A Star Is Bored by Byron Lane

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The author of A Star is Bored, Byron Lane was Carrie Fisher’s personal assistant for three years.  He continually has stated that this book is a work of fiction…but I truly hope that he did take some liberties from his time with Ms. Fisher!

This is the funniest, laugh out loud book I have read in a very long time! The banter between the characters is incredible and witty and even though I am not suppose to I can’t help but hear Fisher’s voice in my head as I read the story, which made it even more comical.

Charlie works as an overnight writer for a boring publication.  He want to leave and dreams of having a more exciting job.  Well, be careful what you wish for!  On a tip, he applies for the job as the personal assistant to ultra celebrity Kathi Kannon.  Kannon, who just happens to be a very famous princess from a sci-fi movie lives on a property she shares with her very famous eccentric mother.  During the job interview (audition?) Charlie is extremely confused as to what Ms. Kannon is looking for in an assistant and leaves unsure of whether he even got the job.

The phone rings and Charlie gets his first inking that he got the job but still unsure of what the job entails.  As he soon finds out being Kannon’s personal assistant is a trip, both literally and figuratively.  Between doling out her pills in the morning (see bottom draw in bedroom), to taking her on hilarious vacations (see Japan), to being not only her caretaker but her protector, Charlie finds the chaos disturbingly exciting. And the perks are not so bad either.

As Charlie tries to put Kannon’s life in some sort of order, she on the other hand fights to have the continued mayhem.  There is a housekeeper who has a brain tumor who seems to do nothing but sleep at the kitchen table on a daily basis and a gardener who seems to hold hedge clippers in his hand daily, but never seems to clip anything. Added to the disorganization is Kannon’s mother who is constantly handing Charlie bags of money to make sure her daughter eats her “vegetables”.

There are almost daily trips to what Kannon calls “Vegas” which Charlie assumes are shopping jaunts. They are not. There is one extremely comical episode in which Kannon runs naked (with a bed sheet) into traffic outside her house and Charlie literally tries to reel her in. Then cleans up the public relations mess.

Entwined in the story is Charlie’s own personal dysfunctional history with a mother who died very young and an overbearing father with anger issues who screams a lot, so much so Charlie can’t get his voice out of his head. He also highlights the difficulty of trying to have any kind of personal relationship when you are on call 24/7 at the whim of a superstar. His own dating chronicles are just as funny as his personal assistant shenanigans.

But through all the craziness, Charlie and Kathi develop a relationship which cannot really be defined.  Part respect, part sibling, part parent/child but most of all devotion to each other and a mutual love.

I want to say I truly hope some of this is based in truth because in my head I want to believe Kathi Kannon and Carrie Fisher really did have these absolutely incredible you could not make this stuff up adventures.

So relax, sit back and go along for the most enjoyable ride! This would surely be a great beach read.

Thank you #NetGalley #HenryHoltandCo #ByronLane #AStarIsBored for the advanced copy.  The book will be published on July 28.

Wild Game My Mother, Her Secret and Me by Adrienne Brodeur

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Wild Game is the incredible true story of the relationship between a controlling mother and her eager to please daughter. The story, told by daughter Adrienne begins with Malabar, Adrienne’s mother, waking her up in the middle of the night when she was fourteen to tell her she had just been kissed by Ben Souther. Those simple words would forever change their lives and all their relationships.

You see Malabar was already married. And Ben Souther was her husband’s married best friend. So when she makes this proclamation to Adrienne, her husband is actually sleeping soundly in another room, and Ben’s wife in another.

And thus begins the toxic relationship between mother and daughter in which Adrienne becomes Malabar’s confidant in an affair which would span decades.  A secret which would almost destroy Adrienne’s psyche and a mother who felt nothing she said was off limits. A relationship which would have Adrienne lying to people to protect this love affair, even having to come up with and execute a plan when Malabar believed the affair was going to be exposed. She herself assists in setting up secret meetings for them, even having drinks with them while she was in college at their New York hotel hideaway.

All Adrienne ever wanted was to please her mother.  So if hearing the sordid details of their trysts or protecting the secret even though she hated lying to everybody would make Malabar happy, then that is what she would do.  But, all this secrecy and pressure finally catches up with Adrienne. There were stomach issues which could never be diagnosed, a marriage which should never have happened, and the final internal explosion of being so depressed she could not function normally.  Only then was she finally able to seek the help she needed. And while going through all this, still trying to protect her mother.

