Monday, June 8, 2020

SUMMER READS BOOK REVIEW! | MAY 2020

Hello hello, friends!  Welcome back! I had planned on posting my May book review last Monday but after spending last weekend glued to the news and being focused on things bigger and deeper and way more important, I decided to put a hold on blog stuff until this week.  Not that any of that has gone away but after such a heavy week, I hope reading a blog about some great new beach read recs will lighten your spirits a bit. 

My heart, like all of yours, has been so heavy and so broken over the death of George Floyd.  I haven't felt this much outrage, anger, pain, and flat out anxiety since 9/11. In the midst of all the turmoil though, I've seen things happening throughout our country that may not make the news but that make my heart swell with pride, with love, and with hope and I've seen pictures and videos that show humanity at its very best. We are all learning and growing from this and I pray that we grow TOGETHER.


  I have been so insanely emotional all week that I'm pretty sure at one point my husband thought I was flat out losing it. Between the coronavirus, the events from last week/weekend and finding out that we are basically "unqualified" to adopt a dog from a rescue (long story that I'll share on a separate post--it obviously is just a drop in the bucket with what the country is facing right now), I was just a giant ball of stress and sadness at random moments throughout the week.  The kind where you have to lock the door and just sit on the floor and have yourself a good cry.

I don't have all the right words. I'm not even going to try. Just know that my heart shattered right along with everyone else when I saw that man call out for his mama as that officer kneeled on his neck. I'm learning and growing right alongside everyone else. We're having plenty of discussions at home and promise to do our part in raising the next generation as one who doesn't tolerate racism of any kind. And we'll do everything we can to ensure that our kids are raised to treat everyone equally and to spread kindness and love while also providing them with the best example we can in our own lives.

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

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Ok, friends.  It's book review time! I have no idea how to make a smooth transition from something so heavy to something so light so I'm just going to breeze on past the awkwardness and dive on in. 😉

I listened to 5 audiobooks in May and was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Emily Giffin's new book "The Lies That Bind" so I read that on my Kindle. If you've been reading here for a while then you probably know that audiobooks are my go-to but I love sitting out by the pool, especially in the evenings with my Kindle. (I have this one but you can find the newer waterproof version here.)



I started off the month with two books that I'd earmarked to read that sounded similar and also fascinating!




I was completely intrigued by the premise...it gave me goosebumps! I couldn't wait to read.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Dannie Kohan lives her life by the numbers.

She is nothing like her lifelong best friend—the wild, whimsical, believes-in-fate Bella. Her meticulous planning seems to have paid off after she nails the most important job interview of her career and accepts her boyfriend’s marriage proposal in one fell swoop, falling asleep completely content.

But when she awakens, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. Dannie spends one hour exactly five years in the future before she wakes again in her own home on the brink of midnight—but it is one hour she cannot shake. In Five Years is an unforgettable love story, but it is not the one you’re expecting.

Yep, definitely not what I was expecting for sure. This book is very hard to review without giving away spoilers.  I wrote a full review in my Goodreads account but it has a ton of spoilers in it so I don't want to put it here. If you've already read this and want to hear my view (aka complaints...haha) then you can find it here.

So here's my (unpopular) opinion on this one.  It had all the potential to be a 5 star book. It started out strong and really sucked me in with this dream Dannie has about her future.  I was captivated. I had to know how this all comes about! But it just didn't work for me. The ending didn't make sense to me at all and basically contradicted everything you'd learned about the characters and their love for one another throughout the rest of the book. I need things to make sense, friends.

It was also a little slow at times. And it took a very serious and somber turn when one of the characters is diagnosed with cancer. This book is most definitely not all light and fluffy. But again, my biggest complaint is that the book just did not make sense to me. It is just so hard to talk about it without giving things away but the author started to lose me after Dannie goes from accepting a proposal from her boyfriend to falling asleep an hour later, waking up in a different life and sleeping with a stranger she met 5 minutes before.  Yes, it's clear that in this other life she knows this guy and may even be engaged to him but in real life, she's just met him. To her, he is a stranger and she is engaged to another man.  They chat for a bit and she jumps into bed with him. It wasn't like she was thinking "This is just a dream so this doesn't really count." She knew she was awake...sort of? Ahhhhh this book is impossible to review without telling you all the things!!

But that was how much of the book was.  Nothing made sense to me. Dannie and Bella are the tightest of tight, the very best of friends and yet Dannie does something late in the book that makes you go "How could you even consider doing that to your BEST FRIEND at a time like this, much less do it, shake it off and move along like it was no big deal?".  I just felt like there were chapters of the book that were missing that would have made the ending make more sense. Maybe the editor was bad and cut some very important scenes that would have made the ending make more sense or maybe the author just couldn't quite get there.  I didn't like it though.

