8 Books That You Should Read

Posted June 6, 2016 in A Novel Read / 7 Comments

8 Books That You Should Read

One thing that most readers expect from a book blog seems to be book reviews. For me though, book reviews are actually one of the most difficult types of blog post to write, so I have a habit of either leaving them to the last minute or not sharing at all.

I’ve also been on quite a roll with reading, and putting down my thoughts as soon as I finish a book tends to break up that rhythm.

But I still want to shout from the rooftops how many awesome books I’ve been reading so that you can all go and buy copies (affiliate purchase links included), as well as support the authors who work so hard to share a story with readers like me and you.

I was looking back through the books I’ve read so far this year (there are 29 of them), and have picked 8 that I’ve yet to talk about to share with you today.

These are 8 books that you should definitely pick up and read!

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I received this book from Author for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadThe Promise of Forgiveness by Marin Thomas
Published by NAL on March 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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four-stars

When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.

But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma.

As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind.

My Thoughts:

The Promise of Forgiveness is Thomas’ first step into Women’s Fiction, and it is just the type of story that can be devoured in a matter of hours under the right circumstances. Well I did just that! I read sped through half one day, and the remaining half the next.

A poignant story about a woman reluctantly meeting her father for the first time. A parent herself, she has to take into account the feelings of her teenage daughter, with whom she has a tense relationship with.

In the small Oklahoma town of Unforgiven, Thomas introduces a wide range of characters, each seems to either be hiding something or running away. This is one of the reasons that I plowed through The Promise of Forgiveness, so that I could find out everyone’s secrets!

THE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS by @marinthomas is an addictive read, perfect for a summer day! Click To Tweet
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I received this book from Publisher for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadSomewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany
Published by Washington Square Press on March 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women
Pages: 344
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

My Thoughts:

This book, my first by Amy Hatvany, broke my heart! You should definitely be prepared going into this one about sisters separated at a young age when their young mom could no longer provide for them. Hatvany offered an eye-opening look inside the adoption system, how age can make a difference, and that not all adoption journey’s have a happy ending.

A story about sisters who reunite after decades apart and growing up in complete different environments, Somewhere Out There left me pondering for weeks.

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8 Books That You Should ReadDear Thing by Julie Cohen
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 29th 2016
Genres: Family & Relationships
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.

Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She's already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn't prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire-and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make...

Thought-provoking, heart-rending but ultimately uplifting, Julie Cohen's Dear Thing is a book you won't be able to put down, until you pass it on to your best friends.

My Thoughts:

I have a tendency to go through a phase of reading emotionally charged books one after the other. Or at least close together, which was the case with Dear Thing when I picked it up just a few days after finishing Somewhere Out There with just one book in between them. Inspiring and heart-breaking, Cohen explores how a genuine offer to help can ultimately change lives, and not always in a positive way.

Readers of Dear Thing will find themselves torn, not knowing who to side with when this friendship reaches breaking point.

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8 Books That You Should ReadThe Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig
Published by NAL on January 19th 2016
Genres: Historical, Family & Relationships, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: My Shelf - Purchased
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four-half-stars

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel's portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

My Thoughts:

Surprisingly, and despite a number of their books being on my to-be-read list, I haven’t actually read anything written by Karen White, Beatriz Williams or Lauren Willig prior to picking up The Forgotten Room. I was curious how three different authors could weave three stories with three styles together seamlessly, so I preordered a copy and drove 75 miles each way to hear the three women discuss the process at the Greenwich Library. I got home the next day and started reading The Forgotten Room. Apparently, even their editors (whom each have worked with for years) didn’t know who had written which part. And by part, I am referring to the three female characters in the three separate time periods. Olive van Allen in 1892, Lucy Young in 1920 and Dr. Kate Schuyler in 1942, each find themselves in the same house in one of its many stages – A gilded age mansion, a boarding house and a hospital.

The Forgotten Room explores the changing ways women are perceived in each of the decades, while adding mystery, friendship and romance. The chapters alternate seamlessly between each time period, and if I didn’t know any different, I would never have guessed that three different authors wrote the book.

In fact, one of the questions asked on their book tour was why they didn’t use a pen name. But of course, they wanted the book to appeal to their own individual fan bases.

I’ll definitely be reading more by each of the three authors, starting with Beatriz Williams’ Schuyler Sisters series.

THE FORGOTTEN ROOM is a must-read for any fan of historical fiction! Click To Tweet
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I received this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadKeep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Debut
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-stars

Two sisters share the surprising highs and cringe-worthy lows of social media fame, when their most private thoughts become incredibly public in this fresh and funny debut novel.

