This Chick Read: The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Dawn Edelstein’s plane is going down and her life is flashing before her eyes but it isn’t the life with her husband and daughter, instead she sees the face of the man she was in love with in Egypt when she was 20 years old, Wyatt. She survives the crash landing, gets checked out by a doctor, and is given a plane ticket to anywhere in the world she’d like to go. She chooses to go to Egypt where she knows Wyatt is working on a dig. As the story unfolds Dawn is shown following two different, parallel life paths facing past decisions and mistakes and tries to determine if she’s lived life as she should.

I read several reviews of The Book of Two Ways and it seems that readers either liked it or thought it delved to deeply into Egyptology. Last December I traveled to Egypt and went to several of the ruins mentioned in this book and remembered the stories of these kings and gods that were told in this novel. I was among the readers who embraced the Egyptology in the novel, however it didn’t make the story any less confusing due to the two parallel timelines we were following.

As a young woman Dawn studied Egyptology and was working on her thesis about The Book of Two Ways while on a dig in Egypt. This is where she meets Wyatt, her nemesis, lover, and soul mate. She is abruptly called home because her mother is dying of cancer and Dawn chooses to never goes back to Egypt because she needs to raise her little brother. She also finds out that she’s pregnant by Brian, a man she met while her mother is in hospice and slept with because she needed to feel better about herself and what was happening to her life. Dawn switches her career path and eventually becomes a death doula, someone who helps a terminally ill patient leave this life feeling like they have lived a life well lived. While working with a woman name Win, Dawn starts questioning her own life and if she’s lived her own life well. She has a good marriage and a daughter, now 14, but she has started thinking about Wyatt and whether if she had stayed with him if her life would have been better. When she takes that plane back to Egypt she wants to see whether she will have that revelation and to also pursue the subject of her thesis, The Book of Two Ways.

I’ll admit that despite knowing the Egyptian stories that filled a lot of pages, I still skimmed and pursued the underlying story trying to figure out Dawn’s path. The two parallel stories got a bit confusing and I did feel like I was missing some signifiers to tell me which path I was following in which chapter. It was only when I was done reading the book that I could figure out that path. I was fascinated by Dawn’s death doula job, something that I’ve never heard of but that seemed fitting for a woman who’s early life was filled with trying to understand the Egyptian stories of life and death. It made sense. What frustrated me was Dawn’s meandering between Brian and Wyatt. She wasn’t unhappy with Brian she just didn’t seem to be as full of life as she was with Wyatt. I think we can all identify with this feeling of searching for happiness but it took a really long time for Dawn’s story to play out and I liked both of these men who Dawn spent her life loving.

This is the first story I’ve read by Jodi Picoult. I enjoyed her writing and thought this story was interesting but I’m just going to say it, I was so disappointed with the ending. Maybe Jodi wants the reader to make our own revelation? I don’t know but I finished the novel right before going to bed and the non-ending kept me awake that night. Is that good or bad? I was definitely mulling over the whole book in my head trying to determine what happened at the end and a week later I’m still telling people about this book. Because it has really stuck with me, I would definitely say that this book was thought provoking and I enjoyed multiple moments. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* The Book of Two Ways

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This Chick Read: Flirting with Fifty by Jane Porter

Paige Newson is comfortable with her life. She’s a divorced mom to three grown daughters and has a fabulous job as a professor at a Southern California college. Her comfortable life gets upended when she is paired with Professor Jack King to teach a brand new course that pairs math and biology. The catch? She knows Jack King, or at least she did when she was 20 years old. She had a short fling with him when she was a student in England for a semester. Something that affected her deeply and changed the course of her life. Will Paige allow Jack to challenge her comfortable world?

There aren’t too many romance novels written for characters in their 50’s, so I was a bit curious about how this author was going to portray the journey of Paige and Jack. I wasn’t disappointed at all to find that this was a slow burn romance. It made sense to me because at 50 you have lived a lot and have expectations for your life. I know I have and I’m 54. So, I wasn’t at all disappointed that Paige may have to work through the hangups she has from a failed marriage, her children still needing their mom although they are all grown up, and the fact that she is uncomfortable with her body. Unless you still have the body of your 20 year old self, of course you would be. Also, Jack is somewhat intimidating. She found him so attractive when she was 20 but she lacked confidence in herself at that age. Does she now have that confidence at 50?

