Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Published:  March 5, 2019 by Harlequin – Trade Publishing  

Dates Read:  April 7 – 10, 2019 

Genre/Category:  Psychological Thriller/Suspense / Psychological Fiction 

Read For:  NetGalley Free Copy 



5 stars 


Stop the presses!  Psychological thrillers have a new contender  

Every author always strives to write the next best psychological thriller. We’ve been inundated with so many that the plots have become expected and outcomes predictable.   As readers we almost certainly experience burnout, but we are dedicated and we keep on readingBeautiful Bad by Annie Ward is absolutely not your typical psychological thriller, there is a different type of genius about this book that gives it a stunning brilliance.   

This novel is about Maddie, a travel writer and her husband Ian, a former British soldier, now living in suburban Kansas with their son Charlie.  Maddie has started attending writing therapy after a camping accident where she reveals her concerns about Ian’s PTSD, her concerns about the safety of their young son Charlie, and the couples stormy past with Maddie’s best friend Jo.  The chapters alternate between past and present revolving mostly around “The Day of the Killing” when a frenzied 911 call brings the police to the site of a horrible crime at their home.     

This novel was so different than what I expected, it was so brilliantly written with such a unique backstory.  You usually go into these books expecting your typical relationship issues, something along the lines of a chic-lit novel except with murder and suspense.  I was about a quarter of the way in and the story line was so intriguing, I really had no idea what was going to happen or where things were going but I was 100% absorbed and I wasn’t stopping.   

As you continue through the book you get just enough from each timeline to keep you immersed.  The writing regarding Maddie’s anxiety is depicted so well and the psychologist sessions (talking about what Maddie is anxious is about, the psychologists reactions) I found to be quite believable.  There is a lot of information about Maddie, Jo and Ian’s travels and Ian’s military experience.  There was an abundance of information here that had to take a lot of research on behalf of the author.  I know nothing about these topics to say whether or not they were accurate, but the information was plausible and made the story line all the more captivating.   

All of a sudden BAM.  This novel turns into an old Batman & Robin action scene.  You get hit so hard….  WHAM, SPLAT, POW, one after the other with all the Ian/Jo baggage that you actually need to pause for a second.  So here we are, with 10% of the book left, and I think I have it all figured outI got this, I really got this.  (At this point I am also thrilled because I finally got the “Bunny Boiler” file connection).  Then in swoops Batman with one final hit….ZONK….. and you end up with one of the most delicious endings I have ever read in a long time.   And no, I did not have this at all, not one bit. This is one of those times where I am happy to admit defeat.   

I am usually extremely stingy with 5 stars, but this book is truly deserving.  It had all the characteristics that are important: well written, character development, excellent story line, and definitely left me with a lot of feelings and emotions after I finished.  But it’s the uniqueness of the backstory and the infuriatingly magnificent ending that is what carried it over the finish line for me.   I highly recommend reading this book.   


Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row for the free copy of this book for a honest and unbiased review.   

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Published: March 26, 2019 by Park Row
Dates Read: March 30 – April 5, 2019
Genre/Category: Humorous / Domestic Fiction
Read For: NetGalley Free Copy for Review

4 stars

Lifetime movies meets the introverted librarian and gains a 4 solid stars from me. Phaedra Patrick has written a tender and heartwarming novel with serious undertones that revolves around a library, books, and some amazing stories.

When a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep with a dedication written to her from her passed away grandmother, Martha Storm discovers a clue that her grandmother may still be alive. Determined to discover the truth, she reveals a secret that will change her life forever.

I had read a few reviews about this book and was looking forward to reading it because most people were calling it lighthearted and laugh out loud funny. I needed some sort of diversion from the serious books I have been reading lately but unfortunately this book did not check off those boxes for me. What I got was so much better. This novel was so amazingly written I actually had a HOLY CRAP moment half way through the book. I was so overcome with emotion at how brilliant a story about family dynamics and parental structure this was; I totally did not see any of it coming at all. Between the mother-in-law/husband/wife/daughter/sister/coworker and friend relationships that occur here, there’s enough psychological drama that definitely qualify for a Lifetime movie. There is a lot more lost and being found in this library than just books.

For anyone who exists in the world today, we all come with some sort of baggage, so it is easy to find some sort of personal connection to this story whether it is with Martha’s grandmother, her father and mother’s relationship, Martha’s relationship with her parents and her sister, how Martha’s handles her current personal environment, as well as the many other issues that occur that I won’t list. I mention this because I myself experienced some strong feelings as I was reading because the character development of Martha’s father hit home for me. I don’t think these feelings influenced my opinion at all but part of me feels that maybe by having them I was able to connect with this storyline just a little bit more. Martha is every person who has grown up with a sense of morality, regardless of her own wants and needs.

There’s a point before the end of the book that leaves you with this “please don’t end this way” feeling, and when you reach it, you’ll know what I mean. I mention this only because it brings an odd sense of satisfaction and disappointment all at once, like you don’t want it to end this way but if it does you’re ok with it. The storyline takes a unusual detour at this moment, but it is quite necessary for closure. The book ends with a nice wrap up, which truly was heartfelt. (I guess this is where the heartwarming feelings from the other reviewers come into play).

