Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “The Big Finish” by Brooke Fossey

Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “The Big Finish” by Brooke Fossey! (pub date 4/14)

One of Goodreads Top 25 Feel-Good and Escapist Books to Read in Quarantine as seen in USA Today

“[A] funny, winning debut.”—People

“Delightfully quirky and endearing…an absolute pleasure to read!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin

Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming.


My review: What a wonderful, uplifting debut novel! The cover alone brings a smile to my face! This is a perfect summer read that is light-hearted, feel good, & helps you escape all of the 2020 chaos & isolation.

The Big Finish” is a moving, heartfelt, uplifting novel about unlikely friendship, second chances, self-discovery, & being adventurous at any age. A super cute book that also gave me some “A Man Called Ove” vibes (one of my all-time faves!). This book gave me so many feels & overall, just warmed my heart!


More praise for “The Big Finish

“Warm, funny, and tender, The Big Finish is a journey of discovery and second chances you won’t want to end.”–J. Ryan StradalNew York Times bestselling author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Big Finish is a blast; at turns madcap, hilarious and touching. With the unlikely coupling of Duffy and Josie, Fossey has created an unforgettable duo that will win your heart and keep you laughing from start to finish.”–Jonathan EvisonNew York Times bestselling author of Lawn Boy

The Big Finish is a big-hearted, hugely entertaining novel about the most unlikely people being hijacked by second chances. I love novels about makeshift families, and this one’s a doozy.”–Monica Wood, Author of The One-In-A-Million Boy

The Big Finish is a beautiful book full of humor, wisdom, and heartbreak. This story of friendship and kinship is a heartwarming reminder that we’re never too young for a fresh start or too old for a big finish.”–Melissa DeCarlo, Author of The Art of Crash Landing

“Funny and tender, a wonderful novel about redemption, friendship, and showing up for the people you love. Heart-warming and a real hoot!”–Annie Hartnett, Author of Rabbit Cake

“Big-hearted, life-affirming, and page-turning, The Big Finish is everything a novel should be and more. Brooke Fossey is a delightful new voice in fiction.”–Jamie Brenner, National bestselling author of The Forever Summer

The Big Finish is a piercing, witty, and wholly original read.”–Kimmery Martin, author of The Antidote for Everything

“Filled with humor, heart and hilarious antics, this uplifting tale…is a series of joyful high jinks, family life lessons and second chances.”Woman’s World

“Fossey’s debut is a warm and deeply funny look at the lives of two seniors who learn it is never too late to grow old with style. Filled with rich, pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a sweet story of people finding meaning and creating family in the places they least expected.”–Booklist

“Fossey manages to depict the struggles of the elderly, whose concerns aren’t often examined in fiction, in a way that’s both respectful and entertaining. A moving, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at what makes life meaningful.”–Kirkus“[A] delightful debut…. A completely logical yet somehow unexpected ending will leave readers smiling—and looking forward to Fossey’s next effort.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Fossey delivers a funny, adventurous novel about second chances, redemption and how, just when it might seem as though life is winding down, it’s actually just getting started.”–Shelf Awareness

“Most of all, they bring the foolishness and the wisdom of their humanity, the decades-long experience that makes them exactly who they always have been. Only now, in the autumnal twilight of their years, they are just a little more so, as Fossey shows us in a way that both warms and breaks our hearts.”Dallas Morning News

“A charming, voice-driven, poignant novel narrated by a spry old codger named Duffy Sinclair…There are hijinks, mystery and adventure, but the book has just enough angst and trouble…to give it a little edge.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

Click HERE to add this book to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to get this book on audio from Libro.fm (use my code MOMLOVESREADING to get a 3-for-1 special)
Click HERE to find this or any other book at a local (or online) independent bookstore by using BookStoreLink.
Click HERE to go give my Instagram some love & LIKE my post on this book.

Brooke Fossey was once an aerospace engineer with a secret clearance before she traded it all in for motherhood and writing. She’s a past president and an honorary lifetime member of DFW Writers’ Workshop. Her work can be found in numerous publications, including Ruminate Magazine and SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut novel, THE BIG FINISH, is forthcoming in 2020 from Penguin/Berkley (US), and Piper/Pendo (DE). When she’s not writing, you can find her in Dallas, Texas with her husband, four kids, and their dog Rufus. She still occasionally does math.

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book review: “Always Last to Know” by Kristan Higgins

Click HERE to give my Instagram post some love!

Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “Always Last to Know” by Kristan Higgins! (pub date 6/9).

Sometimes you have to break a family to fix it. From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins, a new novel examining a family at the breaking point in all its messy, difficult, wonderful complexity.

