The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

the girl he used to know

Rating
5/5 stars

Genre

Fiction – Romance

Goodreads Summary

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

Review

I just finished this book yesterday and wanted to write a review while everything is still fresh in my mind. I have been hearing about this book all over bookstagram and knew I had to find a way to get my hands on it! (I’m so thankful for book swaps!) Based off of the synopsis and what other people were saying about it, I was getting serious The Light We Lost vibes, which of course got me beyond excited!

Read this book! Buy this book! Talk about this book with everyone you know! I absolutely loved it and even that may be putting it lightly.

As you probably know, a book that can grab me from page one is usually a keeper. Add in perfectly flawed and endearing characters, a plot that will give you all the feels, and a writing style that flows effortlessly and I’d say you’ve got a five star read!

The main character, Annika, is probably my new favorite book character. Knowing her thoughts gave me such a soft spot for her and watching her evolve was so encouraging.

I could go on and on about this book—and I will if you email or message me—but I’m trying to keep this somewhat short and sweet. This is a must read for 2019 and I want everyone to read it so that I have more people to discuss it with. 🙂

Available April 2nd!

Author Tracey Garvis Graves’s website

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

lovely little things

Rating
2/5 stars

Genre

Fiction – Thriller

Goodreads Summary

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire’s symptoms overpower her while she’s driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.

Review

I’ve been anticipating this book since I first heard about it! After hearing some great reviews, I was fully expecting to love this book! As hard as it is for me to write negative reviews, I want to be honest with you all if I don’t enjoy a book and I just did not enjoy this one.

This book ended up being quite a bit different than I was expecting. One of the narratives heavily ties in ancestral aspects, which just really lost me as I am not into that type of thing at all. I found that this part was overdone and really caused me to lose interest and get bored with the overall story.

The first half of the story dealing with the girls vanishing was heart-wrenching and extremely difficult to read. I can imagine this would be the case for anyone, especially parents. It was well-written but such heavy content that I considered not finishing the book.

I ended up skimming the last hundred pages because I was not invested in anything in this story. I still wanted to know how it ended and it was what I expected.

What I want you to know is that the reason I did not enjoy this book had nothing to do with the quality of writing. This book has excellent ratings on Goodreads so my opinion is clearly the unpopular one. If the synopsis above interests you, definitely give this book a try! While it wasn’t for me, you may love it!

Have you read Little Lovely Things? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear!

Available April 2nd!

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

Author Maureen Joyce Connolly’s website

I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

53687210_573319423144538_4489932199896516177_n(1)

“That was the thing about being honest—once you began, it was hard to go back to sanitizing life with white lies.”

Rating
4/5 stars

Genre

Fiction – Contemporary

Goodreads Summary

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty.

What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy?

“Most people say they want the truth. What they mean is that they want it if it’s palatable.”

Review

This was my first Camille Pagán book and definitely won’t be my last! I really adored this book. The content, characters, and message were wonderful!

Penelope is someone I can relate to so very much. She may be a little more driven than I am (hah J), but I can relate to her need to look like she is doing just fine even though she is struggling tremendously. I think we all can probably relate to that, right? Just putting on a happy face and saying that everything is fine? I’ve done that far more times than I’d care to know. When Penelope receives some shocking news, she comes to realize that she is not content with her life the way it is.

What comes next is the hard work, sweat, and emotions that go into trying to make a change. Her and her adorable husband, Sanjay, agree to discuss things that have probably needed to be discussed for years. Through this, Penelope becomes, at some points painfully, aware of her shortcomings, but she is one determined woman. I love that she is not about to give up! She fights for what is important to her.

The author created some deeply flawed and relatable characters in this story, which always sits well with me. I felt for their heartbreaks and longed for their victories.

This definitely isn’t one you will want to miss!

Available April 1st!

Thank you to Kathleen Carter and Lake Union Publishing for my Advance Reader Copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author Camille Pagán’s website

Pub Day Books – 3/26/19

Happy Tuesday! Here are some great books that are available as of today! Check them out!

the perfect girlfriend

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Juliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

 

my lovely wife

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

 

the library of lost and found

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.

 

white elephant

White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf

The White Elephant looms large over the quaint suburban town of Willard Park: a gaudy, newly constructed behemoth of a home, it soars over the neighborhood, dwarfing the houses that surround it. When owner Nick Cox cuts down Allison and Ted Millers’ precious red maple—in an effort to make his unsightly property more appealing to buyers—their once serene town becomes a battleground.