We do meet the guy Dannie is with 5 years in the future and there is absolutely ZERO chemistry between them or even a hint of a romantic interest from either of them the whole way through...until the dream finally happens in real life.  I just felt like the author could have written in so much more that would tie these two together so that everything would make sense in the end.  Instead, I was left going "That seemed to come out of nowhere. What just happened? And did I miss a chapter somewhere?" There were no longing looks, or secret smiles or even prolonged eye contact that would have made us all realize these two were destined to be together in the end. I hated it. I thought it was stupid and was very disappointed. 🤷‍♀️ 

I gave it 2 stars but most of the other reviews rave about it and talk about how they cried and were blown away with the twists. I have no idea what these people are talking about. 😂 Pretty sure my opinion of this book is an outlier but it is what it is.
⭐⭐


Next up, we had The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by the same author as One Day in December. (Which I loved.)


This has a similar magical, time-traveling feel to it so I was hoping this one would erase all memories of the previous one.  Unfortunately for me, this one also didn't live up to the mark.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On Lydia’s twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants is to hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life—and perhaps even love—again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again through the doorway to her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

This book is just kind of sad. Freddie dies in a car crash on Lydia's birthday and Lydia (rightfully so) has a very hard time carrying on with her life.  She is prescribed some sleeping pills and realizes that when she takes them, they transport her into a life where Freddie never died. So she gets to live two lives and (obviously) tries to spend as much time as possible knocked out with the sleeping pills in order to be with Freddie and live the life she should have gotten with him.

It's fascinating at first but quickly becomes hard to keep up with.  I couldn't remember who all said what in which life, which event had happened in which life...things like that were hard to keep track of after so much back and forth. It also didn't help that this book seemed to drag on FOREVER.  Usually, I don't mind long books as long as I'm into the story.  I actually hate it when they are over. But I thought this one was never going to end. It was clear HOW the book would end so no surprises there. It also seemed like her mom and sister should have gotten her some help. She was clearly in a very unhealthy place for months and months after his death and they didn't seem to acknowledge it much. I don't know.  The love story between Freddie and Lydia was beautiful and you could most definitely feel her pain but this just wasn't an enjoyable read to me. It just never seemed to go anywhere.  I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars but again, I think I'm in the minority on that one.  You may love both of these books and think I'm an idiot. 😂
⭐⭐⭐

Moving on to...


I have loved almost all of Jennifer Weiner's books ever since I first read Little Earthquakes more than a decade ago. (That is still one of my all-time favorite books by the way and I feel like it gets overlooked!)


I never miss one and I was anxiously awaiting her newest release.  This one did not disappoint!

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

A sparkling novel about the complexities of female relationships, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.

Ok so first off, I loved how real this book felt in regard to Instagram influencers and social media. I appreciated Daphne's hustle and courage for putting herself out there and turning it into a lucrative business for herself after something she does at a bar one night goes viral. 

When Drue comes back in to Daphne's life, it's clear that Drue is sad, lonely and living a lie behind all her "my life is perfect" Instagram posts. Drue begs Daphne to be her maid of honor because she has no other options and Daphne agrees because hello society wedding and hot guys! Plus, as an influencer, it would make for some great content. Why not use Drue the way she's using Daphne? 

But slowly Drue and Daphne start to find their way back to each other as real friends. You get a sense this perfect society girl isn't exactly living her best life like she'd have the whole world believe and there are many secrets just waiting to be discovered.

The biggest and most unexpected part of this book happens early on though and DANG. I did not see that coming at all!!  It really did take what I thought was just going to be another fun, beachy chick-lit book about friendship and romance to a whole other level that includes twists and suspense and mystery. It'll leave you guessing all the way to the end.

While this was not my favorite Jennifer Weiner book, I'd still recommend it! It was definitely enjoyable and the unexpected twist made it that much more fun.  Some of it I found a little contrived but still. Four out of five stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Do we love Mary Kay Andrews or what? I adore all of her books! I was so excited to read her new release and so glad it wasn't a flop!


It’s a new season...

Conley Hawkins left her family’s small-town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rearview mirror years ago. Now a star reporter for a big-city paper, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C. Or so she thinks.

For small-town scandals...

When the new job goes up in smoke, Conley finds herself right back where she started, working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat―and she doesn’t exactly have warm feelings for Conley. Soon she is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.”

And big-time secrets.

Then Conley witnesses an accident that ends in the death of a local congressman―a beloved war hero with a shady past. The more she digs into the story, the more dangerous it gets. As an old heartbreaker causes trouble and a new flame ignites, it soon looks like their sleepy beach town is the most scandalous hotspot of the summer.

