Review: How Lulu Lost Her Mind (Rachel Gibson)

How Lulu Lost Her Mind
Author: Rachel Gibson
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson comes the story of a mother-daughter journey to rediscover the past before it disappears forever.

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend her remaining months or years surrounded by memories at her family’s decrepit old plantation in Louisiana with her only daughter.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with her mother suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel No. 5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions at it should, least of all her mother’s mind. She is haunted not only by creaky floorboards and things that go bump in the night, but also by the living ghost sleeping downstairs. Every good day Patricia and Lou Ann have treasure hunting in the attic seems to be followed by two days of meltdowns and cold shoulders. And as Lou Ann adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic, she is forced to confront the fact that her mother’s fate is completely out of her hands—and the end may be coming quicker than she even thought possible.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for anyone whose mom has ever made them cry—whether tears of joy, regret, frustration, love, or all of the above. Fans of Emily Giffin, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis won’t be able to forget it.


I have been a fan of Rachel Gibson’s contemporary romance novels for a long time. She’s one of the first authors I really got into and binged on back in the day. When I saw she was releasing a book in the women’s fiction category, I was both intrigued and slight disappointed. So many of my longtime favorite romance authors have been moving over to this genre. It makes me a little sad. That being said, once I got started on How Lulu Lost Her Mind, I knew I was in for something special.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a gem. It was all about character growth for Lulu. She got to reexamine her relationship with her mother, her job, and her feelings. All of that was done in a beautifully described setting. I have to admit that I didn’t love Lulu at first due to her nature, but she quickly grew on me.

The rest of the characters were just as fabulous. I loved Patricia, Lindsey, Simon, and Raphael. Patricia added both funny and heartbreaking parts. Lindsey added a special friendship aspect. Simon added just the right tough of romance to the story. And Raphael… Well, that parrot was something else.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a heartwarming tale that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Rachel Gibson’s foray into women’s fiction was a smashing success!

Review: Four Days of You and Me (Miranda Kenneally)

Four Days of You and Me
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Sourcefire Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A new swoon-worthy romance following a couple’s love story on the same date over four years.

Every May 7, the students at Coffee County High School take a class trip. And every year, Lulu’s relationship with Alex Rouvelis gets a little more complicated. Freshman year, they went from sworn enemies to more than friends after a close encounter in an escape room. It’s been hard for Lulu to quit Alex ever since.

Through breakups, make ups, and dating other people, each year’s class trip brings the pair back together and forces them to confront their undeniable connection. From the science museum to an amusement park, from New York City to London, Lulu learns one thing is for sure: love is the biggest trip of all.


Four Days of You and Me was a fun book that was able to pull me in and keep my attention where other books couldn’t in these crazy times. It had an upbeat feel and didn’t go so deep in emotions that I wanted to shy away from it. (Sad, I know, but these times make me crave light and easy.)

What I liked about Four Days of You and Me:

  • Like I said, it was pretty much upbeat the most of the time. Even when the characters had struggles, it had that sweet contemporary feel.
  • Lulu was a great character. She was a bit of an outcast, but I liked that about her. I guess that part was a little cliche, but I didn’t mind.
  • While I wasn’t 100% happy with the way Alex treated Lulu, I did think he really liked her. I loved when he showed his kindness and love. He frustrated me a lot in his boyish ways, but he was a boy in high school so it was exactly how it should have been.
  • It took me a while to get used to the format of a day of school field trips each year and then flashbacks in between. I liked the way it was set up for the most part.

What wasn’t my favorite:

  • The flashbacks were cool because I felt like that’s when I got to see snippets of their day to day relationship, but it also made me crave more of those times. I wanted to see their relationship actually unfold, and I was robbed of that.
  • I needed an epilogue that took place one year after.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Four Days of You and Me. It was a light YA romance that was almost everything I needed in these dark times.

