The Last Woman in the Forest

img_0754The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets was offered as a review opportunity by Penguin Publishing and the First to Read program. Choosing this book to review was out of my comfort zone as I usually chose historical fiction or rom-coms. I’m glad I did venture out though because this was an unexpected joy.

The suspense, both fear of the next move and psychological were just enough to keep me guessing but also providing a fun read right before Halloween. The Last Woman in the Forest was very well written and although the author left hints of the ending, there was enough suspense to keep the reader engaged and in the dark so to speak.

Marian is working as a rescue dog handler collected animal data in remote areas but she loves it and feels this work is her calling. Marian also discovers love while in the forest in her mentor and trainer, Tate. But is love all it seems to be and is Tate who she thinks he is?

Prior to Marian’s arrival in this area there were several murders of women. These murders were investigated by a profiler named Nick and when Marian starts to question if she could be related to the murders and if a man she thought she knew could also be related she found her way to Nick who helped her reopen the unsolved case and eventually close it.

I gave this read three stars on Goodreads . I found the plot to be consistent but I was hoping for more finality to the Nick character and I found a few areas a little on the slow side. Overall though I really enjoyed this book and have recommended to several people that I know enjoy this genre.

I was given a pre-release copy in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.

Learning Through Cooking

A large portion of our science study this semester is the human body so I wanted to incorporate healthy eating. It’s important that the kids learn that food fuels our body and that “healthy” eating doesn’t mean icky foods but instead can be fun and delicious. I have found that when the kids get in the kitchen and help make food and create their own meals they are more willing to try new foods/spices/combos.

2 programs we’ve used to get the kids cooking are Raddish Kids and The Thinking Tree Smoothie Time . Both the kit and the book allow the kids to explore different foods but also to learn the origin and facts about foods, cooking technique, how food works in our body and how food can be a way to serve, bond and relate to people in our lives.

Strawberry Banana

Another great resource I have found is The Julie Rothman Collection. The collection includes: Farm Anatomy, Food Anatomy, and Nature Anatomy. These books are gorgeous! I leave them displayed in my living room and they are always a favorite when friends are over. There is something new to discover every time we look. For the human body unit we are loving the Food Anatomy book to explore the ingredients we use in our smoothies. But the other 2 are so full of awesome information and engaging pictures and charts.

I try to steer away from “Googling” the answers to questions because almost every time we research something in books we come across something we didn’t know and that spawns even more learning! I am really enjoying getting in the kitchen with the kids, although the mess is hard for me to deal with but the learning is in the mess, and I’m learning to embrace the mess.

February Reading Wrap-Up

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe By Carla Laureano

I read Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe without reading Saturday Night Supper Club but I don’t feel like that took away from the story at all. I enjoyed the romance and the tragedy of loss and how both of those will determine how we make major decisions. There were moments I was so mad at the characters, because I knew something they didn’t but I was happy with the ending. I really appreciated the religious tie ins and didn’t feel like it was overbearing but added to authenticity of the life of Melody.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkenan

I can not say enough great things about Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkenan. Every book I read by them is a winner. They, yes they, have a way of writing a story that is suspenseful at every turn. Just when I think I have it figured out, boom, another twist. The psychological crazy that these ladies write is amazing. For this book I was so torn on who to believe and who to connect with or identify with. I listened through overdrive and that added a level of suspense I think. What I love about the style of Greer and Sarah is that every action, conversation and interaction is calculated. There are no extra words, no fluff. Every character is over the top and larger than possible which could make the story unbelievable but instead adds to the depth of the story. SPOILER: my favorite twist was that Emma, the new wife, was the daughter of the professor that got Vanessa pregnant. Like I said every moment calculated. I gave 4 stars

China Rich Girlfriend By Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend was a great second book to the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy. Kevin Kwan is incredibly funny and can write a mystery wrapped in humor wrapped in a romance. I hope there is a second movie!

January Reading Wrap-up

The Girls at 17 Swann Street By Yara Zgheib

Yara Zgheib did a great job of taking the reader into the world of eating disorders and in-patient recovery. The slippery slope that Anna slid down, removing one food group, controlling every bite and becoming obsessed with eating and food is hard to explain and understand from the outside and even harder to watch someone you love slide.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Boonie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People’s Houses was a pleasant find. A few ladies in my online book group recommended it. I listened to on Overdrive, I love that resource. I love books and movies that are several stories about different people that are all connected but may not know it or each other. I have also been loving stories set in Alaska, so mysterious. My only complaint about this book was that now I need more from the characters.

