• Book Reviews

    Just Jones: Feature & Book Review

    Just Jones by Andy Andrews

    Publish Date: September 8th, 2020

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson

    Pages: 272

    Genre: Literature & Fiction, Magical Realism, Ethics & Philosophy

    Book #3 of The Noticer Series

    From New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews comes the return of one of our favorite characters: Jones, the Noticer. Jones’ wise stories have comforted and guided millions of readers. In JustJonesnavigate the hope that the impossible can come true.

    Synopsis:

    At 3:29 a.m. on May 22, a telephone rings in Orange Beach, Alabama. Breaking the sleepy silence inside the bedroom of New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews, a hastily whispered message heralds the news that Andy has been waiting on for seven years: Jones is back in town. Apparently, however, he is also in jail.

    The old man is tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his brief incarceration. After arriving to bail him out, Andy is shocked to discover that his trusted friend has already opened an unusual business in one of the resort town’s most high-profile shopping districts. Jones’s Five & Dime seems to always have exactly what visitors are looking for, even as their fate steadily becomes entwined with Jones’s.

    As the town moves from spring to summer, a practical joker is becoming bolder and more inventive with every prank that is pulled. Could Jones be behind some of it? Why? And what will happen if he is? What’s the truth about that four-hundred-pound table in his Five & Dime? What compels certain people to gather around it every morning? And why does it look as if every person Jones meets has a secret they will reveal only to him?

    With rare insight, Andy and Jones take us on a journey that proves the importance of perspective, the power of connection, and the ability we all have to make the impossible come true.

    Just Jones is lightning in a bottle–pure genius on paper. If you can imagine a hilarious mystery filled with useful wisdom that is fresh and new, you’ve just conjured up this book. Andy Andrews is our generation’s Mark Twain. Just Jones is the latest proof.’ –Dave Ramsey, national bestselling author

    Just Jones is a rare accomplishment–a mystery that is at times touching but often so funny that I laughed out loud. When one wraps an awesome story around wisdom with the power to change lives . . . well, how many great books can you name like that? Just Jones is a masterpiece.’ –Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author

    Review:

    Andy Andrews is a longtime favorite author of mine. His writing is full of warmth & wisdom with a dash of wit. Just Jones continues in that same tradition.

    It is the third book of The Noticer series but Andrews does a fantastic job of looping the reader into the story and this can certainly be as a stand-alone.

    The characters are endearing, flaws and all, and the hint of mystery gave these characters an extra layer of depth.

    I am a huge fan of magical realism and having that element included made the book for me. That genre is not always to write and Andrews does a masterful job in this space.

    Without giving too much away, you will laugh, question your own perspective, consider the value of community, and read excellent, well-written book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.

    Even if this is your first book, you will quickly see why Andy Andrews is a favorite writer of mine. It’s available now at your favorite local bookseller.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson

    Connect with Andy

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Thomas Nelson, and Andy Andrews for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Recommendations

    Beach Read: a review

    Book details

    Author: Emily Henry

    Publisher: Berkley

    Publishing date: May 19th, 2020

    Pages: 384

    Synopsis

    A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

    Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

    They’re polar opposites.

    In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

    Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

    Review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    𝑊ℎ𝑎𝑡’𝑠 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑟𝑒?

    𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐝𝗼𝐰𝐧, 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐫𝗼𝗺𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝗼𝐫 𝗺𝐞.

    This book is anything but a beach read. You can totally read it on a beach but consider yourself warned that this is one giant tangle of emotions that will capture even the hardest of romance reading hearts.

    Like mine. Keep your sunglasses on for this one.

    Betrayal, loneliness, dysfunctional families, friendship, and secrets – this book has it all. But somehow it counters all the feels with sharp writing, wit, sarcasm and fantastic dialogue and chemistry. I read this book in a day. The complex emotions and relationships make it hard to put down. It’s one of those I need to know what happens next books.

    I am a self-professed romance book avoider but I’m willing to reconsider after this book. I laughed and teared up and still had moments where the writing was captivating for my inner book snob. The depth of the characters alone took this out of the chic-lit category and put it somewhere in between literary fiction and awesome.

    If you enjoyed Fleishman Is In Trouble or All This Could be Yours, you will most likely enjoy Beach Read.

    This book is available on May 19th from your favorite local book seller.

    I received this book as my Book of The Month pick. Not a member? Click here to join for $9.99.

     

  • Audiobooks,  Book Club For Introverts,  Book Reviews,  Himalayas of Literature,  Lists,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Top Books of 2019

    When you read 153 books in one year, narrowing it down to a top list is so difficult. I am a firm believer in the DNF so if I finish a book, there is some value to be found in the writing. I picked these books based on what the book did for me. Did it change me as a person? As a reader? Did it change my world view? Did it bolster a current belief?

    I attempted a top 10 and couldn’t narrow it down by a single book more so here are my Top 11 Books for 2019:

    1. Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk – this book won the Nobel Prize in Literature. It’s dark, but not too dark. It was thought provoking and expertly captured the human condition and our roles in society. This is my top book of 2019 – the rest are in no particular order.
    2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – A tough read but one that should be filed under “books everyone should read.” This book not only delved into the Underground Railroad but also what happened after “freedom” was achieved. It was an eye opener and a gut punch done so well because the author was not only well-researched but also an incredibly talented writer.
    3. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi – Theatre kids are ________. Kidding, of course. But as the parent of a theatre kid, I throughly enjoyed this non-linear story that explored power, consent, revenge, and emotion. This was a challenging read but well worth it.
    4. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall – This book. It’s probably the one I can’t stop talking about. It’s also one I can recommend to almost anyone… for those who are religious, those who have been hurt by religion, those who doubt and question, those who enjoy historical fiction… I could go on and on. This book changed me as a person.
    5. A Prayer for Travelers by Ruchika Tomar – What a wild ride! Told in a completely non-linear format – even the chapters were numbered out of order – this book explores what it is to be marginalized, forgotten, and what it takes for a teen to pull herself out of that life. This book stuck with me for quite some time.
    6. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – Meet my new favorite author. This character driven story covers what it is to be a member in an imperfect family – so basically all of us. And extra stars for the audiobook, narrated by America’s favorite uncle, Tom Hanks. I listened to this book and loved every minute of it.
    7. There There by Tommy Orange – This book is an experience. It follows over a dozen Native American characters headed to the same event. Another non-linear format that flashed back to explain each character and the person they are in the present. If you want to understand more about the plight of the Native American, this would be great book to start with.
    8. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner – I finished this book yesterday and cannot stop thinking about it. On the surface it seemed to be a book about divorce. Except it wasn’t. Gender roles, parenting, career sacrifices, marriage, and the old adage that “women can have it all” are what this book was really about. Definitely a book that I identified with and I cannot wait to post my full review of this one.
    9. Naamah by Sarah Blake – Magical realism is my favorite genre. Magical realism that takes place on Noah’s ark told through the eyes of Noah’s wife, Naamah? This was probably the most original book I read this year. It is not for everyone though – if you prefer the original version of Noah and his ark, you probably want to stick with that one.
    10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – This year’s A Little Life for me. This was an epic book of loss, love, deceit, and redemption. And yes, the book was better than the movie.
    11. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – This book changed me as a reader. I read this book with my Book Oblivion group and it was the beginning of a shift in focus for me. It’s a beast and not to be read alone. My Book Club for Introverts is tackling this book in January and February. Check us out on Goodreads if you’d like to join the fun! We are also reading another book during those months if Infinite Jest isn’t for you.

    Thanks for talking books with me this year!

  • Book Reviews,  Recommendations,  Writing

    Evvie Drake Starts Over: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over – a book by Linda Holmes in which a large quantity of tea is consumed and is paired well with witty and sharp writing.

    Evvie’s husband and high school sweetheart, Tim, is a successfull and well-liked doctor in their Maine community. The book opens with Evvie packing up her car to leave him for a fresh start when she gets the call.

    Her husband has been killed and while it isn’t the fresh start she planned, Evvie is forced to start over in the town she grew up, surrounded by memories of her husband who unbeknownst to most others, wasn’t so nice to her.

    Evvie’s best friend Andy and Saturday morning standing bruch date is a single father after his wife left him and his two young girls.

    Andy has arguably done a better job of moving on while Evvie is gripped with guilt over her secret almost-decision. She spends many nights on the floor of her guest apartment room overwhelmed by anxiety and confused grief.

    So when Andy’s friend Dean, a professional baseball player needs a fresh start after forgetting how to pitch, Andy suggests that Dean rent Evvie’s spare room.

    On the surface this book sounded fairly predictable and quite honestly, outside my typical read. But referring back to the quote at the beginning of this review, you will get a sense of the author’s quick wit and fresh approach to writing about starting over and the grief and anxiety that accompanies life changes.

    I saw myself in the characters. I know a lot about loss, failure, starting over, anxiety, grief, guilt, and shame that almost keeps you from second chances. And like Evvie, I was even married to someone named Tim who wasn’t nice to me and nearly destroyed me – a side effect of what goes on behind closed doors.

    This book made me laugh, tear up, and root hard for the characters find their ways. The writing was poingant and never overly saccharine – the biggest reason I usually avoid these books. And the added sports element, written accurately, rounded this book out and made it a 5 ✂️ book for me.

    The characters were well developed and the other element the author did particularly well was in capturing the Maine coast with more than just words. You could taste, smell, and hear the coastal town in her writing.

    If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Things You Save in a Fire, or How Not to Die Alone you should enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over.

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Devotion: a book review

     ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Devotion by Madeline Stevens

    Ella is young, broke, and trying to make it in New York City. Originally from a small town in Oregon, she finds herself out of her element when she is hired by a wealthy family as a nanny for their baby, William.

    Lonnie, William’s mother, is a writer and is 26 – the same age as Ella. James is her successful and handsome husband and on the surface they appear to have the perfect life.

    Lonnie crosses all the boundaries of the employer/employee relationship and the two become friends. Ella is captivated by Lonnie, her talent, old family wealth, and the social circles she moves in. What starts as a fascination, slowly moves into an obsession as Ella meticulously documents Lonnie’s possessions, writings, and relationships – ultimately becoming so enmeshed that it may be impossible to remove herself without serious consequences.

    I’ve seen this book billed as a thriller and for me, it was a slow burn. Told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator, I could not tell where the book was headed. I wasn’t trying to anticipate the twist in the traditional way that thrillers like to hook the reader.

    I wanted to know what happened next and that is what made this a page turner for me.

    An unreliable narrator written well is difficult to do and Madeline Stevens did this brilliantly. All the characters were well developed and while each had questionable motives, they were all likable at some point in the book. For me, that is usually the downfall of a book like this – I end up hating everyone and rooting for no one. But by the end of Devotion, I was still pulling for one character which is a sign of a good plot in my opinion.

    So while I wouldn’t call this a heart pounding summer thriller, it’s a smoldering story that will keep you guessing to the end. I read this debut novel in less than 24 hours and I am looking forward to the author’s next book!

    If you enjoy books like The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Ladder to The Sky, or The End of The Affair, you will enjoy Devotion. Look for it in your bookstore on August 13th.

     

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