Monday, May 27, 2024

REVIEW: The Women by Kristin Hanna



The minute I saw the title and cover of The Women, I scanned the synopsis and knew I'd have to read it. I've been craving a novel about a woman's experience in Vietnam ever since I read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and was hoping to find a novel to be its counterpart in my classes. While The Women most likely won't be paired with The Things They Carried, I do foresee myself recommending it to many.

The Women follows the story of Frankie, a young, naive woman who signs up to be a nurse in Vietnam after her brother volunteers to go. Her hope is to not only join her brother, but to follow in the family tradition of serving in the military, with her ultimate hope that she'll make her family proud. Much to her chagrin, her parents are mildly horrified but she's still hoping to make them proud when she leaves to serve. 

Her first days in Vietnam are foreshadowing her tour there--filled with chaos, nightmarish conditions, horrific injuries, a dawning realization that maybe we shouldn't be there, and the making of lifelong friendships that will help her through the next decades. 

Frankie not only learns that she's made of tougher stuff--through the trials, terror, and harrowing conditions she has to work in--she also learns about love and disappointment and friendship and loss. And with all of those lessons to carry her home, she arrives to the worst thing--U.S. citizens being horrible to her when she arrives on foreign soil, along with her parents being complete assholes. She tries to reacclimate and tries to do all of the right things to help heal her trauma from the last years she's experienced, but she cannot catch a break and it seems that with every good thing that occurs, she has a devastating event to wipe out all positive steps forward. It takes years and years, and truly hitting the very bottom for her to finally find a life that allows her some peace and fulfillment. 

I don't have many complaints about this novel, but if I did, I suppose one of them would be that just when we see her connect with someone very special, it fades to black. It made the ending bittersweet because I think we all want that extra zing of happiness for her after all she's been through. I suppose that's the beauty of this novel--these characters begin to feel like real people and you want so much for them to be happy and healthy and you hate that the novel ever has to end.


From the celebrated author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds comes Kristin Hannah's The Women—at once an intimate portrait of coming of age in a dangerous time and an epic tale of a nation divided.

Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.

As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is over-whelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets—and becomes one of—the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost.

But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam.

The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on all women who put themselves in harm’s way and whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has too often been forgotten. A novel about deep friendships and bold patriotism, The Women is a richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose idealism and courage under fire will come to define an era.

Monday, May 20, 2024

REVIEW: You or Someone Like You by Winter Renshaw



The story of Roman and Sloane in You or Someone Like You kept in an anxious state for the vast majority of it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed their getting to know each other --how they initially didn't think there was anything there but took a chance. Or how their initial non-date dates were definitely dates and they were definitely interested in the other. I also enjoyed the back story of each of them and getting to know what made each of them who they were. But honestly, the wait for the deception to be revealed kept my anxiety high and the longer it took for it to happen, the more I could think of how Sloane would get caught. So good but so anxiety producing. Gah. 

Quick, fun read, with an author's note that will hit you in the heart. Grab it and enjoy. 


From Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw comes a fast-paced, emotional romance about what happens when the wrong twin falls for the right man.

Being an identical twin has its perks, but when my sister asked me to sub in for a date with Roman Bellisario, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Sure, he’s sinfully handsome and successful, but he also got me fired from my dream job three years ago.

This time, my sister’s promotion is riding on this date, so I have to say yes. And as it turns out, we’re strangely perfect for each other. I sell art. He collects it. We’re both obsessed with the same obscure, mysterious artist that most people don’t even know exists.

Roman is guarded, though, and I can understand why. He’s a widowed single dad. But as one date leads to another, he starts to let me in, and I can’t help but fall for him.

The problem is Roman still thinks I’m my sister. Is our twin swap going to be the best thing that ever happened to me and Roman—or the lie that tears us apart?

Monday, May 13, 2024

REVIEW: Girls with Bad Reputations by Xio Axelrod


I read the first book in this series, The Lillys, and I super enjoyed it so when I saw book two on NetGalley, I requested it. In this second book about the members of the badass girl band, The Lillys, we get to know the drummer, Kayla, and the man who ends up being their tour bus driver, Ty. While they come from seemingly different backgrounds, they bond over their favorite books and music. Their love story takes place over the course of two festival touring circuits, with family drama and former bandmate drama weaving in and out of their narratives. Kayla has been hiding what she's doing from her family because she fears their reaction and is trying to avoid a fight. Ty, meanwhile, is doing his best to take care of and support his only real family member, his grandpa, while grappling with the guilt and horror and anger he has after he was falsely accused of plagiarism and assault. Needless to say, both Kayla and Ty are working through some things and it's interesting to see how they begin to lean on each other and the band as they figure things out. Their love story is sweet and gentle and fun.