To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

I have been patiently waiting to read this one! And now I’m patiently waiting to read the rest of the trilogy. Oh man did I relate to Lara Jean! Secret letters I wrote to boys never made their rounds through my high school, but I was a teenage girl navigating crushes and figuring out who is OK to date and who is off limits. Not to mention the mean girl situation! The writing by Jenny Han was right out of a teenagers mind and spoke to those feelings that most of us have been through but would not return to! I appreciated the immaturity of the characters and their authenticity. I’m still not sure how I feel about who ended up with who in the end but maybe that will change in the next book. Look forward to reading that!

An Improbable Pairing by Gary Dickson

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the mysterious woman on the cover. I want to know her and know her secret. I was not disappointed by her or her story. Gary Dickson gives the reader a love story set in a romantic world only Paris can provide.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

My Instagram book pals and I read A Place For Us as a buddy read. This was another example of a book I would not have picked up on my own and honestly would not have stuck with if it wasn’t for the friends telling me to stick with it. I was blown away. I wasn’t sure where the book was going and I needed a big moment and it never came, and that’s what made the story so beautiful. The daily life of a family with a father who was overbearing and strict out of love. A mother that married her husband in an arranged marriage but followed him to America and through life, standing behind all of his decisions. Children that didn’t understand their parent’s relationship or the relationship each parent had with each child. The story was so relatable even through the lens of another culture. I put A Place For Us in my all time favorites.

The Suspect: Book Review

9781101990513I was given the opportunity to read The Suspect by Fiona Barton through Penguin Publishing’s First to Read program. I’m usually not a huge suspense reader but I gave it a try and it did not disappoint. I loved the multiple points of view once I had the characters and there personalities down. The author did a nice job developing the characters so it was easy to differentiate story line I was reading.

When two young ladies go missing while on gap year in Thailand, news reporter Kate Waters dove head first into the details to secure the first report of the happenings. Kate takes a special interest in the girls case, even using her close friendship with the lead detective to gain insider information. The back story of Kate revealed that her son was also in Thailand and while not missing, Kate wasn’t sure where he was. She missed her son and that ache of a mothers heart helped her empathize with the girls parents. All of the parents would soon learn that they may have more in common than Thailand and missing children.

The Suspect was a quick read and kept me engaged. The beginning was a little slow full of details and back story but all pertinent information. Towards the middle the story sped up and I was grateful for those details.

I gave 3 stars on Goodreads.

An Improbable Pairing: Book Review

Great Gatsby fans this read is for you!

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the mysterious woman on the cover. I want to know her and know her secret. I was not disappointed by her or her story. Gary Dickson gives the reader a love story set in a romantic world only Paris can provide.

In the beginning I felt a Titanic, Jack and Rose. The longing of a second class young man for the first class lady out of his league. As the book progressed I felt more Gatsby, but in the 60’s, the golden age of Paris.

Scott is a graduate student on his way to a prestigious international program in Geneva when he lays eyes on Countess de Rovere, a french divorcee in a social standing high above his own. Fate put them on that boat headed East and fate placed them in the same places several times after. Scott and the Countess come from very different worlds, will those worlds keep them apart or will they navigate the ever present boundaries to be together?

I loved the setting and the extravagance. After reading An Improbable Pairing, I really want to visit Geneva and Gstaad, but I’ll need a new wardrobe and wealthier friends.

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley and Green Leaf Book Press in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to leave a positive review.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street: Book Review

Yara Zgheib did a great job of taking the reader into the world of eating disorders and inpatient recovery. The slippery slope that Anna slid down, removing one food group, controlling every bite and becoming obsessed with eating and food is hard to explain and understand from the outside and even harder to watch someone you love slide.

After ballet and a transatlantic move Anna needs to find control somewhere and she finds that in food and eating. Despite pleas from her loved ones Anna continues to sink farther and farther until she reaches rock bottom and finds herself among the ladies of 17 Swann Street. In this house she will find help and friendship, she will experience tough love and true love. Anna will discover she has a life worth living and that she is enough.

Thanks to NetGalley I received an advanced copy of this book, along with several other books creating an enormous “to be read” list!! I am not alone though and found a great group of ladies that I am reducing my NetGalley numbers along with. The Girls at 17 Swann Street was one that several of us needed to read so we read it together, which is always more fun. I knew it would be hard for me to read a book on this topic from personal struggles but I am in a great place and able to appreciate Anna and her fellow housemates. However, there were several times the tears flowed for Anna and her friends, for past me and for my friends that struggled. I cried a little because the struggle is never gone and over but the strength makes each day a little easier.

