2016 Book 204: FIRST COMES LOVE by Emily Giffin



First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
ISBN: 9780345546920 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345546937 (ebook)
ASIN: B014NZ4SXW (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016 
Publisher: Ballantine Books


In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads. Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands. On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.  As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first. Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.


When we first meet the Garland family, they seem to be a happy family with three adult children and no major worries in the world. Then tragedy strikes and the family is torn apart rather than brought closer together. Sisters Josie and Meredith have taken totally different paths over the past fifteen years and both feel as if there is something missing in Emily Giffin’s latest, First Comes Love.

Josie Garland is the middle child and can’t live up to her eldest brother’s legacy of being super smart and kind. Her younger sister, Meredith, is making her own way in life by studying theater arts. When we meet Josie and Meredith, they are in their early twenties and still searching for their paths in lives. Their lives, indeed their entire family is turned upside down after the tragic death of their older brother in a car accident. Meredith graduates with a degree in Theater Arts but opts for law school. Josie graduates with a degree in education and becomes a first-grade teacher. Meredith winds up married to her brother’s best friend and the mother of a four-year-old. Josie is living with her best friend, her male best friend, and still single. As Josie gets closer to her 38th birthday, she decides to pursue motherhood even if it means being a single mother. Meredith is having her own mid-life crisis, and wonders if she made the right decision to marry her husband and if she should stay married. She doesn’t want more children and her husband wants at least two or three more. Both Josie and Meredith are dealing with a lot of stressors and sadly, they don’t have one another to turn to as they epitomize sibling rivalry even in their adult relationship. Just when it seems like their relationship might wind up getting better, a secret is revealed that might tear them apart forever.  

I found First Comes Love to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. I was intrigued by the relationship between Josie and Meredith, as they both seemed to constantly find fault with one another no matter the situation. The relationship between these two sisters was probably more realistic than not, as not all siblings like each other even if they do love one another. As someone that has had to deal with the death of a sibling in adulthood, I was interested to see how the evolution/devolution of the family would play out. I liked both Josie and Meredith, especially Josie’s extroverted nature compared to Meredith’s introverted nature. Although Josie and Meredith don’t seem to get along due to their entrenched sibling rivalry, jealousy seems to be at the heart of their problems with each other. First Comes Loves spans only a few months in the adult lives of Josie and Meredith, but there’s a lot crammed into those few months. Ms. Giffin has crafted a story that provides tragedy, turmoil, drama, hints of romance, and a sense of hopefulness throughout it all. If you want to read a realistic story about siblings and family that has a hopeful ever after thread woven throughout, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of First Comes Love. I recommend waiting until you have the weekend to binge read this book because you won’t want to put it down.


Disclaimer: I received a print advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book Spotlight: ONE TRUE LOVES by Taylor Jenkins Reid



One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ISBN: 9781476776903 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781476776910 (ebook)
ASIN: B0176M3XWQ (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 
Publisher: Washington Square Press


From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour and USA Today—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.





Meet the author:


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author, essayist and TV writer from Acton, Mass. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. She is adapting her second book, After I Do, for ABC Family. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life, has been featured in People, Us Weekly, Cosmo and more.
In addition to her novels, Taylor’s essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, xoJane and a number of other blogs.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.




Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter




As a participant in the Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge 2016 (SRC2016), I’ve been asked to answer a few questions about Ms. Reid…here goes:


  1. The first book I ever read by Taylor Jenkins Reid was After I Do as part of SRC2014.
  2. My Wish for Taylor Jenkins Reid as a Mom is to simply enjoy every moment as your baby will be graduating from high school and leaving home before you know it.
  3. My Wish for Taylor Jenkins Reid as an author is that she becomes just as well-known and beloved as Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele.
  4. My Favorite book by Taylor Jenkins Reid…that’s a difficult choice and I can’t name just one so After I Do and Maybe In Another Life.
  5. Who is your One True Love? My One True Love isn’t a romantic love, it’s a maternal love and it rests with my stepson Abdullah. I never thought I’d have children and being his stepmother has been the best experience I’ve ever had.



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2016 Book 169: SAVING ABBY by Steena Holmes



Saving Abby by Steena Holmes
ISBN: 9781503934160 (paperback)
ASIN: B016A31ZWW (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 31, 2016 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.

Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Steena Holmes brings us an unforgettable story of one woman’s courage and love.



Claire Turner has almost everything anyone could want: a job she loves, a spouse she’s head-over-heels in love with and who’s in love with her, a beautiful home, loving and supportive friends, and a loving parent. The only thing she doesn’t have is a child with her husband. The overwhelming desire for a child and the steps she’ll take to ensure the safety of an unborn child are at the center of Saving Abby by Steena Holmes.

