GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins

August 7, 2018

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I love Kristan Higgins, but I didn’t love this book. It is a bit of a departure for her, tackling a pretty serious subject, the plight and discrimination that fat women face in this country.  I admire her for tackling such a tough subject, but I missed her usual humor for sure. Or maybe I didn’t like it that much because it hits a bit close to home for me.

Emerson is one of those women who is so obese that she can barely get out of bed. She has a cousin who is her caretaker, and a boyfriend who brings her food. When she dies, she leaves a letter for her two best friends, Georgia and Marley.

They all met in fat camp as teenagers and remained friends over the years. Georgia and Marley share a house in New York and haven’t seen Emerson in years, so they are shocked at how large she had become and at her death. She leaves them a list that they all made together when they were in fat camp, and asks her friends to complete the list. This is a “when we are thin” list – tuck in a shirt, get a piggy back ride, eat dessert in public, and so forth.

The women tackle the list and learn a lot about themselves in the process. We are never told Georgia and Marley’s actual weight, just the body issues each of them faces. There is romance, too, but that wasn’t enough to save this book for me. I’m really curious as to what other people think of it.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins.  Berkley (August 7, 2018).  ISBN 978-0451489395. 480p.



August 5, 2018

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This is the second series I’ve read by this author and she has become a favorite. These books – Deep in the Valley, Just Over the Mountain, and Down By the River combine to create a world that I loved spending time in.

Grace Valley is a small town filled with warm, likable characters, and the books center around the town doctor, June Hudson. June’s grandparents basically founded the town and her dad was the town doctor before he retired, leaving June to take over. Her Aunt Myrna, an eccentric but very successful novelist, built the clinic where June works.

Myrna raised her baby brother and didn’t marry until late in life. Her husband, a traveling salesman, disappeared and the townsfolk speculate that Myrna, whose novels usually center around a wife killing her cheating husband in myriad and gruesome ways, is writing what she knows. And she encourages those rumors.

A lecherous preacher, a gas station owner who’d rather fish than work, a cafe owner who gives away free meals on a regular basis, June’s best friend, the sheriff, and her godmother are the other major players in the story along with many more. Carr brings them to life, lovable quirks and all. Then there are the others, the poor, the abused, and the criminal that round out this tiny town. The way these characters interact and take care of each other is inspiring. Makes me want to live in a small town, although I suspect towns like Grace Valley are strictly fiction.

One night, two men come into June’s clinic, ordering her to remove a bullet from one of the men. The other man is holding a gun on her, but as she starts her work, he faints, sending the gun skittering across the room. June suspects that the faint was faked, and it turns out she was right. She’s also very attracted to the gunman, leaving her to think he is not at all what he seems and she is right about that as well. That’s where the story begins and it meanders beautifully through all three books and completely sucked me in. I read all three books in a weekend.

This is women’s fiction with a touch of romance and a lovely read. If you are looking for an escape, I highly recommend this trilogy. I loved it and I’m truly going to miss these characters.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

The Grace Valley Trilogy by Robyn Carr. MIRA (August 1, 2017). ASIN: B071YCRFTV. 662 p.


July 31, 2018

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Hannah and Ethan are finishing up grad school and then will be moving back to New York. Ethan will be working with two college friends to develop an app, and Hannah has earned the dream job of the business school with Goldman Sachs. They take a weekend before graduation to explore wine country. Ethan is the planner and has their itinerary down to the minute but their hotel room isn’t ready so they check out a nearby winery that isn’t on his list.

Hannah is pretty sure Ethan is going to propose and is somewhat ambivalent about it. He comes from a wealthy Manhattan family, she is from Iowa where she was pretty much raised by her mom, a nurse, after her truck driver father was killed in an accident. They are from different worlds.

Ethan is annoyed about deviating from his plans so he begrudgingly goes along to the winery. He stays outside while Hannah goes into the tasting room and she just falls in love with the place. When she is offered a summer job in marketing the winery, she says yes, abandoning her career and Ethan. He is bereft but returns to New York alone, while Hannah has an affair with the winery owners’ son. She loves her new job and the family she works for and she has a lot of big ideas that will make the winery a success.

I really enjoyed this story, the characters and especially the setting. A warm and wonderful read.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SHORTEST WAY HOME by Miriam Parker. Dutton (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1524741860.  320p.



July 26, 2018

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Loveday Cardew is the character at the heart of this sweet, yet melancholy story. Loveday has always found solace in books and lucky for her, she works as a bookseller, her dream job; in fact, she has the first lines of some of her favorite books tattooed on her body. She’s worked for Archie, a charming curmudgeon, for ten years, since she was 15 years old and got herself out of the foster care system. She has had a traumatic life with some serious family issues that she slowly reveals, that mystery keeps the pages turning. Plus she is so endearing that we can’t help but root for her.

