#SRC2020 End of Summer Pop-up Tour

Blog Tour: Courtesy of Booksparks

Thanks so much to the authors and publishers of these amazing books, as well as to Booksparks, for these complimentary finished copies in exchange for my honest thoughts and participation in this blog tour. { partner } All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews and tours can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Check out my full review here!

Book Description from Goodreads:

Emily is a mess.

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.

Emily is desperate.

Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.

Emily is perfect.

Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downs’s debut is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.

Welcome to paradise…will you ever be able to leave?

About the Author (From Goodreads):

ANNA DOWNES was born and raised in Sheffield, UK, but now lives just north of Sydney, Australia with her husband and two children. She worked as an actress before turning her attention to writing. She was shortlisted for the Sydney Writers Room Short Story Prize (2017) and longlisted for the Margaret River Short Story Competition (2018).
The Safe Place was inspired by Anna’s experiences working as a live-in housekeeper on a remote French estate in 2009-10.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

Friends & Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

(Check back here for my full review, to be added later!)

Book Description from Goodreads:

An insightful, hilarious, and compulsively readable novel about a complicated friendship between two women who are at two very different stages in life, from the best-selling author of Maine and Saints for All Occasions (named one of the Washington Post‘s Ten Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Critics’ Pick).

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore.

Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.

About the Author (from Goodreads):

J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, and Saints For All Occasions. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. The Engagements was one of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year. It is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon and distributed by Fox 2000, and it will be translated into 17 languages. Saints For All Occasions, was named one of the ten best books of the year by the Washington Post, a New York Times Critic’s Pick for 2017, and a New England Book Award nominee. Her fifth novel, Friends and Strangers, will be published in June 2020. Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many others. She is a co-editor, with Courtney Martin, of the essay anthology Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. In 2017, she wrote the forewords to new editions of two of her favorite children’s books: Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. A Massachusetts native, Courtney now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two children.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

Check out my full review here!

Book Description from Goodreads:

From Michele Campbell, the bestselling author of It’s Always the Husband comes a new blockbuster thriller in The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

About the Author (from Goodreads):

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

A Star Is Bored by Byron Lane

Check out my full review here!

Book Description from Goodreads:

A hilariously heartfelt novel about living life at full force, and discovering family when you least expect it, influenced in part by the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s beloved assistant.

Charlie Besson is about to have an insane job interview. His car is idling, like his life, outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon. THE Kathi Kannon, star of stage and screen and People magazine’s worst dressed list. She needs an assistant. He needs a hero.

Kathi is an icon, bestselling author, and an award winning actress, most known for her role as Priestess Talara in the iconic blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known for another role: crazy Hollywood royalty. Admittedly so. Famously so. Fabulously so.

Charlie gets the job, and embarks on an odyssey filled with late night shopping sprees, last minute trips to see the aurora borealis, and an initiation to that most sacred of Hollywood tribes: the personal assistant. But Kathi becomes much more than a boss, and as their friendship grows, Charlie must make a choice. Will he always be on the sidelines of life, assisting the great forces that be, or can he step into his own leading role?

Laugh-out-loud funny, and searingly poignant, Byron Lane’s A Star is Bored is a novel that, like the star at its center, is enchanting and joyous, heartbreaking and hopeful.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

Check out my full review here!

Book Description (from Goodreads):

In the tradition of audacious and wryly funny novels like The Idiot and Convenience Store Woman comes the wildly original coming-of-age story of a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father (who she has more in common with than she’d like to admit), avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickled covered pizzas for her son’s happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other towards middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, propulsive, and unexpected in countless ways, Jean Kyoung Frazier’s Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

The Vanishing Sky by L. Annette Binder

(Check back here for my full review, to be added later!)

Book Description from Goodreads:

For readers of Warlight and The Invisible Bridge, an intimate, harrowing story about a family of German citizens during World War II.

In 1945, as the war in Germany nears its violent end, the Huber family is not yet free of its dangers or its insidious demands. Etta, a mother from a small, rural town, has two sons serving their home country: her elder, Max, on the Eastern front, and her younger, Georg, at a school for Hitler Youth. When Max returns from the front, Etta quickly realizes that something is not right-he is thin, almost ghostly, and behaving very strangely. Etta strives to protect him from the Nazi rule, even as her husband, Josef, becomes more nationalistic and impervious to Max’s condition. Meanwhile, miles away, her younger son Georg has taken his fate into his own hands, deserting his young class of battle-bound soldiers to set off on a long and perilous journey home.

The Vanishing Sky is a World War II novel as seen through a German lens, a story of the irreparable damage of war on the home front, and one family’s participation-involuntary, unseen, or direct-in a dangerous regime. Drawing inspiration from her own father’s time in the Hitler Youth, L. Annette Binder has crafted a spellbinding novel about the daring choices we make for country and for family.

About the Author (from Goodreads):

L. Annette Binder was born in Germany and grew up in Colorado Springs.

Her first novel The Vanishing Sky (Bloomsbury, July 2020) is inspired by events in her own family history.

Her story collection Rise came out in 2012. Her short stories have been included in the Pushcart Prize anthology and the PEN/O. Henry Prize anthology and have been performed on Public Radio’s “Selected Shorts.”