Jack was wonderful. He was charming, charismatic,and felt real instead of like a caricature which he could so easily have been. He was also still as attracted to Paige at 50 as he was when he was in his mid 20’s. He has a surprising amount of patience for someone that is so active and is always on the go. However, in this case, opposites do make the best partners and I could easily see why these two would be so good for each other. It made it easy to buy into their love story.

At times this novel felt a little bit like a christian romance. I don’t think it’s actually classified that way, but if you like a tamer romance story then this may be a great fit for you. I find that I like both cool and warm temps when it comes to romance novels so I didn’t have any issues with the pace, or heat level of this novel. It was just right. So, how did this 54 year old like a romance about 50 somethings reconnecting? I enjoyed it a lot! It’s nice to not be reading about 20 or 30 somethings living in a world I’ve already lived. I found myself eager to read more!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* Flirting with Fifty

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

After recovering from a debilitating car accident, Laura Costello moves across family to get away from her over protective family. After barely moving in, her apartment burns down and she gets caught in a downpour outside a bookstore in Larchmont Village, a community located in the heart of Los Angeles. She meets the ladies in the bookstore, Nina, Liz, and Polly, and they take her in. Polly taking her home to live in an available room in the large home she rents in Highland Park, just down the street. There Laura meets Bob, or Impossibly Handsome Bob, as her new friends call him. He’s just as they claim, Impossibly Handsome, but he’s also impossibly awkward, shy, and uncomfortable. In Laura he finds someone with the same interests and who has a calmness that soothes his nervous mind. This novel centers on their story, but also includes the interesting characters who surround them.

Having lived in Los Angeles, I always find Abbi Waxman’s novels nostalgic. I grew up in southern California so there are a lot of little notes that only someone from that area would truly understand. For example, when there’s an earthquake you have an instinct for the score and if it’s lower than a 4.0 it’s nothing of note. You just get on with your life. Laura, our main protagonist is getting over PTSD from a bad car accident and is from the east coast, so an earthquake rock her world a little harder than it does our other characters who may shrug one off if it’s doesn’t really do any lasting damage. Other very LA things like traffic, bad drivers, weather, and thrift shopping make an appearance and make this novel feel very much an LA novel. So, I love that.

You can’t but fall in love with both Laura and Bob. They are very subtle characters who have an ease and calm that is very soothing to a reader. In some books that might be boring, but with all of the outlandish characters surrounding them, their calm interactions were kind of zen moments that brought the entire novel together. The pace of their love story was very fitting to their characterizations as well with the zaniness of what was going on around them, plus other characters self-journeys creating a tension that propelled the book forward allowing us to love Laura and Bob at the pace they needed to be loved.

I’ve read all of Abbi Waxman’s novels and each has been unique. I’ve liked some better than others, but none as much as The Garden of Small Beginnings, her debut novel. However, Adult Assembly Required has had the same ease as this author’s first novel, so I’d rate it my second favorite. Something they both share is one small child, Clare, who has got to be the funniest characterization of a child I’ve ever read. Clare is zany and bright and whenever she’s in a scene I just know I’m going to get a laugh or two. I laughed my way through The Garden of Small Beginnings and she gave me quite a few chuckles in Adult Assembly Required as well. I can only hope that at some point Clare grows up and we get a novel from her perspective because it would be so much fun! In this novel she was the perfect counterpoint to Laura’s assured calmness and made me like Laura even more.

If you like zany characters, great friendships, and quirky romances I think you should give this novel a try. It was great. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* Adult Assembly Required

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associates- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Audio Review: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Flora Sykes, a fine arts dealer, is brought in to assess an amazing find. An unopened apartment in Paris filled with antiques and art that haven’t been touched in 70 years. Owned by the wealthy Vermeil family, Flora’s job is to research those antiques and establish provenance. Using this job as an escape from a personal tragedy, Flora immerses herself in the history of this find that includes a rare Renoir. As she gets closer to answers she keeps stumbling upon the brusque Xavier Vermeil the heir to the Vermeil dynasty who seems upset at her involvement, especially when her research turns up a shocking truth that threatens the reputation of his family.