Overall I enjoyed this novel, I would definitely recommend it if asked, although I would not categorize it as a laugh out loud type of book, this definitely fits in the domestic fiction genre. It was well written and I found that I was interested in the characters and the plot and was vested in the story.

Thank you to NetGalley and ParkRow for a Free Copy of this book for an honest and non biased review.

Book Review: Ohio by Stephen Markley



by Stephen Markley 

Published:  August 21, 2018 by Simon Schuster 

Dates Read:  February 8 – 13, 2019 

Genre/Category:  Coming of Age Fiction/Literary Fiction

Read For:  Personal Pleasure 



5 stars 


Wonderful.  I just finished and I’m speechless.  I honestly feel this book had to have been passed over for some kind of awards. 

I have to be honest; it took me the first 50 pages to really get into the book, and I was hesitant during those pages if I was going to want to continue. 

Then I couldn’t put it down, it was THAT good.   

I had read other reviews, and I can’t lie, I always read the negative reviews because sometimes I don’t think people are very honest when they give 5 stars.  I feel like there are external circumstances that sway their responses.  Truthfully, I find myself very hard on authors, because everything I’ve read lately has fallen flat.   

This is the first time I find myself telling anyone in my review to please ignore any bad reviews you may read, give this one a chance, it deserves it!  You won’t regret the decision.  This book was brilliant.  Please know it deals with mature topics, so it’s not a warm and fuzzy kind of read.  The authors ability to write about relevant issues and weave the story of hometown heartbreak throughout the story really grabs at you.  I think there is someone in this book that everyone out there can relate to in some way.  This is small town America with an added murder mystery twist.   

If you start this, please stick with it, like I said, it took me 50 pages in, but so far this has been my favorite book I have read this year.  Better than Crawdads, better than Hearts Invisible Furies.   Bravo Stephen Markley.   Highly recommend.   

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
by Hank Green

Published:  September 25, 2018 by Dutton/Penguin Random House
Genre/Category:  Speculative Fiction
Dates Read:  March 27 – 29, 2019
Read For:  Book Club and Personal


5 stars

You know when I close a book and say WOW that I am going to give it 5 stars.


So I chose this book for the book club I have been running for 6 years now.  Most of us don’t really like SciFi or Fantasy, so I wasn’t sure how some of the theme of this one was going to go over, but it had gotten such amazing reviews and I wanted something a little different so I gave it a go.   I will be honest, I did get a few that really weren’t blown away by it, but since I’m giving my opinion here, I think its because they just don’t get the whole social media fame thing that seems to be the latest obsession.  But hopefully, after I gave them my opinion, they realized how great of a book it was.  (Commence eye rolling)

Rather than bore you with a long detailed review, I just want to say I highly recommend this book, for both young and old alike.  This book was able to pull the most relevant and pertinent topics of today into one novel and address them in such a unique way that I’ve never seen before.  The author was able to include politics, social media, bullying, relationships, maturity/coming of age, radicalism, extremism, fear, uncertainty, fame/fortune and greed, sexuality, family, teamwork, and education, in a story that is so interesting, you won’t want to put it down.

Then there is the SciFi/Fantasy aspect of it with the Carls.  This was especially interesting to me because of how it was incorporated into the novel.  Some of my counterparts found it odd, even irrelevant, but I did not.  The world needed a reason (or the book needed a topic) for everyone to come together, or fall apart, cry outrage, or do whatever they needed to do to show just how society as a whole can/will/or has reacted to the unknown.
I also believe that to get a younger age group to read this book, putting a SciFi/Fantasy twist to it may be just the thing needed to get that demographic, because those are the ones who truly need to get the message being disclosed here.  Unfortunately I’m not sure they will.
(Full disclosure – I totally had “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and  Twilight Zone “To Serve Man” running though my head while reading this).

Mr Green is truly a genius.  (And I’m just talking about his writing ability, I’m not even mentioning the huge amount of stuff he’s done [see back jacket of book]).  I’ve been told there is a sequel in the works.  That excites me.  I am thrilled with the way this ended, I could be happy with just leaving it where it lies, but there is always that part that wants more.  If Mr. Green continues to write as well as he did with the first installment, we are really in for a treat.
Highly, HIGHLY recommend.


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Book Review: The Night Olivia Fell


The Night Olivia Fell
by Christina McDonald

Published: February 5, 2019 by Gallery Books
Dates Read:  March 24-26, 2019
Genre/Category:  Suspense, Contemporary Women
Read For:  Personal pleasure


3 ½ stars

This was a good book.  It definitely falls into my 3 star category.  I can comfortably say it was written well, had a good story line, and  I had no issue with the character development.  I enjoyed the book and it certainly kept me turning the pages.  If asked, I would definitely tell others it is worth reading.   The thing is, I’m just not jumping up and down over it.

