Poppy Redfern is sent out on her first solo assignment with the London Crown Film Unit to produce a short film about the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) and the heroic Attagirls who flew those missions. When one of the pilots dies in a training exercise while her crew is filming and then the next day another girl dies, Poppy and her American Fighter- Pilot boyfriend Griff realize there may be a killer loose and they set out to investigate. Set against the backdrop of World War II, Poppy Redfern feels like an old fashioned, black and white, who dunnit, and I couldn’t help but cast Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart in the leading roles.
On old fashioned mystery was just what I needed to transport me to a time when DNA, CSI, and high tech equipment didn’t exist. Poppy reminded me of a girl Friday, but one who could smell deceit as well as a good story. I really enjoyed the naive qualities Poppy portrayed, a tribute to the time she lived in as well as her own morals. Her dogged resilience in the face of the man’s world she lived in made me like her pluck. I also enjoyed Griff’s good ole American portrayal of WWII pilot and found their relationship to be sweet and fitting to a book of this style.
The historical elements of this novel while not too detailed did ring true. The author gives a nice salute to the Attagirls, young women whom I didn’t even know existed. This era of women doing the job’s that required doing during this time of war is fascinating. It makes me want to spend an hour or two on my laptop researching the facts that supported this story. Tessa Arlen did a good job painting a picture without getting mired in the dry facts, romanticizing these women and weaving the mystery of two of their deaths.
I really enjoyed this novel. Yes, it was simple, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t smart. It just had an air of innocence that reminded me a bit of an old episode of Superman before the onset of special effects. If you love an old fashioned novel, then the Poppy Redfern series should be on your TBR. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Liv is tired of being afraid to take chances and after showing up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts and a hoodie she decides to go for it, have experiences, and change her life! First up is trying out for the school play, a hip-hop version of Othello. Scared to death, her two best friends Dré and Eli, also try out and the drama begins. Having two boys for best friends has led Liv to make the safe choices but when a cute boy in the play asks her out, she risks it all. How will this affect her feelings for her two friends? You’re going to have to read this charming un-putdown-able novel.
I’m not even lying. I stayed up until 1am on a work night reading this book. How Liv feels about herself is so relatable to 90% of the female population. She thinks she’s overweight, has bad hair, and isn’t cute when she’s the complete opposite! She’s fun, funny, a kick butt singer, can dance, is curvy, and should be a self confident young woman. When she tries out for this play and says yes to her first date a whole new world opens before her and her two friends take notice!
What can I say about Eli and Dré? They were totally different from each other, had real problems that added a nice bit of conflict to the story, and both loved Liv to death. Their friendship was one of my favorite things about this book, and despite their lives changing as they got older, they could all rely on each other. To a point. But what would a story be without a little drama, right?
This was a totally fun book, that felt real. I didn’t feel like a middle aged woman reading a teen novel. I felt like these kids anxiety’s are what people of any age feel on a daily basis. Their stories were relatable, their triangle was interesting, and each of their story arc’s read true. Despite your own age, Smash It! is a book that needs to be read. It may make you look differently at your own life, but if not, it will at least entertain you with their’s. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!
What do you do when you’re on a road trip with your husband and have hours in the car in front of you? You try to pick a book that the two of you will enjoy together, in this case Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, and hit play. Narrated by the author himself, Norse Mythology tells of some of the myth’s surrounding Thor, Loki, and Odin. Characters we think are familiar to us because of the very popular Avenger’s franchise, but in actuality Gods who were flawed and maybe not quite so heroic.
A quick word about the narration. Read by Neil Gaiman’s accented voice, he brought the characters to life imbuing them with a humanity that those Gods would probably dislike. That humanity held a wealth of emotions; humor, anger, mischievousness, stupidity, and even evil. I forgot at times that this was the author himself speaking because the characterizations were read so well.
What I found most interesting about listening to these myth’s is how much the popularization of these characters in current movies has shifted from the truth, or at least the truth as it was passed down through stories. Marvel gave us handsome actors in Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and a stout grandpa like figure in Anthony Hopkins as Odin. When Mr. Gaiman’s voice spoke the first chapter it was those actors who filled my head, but by the third story I realized those faces didn’t fit the characters actions in this book and I soon came up with faces from my own imagination. Although, it was quite funny to picture Chris Hemsworth as a more stupid, beefy version of Thor. How did Marvel stray so far from these truths? Strike that question, we know why. Chris, Tom, and even a more elderly Anthony Hopkins sell tickets because of their pretty (cough) faces.
