Book Reviews

"The Giver of Stars" by JoJo Moyes

My daughter, my friend Jaclyn, and I were lucky enough to meet JoJo Moyes back in October at the Cuyahoga Public Library. We got to listen to her discuss the months of research she put into her latest novel “The Giver of Stars” and she also did some Q&A’s with the audience.

Things I got to hear JoJo Moyes say in person:
•The “F” word twice when she was telling us a story from her time in KY doing research.
•She slipped that “Giver of Stars was already optioned for movie.
•This is also her favorite of all of her books thus far.
•Her dad didn’t think her book “Me Before You” would do very well. (It’s one of my all time faves!)
•Author friend, Sophia Kinsella was the one that convinced her to publish “Me Before You”.
•Her novel “The Last Letter from Her Lover” is being made into a movie.

Me Before Her

She also complimented my blouse and practically choked on her water when I introduced my daughter…
JM: “THAT’S your daughter? (said in her adorable accent) How old is she? You don’t look old enough to be her mother. I thought you were sisters.” (we DO look a lot alike!)
ME:”She’s 22. And thank you..I’m actually 3 mos older than you, also born in the summer of 69.”
(insert gasping while drinking water)
JM:”What?? Oh my goodness! (Big smile!) You look so young! Yay, Generation X!”(then she shook my hand firmly)

JoJo autographing my “The Giver of Stars”

She is just the cutest, sweetest person and quite funny! I would have loved to have taken a posed picture with her, but this event didn’t allow for that due to the time allotment and the amount of people there. So my daughter snapped the quick pics while I was talking to her. It was a lovely event and I am so glad I was able to go.

I took the book photo above back in Oct also, when the sky was so beautiful and tried to line it up just right with the book (nailed it!) I loved this book and learned a lot of cool things from it. It’s fiction, but loosely based on real people. It’s just a really interesting book! Atmospheric, heartfelt, inspiring and just wonderful! I hope to see her in person again someday and I will buy every book she ever writes!

I really want that blouse she is wearing!

You can buy this book here using Book Store Link. With Book Store Link, you type in the book you are looking for, then choose an independent book seller in your area or from the list, and when it comes up on the screen, it will give you a link to the bookstores website (if applicable), a phone number to call and request that it be held or ordered for you, and also the link to get the book on audio (if that’s your thing…I LOVE audio books!) It is so important to buy books from local, independent book sellers, instead of just ordering them on Amazon (and supporting a bajillionaire!) I, for one, do not want to know a world where independent book stores no longer exist. So, please, join me in helping to support them and try Book Store Link today! Or use Libro.fm and my special code MOMLOVESREADING to get your books on audio and get a 3-for-1 deal.

Book synopsis:

Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

Book Reviews · Giveaway

Heads up! Giveaway starting today on IG…

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

GIVEAWAY!! Thank you @atriabooks (#partner) for my gifted copy of “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna Elden & for sponsoring this giveaway!

Roxanna Elden’s satire is a brilliantly entertaining & moving look at our education system..Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season.

Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down.

“Gossip Girl” meets “The Office” but in an urban high school…sounds intriguing, eh?I LOVED this book so much! I already have a few teacher friends asking to borrow my copy after they heard about this book! “Adequate Yearly Progress” is funny, clever, engaging, & heart-warming & will have you thanking all the teachers in your life for all of their sacrifices & their service! Fans of @LaurieGelman ‘s “Class Mom” series will love this book! 

Giveaway will begin at 10:00am EST on Instagram.

Book Reviews

"Followers" by Megan Angelo

Thank you to @Bookishfirst for my free copy of “Followers” by Megan Angelo, which was released on 1/14! I used the points I earned reviewing books on Bookish First to claim this book for FREE! If you would like to earn FREE books by giving your first impressions of the the books in the weekly Bookish First giveaway and also for reviewing books on Bookish First, goto Bookish First , create an account and use my referral code 866866da9d3a27200 and we will BOTH earn bonus points!

“Followers” synopsis: An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make & the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever.
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Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups & influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla & Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

“Followers” traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, & toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry & tender, bleak & hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

What a book! If you are on social media, use the internet for everything (um, don’t we all?), use text messaging, etc, READ this book! You will think long & hard about your online presence & lack of all privacy these days, whether willingly or at the hands of apps, social media, or government. (For more on government privacy issues, read Edward Snowden’s “Permanent Record”, better yet, listen to it on audio book. It’s a real eye-opener!) You’ll think at times this book is going to be a thriller, but it’s not. It’s suspenseful at times, but more fiction-drama-human studies-meets Netflix’s “Black Mirror”.

A slow-burn at first, but then unputdownable! “Followers” was released on 1/14/20 so get it today anywhere books are sold or listen to it on audio book by going to Libro.fm and use my special code MOMLOVESREADING and get a 3-for-1 audio book deal. Libro.fm is SO much better than “the other” leading audio book app because Libro.fm supports independent book stores with their audio book purchases (instead of helping to line the pockets of a bajillionaire.) I LOVE Libro.fm and all they stand for, not to mention the ease of their app!