In addition to their story, the story of the band is equally engaging. I am very curious about Tiff and Lilly, as well as what's going to happen with Candi and their record label. Their band seems like they're on the cusp of mega stardom while their label seems intent on making every step of their rise to fame incredibly difficult, which makes zero sense....something I'm sure will be addressed in later novels.

All in all a great read that has me eager for the rest of the series. 



"Hot chemistry, fantastic writing, realistic character flaws, triumphs, and family drama—Xio Axelrod never misses a beat! GIRLS WITH BAD REPUTATIONS is one you don't want to miss!" —Rebecca Yarros, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

All her life, Kayla heard the same refrain: Don't be so loud. Don't act so wild. Don't take up so much space. Now she's the beating heart of an up-and-coming rock band…and the whole world is going to know her name.

Once upon a time, the pressure to be the perfect daughter nearly broke Kayla Whitman. Desperate to find an outlet away from her controlling mother, she picked up a pair of drumsticks, forever altering the rhythm of her life. Since then, she's been determined to make her own way, finding her home with her bandmates even as she fights to keep her past and her present firmly separate.

Things were simple enough when the Lillys were playing local gigs at dive bars, but now they're on their first official tour—and all Kayla can see are warning signs. Desperate to escape the worry churning inside her, Kayla finds solace in quiet tour bus driver Ty Baldwin…and discovers in him a kindred spirit like no one she's ever met before.

Their connection is immediate and intense, but when increasing scrutiny from the press threatens to destroy Ty's newfound peace and Kayla's carefully guarded secrets, Kayla's forced to make an impossible choice: pursue her dream and risk destroying everyone around her? Or give in and lose the chance of ever becoming the person she's always known she could be.

Monday, May 6, 2024

REVIEW: Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez


Just like all of the other Abby Jimenez novels I've read, I zoomed through this one; she has a knack for creating characters and scenarios that pull you in and make you care about their plights. In the case of Just for the Summer, Justin and Emma find each other via a funny story on Reddit and end up connecting through their similar dating stories. What starts out as a one off DM turns into several DMs that then turn into conversations and a suggestion that they try to break the dating curse they both seem to be under. Without a doubt, it's obvious that they're meant to be together and while I think Justin realizes that from the beginning, it takes Emma quite a bit of time to work through her denial. To say she has trust issues is probably the biggest understatement anyone could make, but it's accurate and understandable, as you get to know her story. 

Justin is created to be adored, in my opinion. He's considerate and fun and loving and attentive and really all the things anyone could ask for in a boyfriend. And while Emma is empathetic and caring and up for anything, her inability to let anyone in makes her mildly infuriating. Don't get me wrong, I understand why she does what she does but it's hard to see her denying what's right in front of her. 

These two characters have it anything but easy and yet they persevere and persist and you can't help but root for them the entire time. You know, absolutely know, that their love story is going to hurt before it's all said and done and yet you can't look away from it. You have to know how it's going to implode and how they'll make it back together. 

I really enjoyed their story, and all of the baggage and weight that they carry (Abby Jimenez is nothing if not consistent when it comes to giving her characters something to grapple with), their ability to work through it, and of course the connections that Justin and Emma have with all of the previous books. Funny and sad and infuriating and loveable--you're going to enjoy these two and their HEA.



A sharp and scintillating summer novel that will make readers laugh out loud and cry happy tears from the New York Times bestselling author of Yours Truly.

Justin has a curse, and thanks to a Reddit thread, it's now all over the internet. Every woman he dates goes on to find their soul mate the second they break up. When a woman slides into his DMs with the same problem, they come up with a plan: They'll date each other and break up. Their curses will cancel each other’s out, and they’ll both go on to find the love of their lives. It’s a bonkers idea… and it just might work. 

Emma hadn't planned that her next assignment as a traveling nurse would be in Minnesota, but she and her best friend agree that dating Justin is too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially when they get to rent an adorable cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka.

It's supposed to be a quick fling, just for the summer. But when Emma's toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they're suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected--including catching real feelings for each other. What if this time Fate has actually brought the perfect pair together?


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