Despite a couple of dull stories, my husband and I were entertained for 6+ hours, laughing at Thor’s obtuseness, and Loki’s mischievous nature, but I’ll admit to being more surprised at Odin’s true character. In Norse Mythology, Odin, the father of all humans, was actually a rather evil guy. As Loki played tricks on other Gods, Odin played tricks on humans which seemed a lot worse. Gods given their all powerful nature should be able to take care of themselves but the scale seems imbalanced when you pit a god against a human.
Even though I’d had Norse Mythology on my TBR I probably would never have gotten around to reading it because mythology sounds interesting but the reading of it, even fictionalized, can be a little dry. I’m glad the opportunity arose to listen to the audiobook in a time when their tales seemed relevant. What I mean by that is that this year, in 2020, it feels like a book could be written about our current gods (imaginary or real) playing tricks, getting angry, or being completely obtuse about the goings on of their humans. It strikes me that in Norse Mythology there wasn’t a very benevolent god in the bunch which doesn’t bode well for this humans future. Gods help me.
Samantha Casey is the school librarian at a small school that focuses on diversity, learning, and creativity. She has thrived in this environment and is now completely different than the once mousy woman she was. When their beloved principal passes away the newly hired principal, Duncan Carpenter, resurrects from her past. She had quietly been in love with him and he is in part the reason she left her last job. However, the Duncan that shows up for the first day of school is not the happy go lucky guy she used to know. This Duncan is a suit wearing, straight-laced, security conscious man and he proceeds to turn their lives upside down.
I loved the community of people that surround Sam Casey in this novel. A with previous insecurity and shyness issues, Sam has blossomed in the “safe” environment of this small town in Galveston, Texas. As the novel moves forward we learn more about just how much Sam has changed and why, especially as she faces her past crush and is deeply disappointed at his new demeanor. The old Sam would’ve run away, but this new Sam ends up leading the charge, fighting for their rights while at the same time searching for the man she used to know.
Duncan was pretty easy to understand. Based off Sam’s memories he’d obviously done a bit of growing up, but there was something bigger behind his actions. I loved how Sam picked away at his armor to find that more fun loving man underneath. What You Wish For was the perfect mix of quirkiness, drama, and I especially loved the heart in which this author embued in her characters. From the start of the book I was invested in Sam, and then when Duncan entered the scene and his demeanor was a direct contradiction to how Sam had described him sealed the deal. I along with Sam wanted to solve the mystery and truly enjoyed the journey of finding out all of these characters secrets.
I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Her Last Flight tells the story of two women, wartime photographer Janey Everett, and legendary pilot Irene Foster. Told in current time (1947) and in flashbacks to the mid 1920’s, Janey is hunting down the story of Sam Mallory, Irene’s one time teacher and co-pilot. She travels to Hawaii where she has tracked down Irene and hopes to convince her to tell her story.
Historical novels can often be slow and get bogged down in the details of the era in which the story is told. Her Last Flight, taking place in two timelines does a great job of giving you the flavor of those era’s yet doesn’t take time away from the plot by being over descriptive. Because of this, the pace was quick and I found myself speeding through this fascinating novel of these two women.
Janey is tracking down the story of the famous pilot Sam Mallory which is done through Irene’s memories, yet at the same time we are given flashbacks to Janey’s own life and the people who have influenced who she has become. As we read her story we are given hints that she and Irene’s stories have parallels and I read eagerly to see how or if they might intersect.
Did I have a favorite between the two characters? I’ll admit I leaned a little more towards Irene’s story because it was a little more glamorous, despite her life’s hiccups. Janey as the narrator, didn’t lay all of her cards on the table until the end, but with each reveal about her past you realized her’s was the more difficult life and I ended up pulling for her to find her happiness by the end. So, it was kind of a toss up! I liked them both for different reasons.
As a pilot’s daughter myself I was fascinated to read about the early days of flight and how women became involved in it. Irene’s and Sam’s story took place in the 1920’s when the country was recovering from the Great Depression and flying and air shows were a bit like going to the circus At that time; exciting and dangerous. To read how far flight advanced, even in the 25 years told in this story, was also pretty incredible, a point made by Irene’s love of aviation becoming tainted when she realized the damage in Spain from bombs being dropped from planes. A much more modern view of the capabilities technology brings.
There were quite a bit of twists and turns in Her Last Flight, none of which I want to go into as it would spoil your enjoyment of reading this story on your own. I’ll just say that it was deftly done and despite the turbulents the journey was completely enjoyable. I would recommend this story to everyone who loves this genre, it’s not one to be missed. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Avery Abram’s Olympic hopes were derailed in 2012 by a career ending injury. In the years since she fought depression, failing out of school, and most recently a bad break-up with her boyfriend. Returning home to live with her parents and work at the gym where it all started wasn’t quite what she’d planned, but working with an Olympic hopeful with the boy she crushed on as a teenager might fix what was broken. Head Over Heels delivers more than the rom-com promised giving the reader a behind the scenes look at competitive gymnastics and how these young girls handle the high stakes pressure.