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb & John, married almost fifty years, are testy & bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; & John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down. Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher & struggling artist in New York on hold to come back & care for her beloved dad–& face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, & who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, & her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks. And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.

From the author of “Good Luck with That” & “Life & Other Inconveniences” comes a new novel of heartbreaking truths & hilarious honesty about what family really means.

I received this book back in January, so hopefully I can articulate how I felt about this book when I read it in February. It is told from 4 POV’s (Sadie, John, Barb & Juliet) & it sort of felt like 4 books combined because each person’s POV was so well voiced. I had to grab tissues a couple times! “Always Last to Know” is a very poignant, heartfelt, emotional & riveting tale of family dynamics, betrayal, resentment, loss, romance & forgiveness.
This would make a fantastic limited series on Hulu or Netflix. I really loved it just like I did with the other Kristan Higgins books I have read. This is a fantastic story that will truly captivate it’s readers. Look for this book this Tues, 6/9, at your local bookstores. Click HERE to find it using BookStoreLink.

This is what the ARC cover actually looked like, but I photoshopped the actual cover for the other photo. And my son wanted to say Hi to everyone in this pic! My little photo-bomber!

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal & Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages & sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards & accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal , People & Booklist. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases & get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at www.kristanhiggins.com.
Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend & fellow writer, Joss Dey.
The proud descendant of a butcher & a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets & are often visited by their entertaining & long-lashed children.

BeachReads · RomCom

Book review: “The Happy Camper” by Melody Carlson

Click HERE to give my Instagram some love!

Thank you @revellbooks for my gifted copy of “The Happy Camper” by Melody Carlson! (pub 3/3)

Home is the place to heal, right? At least, that’s what Dillon Michaels is hoping as she leaves her disappointing career & nonstarter love life behind to help her grieving & aging grandfather on his small Oregon farm. The only problem? Her eccentric mother beat her there & has taken over Dillon’s old room. After a few nights sleeping on a sagging sofa, Dillon is ready to give up, until she receives an unlikely gift–her grandfather’s run-down vintage camp trailer, which she quickly resolves to restore with the help of Jordan Atwood, the handsome owner of the local hardware store.

But just when things are finally beginning to run smoothly, Dillon’s noncommittal ex-boyfriend shows up with roses… and a ring. Full of quirky characters, family drama, & sweet romance, “The Happy Camper” will have you scouring Craigslist for your own diamond-in-the-rough camper to restore & hunting your local hardware store for a handy guy to help your dreams come true.

I love the cover of this book so much, & I actually hate camping. Personally, I consider staying in a hotel a form of “glamping”. I just prefer all the amenities of home. I really loved reading about Dillon’s restoration of the vintage camper because it reminded me of a neighbor of mine (who has since passed away) that had one of these cute, little campers to travel with when she visited her kids. I think one of these vintage campers would make an amazing playhouse in our backyard.

The Happy Camper” is a very engaging, light, charmingly delightful beach read for everyone, & it’s completely PG. That’s one of the things I love about Baker Publishing & Revell Books. Enjoyable reading without all the raunchy sex or language. This is an uplifting & heartwarming novel that would make a fun screen adaptation. I would love to see a follow-up book where Dillon is a bit more matured. (That’s the mom in me coming out, I guess.)

I look forward to reading more from Carlson in the future, as she has written over 200 books! Look for “The Happy Camper” at your local bookstore & check out some of her other novels as well!

You can use BookStoreLink to find this book & any others. Simply type in the book title or an authors name, then type in a bookstore, city or state, & all the independent stores will be listed. Some have e-commerce sales & will ship & some have curbside pickup or home delivery right now.

The indie bookstores need our sales more than that “other online giant”. Click HERE for “The Happy Camper“.

Hope you are all having a fantastic week & are staying safe out there. And Happy Camping this summer to all you camper’s out there!

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women & children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita & the Gold Medallion) & some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons & makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband & yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Romance · RomCom

Book Review: “The Marriage Game” by Sara Desai

Click HERE to give my Instagram some love!

Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “The Marriage Game” by Sara Desai! (pub date 6/9)

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy..After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business & creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he’s forced to share his space with the owner’s beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, & a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm & sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam & Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.


A Marriage Game” is a perfectly paced & pretty hilarious rom-com, with fun, witty banter, particularly between Sam & Layla. This is an ideal beachy/poolside read & is a refreshingly feel-good, hopeful, sexy, & culturally atmospheric novel. And I LOVE the cover & all the pastel colors! I really enjoyed this book & definitely look forward to reading more from Desai!

