This book was crazy! I really enjoyed the twists that were carefully woven into the story to provide lots of heart-racing moments! I especially enjoyed that we get to read the POV of the antagonist as well as the protagonist. It created an interesting perspective for me as I was reading, and I loved it!
Freya Miller is trying to get her life in order after the death of her husband. Without a job, she’s quickly running out of money. She has sold her home and is prepared to temporarily move into a friend’s place when the opportunity of a lifetime falls into her lap.
Dr. Marsden is looking for a new tenant and a coffee shop accidental meeting leads him to believe Freya is just what he is looking for. Freya quickly agrees to this upscale, beautiful apartment for such a ridiculously low rent, she can’t believe her luck.
Freya is soon moved in but doesn’t even get a chance to be happy. Everything seems a little off. Dr. Marsden and Mrs. Marsden seem extremely controlling. They want to install a video camera in her apartment entrance, and they don’t like visitors. The list goes on and on.
The apartment building, Adder House, seems to have a dark history that people won’t tell Freya about. She begins hearing sounds and voices, and things are moved around in their apartment. Freya is starting to think this was too good to be true.
How I Felt:
The plot for The Apartmentwas so good! I felt like all the pieces fit together perfectly to provide an exciting thriller for the reader. I did guess what was going on but didn’t have all the details figured out. I don’t mind guessing at a thriller, I like to see if I’m right. So, it doesn’t bother me as long as it’s still a good story.
The Wives had an awesome premise that had me so excited to pick this book up. I loved all the secrets that surrounded the intricacies of this relationship!
Thursday is married to Seth. Seth is married to Thursday…and two other women, sort of.
Thursday went into her marriage fully aware that Seth had two other wives, but she was okay with the arrangement because she loved him so much. She’s happy with their arrangement. She gets to see him once a week, and that makes her content.
Until she accidentally finds the identity of one of his other wives and a receipt for a prenatal doctor’s visit. One thing leads to another and Thursday finds herself on the doorstep of this wife to see what she’s like.
Thursday’s life begins to spiral out of control from there as she suspects Seth of abusing this other wife. Except that her Seth is nothing like that…is he?
How I Felt:
This story did not go where I thought it was going to go and it threw me for a loop! I was really hooked on the whole plot until about halfway through. Then everything kind of got turned upside down, and I felt like I was reading a different book. The story completely changed and it felt less like a thriller and more like an odd domestic fiction.
I really appreciate the author tackling such a tough subject matter. I am sure it is hard to write about the topics surrounding this story, but I feel it is also important for work like this to be available to people, especially a younger audience.
How I Felt:
This story was an emotional read. Written by debut author Cynthia Salaysay, it is touted as a #metoo story and it is, but it takes a while to get there. The book was slow to start and really draws out the manipulation by Paul, the music teacher. The author did a good job of showing how cunning Paul is as he passes small compliments to Claire in a very calculated manner.
❤️ A group of men finding relevant love advice through trashy romance novels.
What Didn’t Work:
👎 Most of the characters were completely unlikable.
How I Felt:
The story introduces the reader to Gavin, a major league baseball player, and a man with a marriage falling apart. After a fabulous win, he and his wife get down and dirty and Gavin discovers that she’s been faking it their entire marriage. This leads to an awful argument and a separation. Some of the other players on his MLB team approach him and introduce him to their Bromance Book Club. The club is a group of men reading Regency romance novels and taking away the love advice.
Gavin is skeptical but does try it out. His first step is to offer his wife, Thea, a deal. They agree for him to move back in until Christmas, and if Gavin can’t win her back, he’ll give her a divorce. Gavin has some guidelines though, she must kiss him goodnight every night and go on a date with him each week. Will Gavin’s plan to win Thea back work or is the advice from the romance novels a waste of time?
I enjoyed the idea of this plot. I liked that Gavin was expanding his idea of how to love his wife. He’s trying new things, and working at the relationship. I struggled though, with Thea’s end of the bargain. I felt like she was putting nothing into the relationship. I know that it was Gavin’s job to win her back, however, she was the one faking it through their entire marriage. Her frustration and ultimate reason for a divorce comes down to her not trusting people, and yet, she was the one keeping secrets from Gavin for so long.
Swimming Sideways was such an emotional story. I was so impressed with how C.L. Walters was able to draw out such feeling and connection to the characters! The story was deeply moving and I can’t wait to read the second book!