Avery’s character was a pretty easy one to like. Showing frailty and uncertainty after her hope’s were dashed, she tries to drown her sorrows in alcohol and clubbing. This seemed a likely scenario for someone who wouldn’t know what to do with all of that energy she was used to expelling on a mat. When she hits bottom and moves back home she grasps at a lifeline of working with a young gymnast and in that job finds her new role in life. Ryan, an ex-Olympian himself understands what she went through and never holds her past against her. I thought that might have white-washed the realism just a tad, but hey, this was also a romance! His role was to be charming, cute, and convenient, and he was all that and more!
Obviously what I liked more in this book was the role between Avery and the young gymnast she was coaching, Hallie. Set during a parallel to real life sexual misconduct scandal, the stress Hallie is under and the physical and mental abuses Avery went through at that same age made for a great comparison and helped the reader care about both of these characters and see positive outcomes to their story. This storyline was the strength in this story and was what gave it a heartbeat.
The author did a great job of detailing the gymnastics in a way that a fan of sports but not gymnastics in general could follow. You could feel the stress and tension in the competitions which helped the story arc and conflict have more impact than it would have otherwise. I really enjoyed those parts of the story and felt the roller coaster emotions that a competitor may have felt as they tried to work their way towards those gold medals.
Ryan as the love interest was just ok. I liked that he and Avery shared a love for what they did, but without giving away the plot it’s hard to describe why I didn’t like him more. I’ll just say that one of the choices he makes for me would have been a deal breaker and I just couldn’t get past that.
I did really like Head Over Heels, and after everything above it won’t come as a big surprise that it was because of the gymnastics and Avery’s self-healing sub-plot. If you like sports themed romances or women’s fiction I think you’ll like this fast paced easy to read summer novel. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Mother-daughter duo Jessica and Emily Burnstein are about to spend a week touring east coast colleges. It’s Emily’s chance to make a decision on her future and for her mother, Jessica, it’s the chance to get closer to the daughter she loves. On the tour are other parental-kid units, including another mother and daughter whom both Jessica and Emily loathe. Will Emily and Jessica get along? Grow closer? Or become further apart than they ever were?
Abbi Waxman is one of my go to author’s since her hilarious debut A Garden of Small Beginnings. I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed by her last two novels that although good were not as funny as the first. I Was Told It Would Get Easier came through with both funny scenes but also quite tender ones that had heart and made me really like these characters.
Now, I’ll admit, when I was the age of Emily Burnstein my parents didn’t take me on a college tour, they were just excited I got accepted to any! I did find the relationship between Jessica and Emily quite familiar, as I’m sure a lot of reader’s will. Emily was a typical 16 year old girl with all the sass and hormones, and a mother who was bewildered by how to bond with her daughter. I really liked both of their characters and how over the course of a week they managed to find common ground and even ended up understanding each other a little bit better.
The love interests! Yes, there was a cute boy on the trip who Emily crushed on and their budding relationship was sweet and also pretty funny. Did Jessica have a love interest? Well, there was this one scene with an ex from college that was too hilarious. We all look back on those guys fondly, don’t we? Jessica had her hands full with this one, but thankfully Emily was there to keep her on the straight and narrow.
There were a lot of fun characters in this novel, some of whom you will recognize if you’re like me and have read all of the previous novels by this author. It’s not just a mother-daughter bonding book, there were kooky happenings, drunk mom dancing, and even a bit of crime solving! I really enjoyed all of the hijinks, but even more I loved the heart. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!
Emma Blair meets the love of her life in high school. She and Jesse share the need for adventure and getting out of their hometown and away from the expectations of their parents. Going away to school in California, they never look back, both finding adventure. When they get married, their expectations are the same, to live life to the fullest. When Jesse goes missing after a helicopter crash and is presumed dead, Emma breaks down and moves back home and the support of her family. A few years later, now in her 30’s Emma is finding happiness doing what she thought always thought she didn’t want. Working for her family’s bookstore and loving living in a small town. She meets Sam and allows herself to look forward, instead of always thinking of the past. They get engaged, and Emma gets a phone call from her long lost husband. Which life does Emma now want? The life of adventure with her lost love? Or the solid life of love and responsibility that she now has with Sam?