Book Reviews

"The Wife and The Widow" by Christian White

Thank you @Minotaur_Books (#partner) for my advance, gifted copy of “The Wife and The Widow” by Christian White!

The second standalone thriller from the award-winning author of “The Nowhere Child”…

Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, “The Wife and The Widow” is an unsettling thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside when she’s forced to confront the evidence of her husband’s guilt. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives. Brilliant and beguiling, “The Wife and The Widow” takes you to a cliff edge and asks the question: how well do we really know the people we love? 

I was drawn to this book because (1) It’s a suspense/thriller, and (2) The mention of an island town in the dead of winter. I live just off Lake Erie near a few major, local islands (South Bass Island, Middle Bass Island and Kelley’s Island) as well as some minor, smaller, uninhabitable islands. Our little town is super touristy in the summer and SO not touristy in the winter. Also, have you ever heard of the limited series, “Harpers Island”…it is SUPER good, and I wish like heck they would make a follow-up to it!

CBS’s “Harper’s Island” 2009

“The Wife and The Widow” told from 2 POV’s: The Wife and well, of course, The Widow. With flawlessly executed writing, this book is fast-paced, suspenseful, and compulsively readable. It will hold your attention and never let go until the very end! And just when you think you have it figured out, BOOM…TWIST!

It’s hard to tell you too much about this one without inadvertently giving anything away, but this is a book you won’t want to put down and it can probably be read in a single nerve-wracking sitting! Now I have to go pick up @Christian_White_author ‘s previous novel, “The Nowhere Child” which has also received a slew of praise. “The Wife and The Widow” publishes tomorrow, 1/21/20 so get it pre-ordered, on your tbr list, your library hold, and enjoy this gem for yourself! And if you go to BookstoreLink.com, you can get it from your favorite independent bookseller as well!

Book Reviews

"Echoes Between Us" by Katie McGarry

Thank you @torteen {#partner} for my gifted copy of “Echoes Between Us” by Katie McGarry!
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“Echoes Between Us” is bestselling author Katie McGarry’s breakout teen contemporary novel about a girl with everything to lose and the boy who will do anything to save her.
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Veronica sees ghosts—more specifically, her mother’s ghost. The afterimages of blinding migraines that consumes her whole life and keeps Veronica on the fringes. But the haunting makes her wonder if there is something more going on….
Golden boy Sawyer is handsome and popular, a state champion swimmer, but this All-American is hiding an adrenaline addiction that could kill him. Drawn to each other after a chance meeting, can they help each other battle the demons that haunt their every step or will they push their luck too far and risk losing it all…including their lives?
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This is not a ghost story. I figured I better let all you “thriller junkies” know that right off. It’s an intriguing, heartfelt, complex, emotional story that deals with some tough, but important issues: depression, addiction, illness and bullying, as well as family relationships. There are also a couple twists you may not see coming.
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Some of the adrenaline junkie stuff that involves Sawyer made my heart rate soar, and I am no stranger to migraines, as I get debilitating ones a couple times a month and have several different meds I have to take for them.
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This book is well-written and is an emotionally charged, heart-breaking, young adult romance/drama. Keep tissues handy for this gem!
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Look for “Echoes Between Us” tomorrow, 1/14, everywhere books are sold! Or even better, use Bookstore Link and order it from and support your local independent book sellers!

Book Reviews

"The Prized Girl" by Amy K Green

The Prized Girl by Amy K Green

Thank you @duttonbooks #duttonpartner for my gifted copy of “The Prized Girl” by Amy K Green!

**From debut author Amy K. Green comes a devastating tale of psychological suspense: a teen pageant queen is found murdered in a small New England town, and her sister’s search for answers unearths more than she bargained for.

Days after a young teenager named Jenny is found murdered, her small town grieves the loss alongside her picture-perfect parents. At first glance, Jenny’s tragic death appears clear-cut for investigators. In the murder of a former pageant queen from a safe and loving family, the most obvious suspect is a fan who got too close for comfort. But Jenny’s sarcastic, older half-sister Virginia isn’t so sure of his guilt and takes matters into her own hands to find the killer..But for Jenny’s case and and Virginia’s investigation, there’s more to the story. Virginia, still living in town and haunted by her own troubled teenage years, suspects that a similar darkness lay beneath the sparkling veneer of Jenny’s life. Alternating between Jenny’s final days and Virginia’s determined search for the truth, the sisters’ dual narratives follow a harrowing trail of suspects, with surprising turns that race toward a shocking finale.**

Ok, I’m just going to say it…I hate pageants. Long before the JonBenet Ramsey murder happened back in 1996, I hated pageants. It is so not my thing. That being said, I was still thoroughly invested in watching all the news about the murder and watch all the documentaries out of pure fascination. To this day, my opinion is that it was the parent of one of JonBenet’s rival pageant contestants who got sick of her getting all the glory. Moving on….

“The Prized Girl” was utterly captivating for me and kept me looking forward to getting back to the book every time I had to stop reading. The book is riveting, fast-paced, twisty, and darkly chilling with an ending that you won’t see coming..A positively stunning novel by debut author Green and I am already looking forward to her next book! “The Prized Girl” will be released this Tues, Jan 14 by Dutton Books. Get it on your TBR lists today!