The Paris Secret takes you all over Europe, to London, Paris, New York, and Vienna and the narrator Lucy Price-Lewis does an amazing job moving smoothly from one accent to another. I truly felt like there were multiple people narrating this novel. She did an amazingly seamless job. I’ll definitely be putting her on my must listen list. However, it is the author who deftly wrote a story that I’ve now come across a few times, and made it stand out from the other novels. The Paris Secret did not provide flashbacks as a tool, staying in the 20th Century. An effective tool to show the disparity in wealth that the Vermeil family had and the power that wealth has given them over time. A power that in part came from their love of art.

As Flora was distracting herself with this amazingly interesting find in Paris, her family was going through something powerfully emotional. The author chose to keep the reader in the dark through a great portion of the book only revealing her family secret when it made sense in moving the plot emotionally forward. Her investigation and her own secret rode parallel to each other in the story creating an explosive conflict in the story between she and Xavier. I’ll admit their attraction was confusing, tense, and mysterious. The narration was so, so good, I eagerly anticipated every word.

As there have been a few of these secret Paris apartment stories in the last 5-6 years, I’m sure you can guess the provenance of where the art came from, but as I said above, the way Karen Swan delivered this information, keeping the story contemporary and current, was a different take on the story that I really enjoyed. I also loved the tension-filled scenes between Flora and Xavier, as well as Flora’s investigation across the European continent. She was a strong, intelligent heroine, and I really liked her. I highly recommend this novel and if you have the time please try the audiobook. Lucy Price-Lewis did an amazing job and made me want to travel to France again sometime soon. Ooh-La-La!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link and purchase this book!* The Paris Secret: A Novel

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend

This Chick Read: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Indie rock star, Greta James, breaks down on stage after the death of her mother, the world catching it on camera and making her grief go viral. Pushing back the launch of her sophomore album, Greta takes her mothers place on a 40th anniversary cruise to Alaska with her father, a man that she loves but that she’s always had a rocky relationship. Maybe this trip will help bridge the gap and keep her from losing both of her parents. While cruising she meets Ben Wilder, a guest speaker about a novel he’s written based upon The Call of the Wild. Ben is also going through personal loss, his broken marriage and missing his two little girls. In each other they find something that connects them and may help them overcome their trauma.

I have read two other books by this author and have loved them all. She balances drama and happiness so deftly and takes me on a journey that stays with me for awhile. Greta was an interesting character. Her first love is playing the guitar and everything in her life has taken a back seat to her commitment to be the best. Her father has spent her life worrying that she is choosing something that is doomed to bring her heartbreak, and despite her success he can’t help but lecture and push her to take a safer route. It’s actually kind of sweet if you think about it, but super frustrating as well. When she meets Ben, he becomes a safe place for her to escape from her complicated emotions surrounding her mother’s death and her feelings for her father but as the days pass she realizes that he is going through his own mixed up life and their vacation romance may be just that.

One of my favorite side characters is a young girl on the ship who idolizes Greta. She makes a great contrast to where Greta was in her childhood and where she is now in her own life. By helping this girl with her own guitar playing she gives her something that she never received in return. I thought that was a really neat circle of life moment that tied the drama in the book together really well and added moments of joy that I can’t say were missing but were only sprinkled sparingly through the book. It’s funny how having those brighter moments makes the contrast that much greater, isn’t it?

This was a very well planned, well executed novel. I really need to go back and read through Jennifer E. Smith’s backlog of books. I bet there are quite a few other nuggets of gold to be discovered.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Mr. Wrong Number

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Getting Clean With Stevie Green by Swan Huntley

Stevie Green has spent the last 20 years moving around the country, moving from one bar to another, having one night stands and running from her past. When her mother calls and asks for her help packing up her house and moving, Stevie heads home. She reinvents herself and starts a decluttering business and with her sisters help pursues being number one. As she declutters others lives she faces a few facts about her life, sexuality, and that horrible item from her past that she’s spent the last 20 years not forgetting.

For all of you who like to know about triggers, this one has a bunch of them. Be warned there is alcoholism, suicide, sex, and a quirky family. OK, maybe the quirky family isn’t a trigger for everyone, but it is for me! 🙂 Stevie is a 37 year old who does not have her act together at all, but she’s great at faking it, until, well, she doesn’t anymore.