On The Details:
The story focuses on Abby, and her torn love between two boys, Gabe and Seth. Who Abby is as a person is a big focus. She goes through a self-discovery journey to decide who she is, and who she wants to me. I did find some portions of the story to be a bit slow. The beginning of the book didn’t quite capture my attention, and it took some time to really settle into the story. Once, I did though, I was hooked!
The intertwining story of the twin’s lives with their birth mother’s story was beautiful. I loved the way the tale was woven together, jumping from one piece of the story to the next. It kept me so interested!
How I Felt:
The Birth Mother is a beautifully written story with excellent research and information about the locations making the book come alive for the reader! I was so invested in the stories! The birth mother’s story had me gripped from the moment I found out her parents were selling her to save their son. I appreciated the statements the book is making on the roles of a female within each country’s culture (and religion). It is not overstated, but you see it within the Chinese portion of the story with the treatment of the birth mother and the orphanage’s lack of boy babies. In America, it is so obvious just from the relationship of the adoptive parents. The religious beliefs are fleshed out thoroughly as you complete the book, giving explanation to why God is a She. I found this to be a great overarching theme through the book and I appreciated the Ah-Ha moment as things were explained towards the end.
The writing style in this book felt so unique. Daryl is having a biography completed for his family so at times, the biographer is telling the story, but then Daryl just can’t contain his excitement and he takes over for portions of their family history. I found it endearing, and their relationship was another trait from this book that had me captivated.
A rape scene that is not graphic but could be a trigger for some people. Discussion of birth and babies.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend this book to any reader that enjoys a book surrounding family. The book is well-written, and the story moved quickly. I highly recommend The Birth Mother to anyone that loves a dramatic story with endearing characters.
On a business trip, a high-powered fifty-six-year-old American entrepreneur visits his partners in China. After their meeting, his Asian mentor invites him to an orphanage, a trip that will change the course of his family’s life forever. Without hesitation, he and his wife fall in love with Anglo/Asian twin girls and become their adoptive parents.
The children grow up in a world of twists and turns with multiple coincidences and synchronicity. Their journey takes them from China to Europe to America and back to China where their unusual birth mother enters their lives. This powerful story is filled with drama at every turn as the daughters face internal and external challenges. The Birth Mother is a story filled with love, pathos, tragedy, and triumph. Read, laugh, cry, and learn. It’s a tale you will never forget.
Seymour Ubell is not a professional author. In fact he never went to college. His father died when Seymour was seventeen years old and suddenly had to get a job and help support the family. Seymour was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He has lived in Manhattan for the last 40 + years. He is the chairman of an American packaging company with offices in New York, China and Europe.
At eighty-eight, the author’s daily routine includes working out every other day at 7:AM in a local NYC gym, breakfasts with friends and arrives at his office each day around 10am. By 3pm he heads home to his wife and continues his research and writing. His weekends are spent enjoying the cultural arts of Manhattan, including the theater the Philharmonic, movies and his family. He is currently writing two more novels. The first, almost complete historical novel about his family business which goes back to early 1880 with his great grandfather in the original family shop in Poland. And continues into 2019 in the USA and the rest of the world. His other novel is entitled, Second Love. About people who divorce, lose their partners from a health problem, an accident or even suicide…and find a second act in love and togetherness.
Seymour Ubell has spent most of his career in the print and advertising business. His clients are, and have been, the largest apparel, footwear, pharmaceutical, retail and consumer products companies in the world. He is a published author (A Life of Risks Taken, 2014 and The Birth Mother, 2019), lecturer, and raises funds for Parkinson’s research when he’s not at the theater with his wife, Marsha.
I had a chance to interview Seymour Ubell on his writing and inspirations!
SJLB Question: How did you do research for your book? SU Answer: Google, thesaurus and dictionary…some interviews.
SJLB Question: Which was the hardest character to write? SU Answer: Shan Di’s biological father. It was difficult for me to imagine the feelings of a father selling his daughter. The easiest? The feeling of the adoptive father was the easiest.
SJLB Question: In your book you make a reference to “God Is A woman”….how did you come up with this idea? SU Answer: When writing the book, my life with my wife, my mother and my daughters fed me with enormous kindness. I began to learn that all beautiful things on this earth have a feminine title. In my marriage to my second wife, Marsha made my life, our home and all that surrounded us into a heaven. Therefore to my sixth sense, God must be a woman. My niece Lori Ubell allowed to include a wonderful brief story that she wrote many years ago, which I never forgot.
SJLB Question: What made you write a book about adoption SU Answer: It came from an original experience of almost adopting Anglo Asian twins.