I’m not going to lie, I guessed very early on who pushed her.  That didn’t ruin the book for me in any way, but I did feel that I’ve kind of read this topic a few times before, and maybe that’s why I’m not as excited about this novel as a lot of the other reviewers have been.  Being a medical professional the subject of keeping the patient alive due to the pregnancy was very intriguing to me and I can honestly say I would have liked to read a little more about that, but maybe that wasn’t appropriate for all readers.

I would say if you are looking for a quick read that isn’t something you have to seriously concentrate on, this is definitely one for you.  It’s enjoyable, well written, not difficult to follow, and does not leave you wanting to throw the book onto the street hoping a UPS truck runs it over when you are finished.  I will read from Ms. McDonald again.

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Book Review: I’m Fine and Neither are You


I’m Fine and Neither Are You  
by:  Camille Pagan

Published:  April 1, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
Genre/Category:  Literary Fiction
Dates Read:  March 22 – 24, 2019
Read For:  March Amazon First Read Pick


Stars 3

Initially I feel like I was duped.  The synopsis about this book led me to believe it was a bit more Chic Lit and lighthearted than it was, but it didn’t start out that way.  In the beginning I couldn’t put it down, I felt like I was about to read an amazing story about a horribly relevant topic.   Yeah, no.   My bad.   As usual, enter Chic Lit.

So yeah, this book starts out pretty heavy, and lets be honest, it tackles a pretty relevant addiction issue, but then, that’s it.  Once its out there, the book takes a turn and you start to see the fallout of said addiction.   I have to be honest, I really saw a climax here and would have liked more of a story (or even a backstory) about Jenny, but it didn’t happen. I think more about that topic needed to be expanded upon in detail.  Instead it just kind of stopped, and I just wanted so much more.  The story then turns to Jenny’s best friend Penny, what “truths” she didn’t know about Jenny, and how  “telling the truth” now comes into play in all aspects of her life.

This is where the book totally became very Chic-Lit for me throughout the second half, and I felt it lost the importance of the addiction problem and why we even got to Penny’s story in the first place.  Yeah, truth in a relationship is important, but to start out with such an amazing first few chapters…….and then MEH.  Part of me feels bad because the second half of the story wasn’t bad, it probably could have stood alone without the lead in about Jenny.  I think it would have been a much better novel that way, because it had some very valid issues in regards to honesty in a marriage.  I had a love-hate relationship with Penny, there were times I related to every emotion and feeling she had, and other times I just wanted to up and smack her. (But I wouldn’t, because hitting is WRONG).
In the end, for me this was one of those stories that I closed the book saying “ yeah, that was cute, but not all of these stories end that way.”  And although you are glad to not walk away from a book frustrated, you know you are going to walk away completely forgetting it.


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Book Review: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
A Novel

by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
Published: March 26, 2019 by Penguin Random House
Genre/Category: Literary Fiction
Dates Read: March 19 – 22, 2019
Read for: NetGalley ARC Review


4.5 stars

I really struggled with writing this review because I had so many mixed emotions about this book, that’s why it took me so long to get it up and available. The best way to start is to dive in.

I was given an ARC by NetGalley to review shortly before the book was to be published. I thought it would be a fairly quick read, the synopsis came off as being very light-hearted and fun. I figured I would be reading about an old curmudgeon who made you laugh with his cranky old ways, that found out life isn’t so bad if you stop being such a turd. I was wrong.
The synopsis was very misleading. Professor Chandra had some much deeper and more serious problems than I expected. You find out that this man is very much like the rest of us, dealing with divorce, difficult parental relations with his daughters and son, personal and professional shortcomings, social inadequacies and mostly just difficulty in understanding himself.
Not the lighthearted easy read I was expecting. But I continued on……..

I hit a road block at chapter 3. I was wondering to myself if I was going to possibly not finish this book. I felt like it wasn’t progressing fast enough for me, and I found my mind straying elsewhere. Fortunately I’ve always vowed to finish the books I have started, I feel this obligation to the author to give them an honest review, and I am glad I did. After Chapter 3, things got right back on track, and I progressed through the rest of the book rather quickly. I became invested in Professor Chandra and wanted to see how he was going to handle how things were developing. I would be misrepresenting myself if I didn’t stop here and tell you that I wasn’t blown away with the whole idea of the workshop that Professor Chandra attended. It’s not that I don’t believe in that type of stuff, it’s just that I felt that the author was really overselling the topics of “zen” and “spirituality in the workplace” but then I checked out his website and found that this was something that he does professionally (sidebar: he is a fellow for writers with a meditation practice), so then I understood his purpose. Still, it’s not my thing.

Overall, I really appreciate the way the author tackled all the difficult topics he wrote about, all of which are quite relevant of the world we live in today. In my opinion he was spot on with how he handled some of these situations, and some of them I would be willing to adopt into my own relationships.

So in the past week this book has been on my mind a lot. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. It was heavier than I expected, but seemed to resonate with me more than I thought it would. When a book does that, it deserves a good review, because it left you with some sort of feeling…..whatever that feeling was.
And guess what? In the end I walked away with the lighthearted feeling I was hoping to get when I started. It was just a different journey than when I expected.