THE BUCKET LIST by Georgia Clark

September 6, 2018

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From the publisher:

From the author of the critically acclaimed “lively and engrossing parable for women of all generations” (Harper’s BazaarThe Regulars­ comes a deeply funny and thoughtful tale of a young woman who, after discovering she has the breast cancer gene, embarks on an unforgettable bucket list adventure.

Twenty-five-old Lacey Whitman is blindsided when she’s diagnosed with the BCRA1 gene mutation: the “breast cancer” gene. Her high hereditary risk forces a decision: increased surveillance or the more radical step of a preventative double mastectomy. Lacey doesn’t want to lose her breasts. For one, she’s juggling two career paths; her work with the prestigious New York trend forecaster Hoffman House, and her role on the founding team of a sustainable fashion app with friend/mentor, Vivian Chang. Secondly, small-town Lacey’s not so in touch with her sexuality: she doesn’t want to sacrifice her breasts before she’s had the chance to give them their hey-day. To help her make her choice, she (and her friends) creates a “boob bucket list”: everything she wants do with and for her boobs before a possible surgery.

This kicks off a year of sensual exploration and sexual entertainment for the quick-witted Lacey Whitman. The Bucket List cleverly and compassionately explores Lacey’s relationship to her body and her future. Both are things Lacey thought she could control through hard work and sacrifice. But the future, it turns out, is more complicated than she could ever imagine.

Featuring the pitch-perfect “compulsively delicious” (Redbook) prose of The RegularsThe Bucket List is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Sophie Kinsella.

This is one of those books that I picked up because of the imprint – it’s published by Emily Bestler, Atria Books and I generally like her books. Forgive me if you’ve heard my spiel before but when you are looking for a new book, a new author really, a good way to find one is to look at the imprint.

Emily Bestler founded her eponymous imprint, Emily Bestler Books, in 2011 with one guiding principle: to find the very best commercial fiction and nonfiction across a wide range of categories and put these books into the hands of as many readers as possible. In her words, “We are passionate about our mission of finding a book for everyone. You’ll find that our list is as varied as our readers.

It’s a varied list of authors for sure, like John Connolly, Brad Thor, Amy Poeppel, and of course, Georgia Clark, all authors I like. So here I am.

The Bucket List takes a very serious subject, a 25 year old woman testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, meaning she is very likely to get breast cancer, and provides a sweet, funny, sexual romp. Lacey’s mother died from the disease when she was 31 years old so really she shouldn’t be shocked that she also is a good candidate for cancer. Yet she is. Her sister, who pretty much raised her, is furious that she took the test but her closest friends support her. It comes down to a decision: a preventative full mastectomy à la Angelina Jolie, or wait it out and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, Lacey comes up with a bucket list to complete before she makes her final decision. Most of the items on the list are of a sexual nature, so this is a pretty erotic book. If you don’t like explicit sex, skip it. On the other hand, I really liked how this young woman chose to live her life knowing that it may be shortened. It took guts for sure.

While tackling a serious subject, Clark injects quite a bit of humor here, making this a fun, sexy read. I enjoyed it.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BUCKET LIST by Georgia Clark. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (August 7, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501173028. 352p.



SOLD ON A MONDAY by Kristina McMorris

September 3, 2018

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From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history. 


The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

I read about this book and thought it might make for a good book discussion, except that while based on an actual photograph (right) that was taken in 1948, the author changed the time frame to more than a decade earlier, at the height of the depression. I understand that she was inspired by the photo to write fiction, and her notes in the back of the book make it very clear how and why she changed it, but to me it lessened the impact of the story.

I would have appreciated more character development. The main characters were fully realized, but I didn’t really understand many of the secondary characters and their motivations and I would have liked to. The back stories on most of the characters were merely eluded to or glossed over and could have used some fleshing out.

The time period was interesting for sure, especially because it seems like most of the books set in the late 40’s deal with the aftermath of the war, and this really didn’t.  I liked the newsroom setting and the interactions of the reporters, and especially the hierarchy of the organizations. The culture of the time was also very well done and enlightening. Despite a few misgivings, it was a compelling and interesting read.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SOLD ON A MONDAY by Kristina McMorris. Sourcebooks Landmark (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1492663997. 352p.



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.


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