While tensions between Ted and Nick escalate, other dysfunctions abound: Allison finds herself compulsively drawn to the man who is threatening to upend her quietly organized life. A lawyer with a pot habit and a serious mid-life crisis skirts his responsibilities. And in a quest for popularity, a teenage girl gets caught up in a not-so-harmless prank. Newcomers and longtime residents alike begin to clash in conflicting pursuits of the American Dream, with trees mysteriously uprooted, fires set, fingers pointed, and lines drawn.

White Elephant is an uproarious, tangled-web tale of neighbor hating neighbor (and neighbor falling head over heels for neighbor). Soon, peaceful Willard Park becomes a tinder box with nowhere to go but up in flames.

________________________________________________________

Are you excited to get your copy of any of the above books?! I’ve got a copy of The Perfect Girlfriend that I am really looking forward to reading!

♥ The Oxford Comma Momma

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

54248115_603604170051888_3682537286300614900_n

Rating
3.5/5 stars

Genre

Fiction – Thriller

Goodreads Summary

Can you love someone to death? 

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she’s obsessed and can’t stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter’s expense. 

Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what’s going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?

Review

This was a highly anticipated 2019 thriller for me! I have been super fascinated and intrigued by Munchausen syndrome by proxy for years. I remember watching a special on TV a few years back and being appalled by this mental illness that is also a form of child abuse.

This book was very twisty and I wasn’t sure who to believe for the majority of it, which made it fun. Both the mother, Becky, and the daughter, Meghan, seemed reliable yet crazy at the same time. I love a book that can keep me guessing and changing my theory throughout it. While I did suspect the ending a bit, it was still really wild and surprising. The main thing I didn’t enjoy is just how far-fetched things seemed to get toward the end. For me, it was a little too unbelievable and action-packed.

However, I can imagine that most of you will really enjoy this book! I loved the unique premise of it, which can be difficult to accomplish with a thriller now since it seems like everything has already been done. I would absolutely recommend you read this one! I would love to hear what you think!

Available April 9th!

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and D.J. Palmer for my Advance Reader Copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Author Daniel Palmer’s website

Recent Bookmail

53341410_2570936436312078_3058760721705593493_n(1)

Here are a few books to keep on your radar as they come out over the next few months! I’m really excited to read these ones! 

_______________________________________________

I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

Then a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from perfect. Reeling, Penelope vows to stop keeping the peace and finally deal with the issues in her relationship. So she and Sanjay agree to a radical proposal: both will write a list of changes they want each other to make—then commit to complete and total honesty.

What seems like a smart idea quickly spirals out of control, revealing new rifts and even deeper secrets. As Penelope stares down the possible implosion of her marriage, she must ask herself: When it comes to love, is honesty really the best policy?

Available: April 1, 2019

_______________________________________________

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

Available: May 1, 2019

_______________________________________________

Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause

Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.

Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.

The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.

Available: June 1, 2019

_______________________________________________

Thank you to Kathleen Carter and Lake Union Publishing my free copies of the above books. 

Stay tuned for reviews!

♥ The Oxford Comma Momma

Pub Day Books – 3/19/19

Here are a few books available as of today!

queenie

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

look how happy i'm making you

Look How Happy I’m Making You by Polly Rosenwaike

The women in Polly Rosenwaike’s Look How Happy I’m Making You want to be mothers, or aren’t sure they want to be mothers, or–having recently given birth–are overwhelmed by what they’ve wrought. Sharp and unsettling, wry and moving in its portrayal of love, friendship, and family, this collection expands the conversation about some of women’s most intimate experiences.

One woman struggling with infertility deals with the news that her sister is pregnant. Another woman nervous about her biological clock “forgets” to take her birth control and confronts the reality of becoming a single parent. A new mother with postpartum depression finds comfort with a much younger man. A psychologist who studies infant laughter faces her best friend’s tragedy.

Together, these twelve empathetic stories reveal pregnancy and new motherhood in all its anxiety and absurdity, darkness and wonder.

the things we cannot save

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief. 

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

_____________________________________________________

Any other titles publishing today that you are excited about? Let me know in the comments!

♥ The Oxford Comma Momma