Claire Turner presumed, as did her parents, that because she had an unremarkable pregnancy as a teenager, it would be easy for her to become pregnant later in life. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case. Claire and Josh have been married for more than six years and even after in vitro attempts there’s been no viable pregnancy. Since Claire and Josh work together on children’s books — Josh writes the story and Claire illustrates them — they do a whirlwind tour of Europe to spark creative ideas for their stories. Upon their return home, Claire is struck by extreme fatigue and excruciatingly painful headaches. After being checked by her friend and doctor it is found that her fatigue is due to a pregnancy. A few months go by and the headaches are unrelenting and it is discovered that Claire has a brain tumor. Treatment isn’t possible during her pregnancy, so she two choices: wait until she can deliver her baby, saving the baby’s life and endangering her own, or pursue treatment saving her life and endangering her unborn child.

You might think that Saving Abby is a dark read because of the subject matter and you’d be wrong. Ms. Holmes has the uncanny ability to take dark themes and imbue them with light and hope. Her characters are realistic and relatable. The situations are easily taken from real life and don’t seem fantastical or farfetched. Yes, there are some serious issues dealt with in Saving Abby – child mortality versus parent mortality, cancer mortality, and more, but all are presented in a respectful manner. If you’re the type of person that enjoys reading HEAs (hopeful ever after), then you’ll definitely want to read Saving Abby. This was another enjoyable Steena Holmes reading experience for me and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.



Disclaimer: I purchased a digital copy of this book. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book Spotlight: APPETITE by Sheila Grinell




Appetite by Sheila Grinell 
ISBN: 9781631520228 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631520235 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DU18W6E (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 17, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press


When Jenn Adler returns from a year in India, she has a surprise for her parents: a young guru from Bangalore whom she intends to marry. Her father, Paul, is wary of this beggar Jenn has brought home who, he suspects, is conning his much-loved daughter while her mother, Maggie, is frightened that this alien stranger will steal away her only child, her focus in life. 

In the months leading up to the backyard wedding, Maggie is forced to reevaluate her virtues as she casts about for support, and Paul faces an unexpected threat at work one that Maggie could help him meet if he would only ask. But even with these distractions, the two parents are focused on one primary question: Can they convince their daughter she is making a terrible mistake before the wedding takes place?




Meet the author:



Sheila Grinell was born in Manhattan (in a taxi). A wife and mother, she has worked as a business executive, designed science museums, and is a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Phoenix with her husband. Appetite is her debut novel.


Connect with the author:     Website      |     Twitter 



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2016 Book 161: THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri



The Assistants by Camille Perri 
ISBN: 9780399172540 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698180802 (ebook)
ASIN: B013Q7094K (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016 
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons


A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city.  Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all. When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer . . . The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, “How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?”

Tina Fontana is a struggling thirty-year-old living in New York City. She works as the personal assistant to the boss of a multinational media conglomerate and makes barely enough to survive, much less pay off her college debt. Tina has no idea how much her life will change with one computer entry in The Assistants by Camille Perri.


Imagine working for a man that spends more on golf clubs (purchased to play one single round of golf) than you make in a month. Imagine this same man spends more on one monogrammed cotton handkerchief (that he considers to be just as disposable as a tissue) than you make in a week. Tina has worked for just such a man for six years and she’s still barely able to survive. After receiving a reimbursement check for an airline ticket that she paid for out-of-pocket and was then comped, she struggles with whether to return the check or keep it to pay off her student loans. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, she keeps the check and pays off her loans. She’s then blackmailed into helping to pay off the debts of one co-worker and then another. Tina struggles with the morality of what they are doing. As this “pay-it-forward” or “pay-it-down” (all the monies are used to pay down student loan debt) idea gains momentum, the idea garners publicity and becomes legitimized through crowdfunding. All the while, Tina and her coworkers are asking the hard-hitting questions of why were we lied to when told we needed a college education to get ahead and why are we are still struggling with basic survival on our wages, especially since we aren’t lazy but hardworking people? 

I found The Assistants to be a fast-paced read that captured my attention from the first page to the very last. Ms. Perri has incorporated humor to take away a bit of the sting from the battle cry of millennials, “why isn’t this system working for us?” This is a generation that has gone to college, graduate school, law school, and/or medical school, racking up tens of thousands of debt. This is a generation that works 50-60 hours work weeks and is still struggling with the basics (rent, utilities, and groceries). Although The Assistants may be a somewhat lighthearted fictional look at this generation and their problems, it nonetheless highlights some serious issues facing these millennials. I enjoyed all of the characters, especially Tina, Emily, and Wendy. These women may have started out as “Robin Hood” type figures, but quickly come into their own with their “pay-it-down” assistance program (if only it were a reality). The Assistants provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world of assistants and their bosses’ unrealistic expectations. If you’re looking for a fun read that has its roots in reality, then look no further, The Assistants may just be the book for you. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Perri in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Book Showcase: THE HOUSE OF BRADBURY by Nicole Meier




The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier 
ISBN: 9781940716381 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716398 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DJWHB3O (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 10, 2016 
Publisher: Spark Press


Mia Gladwell’s life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiance Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she’s living in her sister’s carriage house unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author’s home will inspire her to create her best work yet. Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who’s keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia s life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury’s house was a big mistake but maybe not.



Read an excerpt from The House of Bradbury here.




Meet the author:



Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She works as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Oregon with her family. The House of Bradbury is her first novel.





Connect with the author:

Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads     |     Instagram




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