She finally became the person she was meant to be, without her mother’s provocation or hearing her mother’s voice in her head. And Malabar, could never understand why Adrienne would not want to listen.  Malabar used her daughter.  Even using a family heirloom to keep Adrienne’s trust, always telling her a necklace passed down from her great grandmother would be hers one day only to then take back what she said on many occasions.

Through therapy Adrienne is even able to forgive her mother, realizing what Malabar did was only what she had witnessed from her own mother as she grew up.  The most important aftereffect to Adrienne was to try and break this cycle if and when she had children.

This is an extraordinary memoir about a girl who had to grow up too fast, whose only goal was to please a mother who could never be pleased. She sadly put herself and her needs on the backburner and allowed this secret to haunt her life because if found out it would ruin her relationship with the person she idolized the most. Not realizing she herself is and should be the most important person in her life.

Wild Game has just come out in paperback.

The Mall by Megan McCafferty

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This quite clever young adult novel is set in a mall during the 1990’s when hair was big, makeup was blue eyeshadow, cassettes the only way to listen to music and a jean jacket a must. It’s when the real Beverly Hills 90210 was a hit.

Cassie and her boyfriend Troy who have been together for years and have a life plan for themselves get ready to begin phase two of the so called plan (college). They will spend their last summer together working as planned at the mall at the America’s Best Cookie store.  Until Cassie gets mono and has to spend weeks in bed.  When she is fully recovered she thinks life will go back to “as planned” the way it should.  Until she finds out Troy has dumped her for another girl and she cannot work at the store any longer and now has no job and she can’t tell her parents. She suddenly feels her whole life becoming a series of downward spirals.

As she interviews at other establishments and judges the employees working there (most who went to school with her) as beneath her, she accidently walks into a clothes shop which she finds is owned by the mother of her bestfriend in fifth grade.  Although they have not seen each other since, she gets hired as the bookkeeper for the rest of the summer.

Her past bestfriend Drea who is her total opposite, dates whoever, wears whatever and really doesn’t care what other people think begins teaching her about other ways of seeing people and relaxing her rigid objectives.  And Drea begins to learn from Cassie’s positive attributes.

During her summer at the mall, Cassie meets quite the cast of characters and she and Drea find themselves obsessed with finding a “legend has it” treasure hidden somewhere in the mall. Cassie begins to learn some valuable lessons. Such as what is on the outside sometimes is not what is on the inside of a person.  And looks can be deceiving. Sometimes it’s those quirks that make a person special.

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What Cassie learns from others during her last six weeks until going to college is invaluable.  True friendships will last forever and don’t judge others. Loyalty and honesty in friends really exists, real friends have each other’s backs even if they unintentionally hurt you and plans can be changed. When her stint at the mall is over, Cassie walks out very differently than when she first walked in.

The Mall is an inspiring story for young girls with strong female characters and an intriguing treasure hunt which keeps the reader fascinated until the end.

 

 


 

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

 

Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of several novels, she’s best known for Sloppy Firsts and several more books in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series. Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.

Megan McCafferty

Social Linkshttps://twitter.com/meganmccafferty 


 

“The Mall was to 1991 teenagers what the iPhone is to today’s generation: EVERYTHING. This delightful novel about that particular time and place is loaded with fun, warmth, intelligence, big hair and an even bigger heart. I loved it.” — New York Times bestselling author Rachel Cohn

“Both a laugh-out-loud pean to those bygone cathedrals of the 1990s, and a zippy coming-of-age tale, THE MALL is a delightful read for any generation. So tease your hair, grab your hotdog on a stick and prepare to have a freaking blast!” — Gayle Forman, New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way

“What a pleasure it is to spend time in a McCafferty universe. Her writing is sharp, smart, sexy and oh-so-real. I’ll read her forever.” — Rebecca Serle, New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years

“Totally rad! This former 1990s mall teen loved The Mall, an ode to tall bangs, boys with good taste in music, and female friendship, set in the only place that mattered. What a joy to have a new book from Megan McCafferty, who knows exactly how to make us laugh, cry, and fall in love with her characters.” — Amy Spalding, author of The Summer of Jordi Perez and The New Guy

