Review: Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Series: No

Genres: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 27, 2015

Format: Trade Paperback

Source: Purchased

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again. Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.

It’s been years since I read anything by Jennifer Weiner but when I read the premise of this one I knew I had to read it. I think I fell a little in love with Rachel and Andy before I ever opened the book. I mean, that synopsis: a connection that forms in childhood, growing up in vastly different circumstances, re-connections, life experiences, and a timeline than spans thirty years. I was sold.

Andy and Rachel meet at the tender age of 8 when both are in a Miami hospital emergency room. Andy with a broken arm, Rachel with a heart defect. Rachel lives a privileged, if insulated, life and wants for nothing. Andy’s experience is harsher – the biracial only child of a single working mother in a gritty Philadelphia neighborhood. Their brief encounter isn’t forgotten by either of them and fate brings them together again as teenagers. And there begins a relationship that will test their love, make them question who they are, and will at times both comfort and falter.

I truly loved the evolution of Rachel and Andy’s story. I loved their precious first meeting (“Do you want to borrow my blanket? My nana made it.”). And I loved being present for the twists and turns their lives took, both together and apart. From the thrill of first love to the realization that sometimes just loving someone isn’t enough, Andy and Rachel live their lives both separately and together, experiencing highs and lows that truly touched my heart.

Weiner created a story that is so multi-layered, with complex characters who are oh so human and flawed, and with situations that have no easy answers. So many issues were seamlessly woven into the story – friendship, relationships, sex, marriage, divorce, race, class, success and failure – and it all blended to form one cohesive story that felt so true to life. Readers who demand an instant pay-off may be disappointed, but if you appreciate the journey as much as the destination you will surely fall in love with Who Do You Love.

4.5/5 STARS
Do you enjoy second-chance romances?

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme 

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: 
Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR
I never actually make TBRs. I sometimes have a vague idea of what I might want to pick up soon but I am a total mood reader and often don't know what I'm going to read from one book to the next, much less for the next season. But here are the ones that are currently at the forefront - the ones that top my mental list of books I'd like to this winter (December thru February).

The Crown's Fate | Evelyn Skye
The Great Alone | Kristin Hannah
Autoboyography | Christina Lauren
All Closed Off | Cora Carmack
Alex, Approximately | Jen Bennett
Keep Her Safe | K.A. Tucker
If There's No Tomorrow | Jennifer L. Armentrout
Bittersweet | Sarina Bowen
Say You'll Remember Me | Katie McGarry

What's at the top of your winter TBR?

The Sunday Post #83

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

For those that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful day - surrounded by family and friends. It was an incredibly busy (and sometimes stressful) week here - filled with two days at the office and then two days of shopping and planning and decorating and prepping and cooking. It was my first year hosting and by the time everyone had gone home Thursday evening my entire body ached with exhaustion. But... it was absolutely worth it. I think everyone had a great time and I loved spending the day with my family. It's not often that all of us are together at the same time and it makes me so thankful for the times that we are.

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you brave the Black Friday crowds ? (I steered clear and was an absolute hermit.) If you don't celebrate, what was the highlight of your week?

Friday, November 24
Audio Book Review: 
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent


Audible was having a sale I could not resist. 
I've read several of these but I love doing rereads on audio.


How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
You know I want to hear about it! :)

Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Series: No

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Release Date: August 22, 2017

Format: Audio

Narrators: Sam O’Mahony, Roy McMillan, Kevin Hely, Tracy Keating, Stephen Hogan, Kathy O’Brien, Steven Laverty, Michele Moran

Source: OverDrive

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.

So begins Liz Nugent s astonishing debut novel a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil. 

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma. 

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation. 

With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is a page-turning, one-sitting read that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.

I very rarely venture outside of the contemporary romance genre. It’s my happy place and I’m good with that. But I took a chance on something different with Unraveling Oliver and I’m so glad I did. I’ve seen some people comment that the story was slow and repetitive but I didn’t find that at all. I was riveted from the very start and loved the gradual parceling of information as small nuggets of Oliver’s life were shared. 

Oliver has beat his wife into a comatose state and everyone is shocked, including Oliver who says he was “fond of her, in my way”. Outwardly, Oliver is handsome, successful and charming, if not a bit private. But he is also cold, controlled, shockingly self-absorbed and practically emotionless. Was he born like that or did his upbringing and environment make him that way? I was fascinated by the series of events that led to his violent attack and kept pondering the nature vs. nurture aspect of the story. What makes a sociopath?

The story is brilliantly told through eight different points of view including a childhood friend, Oliver’s mistress, an estranged half-brother, and Oliver himself. There are so many layers to the story and it was fascinating to see the full picture begin to take shape as more of the past was learned and more pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. There were so many threads that were woven together, lives that intersected, and I was amazed at Nugent’s ability to create such an intricate web and then slowly untangle it.

The narration was perfection and played such a big part in my enjoyment of the story. The voices, the accents, the delivery – all were so distinct and brought the story to life. Oliver’s cold delivery, Barney’s plaintive chronicle, Eugene’s disjointed and utterly heartbreaking thoughts. Each voice added to the overall enjoyment.

This would make an excellent book club or buddy read because there are so many questions raised and so many points perfect for discussion.

Honestly, not much. If I was feeling nit-picky I’d say that the final chapter could have been a teeny bit longer. It would have been interesting to get just a little bit more of each character in the aftermath. But that’s just wishful thinking and I was totally satisfied with the ending.