SJLB Question: Where do you get inspiration for your stories? SU Answer: My inspiration comes from actual experiences. I am now working on two books. One is entitled, The Family Business. It goes back 125 years to my great grandfather’s original tailor shop in Poland. My other book entitled “Second Love or Act ll, I am not sure of the title. The story is about at least ten couples who lose partners by divorce, death or sex complications and find a second love.
SJLB Question: There are many books out there about adoption….What makes yours different? SU Answer: I Have not read any other BOOKS ON adoption.
SJLB Question: What advice would you give budding writers? SU Answer: A good writer is always writing…even as he or she thinks. All thoughts should be written down…otherwise you will forget the ideas that come to you on a daily and even hourly basis.
SJLB Question: Your book is set in China, the USA, and Europe. Have you ever been to these locations? SU Answer: I have spent 25 years of my life going to China on a monthly basis. And Europe as well.
SJLB Question: If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be? SU Answer: I am all the characters.
SJLB Question: Do you have another profession besides writing? SU Answer: Business man in here in the USA, with offices in China and Europe.
SJLB Question: How long have you been writing? SU Answer: Seven years, however I’ve been telling stories my entire life.
SJLB Question: Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it? SU Answer: I do get writers block. I just stop writing until the flush of ideas comes back. Reading helps and the theater definitely helps
SJLB Question: What genres do you write and why? SU Answer: I fictionalize actual experiences. Except for my memoir. All 100% truth.
SJLB Question: What is the last great book you’ve read? SU Answer: Portnoy’s Complaint, The Mueller Report, The Ride of a Lifetime, Bob Iger. The Brothers Karamazov, Red Notice, The Good Earth.
I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest, unbiased review voluntarily.
I loved the ending. The last few chapters did me in. I literally had tears streaming down my face. I have NEVER read a book that wrapped up the way Colleen Hoover did in Regretting You. I am still in awe and I absolutely loved it. I’m not going to say anything more about this because there will not be spoilers from me, but it is worth the read.
How I Felt:
This is my FIRST Colleen Hoover book, and I am already figuring out how to fit more of her books into my reading list! The way she wove this story was fascinating. The book is told from two perspectives, 16-year-old Clara, and her mother, Morgan. I loved how raw the emotions were during their struggles in this book. Above all else, for me, this book was about healing, forgiving, and relationships of family and love.
There are two stories of romance for the reader. Clara’s is a first love sort of story with all the goodies and struggles that go along with that. Then, Morgan’s story is filled with healing after the death of her husband and finding a new path forward.
The writing in Regretting You is phenomenal. The first-person narrative is captivating, as each woman tells their story. The supporting characters all played a role in the story, and I loved the role each played.
To Read or Not To Read:
If you love Colleen Hoover, I’m sure this is already on your TBR (to-be-read) list. So, this section is more for those that haven’t discovered her yet. Regretting You is a real-feel life story filled with struggles that really happen and may touch you on a personal note. You are pulled in by each character’s heartbreak and happiness. If you enjoy a book that tugs at the heart strings, but can also give you those warm fuzzies, you need to read this book.
Have you read any other books by Colleen Hoover yet? Check out my review of Verity by Colleen Hoover!
Morgan and Clara seem to have a pretty normal teenage daughter and mother relationship. There’s absolutely love there, but there’s also tension. Morgan was young and unexpectedly pregnant with Clara and wants to make sure Clara doesn’t follow the same path her mother did. Clara wants to go to an arts school to become an actress and has no intention of leading the same life as her mother.
Their fairly ordinary life is turned upside down when Chris, Morgan’s husband and Clara’s father is killed in a car accident. Devastated by the loss, Morgan quickly finds that there are more questions than answers surrounding the accident. Struggling to shield Clara from these unexpected and unwanted secrets, Morgan finds herself at constant odds with Clara. Can these two find a way to heal their relationship and their hearts?
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Page Count: 363 pages
Genre: Romance / YA / Contemporary
Pub Date: December 10, 2019
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
The view into a sub-culture of Punjabi women. The widows are their own group and require different dress, actions, and respect than other women. They made me giggle at times and sad at times, but I loved them through it all.
How I Felt:
So, my husband went with me to Barnes & Noble and was like, “Hey, what about this one.” He thought he was being a bit funny because of the name, but then I got sucked into yet another intriguing cover and title. So, I did not realize this was part thriller until it happened. I was a bit taken aback by the thriller aspect. I thought this book would read more like a domestic fiction, and it really threw me off for a bit. I struggled to get through the middle 100 pages because I couldn’t quite figure out what this book wanted to be. There are a lot of story-lines and if one or two had been dropped, the book may have gone a bit smoother for me. Once I was able to just accept the book for what it was, a bit of romance/thriller/erotica all thrown into one stew-pot, it was easier to read.