“A delightful, funny, sweet and affecting real life adventure with such a big heart, it’ll make you cry the happiest tears. The Mall is something special.” — Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie


 

Thank you #NetGalley #WednesdayBooks #MeganMcCafferty #TheMall for the advanced copy.  The book will be out July 28. Buy the book now with the following link:

https://wednesdaybooks.com/the-real-deal/the-mall/

 

 

 

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

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A Sweet Mess is an adorable love story about Landon Kim a workaholic food critic and Audrey Choi a successful bakery owner.  The two meet and have a one night stand thinking they will never see each other again.

But when Landon writes a scathing review of Audrey’s bakery Comfort Zone, not realizing she is the shop owner, disaster looms.  Audrey’s business begins to fail just as she has signed a contract to expand.  Audrey confronts Landon but unfortunately he has a never retract policy and refuses to write another review.

Landon feels terrible and decides to make it up to Audrey.  He offers her a paid spot on a TV cooking show which his best friend hosts.  Audrey is to design three new dishes and debut each on the show.  Audrey, who is desperate to save her business agrees to the arrangement.

There is only one catch.  They must share lodging for the duration of her stay which both of them are afraid will go terribly wrong. But they agree and of course sparks begin to fly. But something deeper begins to happen.

This story goes beyond your regular boy meets girl and they fall in love.  Added to the plot are values such as the importance of family and how even though there can be disputes the love of one’s family never dies.  Family can pick up where they left off any time. It also delves into how the trust you learn from your family at an early age can mold how you accept yourself and others later in life.

Entwined in the story are beautiful descriptions of wineries, villas and food. And of course who can resist a happy ending?

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sGriffin #JayciLee #ASweetMess for the advanced copy.  The book will be out on July 14.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Galaxy “Alex” Stern has lived a very hard tough life for such a young woman. She has never had a happy go lucky type of personality. She was never liked by the other students. She has always “felt” and “seen” things no one else did. She dropped out of school early and became immersed with drug-dealing, stealing and abusive people.  So when her best friend dies and her boyfriend is murdered she ends up in a hospital with no place to go.

That is when she is asked to attend Yale University as a freshman by the dean himself. Alex jumps at the chance for some normalcy. Stunned by the invitation she looks forward to attending classes and going to parties with her roommates.  But, as we all know by now, be careful what you wish for!

What Alex discovers is that she is not living a normal campus life.  Nor is she a “normal” student.  She has been chosen and placed at Yale by important alumni who are involved in a mystical and magical underworld with secret houses on the campus.  Only a select few have the understanding of the crafts which take place.  Alex soon discovers she has a few untapped talents of her own and begins to understand why she was always so different than others.

When one of the locals from the town is murdered, Alex in her capacity as one of the underground police, so to speak, is not comfortable with who they think was the murderer.  Thus begins a race before time runs out as to who really killed the girl and why was there such a coverup.

As Alex tries to fit all the pieces together while battling not only faculty, but characters from beyond the grave, she gets assistance from an unlikely source.  A ghost who is looking for his dead wife-to-be makes a pact with her to assist her in discovering who really was the killer. In return, she will try and find information on his dead fiancee.

Alex is unsure why she has been chosen.  More important if she was chosen, why do they want to kill her?  Alex herself has some secrets.  Secrets she does not want anyone at Yale to find out. What has she seen or heard that she was not suppose to?  One thing for sure, Alex will not stop until she gets the answers she needs, regardless if she does not live.

The Ninth House is like a Harry Potter for girls, with a strong female protagonist who is smart, funny and quirky.  It’s a story filled with magic, suspense, intrigue and yes, even humor!  I am positive this is the first of many more Galaxy “Alex” Stern stories.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

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A year ago, there was a horrific tragedy at a prestigious prep school in Indiana.  A teacher went on a grisly rampage and murdered two students, and then threw himself in front of a train attempting suicide but did not die and now is living in a vegetative state. And some of the students who witnessed the incidents have since taken their own lives, by throwing themselves in front of trains.