4.5/5 STARS


The Sunday Post #82

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

If you're in the U.S. I imagine you're preparing for Thanksgiving on Thursday. I'm hosting for the first time this year so I have a low level of stress simmering. LOL My to-do list is a mile long and I'm wondering how in the world everything is supposed to get done when I'm at the office for roughly 9 hours a day. *takes deep, calming breath* (Note to self: take focus off to-do list and instead enjoy the day with family.)

However you spend the day - with family, with friends - I hope you are happy and safe and filled with gratitude. And know that when I am remembering all that I am thankful for, you are on that list. 

Tuesday, November 14
Review: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Wednesday, November 15
Top 5 Wednesday:
Nostalgic Book Boyfriends

Friday, November 17
Review: Royal Pain by Tracy Wolff


Bombshell (Hollywood A-List #1) - CD Reiss



How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
You know I want to hear about it! :)

Review: Royal Pain by Tracy Wolff

Royal Pain by Tracy Wolff

Series: His Royal Hotness #1

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Format: eARC

Source: NetGalley/Loveswept Publishing

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

He’s a womanizer. He’s cocky. He’s not exactly a prince. Only technically he is. Meet your new royal obsession in this addictive novel from New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff.

Being rich opens a lot of doors. When you’re rich and royal, those doors lead to a new bedroom every night. I should know. The tabloids call me His Royal Hotness, Prince Kian of Wildemar. Women across the world see me as a naughty fairy tale, an image I’m happy to indulge. As the spare to the heir, I’m the prince with none of the power… and all of the perks. Then my twin brother is kidnapped and suddenly I’m the one who could be king. The crown chasers start circling – and yet it’s a luscious waitress who catches my eye. With a smart mouth and the curves to back it up, Savannah Breslin is as brazen as I’d expect an American commoner to be. But Savvy’s not interested in playing Cinderella. As sexy as she is, she’s no stranger to heartbreak. Besides, a nice guy wouldn’t drag her into all the drama that comes along with royalty. Lucky I’m not a nice guy. And, as it turns out, I might not even be her first prince…

Kian and Savvy meet at an event where all eyes are on him and she’s the waitress who rescues him from an awkward situation. Intrigued by a woman who isn’t a crown chaser, Kian finds out where she lives and works and begins to pursue her. As the relationship progresses, Kian finds himself developing stronger feelings for Savvy, but she has a secret that may change everything.

Royal Pain was an entertaining contemporary romance with likable characters and a fast-moving plot. Outwardly Kian revels in his playboy status and the fact that he’s royal without the responsibility. Privately, he struggles with his place in his family and his father’s cold demeanor. His brother’s kidnapping means he is now the crown prince and the new weight on his shoulders is almost more than he can bear. 

With a history of feeling second-best from both her parents and past affairs, Savannah (Savvy) has insecurities that run deep. Determined to save herself from more heartache, she tries to keep Kian at arm’s length but his persistence softens her defenses. But can a romance between a writer/waitress and a prince possibly have a future?

While Royal Pain provided fun escapism, it wasn’t without issues. Kian’s twin brother Garrett was kidnapped three months ago and yet for the first part of the novel Kian seems solidly focused on womanizing and romancing. The story felt off-kilter with so much attention given to the romance aspect in the midst of such a shocking event. It made it hard for the reader (well, me) to feel invested in Garret’s precarious situation when his own brother didn’t seem to be. Next, I don’t think I’ve ever complained about too many sex scenes, but there were so many that I actually found myself starting to skim them. And lastly, the ending was incredibly abrupt and left much unresolved. I understand this is the first in a series but there were just too many loose threads and open plot lines to provide a satisfying ending.

Readers who like their romance with a royal twist (and heavy on the sexy times) will likely enjoy this one.

Note: I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher. This in no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Have you read a book that features royalty?

Top 5 Wednesday: Nostalgic Book Boyfriends

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey.
Click HERE for a complete list of participants and future topics.

This week's Top 5 Wednesday topic: 
Nostalgic Book Boyfriends
Let's travel back in time and visit a few of my favorite 
book boyfriends from years past. :)

Jamie Fraser | Outlander series

It's been more than 15 years since I read Outlander but I remember being instantly smitten with one James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. Tall, intelligent, charming, protective, and a natural-born leader, Jamie was easy to swoon over.

Marcus Flutie | Jessica Darling Series

Marcus was the quintessential (former) bad boy. Intelligent, critical of the world around him, Marcus was often a total enigma. But his charm and charisma made it impossible not to fall for him. 

Michael Skye | Sooner or Later

A gorgeous teenage singer/musician who was destined for the big time? What's not to love? Sooner or Later (and its two follow-up novels) were books that I read over and over (and over) in the early 80's. When the first book was adapted into a made-for-TV movie (starring Rex Smith - anyone remember him?) I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. :)

Edward Cullen | Twilight

Yep, I was all about Edward Cullen when I read Twilight a decade or so ago. And you won't find me bashing the books now. No, of course they're not perfect, but at the time I was totally entertained and Edward was a swoony character.

Jace | The Mortal Instruments series

I was always a fan of Jace. Cocky and witty and so full of himself, but inwardly struggling with his past - yeah, another textbook bad boy. I loved his snarky banter and he had some seriously swoony lines throughout the series. I just have to pretend the movie never happened since that came close to ruining everything I loved about the books. LOL

Who's your favorite nostalgic book boyfriend?