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

(Check back here for my full review, to be added later!)

Book Description from Goodreads:

From the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids comes a story of four generations of women grappling with family betrayals and long-buried secrets.

It’s been years since Zoe Fairchild has been to the small Devon village of her birth, but the wounds she suffered there still ache. When she learns that her old friend and grandmother’s caretaker has gone missing, Zoe and her fifteen-year-old daughter return to England to help.

Zoe dreads seeing her estranged mother, who left when Zoe was seven to travel the world. As the four generations of women reunite, the emotional pain of the past is awakened. And to complicate matters further, Zoe must also confront the ex-boyfriend she betrayed many years before.

Anxieties spike when tragedy befalls another woman in the village. As the mystery turns more sinister, new grief melds with old betrayal. Now the four Fairchild women will be tested in ways they couldn’t imagine as they contend with dangers within and without, desperate to heal themselves and their relationships with each other.

About the Author (from Goodreads):

Barbara O’Neal is the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling writer of women’s fiction. She lives in Colorado with her partner, a British endurance athlete.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

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New US Giveaway!

Giveaway posted to Instagram on July 28 at 12:00noon

Struggling to finish up with your #SummerTBR? Well allow me to be of assistance! To thank all of my old and new friends and followers, one winner will receive one surprise book from their TBR list, and another goodie or two!

To enter, go on over to my Instagram post (linked below) and follow the following steps :

  • Follow me on Instagram (don’t unfollow, be my friend forever! I’m needy like that, and you’ll be blocked from future giveaways)
  • Like the post, and on it tag some of your bookish friends! (This can be done unlimited times, each in a different comment – one entry per comment)

Extra Entries :

  • Share the Instagram post to your stories for 24 hours and tag me so I can see it!
  • Follow my blog (hey, you’re here! You made it! Woohoo!) and leave a comment on Instagram letting me know that you have1

The winner will be drawn one week from posting, Sunday August 4 at 12:00 noon, and notified later that day!

Giveaway not affiliated with Instagram, etc. Just me!

Link to giveaway post : https://www.instagram.com/p/B0eD9f8AanQ/

Let’s Talk About: Travels

Ebooks, audiobooks, & reading on the road

Life is full of tons of big changes, busy times, and some times that your brain feels enough like mush that just the thought of reading makes you tired. And sometimes reading just doesn’t, or can’t, realistically happen.

I know what you may be thinking, “No, but Jennifer, you’re a reader like me. Reading is a stress reliever for people like us. The book worms, and the introverts, we always have time to read and it makes us feel better.” Yes, often times that is true. I absolutely love to read, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. And reading, getting lost in these other worlds or learning about my own, it always feels like the right thing to do with my time.

Except for when it doesn’t.

Real talk time. My fiancé and I just moved from Washington State all the way to Texas, road tripping across states and time zones, and the move was intense. It was wonderful and everything that we had been looking for, but in a lot of ways it was also one of the biggest changes and most stressful times so far in my life – the seven day road trip, getting furniture up and down all of the stairs, figuring out how to fly with a cat! (Let me tell you, not the easiest part of the trip.)

So how do you read? And when? While you’re paused on the road and visiting with family? When you’re in the car being co-pilot? Or at the end of the day when you’re dead tired and all you want to do is curl up in a bed, any bed, and get about 2 weeks of sleep?

Sure, sometimes you get 10 minutes to read with sunshine (and adorable reading buddies) while visiting your in-laws. But those 10 minutes are never long enough.

Sometimes the answer is simply this – you don’t. And sometimes that is the exact right answer.

For me, I got very little reading done while we were in transition this last month and a half. I only finished a total of two books in that entire time. And even the two books that I did finish didn’t actually get reviewed until almost a month later. I was feeling like I was slacking, like I wasn’t getting anything done, and like I was wasting the little spare time that I did have.

And then I reminded myself, and my amazing fiancé constantly reminded me, of one important thing – this is what I do for fun. And to relax. When I am stressed, or upset, or don’t like the world around me, I read. And forcing myself to do something that I love when I don’t have the energy or the brain power to enjoy it to it’s fullest, wouldn’t be fair to myself or the books that I brought. And trust me, I brought a lot of books. Like, we’re talking an entire carry on full of books. I wish I was kidding. It was very heavy.

So here is what I did. When I had an hour or so that I knew I could take for myself and relaxing, I read one of my buddy read books on my kindle. Other times, in between albums and podcasts and some naps, we listened to an audiobook while in the car. And we stopped at a lot of Little Free Libraries along the way, when we needed to stop the car and stretch our legs anyway it was a great and bookish excuse to do so. And I got myself to feel alright with the fact that I would only read two books, and not put nearly the dent in my famous TBR list that I thought that I would.

So, for anyone out there, my advice would be this. If you are travelling, or moving, or just spending your time being stressed and busy, remember this – remember why you love to read, and don’t read for any other reasons. Don’t make your stress worse by creating false deadlines for yourself, it’ll make this thing that you love feel like work.

So during your travels research a Little Free Library or two, stock up on those audio books, and give yourself and the books the time that you deserve. And seriously, don’t fill a carry on full of physical books. Just take my word. Your back will thank me later.