Now, a year later, the murder and the sordid ordeal are being brought back into the spotlight by a very popular criminal podcast.  They are calling the episodes The Suicide House due to the abandoned boarding house where the tragedy happened.  As the episodes begin, the anxiety of students and teachers at the school increases.  And then another one of the students who witnessed the murder throws himself in front of a train.

That is when cold case expert Rory Moore and her partner Lane Phillips, a forensic psychologist are asked to come to Indiana and recreate what happened that night at the isolated house which was often times used for student rituals. Perhaps clues were missed at the scene and new eyes can shed new light on that night.

Moore, who herself has a few idiosyncrasies, has just finished up solving a cold case and usually needs time to decompress, but Phillips who knows her soft spots convinces her to help him. But nothing is as it seems in this small town and their presence begins to stir things up.  Why?

The story races back and forth between what happened during the days leading up to the murders, to the new investigation and new puzzle pieces. There are chapters in which diary entries from a mysterious unknown person are read while they are in what seem to be counseling sessions.

Is someone lying? What really happened that night? What kind of burden do the students carry with them from that evening that they would want to take their own lives? Why would a teacher snap and kill his students?

The Suicide House is a heart thumping psychological case study in insanity with twists and turns that leave you craving for more.  The ending….a volcanic eruption!

This is the second book in the Moore/Phillips series and as Donlea writes in the afterward, he tries to make sure that all his books can be read as a stand alone as well.  Since I was unaware this was a series book until I read his note at the end, I can certainly say he was able to accomplish what he set out to do.

The Suicide House can be preordered right now.  Publication date is July 28.  Get it!

Thank you #NetGalley #Kensington #CharlieDonlea #TheSuicideHouse for the advanced copy.

 

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

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Please See Us is the haunting story set on the boardwalk and in the casinos of Atlantic City’s seedier side, where drugs are important and the addicts will do just about anything for a quick fix. Where women will accept abuse from men just to try and escape the life they have been dealt. And some will be killed.

In the vein of The Long Island Killer, there is someone who is killing prostitutes and escorts and dumping their bodies in a marsh.  No one is aware this is happening.  The only solace the dead women have are each other as they lie in wait for someone, anyone, to find them.

Clara is an eighteen year old boardwalk psychic who lives with her aunt above their dilapidated shop.  Her aunt Des is as crooked as they come.  Both have been banned from some casinos for stealing and escorting.  But all Clara really wants to do is put enough money away to get out of Atlantic City and find her mother who she has not seen since she was a child. Des has decided it’s time to put Clara to use and begins looking for men she can date.

When a client comes in for a reading, begging Clara for help in finding his missing niece, she tries to pacify him, but after he leaves she begins to have horrible visions. The same happens when a few other women come in for readings.  She does not understand why they all seem to be connected.

Lily is a former New York gallery worker who through circumstance beyond her control loses her job and moves in with her mom in Atlantic City where she begins working at a spa in one of the casinos. She has a bit of a drinking problem.  When Clara steals her bracelet and Lily goes looking for her she discovers a lost girl who is in way over her head.  They become friends and Clara tells Lily about the visions she is having and asks her for help. Clara believes the two of them working together can perhaps figure out what is happening to them.

As Clara and Lily delve deeper into the mystery, the reader meets the dead women and learn the stories of how they ended up in Atlantic City.  But no one is safe from this killer.  Have Clara or Lily already met him? Could one of them possibly be his next victim? Will the dead girls ever be found?

Please See Us is an incredibly different psychological thriller which not only has suspense, but also heartbreaking and makes the reader truly feel sorrow for the characters in the story who seem to be trying to begin a new life only to have that precious hope silenced.

Thank you Anne Jaconette of Gallery Books for sending me an advanced copy of this riveting book.

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones

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Sisters Kate and Lauren and their mom Rose have been dealing with great loss in their lives.  First, the matriarch of their family, their dad and husband, died suddenly leaving terrible grief in the close knit family.  Kate has been desperately trying to get pregnant through IVF with her husband Matt.  This is their last shot.  Lauren, who has three children with her husband Simon is beginning to realize her life is miserable.  Unbeknownst to her family, Simon is verbally and physically abusing her.

But, during their weekly Sunday dinner, a knock at the door will create a chaos no one could ever see coming.  A girl who introduces herself as Jess is looking for her father.  She claims to be his daughter.