Sisters Cassie and Sid Sunday have not done a bang-up job of keeping in touch. In their defense, it hasn’t been easy: life veered in sharply different directions for the once-close sisters. Today, beautiful and big-hearted Sid lives an expat’s life of leisure in far-off Singapore, while harried, iPhone-clutching Cassie can’t seem to make it work as a wife and a mom to twin toddlers in Manhattan.

It doesn't help that Sid spurns all social media while Cassie is addicted to Facebook. So when Sid issues a challenge to reconnect the old-fashioned way—through real, handwritten letters—Cassie figures, why not?

The experiment exceeds both of their expectations, and the letters become a kind of mutual confessional that have real and soul-satisfying effects. And they just might have the power to help Cassie save her marriage, and give Sid the strength to get her life back on track.

But first, one of Cassie’s infamous lapses in judgment comes back to bite her, and all of the letters wind up the one place you’d never, ever want to see them: the Internet...

My Thoughts:

I giggled my way through Keep Me Posted, because I can actually see something like that happening. Not with my own sister, but certainly people I know. Possibly even myself, since I have such a bad memory, I would probably be the one saving copies of all of the snail mail so that I could recall questions asked when I received a reply!

Basically, sisters separated by an ocean try to reconnect the old-fashioned way, by sending snail mail. One of the sisters decides to keep copies of the correspondence, on a personal (set to private) blog of all places. Until it isn’t private any more, you see where this is going?

This is Beazley’s debut novel, and I’ll certainly be reading whatever she creates next. Her characters were authentic and relatable, and despite the giggles, Keep Me Posted was an endearing story centered around a sibling bond.

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I received this book from Publisher for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadSister Dear by Laura McNeill
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 19th 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

My Thoughts:

One of the debuts I missed out on (through lack of time) last year was Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill, it received some very loud praise in the blogging world and beyond, so I jumped at the opportunity to review McNeill’s sophomore release, Sister Dear.

I really didn’t know what to expect before I started reading Sister Dear, I hadn’t read any of the reviews (I rarely do), not even the synopsis. I was going in blind. I had ideas. I knew that it was being touted as a suspenseful thriller, and with the title I figured it was centered around sisters. Sister Dear sounded sinister, so maybe a twist?!

McNeill skillfully and intricately weaved together past and present to tell Allie’s story. Beginning with her completing a 10-year spell in prison, being reunited with her daughter (whom her sister took guardianship of), finding her way back in to the community and normality – a home, a job, relationships. We then flip back and forth learning why and how Allie ended up in prison and joining her on a quest to find out what really happened on that fateful night.

An addictive novel, SISTER DEAR by @LauraMcNeillBks should be on everyone's summer reading lists! Click To Tweet
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I received this book from Author for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadLies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Published by Berkley on April 5th 2016
Genres: Family Life, Contemporary Women
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Author
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five-stars

After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

My Thoughts:

It took me a while to read Lies and Other Acts of Love when I started it at the tail end of 2015. Partly because the holidays are always busy and partly because I wanted to savor every word in Kristy Woodson Harvey’s sophomore novel. This ensures that she is a force to be reckoned with and a southern voice that will be around for years to come!

At the heart of Lies and Other Acts of Love is family. The relationship between grandmother and granddaughter (Lovey and Annabelle) is utterly heartwarming. Filled with as much wisdom and wit as Harvey’s debut, Dear Carolina, I didn’t want the book to end. I cried, I laughed, I smiled, I sobbed. So many emotions!

Lies and Other Acts of Love really gets the reader thinking about different paths and how we shape our lives with the decisions we make, both big and small. How these decisions affect those around us, and how some choices are made for the benefit of others before ourselves.

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I received this book from Edelweiss for review consideration.


8 Books That You Should ReadThe Ex by Alafair Burke
Published by Harper on January 26th 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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four-half-stars

Twenty years ago she ruined his life. Now she has the chance to save it.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife Molly by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

My Thoughts:

Alafair Burke is an author who has been on my radar thanks to Traveling with T, but a lot of her books form part of a series, and I tend to avoid those because I feel a need to complete a series even when it isn’t working for me. Imagine my delight when I noticed that Burke’s latest novel was a stand-alone!

The Ex is full of twists and turns. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, something else happens instead. I LOVE books like that. The Ex was so full of twists and turns that I sat and read almost the entire book (90%) of it in one day, and then rushed through the final chapters over breakfast the following day.

I have been recommending The Ex to everyone I know who enjoys psychological thrillers. If you are one of those readers, you MUST read The Ex. Tell me what you think!

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7 responses to “8 Books That You Should Read

  1. I hear you on the review writing! I’ve been so lackadaisical about that lately and have been trying to think up new ways to talk about the books I read without writing book reviews. Plus, they’re the least popular posts on my blog..generally.

    • Hi Katie, thanks for visiting. I hope you are able to find some new book recommendations through my blog. The trouble is having too many books and not enough time to read! Enjoy the rest of the week, Helen.

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