Loveday has never had a real relationship with a man, and then there are two men pursuing her, and she’s not sure how to handle it. To say she is close-mouthed hardly touches the surface, she literally reveals nothing about herself until she is forced into it.

I loved these characters and while this was a sadder story than I was expecting, I couldn’t put it down. To watch this young woman grow is both unexpected and beautiful, and a joy to read.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LOST FOR WORDS BOOKSHOP by Stephanie Butland. St. Martin’s Press (June 19, 2018). ISBN 13: 978-1250124531.  368p.


WHEN WE FOUND HOME by Susan Mallery

July 23, 2018

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The Carlesso family is not your typical family. The patriarch, Alberto, had one son who wasn’t a very good person. Alberto found out he had a grandson, Malcolm, when the child’s mother turned up, 12-year-old in tow, and he took them in while his son continued his traveling and playboy lifestyle. Malcolm’s mother dies but Alberto takes care of him, and he joins the family business and grows it significantly. When Malcolm’s father passes away, Alberto waits a couple of years before going through his papers.

Alberto finally learns that his son had two other children, daughters, with two different mothers. He tracks down the youngest, Keira, who’s only 12-years-old, and he finds her in foster care. He arranges for her to move in with him and Malcolm. And he keeps searching for the older daughter, Callie, who is an adult at 26.

When Alberto finally tracks down Callie, Malcolm is shocked to learn that she has gotten out of prison a few years earlier. Nevertheless, Alberto invites her to move in with them as well.

Callie made a life altering mistake as a teenager, she robbed a liquor store with her boyfriend and she took the rap. She served her time and is trying to rebuild her life, which is not easy as an ex-felon. She is leery of this invitation but she really has nothing to lose so she moves in and asks for a job in the family business.

Meanwhile, Delaney has gone through some tragedy herself. She lost her fiance, a cop who was killed in the line of duty. That shooting also seriously injured her father, leaving him in a wheelchair. She left her high powered career in finance to take care of her dad and decides she wants change careers to something in medicine. She is working part time at a cafe in the same building as the Carlesso family business and has a bit of a crush on Malcolm. Unbeknownst to Delaney, she has also befriended Keira, who she recognizes as a lonely little girl but she doesn’t realize that Malcolm is the “asshole brother” that Keira frequently complains about.

These characters come together to form a family with a lot of issues, and the storylines are masterfully woven together. I loved these characters and couldn’t put this book down until the happy ending. Probably more women’s fiction than romance, nonetheless there is some romance too, after all that is what Mallery is known for. All in all, an excellent read and a fabulous book to take to the beach.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHEN WE FOUND HOME by Susan Mallery. Hqn Books (July 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-0373802500 . 419p.



July 22, 2018

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From the publisher:

They’ve been best friends since seventh grade. But this summer, teetering on the threshold of thirty, four women are going to need each other more than ever

Cassie has sworn off men after yet another bad date though, deep down, she’s still looking for Mr. Right. A long-haired, tattooed biker is definitely not him, so there’s no harm in a few Harley rides through Sonoma. Right?

Julie married her high school sweetheart too young and now wonders how her life became all about leaky faucets and checkbook balances. Maybe love isn’t enough to sustain the perfect couple.

Marty’s firefighter husband takes her for granted, and with her marriage on the rocks, an old flame begins to look mighty tempting. She’s seriously thinking of crossing that line.

Beth is a busy doctor trapped in a body that’s betrayed her yet again and she’s becoming a difficult patient and a secretive friend. She’s fighting for her life.

Life can change in an instant…or a summer. As these four friends deal with life’s challenges, the strength of their bond will see them through.

This is one of those books that deals with a lot of secrets, and I don’t want to give any of them away so I used the publisher’s synopsis.

It is a wonderful read about friends, with enough complications to really keep the pages turning. These are wonderful characters who we really get to know, and there is a bit of romance as well. The romance is a slow building one, from friendship to love and the way it unfolds is really lovely. I like when characters have to stretch themselves and that happens here. Carr is a good writer and a good storyteller, and this is a terrific read.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A SUMMER IN SONOMA by Robyn Carr. MIRA; Original edition (June 26, 2018). ISBN 978-0778331261.  368p.



July 19, 2018

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Wildstone, Book 1

As usual, I’m reading this series out of order. I had stumbled across the second book, Rainy Day Friends, and liked it so much I searched out this one. And I’m very glad I did.

Quinn Weller lost her sister in a terrible accident, and is trying hard to get past it. Working as a sous-chef in a trendy restaurant in Los Angeles keeps her busy. She’s been dating Brock, but they decide that friendship is better and he starts playing the field. Then she gets some interesting news.

