An Honest Book Review (Positives and Negatives) of a Currently Popular Book

Book Bloggers everywhere are loving this book and it’s been on my radar for months to read! My review of this one is a bit complicated…there were parts of it that I loved and parts of it that I did not. This book was recently released in mid August and I was fortunate to receive an Advance Reader’s Copy.  It’s currently such a popular book…I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and to start reading!

Before I go into my review, just a few random shapshots of my life:

I dropped off my son at preschool this morning and when I got back to my car, I realized that I had left my coffee in his classroom.  Oh HELL no!  I couldn’t get back into that building fast enough!  As I was frantically running to get back inside, I passed another mom who pointed out the irony of the shirt that I just so happen to be wearing today:

Truth.

My kids attended a birthday party yesterday and after we left my daughter turned the crayon box party favor into a tiny book!  Love her creativity!

And now, a book review.  Have you read this?  I’m truly not sure how I feel about it.

Things You Save in a Fire By Katherine Center (affiliate)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

3.5 Stars

Man is this a tough review to write as my thoughts on this book are so scattered.

First and foremost, it’s a beautiful book with so many beautiful messages.  It’s a very easy read.  I found myself fascinated in learning about firefighters and about the aspects of their jobs in which I really had no idea.

That being said, I do feel this book lacks some pretty major character and storyline development.  I just wanted MORE of everything!

There was one major storyline that I really disagreed with and it bothered me throughout the entire story.

I felt that this book was a bit cheesy, predictable, and unrealistic at times…

HOWEVER, I honestly did enjoy it.  I found myself smiling more than once as I was reading.  I even posted on Instagram how much I was loving it! That’s the problem…just when I would start to really love it, I would become bored by it.  My feelings were completely inconsistent the deeper into the book I got.

I wouldn’t say that this was a book I couldn’t wait to pick up each day (except for those few intense chapters toward the end…those chapters were GREAT!  I wish the rest of the book would have held my interest as those few chapters did).

I laughed, I cried (tears down face), I smiled, and…I was bored.  All while reading the same book.

Have any of you read this???  Please comment below…I’d so love to hear your thoughts.

I told you my review of this one is a bit complicated and all over the place 😉

Bottom Line:

Would I recommend this book?  Yes!  Would it be high on my list of recommendations?  No.

Xo,

Jenny

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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**GIVEAWAY** (3 Copies, Open to International and US Readers) Oh My Stars {Sally Kilpatrick}

Happy Friday!

Today is my daughter’s last day of school before winter break.  I will be wearing my PTO President hat and helping with all of the classroom holiday parties!

There is nothing quite like being in a school on the last day before winter break…all of the excited energy in the air translates into very excited and happy children (and teachers)!  When I was a teacher, the last day before winter break was always one of my favorite days of the entire school year!  I’m so happy that I get to still be a part of this day by helping out at my daughter’s wonderful school.  She LOVES when I come in to help and so do I!  I am incredibly thankful that I often have the opportunity to do so. 🙂

I have such a fun and festive giveaway for you today!

This is the perfect time of year to read this holiday book. I love reading holiday books during the season in which they are occurring.  If you win a copy, I would suggest reading it right away or tucking it away to read during next year’s holiday season.  You will be glad that you did. 🙂

Synopsis from Amazon:

A heartwarming, hilarious Christmas story with a Southern twist.

Like most things in Ellery, Tennessee, this year’s Drive Thru Nativity is a little unconventional. The Dollar General parking lot doubles as a Bethlehem stable, and widowed writer Ivy Long, who’s been roped into playing Mary, sure as heck isn’t a virgin. But then comes an unexpected development: a genuine, real-life baby left in the manger, with only a brief note. And somehow, in the kerfuffle that follows, Ivy finds her life is about to change . . .

The holidays are a bittersweet time for Ivy—filled with memories of her beloved late husband and reminders that life doesn’t always offer the happily-ever-afters her readers expect. So when Ivy ends up with custody of the baby, she can only chalk it up to a Christmas miracle. She doesn’t know if it will be forever, but with help from family, she’ll make little Zuzu’s first Christmas a good one. The nativity’s Joseph, aka Gabe Ledbetter, has a pediatrics background that’s coming in mighty handy. In turn, Ivy is helping Gabe find his place in the quirky community. If that place turns out to be somewhere near Ivy, well, maybe this particular Christmas story will turn out to be merry and bright after all…

My Thoughts

Did you see my Instagram story a few weeks ago about this adorable book?  If not, here is what you missed:

Today is the day!