Review: Chasing Lucky (Jenn Bennett)

Chasing Lucky
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…


Chasing Lucky started out strong for me. I really loved the whole curse thing that was going on and what it meant for Josie and her mom to move back to Beauty, Rhode Island. I do have to mention that I was thrown off pretty quickly, though. There was an unexpected time jump and I wasn’t quite prepared for it. I don’t know if that was the weird formatting of the ARC I received or that it felt weird in general. Once I got past that initial shock, I was back to navigating the story easily.

Josie had A LOT going on in her life. She didn’t quit trust her mother. Her old best friend, Lucky, confused her with the way he kept her at a distance…until they were back to being friends. People in town judged and treated her wrong. Her cousin had boy problems. It was a lot for both Josie and me. It was so much to take in that I found myself being bogged down by it all. I honestly would have rather had less to focus on so that one or two major things could have been dealt with deeper. What I really loved about this book was Josie and Lucky. I would have rather just read about them without so much other stuff. The middle of this book just dragged for me because of all of it.

That being said, once I hit about 75% great, interesting things started happening. I loved the book from this point on. I loved where Josie’s relationship with her mom went. I loved Josie and Lucky deciding friendship wasn’t the only thing between them. I could have used more information about her cousin. The last 5% was the best part of the book.

Overall, I liked this book. I wish I would have loved it. It had some strong bones, it just needed a little simplifying.

Review: Little Secrets (Jennifer Hillier)

Little Secrets
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him.
Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.

Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.

Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.

Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.


Normally, I shy away from thriller involving missing children. It’s just too hard to read as a parent — one of my biggest nightmares. That being said, I couldn’t pass up Little Secrets. I loved Jennifer Hillier’s last book, Jar of Hearts, so I was reading this book no matter what. I’m so, so glad I did!

Little Secrets is a book about a mother’s despair after the abduction of her only child, Sebastian, and the depths she will go to find out the truth. This book unravels slowly, building up to the truth. Not that it’s slow paced. It’s not at all. It’s a page turner that gives divulges those little secrets at the perfect time and pace. You’ll be so wrapped up in the story, you won’t realize the end is near until it’s on you. At least, that’s the way it was for me and I loved every second of it.

Review: Undercover Bromance (Lyssa Kay Adams)

Undercover Bromance
Series: Bromance Book Club, #2
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assist Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.


Undercover Bromance is one of those reads that feel effortless. From the moment it began, I was immediately in love with the story. Liv and Mack’s antagonistic relationship from The Bromance Book Club spilled over perfectly into this book. Liv’s love to hate on Mack and his constant need to impress her and make her admit she liked him made for some spectacular banter and chemistry. It made for a really fun enemies to lovers romance.

Liv and Mack’s romance wasn’t the only thing that stood out positively in Undercover Bromance. The way Lyssa Kay Adams approached sexual harassment in the work place and the way society has normalized it over the years was outstanding. She brought opinions from all sides and educated while she entertained. I also have to applaud the way such a serious subject was also made to feel “lighter” within this romance — even when it really wasn’t.

I also have to say how much fun it was to be back with the gang from The Bromance Book Club. I love those guys. Their advice and love of romance novels always makes me smile. (Now, can I get a book for the Russian, please?) Undercover Bromance was a hit for me and a great sophomore addition to the Bromance Book Club series.

Review: Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel (@thegingerscott) @wordsmithpublic

Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: January 30, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: This review is for an ARC provided by WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

RIVERDALE meets INCEPTION in this twisty and unique YA coming-of-age romance.

Quarterback.
Class president.
Burnout.
We all have our identities.
Most of the time, they come from our circumstances. They’re made by others—shoes for us to walk in whether they fit or not.
But what if?
What if we could take off those shoes.
What if we could wear a different pair?
What if those boxes we put ourselves in are better…worse?
And what if, when we do…we’re trapped there for good?
They all call me Cowboy.
She’s the damsel who doesn’t need to be rescued.
And him…he’s the villain.
This is our story. And this is how we want it to be told.


I don’t know where to start with Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel. I have so much to say about it…that I can’t say about it because I would spoil the entire thing for you. What I will say is that it’s unlike anything Ginger Scott’s ever written and maybe even unlike anything else I’ve read before. It truly was “A Ginger Scott Experience“.