Kate who idolized her father knows Jess is lying.  Lauren whose relationship with hem was strained at best welcomes Jess with open arms. Rose is just speechless. And then each of their worlds begin to explode.

Kate, a journalist by trade begins to investigate Jess’ claim.  She uncovers untruths, deceptions and malice.  Lauren on the other hand embraces Jess and agrees to assist her in finding out who her mother could be. Rose will have no part of this circus.  She loved her husband and he loved them all, end of story.

Then Kate and Lauren begin to remember a time years before then they heard bits of conversations and perhaps saw things which at the time meant nothing. When Kate begins questioning her mother, she shuts her down, which only makes Kate more suspicious. DID something happen years ago? What is Rose not saying? Was their father not the person they thought he was? Could Jess really be telling the truth?  What family secrets have been buried and what will happen if and when they are exposed? Will their family survive?

Sandie Jones, author of the best-selling book The Other Woman has once again written a cat and mouse thriller with so much suspense that it allows the reader to just go along for the psychological chilling ride and wait for the stunning conclusion.

My thanks to #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #SandieJones #TheHalfSister for the advanced copy.

The Second Home by Christina Clancy

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This is an enjoyable, yet sad story of secrets, trauma, love, hate and forgiveness.  The emphasis being that no family is without pain, and some families can feel isolation in different ways.  The question is can a family rise above all the mess and become one again.

Ann Gordon’s family owns a summer house on Cape Cod.  The last summer she was there when she was just a teenager with her sister Poppy and newly adopted brother Michael something happened which would not only change her life, but would tear her family apart.

Now, years later, her parents have died and it’s up to Ann and Poppy to decide whether to sell the Cape house or keep it.  Ann and Poppy have not been close since that last summer.  Ann works in Boston and Poppy lives wherever she lands, traveling and working and has never really settled down.  Michael’s whereabouts, after he left mysteriously that last summer is unknown.

So when the decision needs to be made whether to sell or keep the Cape house, Ann, who cannot bare even being in the house decides she wants to sell.  Unfortunately for Ann, Poppy who has come back with her own emotional baggage from the past decides she cannot imagine selling the house.

To complicate the situation even further, Michael discovers what is happening and is furious he had not been notified.  He concludes he cannot let this house go and wants to buy it himself.

Is it possible for three siblings who suffered great trauma, hurt and mistrust in their past be able, without their parent’s guidance, comeback together as a family, not the one they remember from the past, but a new type of family, one their parents would be proud of.

As I thought about the story after I finished it, I realized that the title, The Second Home has many meanings.  There are many seconds in this story for most of the characters.  The Second Home was an uplifting and satisfying read.

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #ChristinaClancy #TheSecondHome for the advanced copy.

 

 

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E Reichert

51p9PhHI38L._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_ The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is the sweetest love story I have read in a very long time. It is about a talented chef and newspaper restaurant reviewer who meet and become friends not knowing what the other does for a living. Through a huge mistake one will destroy the other’s dream.

Lou is a hardworking chef/owner of a restaurant named after her beloved grandmother Luella.  Although engaged to be married, nothing makes her happier than cooking for people and watching them smile.

Al is British and misses his homeland.  Hardly adjusting to the Wisconsin weather, he reviews restaurants for a Milwaukee newspaper.  He uses a pseudonym because some of his reviews can be quite scathing.

When he decides to dine at Luella’s, not only does he not know this is his new friend Lou’s restaurant, but he also is unaware that she has just had the worst day of her life.  Needless to day his review is not very pleasant.

As Lou begins to introduce Al to all the wonderful places Milwaukee has to offer, Al not only begins to love the city, but also begins to have feelings for Lou. And the feeling is mutual.

When Al’s review of Lou’s restaurant comes out Lou is unaware that Al is the actual writer.  And Al is unaware that Lou is the actual owner.  But the damage has already been done.  Luella’s starts losing business and Lou is in the horrible position of possibly having to close her beloved eatery.

And then Al discovers what he has done and cannot tell Lou for fear she will leave him. But Lou does find out and breaks all contact with Al. Is their love strong enough to keep them together? How could they give up what they both believe to be true, everlasting, until death do us part and beyond love.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a scrumptious tale of love and forgiveness with a recipe for a a mouthwatering coconut cake at the end.