This one was just a classic MKA read. I love how she always includes a little mystery (usually a murder mystery) that needs to be solved so it's never just straight up light and fluffy chick-lit. (Although I have no problems with light and fluffy chick lit!)  If you are a Mary Kay Andrews fan, you'll love this one!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Feels Like Falling was my third Kristy Woodson Harvey book and it was everything I needed and it may be my favorite of hers so far.


It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.

This was just the kind of chick lit-y beach read we all need. Gray gets her mojo back after being dumped by her husband for a younger model.  Funnily enough, the head tennis pro-who is HOT and happens to be 10 years younger than Gray-seems to be completely blown away with the tennis mom. I'll root for that any day. #yougogirl

Diana is basically the opposite of Gray and in the beginning, you do wonder how exactly these two are ever going to end up as part of each other's lives. But they do and somehow form the sweetest friendship. I also loved Diana's story of her long-lost love returning and watching their new story unfold. She is forced to revisit a painful past, spill secrets that she'd kept hidden from him for all these years and try to see if they could rebuild what they once had.

I loved all the characters from Diana and Gray to their friends to the young son and even the ex-husband and mistress by the end.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

And now my FAVORITE book of the month.


I was able to get an advanced copy of this Emily Giffin's new book, The Lies That Bind, through Net Galley and I was beyond excited to read it. Yes, I got it for free in exchange for an honest review but that certainly didn't sway my review one way or the other. Just so we're clear. 😉


You guys. I LOVED this book.  Since it was an ARC (advanced reader copy) I got it in digital form so I had to read it on my Kindle instead of listening to it like I did the others.  I love reading by the pool once the sun starts go down and it's no longer 100 degrees outside and this was the perfect night for it.


I started the book around 6pm and sat outside alone until about 10 (even after it got dark!).  I was so hooked! At 10, I moved into the sunroom and laid on the couch in there determined to finish it. I just couldn't put it down!  I finally crawled into bed around midnight and finished it about 30 minutes later. I was so pumped to share this book with y'all!!

And then, I went to put it into Goodreads and saw other people who had already reviewed it and I was so confused!  I expected everyone to be raving about it and they were about 50/50! What?!!  Then I noticed a lot of reviewers mentioned something Giffin said about Meghan Markle so I'm wondering if some of them were stemming from their anger over what was said as opposed to the actual book. (As I type this, I have just googled what she said and apparently, Giffin is not a fan of Markle's. I fully support Meghan and Harry so that's not cool with me either but it has nothing to do with this book.)

Anyway, I also need to say that I didn't even read the premise to the book before I started it. I just know I don't miss an EG book and dove right on in. So maybe that's why I liked it more than some? I had no idea what to expect going in. If you want to give it a shot the way I did, just stop reading right here. But if not, continue on! :)

It's 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York's East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she'll ever make it as a reporter in the big city--and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, "Don't do it--you'll regret it." Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours--and shots of tequila--the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn't be worse--Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can't seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn't who he seemed to be?

The Lies That Bind is a mesmerizing and emotionally resonant exploration of the never-ending search for love and truth--in our relationships, our careers, and deep within our own hearts.

The first two chapters had me feeling all warm and fuzzy and I loved Grant and Cecily's little meet-cute.  I believed in the two of them as a couple, I trusted Grant's feelings for her, and I never saw him as a bad guy.  Were there things that were a little suspicious?  Sure.  But I was 100% rooting for them!!

The book is set in NYC in the year 2001 (although you aren't really told its 2001 in the beginning...you just know it's late 90s/early 2000s) so you get so many great early 2000s references sprinkled throughout.  I loved that.  And since I didn't read what this book was actually about before I started it, when the 9/11 twist hit I was shocked! I had no idea it was 2001 until that moment. Before that, I'd only known it was September.

When Grant disappeared on 9/11 I was crushed.  Like, full-stop, what just happened, why are you doing this to me?! (Again, didn't see it coming since I didn't read the premise.)  So the second half of the book definitely had a much different vibe than the first half. While the first part was full of bursting heart emojis (so to speak) the second took a somber vibe that ended up twisting itself up into a big mystery.  

I understood Cecily's actions for the most part in regards to how she handled losing Grant.  Yes, she was a little wishy-washy with her feelings for Matthew and Grant but under the circumstances, I could see how it could happen.  I never lost faith in Grant even when things didn't look so good for him.  I loved all the mysteries that were unraveled in the end how Giffin found a way to wrap it all up so that you are left satisfied.

Another thing I loved? We get a cameo from Darcy, Rachel and Ethan (from Something Borrowed and Something Blue) back in their college days, pre-Dex.  I love it when they make an appearance in Giffin's books!  Is Something Blue EVER going to get made?! They've been talking about it for years now and I'm about to give up hope.

This book had everything I love--chance meetings, true love, surprises, twists, turns and a little mystery!  Plus the nostalgia of it being set in 2001 kind of clinched it for me.  It also gave me some insight into what it was like living in New York City on 9/11.

