he learns to ink tattoos that come to life. A paranoid Jewish actuary suspects his cat of cheating on him—with his Protestant girlfriend.

In this debut collection, humor complements pathos. Readers will recognize themselves in these stories and in these protagonists, whose backgrounds are vastly different from their own—we’ve all been outsiders at some point.


Happy reading!  ♥ The Oxford Comma Momma

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

heart-shaped hack

Always choose love. Always choose the adventure. You’ll never regret it.

Rating
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Genre

Fiction – Romance

Goodreads Summary

When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

Review

The Tracey Garvis Graves bookathon continues! I was thrilled to get this title off of Kindle Unlimited. (Thanks to Prime Day, I was able to get 3 months for free!) As always, I was not disappointed! This wasn’t my favorite of this author’s that I’ve read but I still really enjoyed it.

I found both Kate and Ian to be very likable (always a plus)! The buildup in this story was well done. I kept feeling like something big was going to happen and I was on the edge of my seat because of it. Once it did, I was left in complete shock. I’m telling you: Tracey Garvis Graves is the queen of romance with crazy, gut-wrenching twists. I don’t want to give anything away in the slightest so I won’t say anymore.

The one thing about this book that kept it from being a five-star read was that it was just a bit too steamy for me. I definitely could have done with a lot less, but oh well! I know it doesn’t bother everyone, but it seemed worth pointing out.

Overall, I highly recommend this book! I’m looking forward to reading book two of this series titled White-Hot Hack (also available on KU).

Have you read this one? I’d love to discuss!

Author Tracey Garvis Graves’s website