A lawyer contacts her and drops a bombshell – everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. She has an inheritance in Wildstone, a few hours away from L.A., and she has to go there in person to learn what it is.

Moving to Wildstone is not in her plan, but she slowly realizes it is what she needs. Mick Hennessey grew up there but couldn’t wait to get away from his father and the small town. His life is now in San Francisco and he’s quite successful, but after his father dies he finds himself running back and forth to Wildstone to help out his mom.

Quinn and Mick have instant chemistry, but neither is looking for a relationship. But fate has its own way of dealing with things, and their journey is a good one. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend this series, especially for fans of Kristan Higgins and Colleen Hoover.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOST AND FOUND SISTERS by Jill Shalvis. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 20, 2017). ISBN 978-0062448118. 400p.


ALL YOUR PERFECTS by Colleen Hoover

July 17, 2018

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Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite writers, and this may be her best book yet.

Infertility is the issue that is causing a major rift in Quinn and Graham’s marriage. Sex has become a means to an end and when that end doesn’t result in pregnancy, month after month, Quinn sinks further and further into depression. Hoover handles this tough topic with grace and sensitivity.

Graham tries to be supportive but he hides his fears in hopes of protecting her. That doesn’t work and we watch as this marriage inevitably starts unraveling. It is a heartbreaking journey.

The book moves back and forth through time so we get to watch Quinn and Graham falling in love while simultaneously watching them fall apart. It was a difficult read at times, as the pain of infertility hit pretty close to home for me, but nevertheless, I couldn’t put it down.

Hoover has a way of drawing the reader in and making us care about her characters, even when it is painful to do so. By alternating the darkness of a marriage on the rocks with the light of falling in love, she makes us think about how a relationship goes from one extreme to the other. I never saw this ending coming, and it was a masterful finish to a very thought provoking, emotional read. I loved it.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALL YOUR PERFECTS by Colleen Hoover. Atria Books (July 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501171598.  320p.


See Colleen on Tour!


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ALL WE EVER WANTED by Emily Giffin

July 6, 2018

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This deep dive into a suburban community torn apart by a teenage girl’s half naked photo is a bit of a departure for Giffin, but she does a damn fine job of it.

Nina Browning married well. Growing up in a middle class family did not prepare her for the life that happens when her husband Kirk sells his high tech startup for some serious money. Kirk was brought up in the country club set, and has no trouble processing their new found wealth. Their only disagreements concern their son, Finch. Nina is afraid he is getting spoiled and does her best to ground him, while Kirk’s basic philosophy is if we can afford it, who cares.

Lyla is a scholarship student at the exclusive private school Finch attends. Self conscious of her status, Lyla has a huge crush on Finch so when he invites her to a party, she lies to her father and goes. Lyla’s dad, Tom, is a carpenter and a single parent who may struggle a bit raising his only child, but he is a good father.

Lyla gets drunk at the party and when a picture of her passed out on a bed, her breast exposed, is sent to a few students, of course it goes viral and the next thing she knows the whole school knows about it.

When Nina finds out she is devastated to learn that Finch is the one who sent out the pic. Kirk, on the other hand, figures he can just bribe his son out of trouble. Tom is furious and can’t understand why Lyla doesn’t want to pursue the culprit.

This is a story that seems like it could happen almost anywhere today. Giffin really explores all sides and writes a very compelling novel that would make for a very interesting book discussion. I couldn’t put it down. If you like Jodi Picoult, you will like this book. I sure did.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALL WE EVER WANTED by Emily Giffin. Ballantine Books (June 26, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399178924.  352p.



HOW TO BE FAMOUS by Caitlin Moran

July 3, 2018

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Caitlin Moran writes strong, feminist fiction with a unique protagonist and a wicked sense of humor. In this sequel to her debut, How to Build a Girl, Dolly Wilde returns. She is nineteen years old, lives on her own in a London flat and writes about new music for a popular British magazine.

Dolly is living her dream, until she falls in love with a young musician, John Kite, who suddenly hits it big in the 1994 music scene, and she feels left behind. John and Dolly are friends, but she doubts he would ever want more so she decides to start a monthly column on all the aspects, good and bad, of being famous.

Dolly is a talented writer, albeit somewhat immature, and she makes a bad decision to have a one-night stand with a famous comedian. Slut shaming soon follows and in light of the #metoo movement, makes this book both timely and important. Eventually, through her own inimitable personality, Dolly pushes through the pain, turns the shame into her own kind of fame, and wins the man of her dreams. While set more than twenty years ago, this Bildungsroman feels very topical and should appeal to strong women of any age.

©Library Journal, 2018.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOW TO BE FAMOUS by Caitlin Moran. Harper (July 3, 2018). ISBN 978-0062433770.  352p.