book review: “things you save in a fire” by katherine center

Releasing on August 13, Things You Save in a Fire would make a great late summer read; I read it over two nights (it was a page-turner!!!!) If you liked How to Walk Away, you will like this one. Maybe even more, as I did.

I loved Cassie, the main protagonist, who is a firefighter! Hooray for all firefighters, and specifically lady firefighters! I learned a lot about firefighting and was duly impressed – Center’s husband is a volunteer firefighter so she used him to get the details right. And Cassie was the firefighter that worked to save Mags from Walk Away. I loved that connection, however, Fire can stand on its own.

Again, this is what I consider a great summer read. I liked the pacing – the storyline drove the narrative which I love and need in my fun fiction books. It also was about 300 pages. Anne told me that I needed these two things in my fun fiction reads and I think that she was right. And while there’s a romantic element (it could be classified as chick lit), I love how Center includes a more substantive narrative of forgiveness. Fun and romance while learning lessons? I don’t think that it gets any better than that!

Beware: One character has suffered a sexual assault in the past. It is not explicitly detailed or described. And there is adult language.

4 of 5 stars

A huge thank you to Snail on the Wall books for the ARC. Preorder your copy here.

Have you guys read this one? Will you read it now? What else would you like to know about it? Let me know in the comments.

enjoy life…


book review: “the unlikely adventures of the shergill sisters” by balli kaur jaswal

I did it, guys! I read my pick from my episode on Anne Bogel’s podcast, What Should I Read Next, Episode 179 and I am popping in to share my thoughts.

But first, let me remind you what Anne said about the book when she recommended it to me.

“This is a story of three sisters. They’re on a mission. They’re on almost a pilgrimage their dying mother has sent them on…They’ve gotten older, they don’t get along…. But they’ve come together. They have adventures. It does not go as planned.

And I think this book has the right amount of fun and zany while still having concerns that are grounded in [the] reality that you and I can relate to as people that makes it not just empty or ridiculous.

They are dealing with serious things, but this is not as a serious book. This is fast and fun and keeps you moving. You’ll get to experience new places and new things and I think you’ll really enjoy the journey.” 

So, here’s what I thought.

First, if, as a reader, you are not reading books by people that are different than you (religion, cultures, race, etc.) you are doing it wrong.  That being said, until you are familiar with a culture, etc. you may struggle with some of the references like words, foods, and settings. I think my unfamiliarity hindered my capacity to fully enjoy Shergill Sisters.

Second, this book was serious but fun and zany, exactly what Anne promised.

Jaswal’s website describes the book as a “dark comedy” and I agree with that moniker. Rajni, the oldest sister, is the mom who’s 18 year-old son has impregnated his 36-year-old girlfriend. Jezmeen is the YouTube sensation, not in a good way, and this is where most of the hilarity lies. Shirina has the perfect marriage, or does she? And her situation is what brings the “serious” issues to the fore.  A concept that I was unfamiliar with but that Balli Kaur Jaswal is due to her roots in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. That’s were the darkness lies.

Third, it is a page-turner and I read it in a day. Anne pointed out that around 300 pages is around my magic number in terms of fun fiction and she is right.  I recently picked up a copy of another novel that was about 400 pages and it took so long for it to really get going that I put it down. Pacing really is everything.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Shergill Sisters but didn’t like it as much as I did Joshilyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters (my full review is here),  which was Anne’s reference point and the reason she selected this book. But I do think that was due, in part, to my unfamiliarity with Indian culture and not any thing else like pacing, writing style, quality of writing, etc.

So, there’s my thought on The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters. Now, onward to Anne’s other two suggestions: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth and Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

3 ½ of out 5 Stars

Have you read this one? Did you enjoy it?

enjoy life…

P.S. I saw Balli Jaswal (@balli_jaswal) posted this recently on Twitter: Today in My Family Does Not Understand My Career: Both parents called in a great panic to notify me that my books were available in the library. “How are you supposed to make money? What kind of business model is this?”

book review: “never have i ever” by joshilyn jackson

Pic. Never Have I Ever

I adored “The Almost Sisters”, my best book read of 2018, so I was thrilled to get an Advanced Readers’ Copy (ARC) of Joshilyn Jackson’s Never Have I Ever (NHIE), releasing July 30. This book is also a Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide pick which only increased my desire to get my hand on a copy. In NHIE, Jackson ups the ante, stepping fully into the psychological territory first explored in “gods in Alabama”. It read like a departure for Jackson, yet hauntingly familiar.

The Snail on the Wall Books was kind of enough to provide me with an ARC in exchange for my thoughts and so I wanted to finish it quickly. I set aside an entire day to read it. Like most psychological thrillers, NHIE began with a slow burn but by page 100, I became interested and happily kept turning the pages to find out what happened next until I reached a satisfying conclusion (and after GoT, I needed a satisfying conclusion. LOL)

I missed the humor in The Almost Sisters that balanced out all that dark and twisty.  And it is dark, ladies and gentleman.  Individuals may find some triggers within its pages, so readers beware.  And while “The Almost Sisters” held subtle but profound social commentary, NHIE is more personal.  Jackson describes what happens when the secrets that we bury deep within us are threatened to be exposed and the lengths that we are willing to go when we’re pushed to the brink. It would make a good book club pick.

If you tend to be very conservative in your reading preferences, this may not be the pick for you.  But if you are looking for a page-turner (my personal benchmark) for the late summer read in the same vein of The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine and a darker Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, give this one a go.

3 ½ stars

Read my reviews of Mrs. Parrish here and Lies here both for the Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club.

What are your thoughts? Have you read this or will you be reading it? Do you agree or disagree with me? And if you are looking for as noncommital a book club as you can get, check out the RCM Virtual Book Club.

enjoy life…