The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha-Land – Isabella Davidson

Book 57 of 100

I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve never reviewed a book pre-release before.  I’ve always picked my own books based on what was available to me and what I felt like reading.  I was contacted by Isabella asking if I would be interested in reviewing her new book.  I took a look at her blog, http://www.nottinghillmummy.com and decided I’d give it a shot.

It is war of who has the cleverest children, the biggest house, who is the slimmest, most successful and has the most picture-perfect life.”

When Sophie and her family relocate to London for her husband’s job, things don’t exactly go smoothly.  They manage to land a coveted spot for their 3-year-old daughter at Cherry Blossoms nursery school, which also happens to serve the children of the London elite.  Sophie is quickly made to feel inferior to the other moms at the school, and her daughter, Kaya, has trouble fitting in with the other children.  When unsuccessful in finding a job, Sophie finds herself with too much time on her hands and no one to talk to. So she does what many of us might do, she turns to the internet for support, and starts a blog about her interactions with the alpha-mums of Cherry Blossoms.  What harm could possibly come from that? No one reads blogs anyway, right?

I really enjoyed this book.  It was funny and observant, and I really empathized with Sophie and her plight. I think this book serves as a good reminder that while it’s easy to judge others, you just never know what they are going through.  Oftentimes, the people who put on the biggest show of having the perfect life have the most turmoil going on behind the scenes; be happy with what you have and try not to worry about everyone else.

Davidson has some really good insights into marriage after children and the effect that virtual life has on one’s real life.  Hopefully, this is just the first of many books for her.

Buy it here.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary from Goodreads:

Here, it isn’t the battle of who has the Rolls-Royce of strollers…these children actuThe Beta Mum_100 RGB (1)ally roll in Rolls-Royces!

When 33-year-old Sophie Bennett moves from a sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy West London, she doesn’t know where she has landed, Venus or Mars. By a stroke of good luck, her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms Nursery, the most exclusive nursery in London – hence the world – where she meets a sea of Alpha mums: Super Successful, Super Skinny and Super Rich. There, not is all as it seems, and she has to fight against the lure of a cult, a two headed dragon and Mumsolini’s dictatorship.

When Sophie struggles to fit in and starts to feel deeply lonely, she starts an anonymous blog, The Beta Mum, dissecting the lives of the Alpha Mums, especially Kelly’s, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep who constantly makes her feel like a second class citizen. When Sophie’s marriage starts to falter, she engages in an email relationship with one of her readers. But then, one of her blogs goes viral and her blog becomes more and more successful; how long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive her reader’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha Mums?

Up Next:

Three Dark Crowns or Days of Blood & Starlight

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Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins

Book 56 of 100

I know I’m late to the party on this series.  This book came out in 2014 but I only just realized that it was okay for me to read YA books even though I’m way past being considered a young adult.  I don’t feel like I’m an adult most of the time though, so I think it’s fine.

I bought the Anna and the French Kiss on a whim a few months ago because I liked the cover.  I read it in about a day and I loved it. I immediately purchased the rest of the series. I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door a few weeks later and I enjoyed it nearly as much as the first one. Could the third stand up to the first two?  Would Isla and the Happily Ever After be as captivating as the others?

There’s no story,’ I say. ‘I saw you one day, and I just knew.

The answer is yes.  Definitely yes.  This book was the best of the series.  The writing was 9627755great as always, and the story sucked me in immediately.  The first two books in the series were really sweet, and mostly upbeat. But this one…this one was brutal.  There were parts of this book where I was sobbing out loud and I felt as if these things were happening to me. I always consider a book a success when it tugs on my heartstrings the way this book did.  This book was excellent.  An instant classic for me and I’m sure it’ll be one that I read over and over and over.

This book returns us to Paris at the School for Americans.  Isla and Josh make a connection that most can only dream of.  They fall hard and fast, and it seems as if things couldn’t be better.  Unfortunately, real life has a nasty habit of throwing a wrench in things, and Isla and Josh are pulled apart.  Will their relationship be able to handle the challenges they face?

Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary from Goodreads:

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Up Next:

I’m currently reading three books: Days of Blood and Starlight, Three Dark Crowns, and an ARC of The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha-Land.  I’m not sure which I will finish first, but whichever I do will be the next I review!

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Book 55 of 100

I do have to admit that the title of this book is what really pulled me in.  A 24-hour bookstore?  Yes, please!  For me a bookstore is already a magical place, so it doesn’t take much to get me interested.