How did I feel about Cowboy Villain Damsel Duel? Short answer: I was mind blown. Long answer: I started out thinking things would go one way. Then there was a twist and I thought things were going another way. Repeat that scenario a bunch and I was so confused, but in a good way. I don’t think I truly figured out where this incredibly addictive, utterly unique story was taking me up until almost the very end. I’m going to be thinking about this book for a long time. It’s just… WOW.

About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award
nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: Call Down the Hawk (Maggie Stiefvater)

Call Down the Hawk
Series: Dreamer, #1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .


The first two chapter of Call Down the Hawk had me wondering if maybe I had outgrown this this author. I just wasn’t pulled in as I expected to be. Once I got to the first chapter that was actually Ronan, I was pulled back into his world. I became interested in the story and what was to come. I was glad I didn’t simply give up on this book because there was so much to love about it.

Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is as enchanting as always. Her dream world, while sometimes overly descriptive, is mesmerizing. I got bogged down a bit by all those descriptions and the almost 500 pages felt long at times, but the underlying story was so good that I didn’t care.

I loved being back with Ronan. I liked getting deeper into his thoughts and opinions. His world was more than I was expecting. I was happy we got to see some of the other Raven Cycle characters through his POV. (Though, not as many moments as I was hoping for.)

As for the other Lynch brothers… I loved them. Declan wasn’t my favorite character in the other series, but he opened my eyes in this book to the good parts of him. He ended up being one of my favorite characters. Matthew… Well, who doesn’t love Matthew?

There were a couple new main characters in Call Down the Hawk. At first meet, I was a little confused by Jordan Hennessy and Carmen Farooq-Lane. It took some time to build their stories, but I loved how they were woven into the Lynch brothers’.

When I got to the end of Call Down the Hawk, I had two feelings. I both wanted more and was relieved that it was over. It feels weird to say that, but I needed a break after so many pages. I’m very curious about where this story is taking us. I’m both relieved I have to wait a bit for the next book and chomping at the bit to find out what’s next. Weird, but true.

Review: The Wives (Tarryn Fisher)

The Wives
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: December 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?


What. The. Heck. No, seriously. What the heck?

I’m exhausted from reading The Wives. It is a great example of why I love Tarryn Fisher’s writing. She’s so crafty in her delivery. It may start out in a sleepy thriller sort of way, but when things start to go down THEY GO DOWN. I was on edge for the entire second half of the book. Surprises were lurking behind every corner, people! Just when I thought I had finally figured freaking Thursday and the story out, BAM! I was proven wrong again… and again… and again. I want to say I loved every minute of this thriller, but I can’t — only because my stress level was way up there. My nerves are frayed in the best way.

Review: Regretting You (Colleen Hoover)

Regretting You
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: December 10, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.


I’m always curious as to what Colleen Hoover is going to write next. She always surprises me with the directions and choices she takes. I was excited to hear she was headed back to romance after Verity, but I was curious as to what type of romance she was going to give us. Even after reading Regretting You, I’m still not exactly sure how to describe it to you.

Regretting You is a book that’s hard to put into one book category. It’s kind of like an all-in-one Colleen Hover novel. One point of view is an adult contemporary romance with hints of women’s fiction character growth sprinkled in. The other straddles the line between YA and NA contemporary romance. There’s even a bit mystery involved. The overall effect is a great novel about… Well, a lot of stuff. Stuff you will have to read the book to find out about. 😉

What did I think of Regretting You? I had a lot of thoughts about it. Lame, I know. I just can’t share too many of them without giving too much away. I will say this:

  • Colleen Hoover’s writing always makes me feel something and think hard about the messages she’s giving. I felt a ton of emotions while reading Regretting You and I’m still processing them.
  • I was caught up in the story from the very beginning. There’s a lot of good stuff happening in it. Even when I found it predictable, I still enjoyed it.
  • The mother-teenage daughter dynamic was STRONG in this one, people. I’ve been a teenager and I’ve been a mother, and I can confirm that both POVs delivered were on point. That dynamic… Whew! It was so real and vibrant! Even when I wanted to give Clara or Morgan a good shake, I still loved them.
  • I liked how grief was depicted and dealt with.
  • The love stories were complicated, but easy to swoon over.
  • Like I said, I loved Clara and Morgan, but sometimes Miller, Jonah, and Miller’s grandpa stole the show. They just kind of added an extra something that made this book. Miller especially.
  • The end was one of my favorites I’ve read in a while. It was a great reward for all CoHo put me through while reading this book. After you read this book, I want to gush with you over it!
  • If you’re like me, you’re going to have a few unanswered questions at the end, but you will feel okay with that even though it drives you slightly nuts. LOL

So, yeah. I guess you could say I loved reading Regretting You.

 
Q&A with Author Colleen Hoover
 

You are ‘label-less’ in the fact that you write in several genres. Readers never know what to expect next. If someone asks, how do you label yourself?

When I self-published my first novel I had no idea what genre to put it in. I thought I had written a drama but it turns to that I had written a romance. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t put a lot of weight in genre when I write. When your best friend is begging you to read a book, it’s not going to matter what genre it is when someone you trust is passionate about the story.

To keep all of your stories and characters straight, you must be very organized.

I’m the most disorganized person you will ever meet! I have no schedule. I can’t wake up before nine in the morning. I probably don’t go to bed until like three in the morning. I usually work about 16 hours a day.

What happens if you get blocked when you are writing?

If I get stuck writing, I go for a drive and play music. Music really helps me plot. I love The Avett Brothers, X Ambassadors, Airborne Toxic Event…I could go on and on.

What can you tell readers about your latest release Regretting You?

I would spoil it if I told you about it! Most of my books are like that. I can’t say what they are about or it spoils it. But I can say that Regretting You is told from a dual point-of-view centered on the inner lives of both a teen and adult protagonist.


Sounds like lots of different types of readers will be interested!

Absolutely. I wanted to write a book that bridged the gap between young adult and contemporary romance so that mothers can read with their daughters. I think it’s exciting to see people sharing reading experiences. 

 
 

Author Biography
 
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the bestselling women’s fiction novel It Ends with Us and the bestselling psychological thriller Verity. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Hoover and her family founded the Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service that offers signed novels donated by authors. All profits go to various charities each month to help those in need. Hoover lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Visit www.colleenhoover.com.
 
Social Media Links
 
 
Rafflecopter Giveaway
 
 

Review: The How & the Why (Cynthia Hand)

The How & the Why
Author: Cynthia Hand
Narrators: Phoebe Strole, Erin Spencer
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Adoption

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.


I am not going to lie. This book made me a MESS. It emotionally impacted me from the minute I started listening to it. I know it probably won’t hit as many readers the way it did me, but man. I kind of wanted to bawl the entire time I was reading it.

The How & the Why (in simple terms) is the story of a teenager navigating life while dealing with feelings about her adoption and searching for her birth mother. Cass’s present day life and struggles are sandwiched by letters her birth mother wrote to her while pregnant.

So why was I so emotional while reading this? 1. I’m an adoptee from a closed adoption. While I have never searched for my birth parents or truly had the urge to, I could relate to and understand Cass’s feelings. I can remember being close to her age and having some of the same questions and feelings. 2. As a mother, I cannot imagine what giving up a child would feel like — whether you wanted to or not. 3. During the listening process, my daughter went through allergy testing due to hives she’s been having over the past few months and it freaks me out a bit that I can’t provide more health background for her. More than you wanted to know in a review, but it had me even more emotional while listening to this book.

Beside my feelings, what did I think of The How & the Why? It was a beautifully written story. If I hadn’t known from the beginning of the book, I probably would have been able to tell this had been written by an adoptee or someone who had been through an adoption in some form. Every emotion and thought that went through Cass’s head felt raw and real. The letters from her birth mom hit me in the heart. There was so much love and thought to this story. It was just really beautiful.

Honestly, parts of this book could have sucked or tanked and I wouldn’t have cared because of how important the entire story was to me. I haven’t felt like this about a book with adoption since I read Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree.

P.S.: The narration was fabulous. I can’t leave that out.