The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Review: 3 Stars

All opinions are entirely my own, and all of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

I was pretty late to the party reading this one, but it was definitely worth the wait for me! While this wasn’t my favorite book that I read last month, I tore through this book in only a few days (which is very quick for me), and I am definitely glad that (through a buddy read) I finally got around to reading it.

Characters. I love character driven novels, everybody knows it. That being said, there weren’t any characters that I loved in this novel. While there were definitely times that I related to Lucy (I’ve made some iffy choices for relationships in my past. I am not proud), there were more times that I found it a little bit difficult to root for her. The book follows this woman through years and years of her life – and we see her falling in love multiple times throughout. And I do understand that there are loves that always stick with you, and there are people from your past that may always be a part of your life. But she took it to another level. We see Lucy get married, and the whole time she was still in love with Gabe. Not in a “I remember our time fondly” way, though. In a “it’s my wedding day and I’m having second thoughts about getting married because I got a call from Gabe and he still remembers me” way. I don’t know, it made for a very interesting story, but at the same time I had a hard time rooting for her while she was married to one man and carrying on a fully formed emotional affair with another.
That being said, I didn’t really like Gabe or her husband Darren, either. In their own ways they were also kind of terrible people. So it isn’t like I was rooting for anyone else instead. Except maybe her brother. I liked him.

One more thing I would like to mention is the writing style and the point of view/narration of the story. This story is all told from Lucy’s perspective, but as she would tell the story to someone. And more specifically, how she would tell Gabe her side of their story. It was a type of storytelling that I haven’t really read before, or at least not often. I feel like there are a ton of books where the narration is the main character telling their story to their children, or to some other third party character, but I found it really interesting having the audience be another key player in the story. So you get a lot of thoughts and questions from Lucy to Gabe as she tells him her side of this story (ex. “This is how I felt. Did you feel like that too?” or “I remember this, do you even remember this happening?”) which made the story feel really personal.

Last point, without going into any specifics or spoilers, I think I need to mention the ending. Yes, the ending destroyed me emotionally. My fiance says that I am “empathetic to a fault,” so if I am even remotely invested in the story and the characters then any sadness or disappointment that the characters feel, I feel. That being said, the ending is telegraphed throughout the entire book leading up to it. So I was rather expecting what happened in the end, and was almost waiting for it to happen while reading the whole last quarter of the book, if that makes sense. Like “I know that something along these lines is going to happen, but when?” and just waiting for that shoe to drop. And I say again, the ending still greatly affected me (tears were shed), so it didn’t ruin the ending for me. But I just wanted to make a note of it, because I know that there are some people who wouldn’t love knowing the ending from the start.

One last thing about the ending, I wish we could have gotten some sort of epilogue. That’s it, no big grand thoughts on this one. I just wish we could have known what choices Lucy made after the end that we got, and what the aftermath of those choices would have been.

Overall, I am glad that I finally went back and plucked this novel from my backlog, and I would recommend it to my friends. It probably wouldn’t be one that I would go back and reread a ton of times, and it certainly won’t have been my favorite book of the year. But if you are looking for complicated love triangles, and lots of emotions, then this could be the exact book that you are looking for.

Snug: A Collection of Comics about Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd

Andrews McMeel Publishing – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads. { partner }

What is there even to say about Catana Comics? These sweet comics have been in my life and bringing me immense joy since I first saw them around two years ago, or so. And they are not only adorable, but so relatable. Sometimes I feel almost attacked with how much my fiance and I relate them to our own relationship. Socially awkward? Wants all of the pizza? Nothing but cuddles and no pants? Attacks their partner with all of the kisses and weird reactions? I feel you, girl. Especially during the year and a half that my fiance and I were long distance – we sent these back and forth to each other daily, and they always made us feel closer together, and definitely helped us get through that time. So I knew going in that I was going to love this.

This is a very quick read, as each comic is only a few panels on a page, so I just read through them all in about 25 minutes. I would highly, highly recommend this to absolutely anyone. It is funny, and sickly sweet, and I guarantee that every single person will find at least one (likely way more) that will make them smile!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books – Review : 5 stars

All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

TW : brief homophobia and slurs, physical and emotional abuse, death, implied suicide.

I don’t even know how to start this review, other than “Holy crap, I loved this book.” Which, while it is true, probably isn’t the first thing that people would want to hear about it. So instead I will say these things – I waited too long to read this book, and I wish I could have read it sooner. And that it was absolutely, without question, one of my top ten books that I read in 2019.