Despite all the things distracting Stevie in this novel, or maybe because of all the things that were distracting in this novel, it was a quick read. I found Stevie to be sad, funny, and desperate to have a normal life and have someone normal to love her. That last is what makes her so identifiable. I am nothing like Stevie Green and yet before I found it, I yearned for that special someone. In Stevie’s case she wasn’t sure if that someone was a man or a woman.

This was a very fast moving novel about a woman who was facing her past while at the same time facing who she was in the present. I thought it was a really different style of book than my normal read and realized that sometimes it’s good to read outside that box. Getting Clean with Stevie Green was quirky, funny, and moving and I thought it was pretty darned good! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Getting Clean With Stevie Green

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

This novel is on a TON of must read lists and after reading it I can totally see why. Katrina and Nathan wrote a best selling romance together three years ago but haven’t talked since. They are contracted to write one more book together, something that Nathan really needs since his solo novel isn’t doing well. Katrina had retired from writing but agrees to write this last novel. Through flashbacks we learn what happened three years ago at the same time as they are working on their current book and the reader can’t help but root for these two best friends who had lost their way and may (or may not) find the path back to each other.

Normally flashbacks drive me crazy. I’m a person who likes to be in the hear and now and I like the same thing from the stories I read. However, the use of the flashbacks parallel where the characters are in the story and help drive both the characters and readers feelings back and forth. It was deftly done, and being manipulated has never felt so good. I honestly wasn’t sure if Katrina and Nathan would ever have anything but another great book written by the two of them.

One of the things I liked the most about this novel was the back and forth between tension filled scenes in current time, then a flashback to explain where the two characters were in their relationship during the writing of their last book. I also loved how despite the tension, they were awed equally by each others talent, and they read each other’s moves and reactions so well. It was fascinating to see their love story being written…twice.

I’m a big fan of this writing duo and am glad that they’re branching out into the adult genre. Their talent is in giving their characters thought-provoking feelings and then acting on them, sometimes to the detriment of themselves. Something we all do in real life. Kat and Nathan were no different than you and I in how they’ve made mistakes and either ignored or fixed them. This relatability is a big reason why the story works so well. There is something in both of them that I can see in myself, and I don’t think I’ll be the only reader to think this. Don’t let 2022 go by without reading The Roughest Draft, I have a feeling that it will land on my best of 2022 list, and it’s only January.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* The Roughest Draft

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Love for Beginners (Wildstone #7) by Jill Shalvis

Emma Harris wakes up from a coma and learns that her best friend and her fiancé are now a couple, she broken most of the bones in her body, and her insurance bills are adding up. The doctors told her that she’d never walk again but with the help of her physical therapist she is finally able to move out of her apartment that she shares with her ex-BFF and into her own place. No one will hire her because she hasn’t had a job in a year when the pet store that she trains dogs in goes up for sale. Unable to get a loan she ends up with an unlikely partner. Her frenemy from high school, and Simon’s cousin, Ali Pratt. Love for Beginners is a tale about perseverance, falling in love, and making new friends.

Emma, as the main protagonist, was completely likable and easy to root for. Out jogging when hit by a car seems like pretty bad luck but it brought the delicious physical therapist, Simon into her life and it changed her from a person who may have let people walk on her to learning to have a backbone and to stand up for herself. Something she probably should have done a long time ago. I loved her inner voice that always reminded her that she wasn’t the old Emma but the new Emma 2.0. Her budding romance with Simon while lacking heat (at least for me) did help Emma grow as a character. I looked at it as part of her healing process. Sex with hot PT- check! Of course, there were feelings involved but their romance wasn’t really what this novel was about. It was about Emma’s challenges and how she was facing them.

Ali’s story was secondary but I found it just as interesting. She too needed to grow but it was in the reverse of Emma. From an early age Ali has put a wall up, not letting anyone get close. She always considered Emma a rival. Probably because from the outside Emma’s life seemed charmed but just like what you see on Facebook, nothing is as it seems on the surface. Their partnership allowed them both to see the other side of each other. I thought Jill Shalvis did a good job of showing the growth of a female friendship!