This book was odd.  In a good way, I think, but still odd.  And not what I expected at all.  It was a little slow in places, and I had to stop reading and come back to it a couple of times, but when I finished, I was smiling and I may have even had a tear in my eye.  So while it may have been a struggle at times, in the end it gave me a case of the warm and fuzzies, which makes me say it was pretty good.

“All the secrets in the world 13538873.jpgworth knowing are hiding in plain sight.”

After the tech bubble bursts, Clay is left scrambling to find a job in San Francisco.  He spends his days scouring job listings from the internet while walking around the city.  On one such walk he comes across an unusual looking bookstore in a dodgy part of town that just so happens to have a help wanted sign in the window.  The proprietor, Mr. Penumbra, asks our hero “What do you seek in these shelves?”, and from there our adventure unfolds. delving deeply into the world of the Unbroken Spine, a book cult looking for the answer to life’s greatest mystery.

Rating: 4 out of 5

What did you guys think?  Have you read it?  Did you like it?  Let me know in the comments below.  I’d love to know what others thought of this book.

Summary 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 bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

FullSizeRender (2)Up Next: ????

I have no idea what to read next.  I have about 40 books in my TBR stack, and no idea where to start.  Anyone have any ideas?  I was thinking maybe Strange the Dreamer, but I’m not super excited about it right now.  I’m up for recommendations if you’ve got them.

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Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

Book 54 of 100

I loved Paula Hawkins’ first book, The Girl on the Train.  I read it in just over 24 hours and was totally floored by the complexity of the story and how it all came together in the end.  I love a good mystery/thriller; in fact it’s probably my favorite genre.  Imagine my surprise when I just could not seem to get into this book.  It took me 3 days to read a hundred pages.  I was so disappointed in myself.  I was disappointed in the book.  I was disappointed with reading in general.  I was seriously considering not finishing it, just walking away and starting something else, which is something that I absolutely HATE doing.  Once I’ve started a book, I have a compulsive need to finish it.  I decided to give it one more shot.  I would read another 25 pages and if by that time I still wasn’t into, then I would quit.

I’m really glad that I kept going, because the rest of the book was pretty good.  I feel like I may have set my expectations a little too high since I loved Paula’s first book so much. From any other author, I would have considered this a quality showing. So once I got out of my own head and just tried to enjoy the story, I really ended up liking it.

“Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women.”

The story is set in the town of Beckford where the local river dominates the landscape and has earned a reputation as a suicide spot for troubled women.  Two deaths just a few months apart spur the local police into an investigation.  What is uncovered is the possibility that many of the lives claimed by the river have actually ended as the result of something much more sinister.

It’s told from the perspective of several of the townsfolk, taking place over a course of about two weeks.  I think part of the struggle for me in the first 100 pages of the book was that I felt like there were too many main characters and it was a little confusing to keep track of.  There are 10 different character POV’s in this.  Ten!  That seemed excessive.  They do all come together in a way that is understandable and cohesive, but I was having trouble seeing what all these different viewpoints had in common and it kept me from being able to focus on the story.  I know this is a really trendy thing to do in books right now, but I really feel like it should be kept to just 2-3 characters.

Overall, I think I expected too much, and I ended up setting myself up for disappointment.  This is a solid, enjoyable book that any mystery lover will enjoy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

What did you guys think?  Have you read it?  Did you like it?  Let me know in the comments below.  I’d love to know what others thought of this book.

Summary from Goodreads:

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the intothewater_usfirst women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Buy it now at Amazon or at Book Depository.

Up Next: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

I’m super excited about this one.  I’m only about 12 pages in so far, but I can tell I’m going to like it.  It’s just a feeling I get sometimes.

Thoughts on what I should read next?  Ideas on what I can do to improve my reviews? I’m new to all this, so I’ll take all the help I can get. Drop me a line in the comments; I’d love to hear from you.

klb

This is my first official post!

2017: 53 of 100

Current Read:    Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!  I’ve thought about starting a blog for a couple of years. Now I’ve actually pulled the trigger and I’m really nervous/scared/excited. I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter if no one reads it.  This is something I’m doing for me.  I recently joined the Bookstagram community on Instagram, and I must say that I love it. This feels like an extension of that.  I will be able to go into greater depth about the books I’m reading and hopefully I’ll be able to reach some like-minded people and connect with other book bloggers.

My format will mostly be reviews of the books that I’m reading.  I anticipate posting 1-2 times a week.  I’ve been reading a little faster than that so far this year at 3-4 books a week, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep that pace up.  My husband keeps complaining that I don’t talk to him anymore since I’m always reading.

That’s it for now.  I will hopefully finish Into the Water in the next couple days and have my first official review up for the weekend.

klb