I’m not sure if it was the format of the galley that was hard to follow or if Anna being young and French created odd inner dialogue but there were moments I wished for a more straight forward format of dialogue. I was satisfied with the ending and found the introduction to characters and relationships was laid out well. I gave 5 stars on Goodreads, partly because it was a great book and partly because I have not connected with a book so deeply in a long time.

An Anonymous Girl: Book Review

I really enjoyed An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. This is the first book I’ve read from these co-authors. Speaking of…I could not move past the fact that this psychological thriller was written by two people! The twist and turns, the what the hecks and the I did not see that coming moments were ever present. I will say there were a few moments I needed more movement but when the plot moved it moved. I gave 4 stars on Goodreads.

Jessica Farris, posing as a client she met through her job at BeautyBuzz, finds her self in a study on morals and ethics. While sitting in front of a computer and answering a few personal questions and telling a complete stranger how she would react or feel in intense ethical dilemmas, Jessica is asked to continue the study in person. Not knowing what that means but being driven by money Jessica follows this Dr. behind the computer into a real life morally compromising situation. After meeting Dr. Shields, Jessica realizes she has no idea what she has gotten herself into. Although she is told she can stop the experiment at anytime, can she? Will she be allowed to? What is her purpose in these situational experiments. An Anonymous Girl leaves the reader and Jessica wondering who can be trusted and what will happen if the wrong person is chosen.

What I loved:

  • fast read
  • multiple view points
  • unreliable characters- turning out to be not who I imagined
  • details that led to false assumptions

What I didn’t love:

  • unreliable characters- I couldn’t follow their rationale at points
  • the ending lacked something
  • slow moments in the middle

I would recommend this to a reader that likes thrillers, that can read about more ethical choices that can sometimes make you cringe or someone that loves a mind game.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. I received this galley in exchange for my honest opinion and was not required to leave a positive review.

Crazy Rich Asians: Book Review Vs. Movie

Ahh. I waited all summer to get my hands on this book! I am still waiting on the rest of the series (insert Jeopardy theme song). I read Crazy Rich Asians in two days and watched the movie that night, they were both so funny and easy to get wrapped up in. 

We all know that the book is always better than the movie but in this case I liked them both equally…book friends don’t be mad. The movie veered from the book quit a bit while maintaining the underlying plot and character relationships. Characters that played major roles in the book didn’t have the same presence in movie and vice versa. I found both book and movie to be funny and light. I read the book in a few days and could have read it faster but I had to teach, feed kids, clean…you know life.

Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nick but Rachel doesn’t realize that Nick comes from a wealthy family, wealthy may not be the right word! When she arrives in Singapore she is slammed with Nick’s reality and the scrutiny of his family, specifically his mother. Rachel is a rock star and sticks to her roots making Nick and his family remove the target she unintentionally wore. Navigating the “JetSet Asian” culture that is the culmination of old and new money, mainland China versus life on the Island, is no easy task for a Chinese girl raised by a single mom in America but with the help of a few allies and Nick Rachel does it.

I’m patiently waiting on China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems to hit my available holds! Kevin Kwan write more books!

The Matchmaker’s List: A Review

img_0736-1I really enjoyed The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli. While it was a rom-com it had the multi-cultural twist of finding love in the Indian culture. Finding love and navigating the dating waters is hard enough but throw in a time-clock assigned by your culture, an over involved nani and unrequited love and gracious that’s a disaster waiting to happen!

Raina is approaching 30 and she isn’t married. Although she has a stable job and is otherwise happy, by Indian standards she is running out of time. So who better to help find that special someone or at least that someone from a good Indian family and a worthy job, Raina’s grandmother Nani, of course. Nani has Raina’s best interest as heart and maybe her reputation in the community on the line but her matchmaking ways is driving Raina crazy, crazy to the point she will do almost anything to stop her poor Nani from meddling. Raina’s desperation may lead her to make a choice that could hurt those she loves but may also help those in the community see that times are changing and that’s ok.

The Matchmaker’s List is a fun multicultural romantic read. Light and easy to read, or maybe I was just laughing and entertained that I flew through it. Great read.  5/5 stars!

The Matchmaker’s List releases January 19, 2019.

I was given an advanced reader copy of The Matchmaker’s List through First To Read in exchange for my review. The opinions are my own and I am at no obligation to leave a positive review.

Thank you First to Read, Sonya Lalli, and Penguin Random House.