Having only read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s two bestseller’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six, I didn’t know what to expect from this kind of normal sounding love story. Albeit one with a bit of a twist. Emma was a heroine that many of us could easily identify with; young and carefree but forced to grow up when tragedy strikes. It’s the choice she has to make between the two men that is different. One that will keep readers turning the pages.
Jesse is that boy that everyone loved in high school, popular, athletic, and effortlessly charming. When he and Emma connected at a young age their path was set. Get out of town and explore what their lives have to offer. Emma views that past life through rose tinted glasses and the question is whether her vision will clear when Jesse returns to her life.
Sam had been in love with Emma in their teens. He worked with her in the bookstore and at one point she had even crushed on him too. When she fell for Jesse, Sam pushed his feelings aside but never quite got over Emma. When they accidentally meet his feelings for her come back. Emma’s also surprised by her feelings for Sam and moves forward hoping Jesse would want her happiness. Is Sam going to be the man she picks for the rest of her life?
I found myself flipping between team Jesse and team Sam. Taylor Jenkins Reid did a great job and letting the reader get to know both of these men and so when Emma waffled, we completely understood! The outcome of this three way triangle was not unexpected but my feelings for it were. I cried my way through the last third of the book!
Not knowing what to expect may have been the best thing for me while reading One True Loves. I actually really liked the characters, Reid deftly handled the storyline, and it had a great ending. Was it on par with her two bestsellers? No. However, it was vastly better than some other romances I’ve read lately! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“I flew through this one in a single afternoon! I really enjoy Taylor Jenkins’ Reid’s writing and will be happily picking up more of her backlist titles!” DG Reads
“I really did love this book, even if it made me cry! For the record, I think all of her books have made me cry. I think one of the things that draws me to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are the raw emotions that are so prevalent in her stories.” Faeryreads
I saw the third book in this series on NetGalley and it peaked my interest. The couple of reviews I read stated emphatically that this series was NOT a romance series, it’s straight fiction with a ton of hockey. A couple reviewers said too much hockey, but since I’m a fan of the sport I wanted to read it. However, I didn’t want to start with book three, so I purchased the first in the Sophie Fournier series, Breaking the Ice.
Breaking the Ice sets up the story of Sophie Fournier, the first woman to be drafted in the NAHL, this books fictional professional hockey league. As Sophie gets to know her new team she faces a lot of adversity which is expected in a league that has always been exclusively male. In addition to those difficulties, she gets drafted on the same team with a player who had always been her rival and even though they play nice, they’re still adversaries, up for the same position on the team.
Sophie was a really interesting character. Her one goal in life was to get drafted into the NAHL, and at nineteen she has achieved that goal. However, despite her work ethic and the fact that she is one of the best players on her team, if not in the league, she still doubts herself and tries to prove herself to her coach and her team over and over. I really liked some of the characters in this story. Merlin, who’s on the same line and grows quite close to Sophie, is the comic relief, and Matty, the captain of the team steps up as a mentor.
Breaking the Ice was everything I’d hoped. The play by play action was amazing. Even though I’m a hockey fan, I’ve never played the game and have always been mystified by a few things about the game. This books behind the scenes view into the game really opened my eyes to how the game is played. I was also pleasantly surprised by how she was treated by her team and within the league. Granted this novel was written by a woman and I sensed a bit of hope in the story, there was a lot less sexism than I’d thought. Is that true to life? I, like the author, hope men would treat women entering what has always been their domain with the respect their talent deserves, but I kind of doubt it would play out like that.
The second book in the series, Sophomore Surge, is the story of Sophie’s second year playing for Concord. After winning the Maddow Award, but not taking her team to the playoffs, Sophie is determined that this will be the year. Still insecure about her position on the team, she again sets the goal of winning the Cup and proving herself to all of her critics and to her team. This year, two other women get drafted, one of whom is drafted onto her team and she’s totally excited to have a female teammate. When Elsa bails on coming to the U.S. for her first season with Concord, Sophie is again faced with being alone, and that driving need to win and prove herself.
Sophomore Surge is a pretty typical second novel. We know the cast of characters and the insecurities and strengths of our heroine, but despite the excitement of all of the hockey, the story doesn’t move Sophie’s character forward, which is mildly disappointing. Knowing this has been categorized as an LGBTQ and Demisexual (I had to look this one up too) novel, I still don’t see any signs of Sophie leaning one way or another. She is hyper-focused on her game, which truthfully I would be too. She’s just not interested in anything else. BTW- when I looked up demisexual, it is when someone needs an emotional connection in order to have a physical attraction. I found that kind of nice, right? That attraction can be towards anyone. We are teased with her friendship to Ivanov, a player from another friend who becomes one of her best friends in the league, but nothing happens sexually with him and then also with her excitement of Elsa joining the league. That’s all though, just a tease. I love all of the hockey scenes and find it hard to be too disappointed because they are written so well and I do really like Sophie’s character. I figure it will happen in that final novel.