First, let’s talk about the characters. Love them or hate them, the characters were incredibly well written. And some of them I really did hate, but you can still find empathy for them at other times, just as I have to assume the author intended. Although, obviously, my favorite characters were our two female leads. I love character driven novels in general, which is a genre this story definitely fits into. But even more than that, this is a story driven by two strong and fiery women – working together, learning about each other, and figuring out their way through the rest of the world around them. I also love that they almost seem like two different sides of a similar story – Monique, heartbroken and lost at the beginning of her career, but along the way finding the strength that she needs through Evelyn; Evelyn heartbroken at the end of a very long and difficult career, who finds Monique and decides that she is the final piece of the puzzle she is trying to finish.
Neither character is perfect, they are at times calculating, they are at times cruel, and they are definitely always stubborn, but I think that those things just make them that much more interesting to read about. And I would read even more of both of their stories.

While talking about imperfect characters, you would think that I would mention Evelyn’s seven husbands and all of their imperfections and all they did for her story. Right? I mean, that’s the title of the book. So we’re going to talk about them, right? Wrong. Evelyn got what she needed from each of her husbands, and had different experiences and feelings related to each one, but (with the exception of Harry) I don’t actually believe that they are as important to her story as they may seem. They weren’t lifting her, necessarily, they were giving her the opportunities to lift herself. This isn’t the story of her husbands or how they helped her form her life/career, it’s the story of Evelyn forging her own way and taking the world by storm, the timeline is simply being kept straight by noting who was there with her at each point.

Just a quick note on how the story is told and on the writing itself – the book switches between newspaper clippings (primarily from Evelyn’s past), Evelyn’s words when telling Monique her story, and Monique’s interactions with other people. It made for a very fast paced reading style, because the switching narrators and points of view was very interesting, and I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next.

The last thing that I will touch on is the setting. This story is partially set in modern day New York (the portions of the book from Monique’s perspective) and partially set in the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. I’m just going to go ahead and say it – I love stories set in Old Hollywood. I do. If I could read books and novels with that setting for the rest of my life, I would. What can I say, other than the political issues and a few (read: a lot) of the other issues of the time, I may have thrived in it. So the setting only helped to make me love this book and Evelyn’s story even more.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to the folks around me who haven’t read it yet, and already have on several occasions. I tore through this book, because I had to know what happened next and what the next part of Evelyn’s fierce saga would be. The night that I finished it I stayed up far past my bedtime, because I needed to know how it would all end for Evelyn.


Although, I will say that I maybe wouldn’t suggest finishing it alone in the middle of the night. The last 100 pages or so slightly destroyed me. I have a lot of feelings, okay? Geez.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

ST. MARTIN’S PRESS – REVIEW : 4 STARS

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own. All of my full, honest reviews can be found on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog and on Instagram @TacklingTBR { partner }

If you had spent your entire life feeling sick, and fragile, and literally blue, what would be one of the first things that you would want to do with the start of your new life post-heart transplant? As someone who was fortunate enough to have been born healthy, and who has stayed at least relatively healthy throughout my lifetime, these aren’t questions that I’ve ever had to think about answers for. But our heroine Ailsa Rae has thought of little else while waiting for the heart transplant that would save her life, and this is where the book begins.

This book was a pretty slow read for me, only because of the formatting of the book itself. There aren’t necessarily chapters, the book is separated into ten parts instead that, for me, were about an average of about an hour and a half to two hours per part. The story is told through blog posts, online news articles, flashbacks, and more typical in the moment story portions. It was really interesting getting information from all of these different POVs, and I really enjoyed this form of storytelling. My only issue with this was the very long parts in lieu of chapters, since it made it a bit slow seeming while reading it.

I will also say that I wish we got to see more of the character of Lennox. As stated above, bits of the book are looking back at before Ailsa’s transplant. Only one or two of these flashbacks include Lennox as an active character, most of them are still after his death. While I love understanding how she was dealing with his loss, and how she was able to come to terms with that, I wish that we had just a little bit more time with him as well. I was really wanting just a little bit more time to truly fall in love with him the way that she had.

All of that being said and out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. I fell in love with all of the characters, but especially with our lead Ailsa. While she was a sweet and young character, who had had a pretty difficult time throughout her life, at no point was she presented as a perfect character. If you know me, you know that I love a flawed character. But, while I have never been in the situations that Ailsa is in during this story, I still found myself relating to her quite a bit, and therefore loved getting to watch her journey. She has a blog that outlines her transplant experience and on the blog she often posts polls for her followers to help her decide what to do in any given situation (whether or not to travel to London, where to go for an outing, etc.) I know that there were some other people that disliked this part of her character, I really did enjoy it because indecisiveness is a flaw that I daily struggle with as well. This morning I asked my Instagram followers to help me pick my next read, and last night I literally gave my fiance four options of activities and asked him how I should spend my evening. Not something that I am always proud of, but I loved seeing this in a character and watching her work through it with the help of the people who love her.

Overall, I really did enjoy this book, and as long as you have time to devote to a little bit of a slower read (more character driven than story driven) then I would absolutely recommend it.