I’m a big fan of Jill Shalvis’ novels. She always writes great secondary character and/or groups of friends that you always want to get to know. Love for Beginners was no different. I do wish the romance had brought a little more sizzle to the page but upon reflection it kind of fit. Simon had his own story that made him a little distant too. Luckily, he had Emma and his cousin Ali to help him work through his emotions and give him a kick in the butt.

If you’re in the mood for a good friendship novel I think Love for Beginners is certainly that. If you want a romance, there is some of that too but I really feel like that was secondary to all of the other stories that were being told in this novel. It wasn’t what I expected but I did like it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* Love for Beginners: A Novel (The Wildstone Series Book 7)

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes by Alexa Martin

Jude and Lauren have been best friends since the third grade and despite their differences they are always there to support the other when times get rough. Usually they both don’t hit rock bottom at the same time. After Lauren’s fiancé leaves her and their daughter, Lauren’s confidence takes a hit, but she stays strong for her daughter Adelaide wanting to show her that a strong woman can achieve anything. Jude is also going through some family issues. Since her father died her mom has gone off the deep end and Jude’s been floating her money, not knowing how to deal with this new situation. Needing each other’s strength, Lauren (and Adelaide!) and Jude move in together. Together they start a podcast about being single, raising a daughter, and dating building a brand that strikes a chord with their listeners. They just wish that real life were as funny as their podcast portrays, but despite life’s challenges the strength of their friendship will help pull them through it all.

A novel about friendship, love, and family? Sold! I’m a huge fan Alexa Martin’s NFL romance series, Playbook, and while this novel is not a romance there is plenty of love to be had on its pages. The friendship between Jude and Lauren is the kind of friendship that women dream of and probably rarely ever get. It defies all of life’s changes, marriage, and children. Jude is Lauren’s biggest fan and the feeling is absolutely returned. Of course, there is a lot of conflict in this novel as well, but just as in a romance, these ladies do get their happily ever after.

Who is my favorite character in this novel? Adelaide, of course! This five year old little girl has an old soul and enough sass to fill a swimming pool! Her character was such fun to read and added some much needed humor to the drama. I totally want Adelaide to star in her own young adult, new adult, and adult contemporary novels. She was a hoot!

I love how Alexa Martin shares her perspective through her characters. Her romance novel couples were of mixed race, and this lady friendship is between a white woman and black woman and Jude’s character speaks to the things she’s learned about racial inequality and how her best friend Lauren has been treated in her life. Jude is a mouthy white woman who doesn’t have a problem calling out injustices on behalf of her friend, despite Lauren not wanting to bring attention to them herself. This is a fictional novel but that doesn’t mean that the reader can’t learn by what the characters go through. Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes had many such moments.

If, like me, you are a fan of Alexa Martin’s you’ll probably pick up this novel. If you’ve never heard of Alexa Martin I think you will enjoy reading this story about overcoming obstacles while having a good friend by your side. These characters were easy to identify with, root for and love, plus there’s Adelaide, the star of the book. LOL!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

June Jones is content working as a library’s assistant in her villages local branch when it’s threatened with being shuttered. Although the funds have been dwindling and it’s a bit shabby, this library is the home away from home not just for June but also for other villagers who need a place to gather. Never having left the small boundaries of her village June is distraught on behalf of the village but mostly on behalf of herself, who’s memories of her own mother are tied to the books in this building. The shy June must decide what’s more important, living with her mothers memories, or fighting this shut down and making new memories of her own.

Set in a quiet English village, June seems to be your typical quiet librarian. More at peace with books than with people. As this novel moves forward the reader see’s June as the villagers see her, the tie that binds her villagers together. I was pleasantly surprised by how moved I was by this novel. I thought I knew what I would be reading but as June dared to live outside the quiet comforts she knew the pages filled with color and emotion.

If this novel were only about June it may have been a typical story about a girl who likes to escape through a good book. Instead it was about June’s relationships with the people in her village and how her kindness helped them through their own trials throughout the years. Giving book advice, tutoring a high school student, teaching an older man to read, there were many facets of June that we don’t initially see. Each new light shone through a different character that was introduced and I have to admit there were some pretty outstanding characters that helped June shine so bright.

The Last Chance Library’s pace started off slow but as I got immersed in the story it quickly quickened. I found that sleepy English villages can be pretty exciting, or at least they can when the villagers decide to rise up. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* The Last Chance Library

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.