As the final novel in the Sophie Fournier series I’m expecting a couple of things. More great hockey, because that’s been very consistent in this series, and then the culmination of that sexuality “tease” we were given by classifying this series as LGBTQ and demisexual.
In Lighting the Lamp we are given a ton of great hockey. Elsa comes to the U.S. for her first season playing for Concord and Sophie is rewarded by having a best friend (who is also female) and the excitement of connecting with someone on the ice. Their line is one of the best in the league and it’s fun to watch a couple of women kick some men’s butt’s on the ice. Elsa has a lot more sass and fire than Sophie. Not having the expectations that Sophie did for the last two years, making sure she didn’t do anything to affect other women getting drafted, Elsa is opinionated and makes Sophie have some fun. It’s a breathe of fresh air to see have a little life off the ice. Sophie keeps Elsa securely in the “friend” category because she’s a hockey playing machine, and has set the goal of winning the cup again for this season.
I’ll admit, Sophie is kind of a confusing character. If I were trying to be her friend I think I wouldn’t be able to tell what she’s truly feeling. Reading from her point of view certainly helps, but poor Elsa, she can’t get a finger on why Sophie’s holding herself back from their friendship. This adds a little extra conflict to an already energetic novel and helps raise it up over the kind of steady pace Sophomore Surge set. Thank goodness! I love hockey and there’s more great play by plays in this story, but I really want something more. Do I get it in Lighting the Lamp? The answer is yes, just not in the way you’d expect. I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to spoil the ending!
To recap the series I will say again, that if you are a fan of hockey then you must read this book. The hockey games are written superbly, we are given great characters to invest our feelings into, and a couple of great villains to really get our hate on! Concord is an underdog team, and I LOVE rooting for the underdog. Overcoming adversity is the general theme and K.R. Collins does a great job of making the series about more than women entering a man’s game, although that a big part of it. It’s also about trusting yourself, believing in your talents, and living your life the way you want despite society’s norms and expectations. All themes I can definitely get behind.
Octogenarian Duffy Sinclair is living in what he hopes is his final residence Centennial Assisted Living. His roommate Carl and he are a bit of an odd couple with Duffy the gruff and surly character to Carl’s straight-laced Oscar. Or so Duffy thinks. One night a young woman in her 20’s sneaks through the window of their bedroom and claims she’s Carl’s granddaughter Josie. It’s a surprise to Duffy as Carl has claimed he didn’t have any children. AS the story unfolds their secrets are revealed and neither is who the other thought he was and Josie? She’s exactly who she says she is but her story creates a need, in Carl to finally be a grandfather, and in Duffy, a chance to redeem himself by helping this young woman through a difficult time.
OK, I’ll just say that this novel is a total departure from my normal reading. When I described the book to my husband (briefly) as a book about two old guys in an assisted living facility he asked me if it was a love story. Ha! Nope, or er, well, maybe? But not between Duffy and Carl, although there was a deep friendship and love did live in that relationship.
I really loved Duffy. He was so surly and not apologetic about it at all. However, when Josie enters his life he see’s in her a soulmate of sorts, and his chance for redemption for a life he felt he’d wasted. Interestingly enough, Josie was also drawn to Duffy, rather more so than Carl. Understandably so when you realize that Carl’s faults contributed to Josie’s problems- in a big way. As Duffy navigates through life in Centennial, helping to hide Josie during her visit, and and his issues with his roommate Carl you realize there’s a lot more to this old man that seemed at first. Those little details are why I loved him so much. He had so much heart!
The cast of characters in the assisted living facility were what brought life to this novel. Alice’s gentle beauty, Mrs. Zimmerman’s confused meanderings, and Sharon’s evil selfishness. All added depth and meaning to Duffy’s character adding a realness that the thought of him not accomplishing his goal of helping Josie wasn’t insurmountable. The humor and life that filled Centennial really opened my eyes to the life within our elderly. Yeah, I know this was fiction, but their problems were real and I just didn’t want to think that their days were slowly coming to an end.
I can’t help but wonder what brought this story into Brooke Fossey’s mind. In today’s world the elderly are almost forgotten, but Ms. Fossey has done a very good job of bringing them back into the light in a really positive heart-rending way. Even at the end, when I was quietly shedding tears, I has really happy that I’d read this novel and gotten to know these characters. Somehow through Duffy’s trials and tribulations I learned something about myself as well. This is a story I’ll reflect on for a while. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!