Life on Loan by Ashley Farley

Blog Tour Stop: Kate Rock Book Tours courtesy of Lake Union Publishing

Thanks so much to the author, Kate Rock Book Tours, NetGalley, and Lake Union Publishing for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this blog tour. { partner }

BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS :

It’s a surprising second act for two women who decide to rewrite their lives in this enriching novel of friendship and starting over from the bestselling author of Only One Life.

After thirty years, college friends Lena Browder and Olivia Westcoat have met again by chance at an unexpected crossroads: an airport lounge in Atlanta. Lena is running away from her home and demanding family. Olivia is trying to find her way after a painful divorce.

With their old selves in the rearview, they toast to a new beginning – and it starts with a spontaneous dare. Lena will stay in Olivia’s Charleston condo. Olivia’s retreat? Lena’s isolated river cottage in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Two perfect getaways. Thirty-four days to reset. With fresh new perspectives and the renewal of a heartening friendship, Lena and Olivia find their passions, reinvent themselves, and reclaim what they’ve lost.

When unexpected romance blooms and careers take detours, it’s also a time for courage and risk. Now they’ll have to make hard choices to follow through on their promise for a second chance and finally have the lives they dream of.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW (4 STARS) :

I think at some point in their lives everyone has wanted to run away from their every day realities. Whether you’re a kid wanting to go away to Neverland, or an adult wanting to run and hide from the stresses of every day life and work. I know that I have. If my fiancé and I could run away from life for a couple of weeks and do nothing but read and write in a secluded cabin on a mountain and ignore the rest of the world? We would. In a heartbeat. Like, our bags are probably already packed for it. So I was already on the side of our two leads in this book, before I even started reading it.

On that note, I loved the characters that this story centered around.

Story time – I knew the general plot of this book when I started reading it, but I hadn’t read the full description, so I didn’t know any of the character names or specifics going in. And the very first chapter starts with Lena having issues with her daughter, Kayla, and my automatic assumption was that Kayla was going to be one of the two friends running away from responsibilities. So when I kept reading and it was actually Lena who took off and had a self-discovery adventure, I fell even more in love with her character and with the book. After that she automatically became a favorite character for me, without even thinking about it.

I loved Olivia as well, but I didn’t have the same automatic attraction to her character that I had for Lena. You sympathize with her from the beginning of her story, but in a way it took me a little bit longer to really fall into her part of the story, which then became some of my favorite parts later in the book. Where Lena is leaving behind the responsibilities of her home life, and a family taking her for granted, Olivia is a hip and fashionable blogger living what might seem like the perfect life in a gorgeous city, and she is running from the stresses of that life and those expectations that are being placed on her. Which, again, is incredibly relatable for people in all stages of life.

I tend to pay more attention to the characters in a novel than other aspects, sometimes even over some of the smaller details in the story itself, because the characters are what will make or break the book for me. Hands down. And I really enjoyed the story of this book – anyone who enjoyed the movie The Holiday would enjoy this, since it is the same type of story, but in the next stage of life, which made it really interesting and different from a lot of the other books that I read frequently. And since I loved the characters so much, I was able to fully dive head first into the story and enjoy that to it’s fullest as well.

Overall, I really did love this book. It wasn’t one that I absolutely couldn’t put down, and finished in a day because it consumed me heart and soul. But it was so much fun and enjoyable, and I loved getting to read about women on self discovery journeys that you don’t necessarily see in that light all of the time (most of those types of stories, in my experience, tend to center around characters in their early twenties or even early thirties). I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends and family, and anyone looking for a classic type of story with a fun twist in a truly character-driven novel.

LINK TO BUY ON AMAZON :

Legacy of Fear by A. J. McCarthy

Blog Tour Stop : Kate Rock Book Tours courtesy of Black Rose Writing

Thanks so much to the author, Kate Rock Book Tours, and Black Rose Writing for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this blog tour. { partner }

BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS :

What dark secret is hidden in her past? What evil has been handed down through the generations?

Emily Burton found happiness in a small, picturesque town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Her sense of peace and security is shattered when she’s brutally attacked, and an innocent person is murdered. The authorities believe the incident is random, until Emily becomes the target of further violence and threats.

With the help of her enigmatic neighbor, she uncovers an eerily similar crime that dates back sixty years. Could there be a connection between the two attacks? Did malevolence stretch it’s deadly arm across generations?

Emily is convinced there’s a link, but she needs to find it before it finds her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

The Three Rs – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic – are the cornerstones of A.J. McCarthy’s life. The first began at a young age when she devoured novels by Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, and other masters of mystery and suspense. The second was a passion born later in life, and the third was a major part of her full-time career. The author of the three published novels, Sins of the Fathers, Cold Betrayal, and Legacy of Fear (to be released November 2019), A.J. is working on another manuscript in the suspense thriller genre, while juggling ideas for a couple of others.