This book releases this coming Tuesday, June 9th. Be sure to look for it at a local or online indie bookseller first! They need our sales now more than ever! Click HERE to use BookStoreLink & find this book & any others at an independent bookstore.

Click HERE to add “The Marriage Game” to your Goodreads TBR.

Here’s what others are saying about “The Marriage Game“:

“[An] enticing debut.”—SheReads

The Marriage Game is the most delicious read! From the humor, to the heartwarming family bonds, to the off the charts chemistry, it’s impossible for me to love this book anymore. I can’t wait for more from Sara Desai!”—Alexa Martin, author of Intercepted

“I fell hard for The Marriage Game from the moment I read Layla and Sam’s dynamite meet-cute. It’s a hilarious, heartfelt, and steamy enemies-to-lovers romance.”—Sarah Smith, author of Faker

“Desai’s delightful debut is a playful take on enemies-to-lovers and arranged marriage tropes starring two headstrong Desi-American protagonists. Rom-com fans should take note of this fresh, fun offering.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This witty and delightful story about family, forgiveness, and letting go is utterly satisfying. Desai’s first book will be a hit with fans of Sonya Lalli’s The Matchmaker’s List.”Library Journal


Sara Desai has been a lawyer, radio DJ, marathon runner, historian, bouncer and librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, kids and an assortment of forest creatures who think they are pets. Sara writes sexy romantic comedy and contemporary romance with a multicultural twist. When not laughing at her own jokes, Sara can be found eating nachos. Visit Sara at www.saradesai.com.

Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Burning” by Megha Majumdar

Click HERE to go to my Instagram

Thank you @aaknopf & @shelf.awareness for my gifted copy of “A Burning” by Megha Majumdar! (pub date 6/2) (Click HERE to add the book to your Goodreads list.)

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, & Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise—to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies—and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, & finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovely–an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice & dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth & hope & humor–has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, & riveting from its opening lines, “A Burning” has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting.

Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, & what it feels like to face profound obstacles & yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism.

An extraordinary debut.

**Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there are things you just can’t post on social media or any online forum, whether jokingly or not, without possibly being flagged as a terrorist by your government or invoking a visit to your home from the FBI, maybe even arrested. This story is about what happens when one young woman, Jivan, shares a video & posts a seemingly innocent comment on Facebook.


Set in present day India & told from 3 POV’s, there’s a reason this book was selected as a June BOTM. Click HERE to use my referral & join Book-of-the-Month & add this book to your first monthly box. (See one of my previous BOTM posts for all of the wonderful benefits to joining BOTM.)

Relevant, propulsive, positively captivating, & often witty, “The Burning” is an exceptionally well-written & thought-provoking, debut novel that you can zip through in a couple sittings. It’s just that good! Use BookStoreLink.com to find this book & any others at a local, independent bookstore. Click HERE to find “A Burning“.

More editorial reviews of “The Burning“:

#1 Indie Next Pick for June

One of the most anticipated books of summer by the
Wall Street JournalEntertainment Weekly, Vogue, O, Elle, The Millions, Lit Hub

“Particularly relevant today… entertaining as well as intellectually serious… complex… nuanced… Captures the grainy specificity of life in India.”
The New York Times 

“In her captivating debut novel A Burning, Megha Majumdar presents a powerful corrective to the political narratives that have dominated in contemporary India.”
Time

“Propulsive…ambitious…headlong…beautiful and supple…heartbreaking.”  
The Boston Globe

“Remarkable…Early buzz is already comparing A BURNING to the work of modern literary stars . . . but the voice—or voices—here are entirely Majumdar’s own.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Combines fast-paced plotting with the kind of atmospheric detail one might find in the work of Jhumpa Lahiri or Daniyal Mueenuddin. . . A highly compelling read”
—Vogue

““Majumdar’s explosive first novel is an intimate epic”
—Elle

“A BURNING is an excellently crafted, utterly thrilling novel full of characters that I won’t soon forget.  Megha Majumdar writes about the ripple effects of our choices, the interconnectedness of our humanity, with striking beauty and clarity. A stunning debut.”
—Yaa Gyasi

“Polyphonic…Lovely is a particular gem…brilliant”  —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a novel of now: a beautifully constructed literary thriller from a rare and powerful new voice.”
—Colum McCann

MEGHA MAJUMDAR was born and raised in Kolkata, India. She moved to the United States to attend college at Harvard University, followed by graduate school in social anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She works as an editor at Catapult, and lives in New York City. A Burning is her first book. Follow her on Twitter @MeghaMaj and Instagram @megha.maj