Separation Anxiety by: Laura Zigman

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

Separation Anxiety is a hilarious, heart-breaking and thought-provoking portrait of a difficult marriage, as fierce as it is funny…. My advice: Start reading and don’t stop until you get to the last page of this wise and wonderful novel.”  —Alice Hoffman 

Entertainment Weekly * Cosmopolitan * USA Today * Real Simple * Parade * Buzzfeed * Glamour

From bestselling author Laura Zigman, a hilarious novel about a wife and mother whose life is unraveling and the well-intentioned but increasingly disastrous steps she takes to course-correct her relationships, her career, and her belief in herself

Judy never intended to start wearing the dog. But when she stumbled across her son Teddy’s old baby sling during a halfhearted basement cleaning, something in her snapped. So: the dog went into the sling, Judy felt connected to another living being, and she’s repeated the process every day since.

Life hasn’t gone according to Judy’s plan. Her career as a children’s book author offered a glimpse of success before taking an embarrassing nose dive. Teddy, now a teenager, treats her with some combination of mortification and indifference. Her best friend is dying. And her husband, Gary, has become a pot-addled professional “snackologist” who she can’t afford to divorce. On top of it all, she has a painfully ironic job writing articles for a self-help website—a poor fit for someone seemingly incapable of helping herself.

Wickedly funny and surprisingly tender, Separation Anxiety offers a frank portrait of middle-aged limbo, examining the ebb and flow of life’s most important relationships. Tapping into the insecurities and anxieties that most of us keep under wraps, and with a voice that is at once gleefully irreverent and genuinely touching, Laura Zigman has crafted a new classic for anyone taking fumbling steps toward happiness.

My Review

About 20 years ago, I read Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman and loved it. I have reread that book and watched the movie adaptation renamed “Someone Like You” many times. When I saw that this new release was coming out, I didn’t hesitate to request an advanced copy.

Judy is a 50 year old wife, mother and friend. Her career as an author showed initial success and then the floor dropped from under her. Her parents became ill and passed away, her relationship with her husband is more than strained and she feels so alone. That feeling is so intense that she decides to wear the family dog in a baby sling around her body.

Quirky and fun, this was an entertaining read. However, the realness of Judy and her struggles doesn’t go unnoticed. She is easy to relate to and someone you want to help at the same time.

I had a great time reading this and couldn’t put it down.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Sunset by: Tif Marcelo

Publication date: March 1, 2020

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

The author of The Key to Happily Ever After—“a true gem filled with heart, laughs, and a cast of delightful characters” (Nina Bocci, USA TODAY bestselling author)—returns with a heartwarming and charming novel about a woman who travels to the Philippines to reconnect with her long-lost family…and manages to find herself along the way.

Diana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever.

Infused with Tif Marcelo’s signature “sexy, adorable, and heartfelt” (Kate Meader, USA TODAY bestselling author) voice, Once Upon a Sunset is a moving and lyrical celebration of love, family, and second chances.

My Review:

An overworked, over-stressed woman makes a decision that can impact the rest of her life. Diana has worked hard to get to where she is in her life and all of that is about to change. Her job is on the line, her mother is taking her sweet time to unpack into Diana’s house, Diana’s boyfriend has left her and she is tired. When Diana’s mother Margo, uncovers letters that could alter their lives, Diana jumps at the chance to dig deep into the past.

This was a sweet story that takes these women on a journey they will never forget. What would you do if you found out that what you believed about your parents was not true?

I really enjoyed this book and the way the story unfolded. Tif Marcelo writes this genre very well.

I gave this book 4 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow Me by: Kathleen Barber

Publication date: February 25, 2020

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.

Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

My Review

This is what I wanted from Caroline Kepnes’ You, but didn’t really get. Follow Me is the perfect blend of a cautionary tale and a freak you out thriller! I am not the reader that gets freaked out by a book but Follow Me did it.

I appreciated the multiple points of view narration as that created an even creepier vibe. I was submerged into Audrey’s life and kept second guessing the stalker at every page. I read this one night before bed and when my kitchen sink turned on by itself (I swear it did. It is a touch to turn on sink and no one was in the kitchen), I refused to read this book before bed anymore.

I loved it and think that it is a better stalker novel than You. It really makes you think about how easy it is to be followed in today’s society.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Chocolatier by: Jan Moran

A young widow. A husband she thought she knew. Will a chocolatier’s secret destroy the family left behind?

San Francisco, 1953: Heartbroken over the mysterious death of her husband, Celina Savoia, a second-generation chocolatière, resolves to take their young son to Italy’s shimmering Amalfi coast to introduce him to his father’s family. Just as she embarks on a magical, romantic life of making chocolate by the sea surrounded by a loving family, she begins to suspect that her husband had a dark secret—forged in the final days of WWII—that could destroy the relationships she’s come to cherish.

While a second chance at love is tempting, the mystery of her husband’s true identity thwarts her efforts. Challenged to pursue the truth or lose the life she’s come to love, Celina and her late husband’s brother, Lauro, must trace the past to a remote, Peruvian cocoa region to face the deceit that threatens to shatter their lives.

In The Chocolatier, Jan Moran, bestselling author of the Summer Beach seriesThe Winemakers and Scent of Triumph, offers a testament to the power of forgiveness and the resilience of love.

My Review

Oh my! There are a few things that you need to know about this book:

  1. Listen to it in audio- the narrator is fantastic and you will immediately get sucked into this story.
  2. Purchase a physical copy of this book as you will want to reread and savor each page.
  3. Have chocolate handy- preferably decadent, fruit-filled truffles but really any chocolate will do.
  4. Be prepared to want to travel.
  5. Read Jan Moran’s entire back list catalog of novels!

I adored everything about this book. I was sent the audio for my review and I loved it. I was vividly picturing each moment of the story and outwardly groaning at the descriptions of the chocolate creations. This was a powerful story about family, love and determination, and I didn’t want it to end.

I purchased a physical copy of this book before I even finished listening to it because I know this book needed to be in my collection.

I gave this book 5 crowns.

Behind Every Lie by: Christina McDonald

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Description from the Publishers through Netgalley

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell—an “emotionally charged mystery” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author)comes a thrilling new suspense novel about the insidious nature of family secrets…and their deadly potential.

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of HerBehind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.

My Review

This was my first read from Christina McDonald. I have heard of her previous release but hadn’t read it. The premise of Behind Every Lie caught my attention. This story was wonderfully written. I was not bored for a single moment.

Eva is a woman who struggled to accept herself and trust her instincts. Her relationship with her mother was not the greatest and when her mother is found murdered, Eva has no real memories of the event but she does have flashing images of it. Could she have murdered her own mother?

Although my trust for certain characters was not fully present from the beginning of the story, I was intrigued to see of I was correct in my judgments.

This is a domestic thriller that I recommend. I gave it 4 crowns.

I have received this E- ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.