Being that I’m Jewish, it was fun for me to experience some parts of Christmas that I previously really didn’t know much about.  Icicles (tinsel) on the tree!  Nativity scenes!  I found myself Googling these terms to learn more.  Loved it!  So interesting to me.  Now when I drive by nativity scenes, I have an entirely new appreciation for them.

The characters in this story and the description of Ellery, Tennessee were so extremely colorful…I couldn’t help but thinking many times as I was reading what a fun movie this could be!  A perfect feel good holiday film.  Hallmark channel, perhaps?

I was especially interested in learning more about the complex relationship between Ivy and her family as well as the relationship between Gabe and his.  The great amount of history within both families and learning about how the pasts of these 2 people formed them into the people that they are today was quite interesting.

This book is adorable and such a quick, light read.  I laughed, I cried, I smiled all while reading.  You will, too!

A conversation with Sally Kilpatrick, in her own words:

How did you create the idea for your book?

My editor at the time, Peter, asked me if I would like to write a Christmas book, and I said yes because I love Christmas. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of featuring a drive-thru Nativity. I could see all of these people in the parts and a menagerie of odd animals, and then I could envision an abandoned baby and how caring for that child made the others really think about their lives in general and Christmas in particular.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

My audience seems to be predominantly women who like stories with a happy ending. Also, folks who like small town, southern stories tend to like my work–that’s where I pick up some of the guys. If you love Christmas movies, then I think you’ll love this book. It is full of references to other movies, stories, and Christmas traditions.

Where can your book be purchased?

Oh My Stars is actually in many Targets right now and Sam’s Club. It can also be ordered–either paperback or e version–from all of the major retailers. There are some signed copies at Foxtale Book Shoppe and Marietta book Exchange, too.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

quirky, heartwarming, funny

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Oh My Stars is my 5th novel set in Ellery, Tennessee. If you enjoy it, please feel free to go back and enjoy some of my other small town southern stories. You can find me as @Superwritermom on Twitter or at sallykilpatrick.com.

***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like a chance to win a copy of this adorable story?

(For the record, I wrote how I would love to see this book become a Hallmark movie even before I received Sally’s response mentioning that if you love Christmas movies, you will love this book!  Just goes to show that if Christmas movies are your jam, this is a perfect book for you!)

I have THREE copies of Oh My Stars (An Ellery Novel) (affiliate) to give away!  THREE!

If located in the US, your autographed book will be mailed directly to you. If located internationally, an “e book” will be emailed directly to you!

  To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me only ONE word to describe the  holiday season

3. Be sure to also tell me in your comment if you are located internationally or in the US!

**You must complete all 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway**

Giveaway will end on Monday morning a 6:00 CDT and the 3 winners will be randomly chosen and announced in Monday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Monday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winners to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

2 Book Reviews: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy {Lisa See}

I asked on Facebook a few weeks ago what your “go to” book is when people ask you for a recommendation.  This book is mine 🙂

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America.

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

My Thoughts:

5 Stars

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

I LOVE THIS BOOK.  Everything about it is so interesting and fascinating.  I couldn’t put it down!  Extremely well written in every way.  The characters, the settings, the many story lines…all of it combines to tell a truly intricate and interesting story.

I read it (twice!) many years ago and have thought about it about a million times since. This book taught me so many things all while telling such a amazing story.  After I recommended it to a friend of mine, she told me that she felt smarter after reading it! I completely agree.  It’s so well written, so fascinating, and so brutally honest.  It will truly take you on a JOURNEY and will leave you breathless at the end.  It’s such a wonderful book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here is the sequel:

dreamsofjoy

I don’t want to put a synopsis or any true details here because I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t read Shanghai Girls: A Novel yet!   Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Shanghai Girls) was…good.  Not nearly as amazing as it’s predecessor.  After you read Shanghai Girls: A Novel, you will want to read this one just to learn about what happens to the characters but honestly, I found it to be just ok. I think Shanghai Girls: A Novel would have been just fine as a stand alone novel.

Bottom Line:

I sold my copy of Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Shanghai Girls) at a garage sale years ago but held on to my copy of Shanghai Girls: A Novel!

And…as I just flipped my copy of Shanghai Girls: A Novel over, I was greeted by this lovely sticker.  Can we just take a moment of silence for my all time favorite bookstore? RIP, Borders.  I really miss you, old friend.

What’s your “go to” book when people ask you for a recommendation?

Have you read either of these books?

Do you miss Borders as much as I do?

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy),  follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram (@bookcoffeehappy)!  

