Review: Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave


27274420Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

Published July 11, 2017, by Simon & Schuster.

Adult > Contemporary, Realistic Fiction


From Laura Dave—the author of the “addictive” (Us Weekly), “winning” (Publishers Weekly) and critically acclaimed bestseller Eight Hundred Grapes—comes a new novel about the secrets we keep…even from ourselves.

Sunshine Mackenzie truly is living the dream. A lifestyle guru for the modern age, Sunshine is beloved by millions of people who tune into her YouTube cooking show, and millions more scour her website for recipes, wisdom, and her enticing suggestions for how to curate a perfect life. She boasts a series of #1 New York Times bestselling cookbooks, a devoted architect husband, and a reputation for sincerity and kindness—Sunshine seems to have it all. But she’s hiding who she really is. And when her secret is revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. What Sunshine does in the ashes of destruction will save her in more ways than she can imagine.

In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.

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Review: GIRLS on HBO & Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham


Six seasons aired from 2012 to 2017 on HBO.

Created by and starring Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”), the show is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their mid-20s. Dunham wrote and directed the pilot of the series, which she executive produces with Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner. The cast also includes Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Andrew Rannells and Ebon Moss-Bachrach.

I was fresh off of my freshman year of college and ready to binge some quality TV, so what show did I choose to kick off my summer? Girls. I was in a mood where I was really thinking about my future, going through the strange emotions of missing school (what I consider to be more than my second home now) and friends, more than I was happy about being home; and most of all, dreaming what my life will be like when I’m just a little bit older. Naturally, when I was scrolling through TV shows, Girls seemed like the perfect option for me.

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Review: The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A haunting story about the destructive power of secrets, this accomplished and gripping suspenseful women’s fiction debut is perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline and Heather Gudenkauf

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her—but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur is a riveting novel that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.

my rambles

Special thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

The Secrets of Lake Road is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed! Every summer I go to the lake with family and friends, so the setting and basis for the story was something familiar, which just added to my enjoyment.

I found The Secrets of Lake Road to be unique in that it follows characters that are all different ages: from a grandmother, to mothers, to teens, and children young and old. For this reason I would classify the book as one that anyone would enjoy (young adults to grandmothers — in fact I’ve recommended that my own mom pick it up!).

And then of course there is the plot of the book — a mystery surrounding a main character’s parents from the past — which is suspenseful and emotional all at once. There are kind of two stories happening that become intertwined, one with the parents and one with the children.

But underneath the mystery, it’s largely about family and friendship, being young, and growing up.

The ending was kind of open which I wasn’t really expecting, but I still found it to be satisfying. Both the first and the last lines of the book will leave an impression on you, but for different reasons. It’s a perfect alternative to the typical beachy summer read, and I’d highly recommend it!


Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Publisher: Ace Trade
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read
Series: Noctis Magicae, #1
Genre(s): Adult, Historical Fantasy, YA Crossover Appeal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…

my rambles

Special thanks to Penguin’s First to Read for providing me with an advance copy for review!

Where do I even begin in reviewing The Midnight Queen? There were so many things about it that I thoroughly enjoyed and that made the book such an enthralling and magical story! I was first drawn in by the cover and then again by the synopsis, but after I actually started reading this book I knew that it was for me.

Although this book is shelved as Adult and is written in a more Adult style, the characters and storyline are definitely suitable and can be enjoyed just as much by those who prefer the Young Adult genre. Fantasy, no matter the “age group” tends to be slower paced in the beginning. And while some have said that The Midnight Queen was a little bit too slow going for their liking, I completely disagree. I found that the author’s writing style drew me in and kept me hooked until the real exciting and faster paced events began to occur.

One reason I feel pacing was no issue to me was that the world building and characters were so developed, but not in a boring way at all. You really got to understand this world with magic and I felt very attached to the characters early on. Not only that, but the whole beginning of the book has an air of mystery and intrigue to it that definitely kept me turning pages.

As I said before, the characters were so individually developed that you really got a feel for their personalities separately, along with the string of side characters. But my favorite character of all was Sophie. In this time period women were considered “lesser” and I loved Sophie’s determination and want to be different, and actually do something worthwhile. She was such a refreshing and headstrong girl that I couldn’t help but love and root for throughout the entire book!

I very rarely find myself giggling and smiling as largely with Adult books as I did at the romance in The Midnight Queen. Sophie, and the main character Gray’s relationship was quite possibly one of the most adorable, tender, and true relationships and I was definitely a fan of these two. They treated each other as equals, and I won’t say much as to not spoil, but there’s a chapter where they are pushed to realize their feelings for each other and their conversation is just the best! It wasn’t a picture perfect scene like in some books, but it was written to seem so real and from the heart. If you couldn’t tell, I love Sophie and Gray!

As for the main storyline, it focuses on more intrigue and mystery than the magic itself. I love that about this book, and “world.” Magic is present, and is used as a tool, but it’s in the background, which was something different that I hadn’t really seen before.

But all in all, The Midnight Queen was such a well crafted and magical story that kept me hooked until the very last page! I cannot wait to read more by this wonderful debut author, and I of course cannot wait to see where she takes this series!


Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Publisher: Picador
Release Date: 
January 1, 2012
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Series: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, #1
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

“Strange things are afoot at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.”

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a book that will take you on an adventure like one you’ve never experienced before. Quirky and smart, this book is a must read for book lovers, tech junkies, design enthusiasts, or anyone who just appreciates the evolution of the printed word.

I immediately fell in love with this book, finding it so relatable as one who has a passion for everything that it conquers: literature, technology and design.

The characters were all unique and extremely witty, the story magical, yet real. You along with the characters become determined to decode the codex vitae.

I’m not sure what else to say without giving away the parts best left to discover yourself, except for to read this book. You will not regret it in the least.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, in my eyes, is a modern classic and will be read over and over by many generations. I genuinely love this book and will recommend it to anyone with a soft spot for books and technology, tirelessly.

P.S. – When can I get that eReader made of leather book material? Someone please invent this NOW!