LINK TO BUY ON AMAZON :

The Magic of the Season (Christmas in Silver Falls #2) by Tammy L. Grace

Blog Tour Stop: Kate Rock Book Tours Courtesy of Lone Mountain Press

Thanks so much to the author, Kate Rock Book Tours and Lone Mountain Press for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this blog tour. { partner }

BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS :

Will a city girl forced to spend the holidays in her small hometown recapture the magic of the season?

Madison hasn’t visited Silver Falls since she left the snowy mountain winters behind for the beaches of California twenty years ago. In the midst of the annual Christmas festival, an accident forces her to return and manage her mom’s candy business at the Sugar Shop.

Grant hasn’t seen her since she left for college, but he remembers spending summers at the lake with the skinny, plain girl he and everyone used to know as Sugar. The contemporary advertising executive he encounters now is anything but plain. Will Grant’s kindness, the charm of Silver Falls, and the caring community open Sugar’s heart to all she’s been missing?

The best-selling author of A Season for Hope, the tale readers described as the perfect Christmas story, delivers a touching sequel with the second in her Christmas in Silver Falls series in this new festive novella that pairs perfectly with a cup of cocoa in front of a blazing fire.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW (4 STARS) :

Anyone who knows basically anything about me, or has spoken to me even once, knows that I love the Christmas season and all slightly or fully-cheesy holiday romcoms. Even if you just saw me on the street and someone said “That’s Jennifer, and she loves Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies,” you would probably look at me and say “Yeah, that checks out.” I am the girl that put on my Christmas pajamas as soon as the last trick or treaters had left our porch (I wish I was kidding about that. I did.)

So when this tour came up, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Holiday magic? Sweet love story? Easy, quick read novella? Yes please! And I will say that this is a second in a series (mentioned in the description above). I was also given a copy of the first story, A Season for Hope, in order to read it before this tour as well, so I was able to read both! I will include an amazon link for both novellas below, in case you do want to read both stories – but I will not be including the first in this review, as while they are in the same series and they both have the same beautiful setting, they follow two separate characters and therefore are stand-alone stories. Just FYI!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to this review! This story was so charming! By the time I was a few chapters in, I knew that if possible I would move to Silver Falls in a heartbeat. If you are someone who has seen Gilmore Girls, Silver Falls is like Stars Hollow but a step up still. It is a small town where everyone is willing to step in and help anyone around them who needs it, and where everybody in town knows everybody else, and you can’t walk down the street without someone stopping you to say hello and ask how you are. I love those settings in stories, because I think deep in my soul that is the type of town that I would belong in.

The characters are also so sweet and genuine, and while sometimes they seem sweet enough to give you a cavity, overall they seem like people that you could really meet in a town like this. I do think, though, that our female lead Madison (better known to all as Sugar) is the most realistic and relatable character in this particular novella. I think everyone can relate to trying (and failing) to get rid of a childhood nickname, and being in a time in your life that you want to escape your hometown and go have adventures. But I also love that she is able to come back home and still see the magic in the relationships around her, and getting to see in the long run that she still has that small town magic and love inside of herself as well.

I will say that this probably wouldn’t be a perfect story for everyone for a few specific reasons. Mainly because this is a love story and, as it is a novella rather than a full length novel, the love story is not as long and fully realized as it would be in a different format. The two leads spend a lot of time together throughout the story, so it isn’t a Disney princess love at first sight situation, but you don’t blatantly see them falling in love over the course of ten chapters before the happily ever after. As someone who, again, watches just about one holiday romcom per day in the holiday season, this didn’t necessarily bother me. The two characters knew each other from childhood, so even at the beginning of the novella they knew each other, they weren’t meeting for the first time. And there isn’t anything about them as characters that makes them falling in love quickly seem unrealistic – it is something that can happen in real life too, as long as both of the people involved are open to that possibility. These are two adults, I believe they are both in their thirties, who knew each other from childhood through high school graduation, and I think that if this situation were to happen in the real world, I think that they honestly could fall in love in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a romantic time!

All of this to say, if you are bothered by love stories that happen quickly or that you, as the reader, aren’t fully privy to, then this may not be the story for you. But I, myself, thought that the love story was really sweet and fit the format that the story was in, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed both of these stories, and would recommend them to the people around me who are ready to skip right to the holiday season. And as stated above, both are able to stand alone and reading them both in order is not necessary to enjoy the story, I did enjoy both of them quite a bit. So if you’re up for it, then go for it! Read them both! I ended up reading these right as our Texas weather was starting to take a turn for the cooler temperatures, and it really helped me by setting the mood. The description on Goodreads really says it best, and I couldn’t agree more – they pair perfectly with a cup of cocoa in front of a blazing fire!

LINKS TO BUY ON AMAZON :

Christmas in Silver Falls #1 :

Christmas in Silver Falls #2 :