Getting past those feelings, the book was good. It was intriguing and kept me wanting to know how things would turn out.
The “Erotic” in “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” is not kidding. The erotica sections made me laugh sometimes because they were silly, but others are pretty enticing and a bit naughty! Fair Warning!
To Read or Not To Read:
As long as you are ok with a little erotica thrown into your book, this was a worth-while read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to people that enjoy a bit of a leisurely stroll through a good book. This one doesn’t pick up the pace for the thriller story line until deep into the pages.
Where To Find This Book:
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal can be found at these sites.
Nikki is a Punjabi young woman living in London. She’s trendy and very non-traditional which can be a frustration to her family at times. She applies for, and gets, a position at the community center to teach an English writing class, open to Punjabi women.
She quickly discovers that her lesson plans will need to go out the window as she one day arrives late to find them reading aloud from an erotic novel. This sparks some liveliness into the widows, who end up returning to class with stories of their own. What will Nikki do? She doesn’t want to lose her job, and yet she wants to support the women.
Just the Facts:
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal Genre: Contemporary Page Count: 314 Publisher: William Morrow Pub Date: June 13, 2017
What I Loved: The mystery surrounding this story had me hooked. I really needed to understand what happened! Jodi Picoult’s writing is always so gripping and full of questions you just need to have answered and this one did not disappoint.
How I Felt: Shattered. Utterly shattered. This book surrounds a school shooting, which is just a terrifying story line. I was devastated for the families, but sucked into the aftermath’s story.
To Read or Not To Read: With the caveat that this has trigger warnings with school shootings, gun violence, and teen death, this was a great book. Jodi Picoult fans will not be disappointed. If you haven’t read Jodi Picoult, this one does not stray from what readers love so much about her. It is a great book, and I highly recommend it.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
A school shooting has taken place in a small New Hampshire town. This book follows the aftermath of that shooting, including the trial for the shooter. There is an eye-witness that cannot remember what she saw, and she happens to be the judge’s daughter. There are a lot of mysteries to be solved throughout the story, keeping you turning the pages long into the night!
What I Loved: Jodi Picoult has the ability to write about the worst situations and make millions of people want to read the book. She is a master at storytelling. This book is another one. I loved it because she wrote a story I was wrapped up in. I needed to know what happened and what was going to happen to these characters.
How I Felt: This is a sad story, ripping you apart piece by piece. The death of a teenager, the sadness of a suicide pact *potentially*, just tears you up. However, it is a powerful book that keeps you turning the pages.
To Read or Not To Read: Readers of Jodi Picoult will enjoy this book. I do have this tagged as Romance for romance-lovers, however, it’s more of a love *Romeo and Juliet style* so be prepared for that. Trigger Warning: Teen death and suicide.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Two teens grow up living next door to each other. They are friends as children and that friendship grows into love by their teenage years. Then, one night, Emily’s parent’s lives are shattered when they are called to the hospital where their daughter has died from a gunshot wound to the head. Her boyfriend Chris is alive, but has a gun with one bullet in the chamber. Chris is adamant that it was a suicide pact, however, the city’s detectives are unconvinced. What really happened that night; will the detective be able to unravel the secrets?
What I loved: I happen to be a pretty Undomestic Goddess myself, so this book really resonated with me. A character that works hard and finds herself in a situation where she needs to keep house for someone. I would be pretty screwed. I loved reading about this character going through that situation.
How I Felt: This was such a light-hearted, easy read full of comedic situations and a little love. It made me smile so much, and felt so good to read.
To Read or Not To Read: I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys easy, fun books. Fans of Sophie Kinsella (or Madeleine Wickham) won’t be disappointed either!
“There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.”
― Sophie Kinsella, The Undomestic Goddess
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Samantha Sweeting is an attorney at a law firm hoping to make partner. She spends all of her time focused on work, trying to attain that *partner* status. She makes a mistake at works, and loses it a bit. She leaves work and jumps on a train to anywhere. One arriving to the middle of nowhere, she walks up to a house to ask for directions, and they think she is there for the housekeeper interview. She nails the interview and ends up hired. For a job as a housekeeper. She can’t cook, clean, sew, or do anything that resembles taking care of a household. The adjustment and learning period for her are full of hilarious situations and a little romance, but we do find that she begins to adapt. This story is a great adventure into trying something completely different and finding who you really are.