I really loved this book and gave it 5 stars the second I finished it. Emily Giffin knows how to keep you turning pages. 
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you for the advanced copy, Net Galley! And thanks for the new Kristan Higgins novel as well! I'm almost finished with it and since it comes out tomorrow I'll be sure to post on IG stories and/or in the Deals Group if it's a good one or not! (And of course, it'll also be in next month's review.)

Now can I get that new Elin Hilderbrand book too? I can't wait for the 16th!! 😉

For all my past reviews, you can click HERE or go to the Bookworm tab in my menu.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I READ? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BEACH READ OF ALL TIME?? I love hearing recs from y'all!!  If you've got a book review blog post, feel free to drop your link in the comments for us!


Linking up for Hello Monday!
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15 comments

  1. I have that new Emily Giffin book on my list! Can't wait to read it! Am I the only one who has a hard time reading all of Mary Kay Andrews books because they're SO LONG?! After finishing I always think it was good, but why do they have to be SO LONG?

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    1. Yes! I do feel like a lot of her books have 2 stories in one almost! In this one, I remember thinking it was about to start wrapping up and then it was like "And now...Part 2!". 😂 I think it helps that I'm usually listening instead of reading it though so it seems to go by faster.

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  2. It’s not a beach read but you need to read The Guest List!! It came out last week and is SO good!

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  3. Alexis9:41 AM

    I love love love your book reviews! Your honesty is so refreshing!
    Just finished Emily’s and I really liked it! It wasn’t my favorite of her books but I still flew through it and enjoyed the entire read. She really can do no wrong in my eyes!
    I’m in the minority who hated The Dinner List (zero connnection to any of the characters) and I’m worried I’ll dislike In Five Years, too. I’ll give it a try but I usually see eye to eye with you on books so I won’t be surprised if I don’t like it.
    I will say I did love Lydia Bird, though. It was slower at the start but I loved all her growth throughout and I felt as though in that sense, it was realistic. I also loved how it ended. Took me til the second half of the book to really get into it and then I loved it.
    I’m buying both the new Kristy Woodson Harvey and Kristan Higgins reads this week! They are two of my faves!
    Okay recs...I LOVED The Prenup by Lauren Layne, The Simple Wild and Wild at Heart (fav chick-lit books of the year so far by far - chick-lit but with depth!), and Say You Still Love Me (one of my top pics last summer!). Also, Well Met is one of the cutest books I read last year. Just adorable!
    I would recommend so many others but seriously, you’ve read all the ones I’d recommend (esp Friend Zone and Happy Ever After Playlist!) 😂, so I’m sharing the ones above bc I don’t think you’ve read those from what I can remember. So sorry if you have!!

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    1. I've been hearing about The Prenup everywhere!! I'll be sure to add those all to my list! I read Well Met last October during my phase when I got out of doing book reviews for some reason. But I loved it!

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  4. Have you read any of Megan Miranda's books? I like a little suspense/mystery in my choice of books and hers are good. I also liked earlier books by Kristin Hannah. She has gotten a little heavier in her newer ones. The earlier ones were more chick-lit. Night Road is my favorite book of hers. Winter Garden was really good but very heavy-it was one of those books that I could NOT stop thinking about.

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    1. I don't think I have but I love anything with a bit of mystery too so I'll look her up! I still have not read a Kristin Hannah book and I don't know why!! I love books that I can't stop thinking about!

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    2. Susanne N.8:18 PM

      Winter Garden is just about my absolute favorite book. I own so many copies of it!

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  5. Many of these are on my tbr list for this summer, so I'm so happy to see you liked most of them. Right now I'm listening to Big Summer and enjoying it! Have a great week!

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  6. Did you see that the authors of The Last Mrs. Parrish came out with a new book last month called The Wife Stalker? It was so good I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it in a day because I had to know what happens next. And it had a twist most people won't see coming.

    And then the authors of The Wife Between Us released an Audible Original last month that was only like 2 hours long, called The Getaway I think, but that was good too! When I read thrillers, they always remind me of you/your blog because I remember you recommending both The Wife Between Us and The Last Mrs. Parrish on here and ended up loving them both!

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    1. Thank you for the heads up! I had no idea! I just downloaded it last night and started it this morning. 🎉 I need a good thriller after all the chick lit I read last month!

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  7. I have been really on the fence about In Five Years because I did not like The Dinner List. The premise was good, but I just did not find the characters likable at all and could not connect. I also started it on Audible and had to switch to the kindle b/c for some reason I just could not take the author's voice! Weird? Some books I feel like are better because of the the voice (whoever read Big Sexy Love was fantastic) but others I just lose patience with and have to pick up an actual copy.

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    1. I've had to do that a few times before. The worst one ever was Teresa Giudice reading her own book. 😂😂 So painful.

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