Click the images below to order the books through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

An Unwanted Guest {Shari Lapena}

FullSizeRender (3)

Read my thoughts below to see why I took this a photo of this book with my robe, lol:)

About a week and a half ago in my review of A Stranger in the House {Shari Lapena} I mentioned that I was looking forward to reading Shari Lapena’s newest novel.  After I wrote that review, I did read this one…and it was GREAT!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway… but when the storm hits, no one is getting away.

It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing – maybe even romantic – weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off all electricity – and all contact with the outside world – the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead – it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, everyone starts to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something – or someone – is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm – and one another.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers.  Contains affiliate links.)

4 Stars

As I mentioned in my review of A Stranger in the House {Shari Lapena} I was 50/50 on Shari Lapena’s books.  I LOVED The Couple Next Door: A Novel and I did NOT love
A Stranger in the House: A Novel.  I was excited to read her newest book and I am happy to report that it was great!  Not as great as The Couple Next Door: A Novel, but I definitely would recommend this one.

The chapters were short, the characters were developed, and the use of description was amazing.  I had such a clear vision of the hotel as I was reading based on her amazing use of words.  I also actually felt COLD while reading…the winter storm in the book was so well described that it came straight through the pages.  Amazing.

*I actually had to keep putting my robe on each time I read because I was SO COLD.  Hence the picture above, lol.*

I’m giving this 4 stars only because I felt some of the characters and their reactions to what was happening around them were a bit unrealistic.  Also…how is it possible for SO MANY of these characters to have SUCH dramatic backstories?!

Basically, just don’t read too much into this story…and just enjoy the mystery.  It had me guessing right up until the final twist (which I thought was AWESOME and did NOT see coming)!

Bottom Line:

Shari Lapena’s first and third novels are both great…so what happened with that boring one she wrote in between?!

Please enter your email address to receive notifications each time I post on my blog, “like” my Facebook page (search Book Coffee Happy), and follow me on Twitter @bookcoffeehappy!  Please tell any other book lovers to do these 3 things as well! 

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  Thank you for your support, Xo

Giveaway Winner, ANOTHER Giveaway, Twitter, and a Book Review (A House for Happy Mothers {Amulya Malladi})

Maddie’s Miracles Giveaway Winner:

Thank you to those who entered the giveaway on my previous post:  ****GIVEAWAY**** Maddie’s Miracles {Scott Kramer}!  I have randomly picked a winner…Congratulations Sara Lambert!  Email me (bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com) with your mailing address, I will pass it along to Scott Kramer, and he will mail your autographed copy directly to you within 5 days.  Please post on Bookcoffeehappy with your thoughts once you’ve read it!

A SECOND GIVEAWAY:

If you didn’t win…or didn’t have a chance to enter…I will be giving away a SECOND autographed copy of Maddie’s Miracles: A Book of Life (affiliate link) exclusively on my Facebook/Twitter pages!  Giveaway will begin now and will continue through Sunday night midnight CDT.  I’ll announce the winner on Facebook/Twitter with my usual Monday morning blog post announcement.  Head over to Facebook/Twitter for another chance to win this beautiful book (Facebook: search Book Coffee Happy, Twitter: @bookcoffeehappy).  Good luck!

Twitter:

Book Coffee Happy is now on TWITTER!  Please follow me @bookcoffeehappy

And now…A Book Review:

house

Fascinating topic!  I chose to read this book based on the topic alone, I had not previously heard of this title nor had I heard of this author.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

3 Stars

I recommend this book although the writing leaves a bit to be desired.

The plot was interesting and the story was intricately woven between the well developed characters.  The surrogacy market in India was a fascinating topic for me, especially learning the details of all that it entails.  I had no previous knowledge on this subject, and I found all of it to be so thought-provoking.

(On a side note…this is one reason why I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO READ!  Books literally drive me to research and learn about so many topics which I otherwise would have zero knowledge.  This book is a perfect example of that.  I found myself googling this topic while I was reading this book just to learn more about the process, I found all of it fascinating and learned a great deal).

I think what ultimately led to me to not loving this book was that I wanted the author to dive even deeper into many of the story lines.  As compelling as they were, I think there were many areas in this book which could have been brought to an entirely different level had the author taken the time to explore each one in a more significant way.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it…I just wish it was written to dive even deeper into the details of the plot and into this extremely complicated topic.

Bottom Line:

Interesting topic, interesting plot, interesting characters.  The actual writing…not as interesting.

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  Thank you for your support, Xo