Collision, Kristen Granata

**Review**

Collision, Kristen Granata

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Whew. We all need a little Chase Brooks in our life. The perfect balance of sensitive and manly.

Merritt is a girl after my own heart – Marvel movies, Journey and enough sarcasm to woo Chase Brooks.

Collision is a perfectly executed, unconventional romance that will leave you both satisfied and craving more.

4.17.19 InstaShortie – Damn The Man

In hindsight, telling the CEO (and my boss) of a major Fortune 500 company that his mind was as small as his penis was ill advised. Following that statement up by throwing his cup of coffee in his face was also not the best career move. Nor was storming out of his office and announcing to the whole building that he was an impotent, incompetent tool. Looking back over the morning, I can easily see what led me to career-assassination, and while I should regret it, I find myself not caring as I pack ten years of work into a shoebox.

Hastily, I throw what I can into the box and ignore the whispers in the hallway outside my office. I can feel their eyes staring at me. A few paused at my door as if they are trying to decide whether or not to approach me to offer words of wisdom or sympathy – none of which I was particularly in the mood for. Occasionally, I’d glance up and glare at the unlucky soul who decided to linger a little too long. It wasn’t their fault, but in a way I blame all of them for not having the balls to do what I just did.

Grant Edmonson, CEO of Yearly Enterprises, had it coming. He’d grabbed my ass and eyed my chest a few too many times over the last ten years. Not to mention all the times he stole ideas from those around him and used them to earn himself a plush corner office and a half million-dollar paycheck. Every last one of us thought about saying those things to him, but unlike me apparently, they all wanted to retain their employment status and as a result, wisely kept their mouths shut. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way in a position where being unemployed is an option.

Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped my morning latte, or maybe I just finally snapped under the abuse and pressure. Whatever the reason, I was trying to remind myself that all things happen for a reason and I would be just fine. Sure the economy was in the toilet, but I’d saved a decent nest egg that should carry me into my next opportunity. Of course, I had no idea that Grant was currently in his office calling every firm in the state of Tennessee and blacklisting me. Again, in hindsight, I should have expected this.

With my shoebox full of a decade of office hording under one arm and my hand bag in the other, I nodded to no one in particular and lifted my head. If I was going to do the career walk of shame, I might as well do it with my head held high. As I made my way down the (what felt like) mile-long hallway to the elevator, I avoid eye contact. My pride may be intact, but my dignity was still a little bruised.

For most of my adult life, Yearly Enterprises has been my home. From the tiny cubicle my assistant now sits in to the almost-corner office I’d just left, this place was where I’d honed my skills and made a reputation for myself. I’d met my husband in the elevator after getting trapped in it with him on my first day. My group of girlfriends had all passed through these doors at one point or another and some of my closest friends still work here. Today, I could feel their eyes on me, but rather than make a joke or ask how the family was, I just made my way to the elevator.

I pressed the down button for the last time and patiently waited for the doors to open. When they did, I was greeted by the mirrored walls that had been my signal that my day was both beginning and ending. I fought back the tears I’d managed to avoid all morning and drew in a deep breath as I turned back to the office. I lifted me head and met the faces of my co-workers. They were gathered in a group just outside the elevators. I smiled and waved.

And then I shouted, “DAMN THE MAN!” and threw my fist in the air, dropping my shoebox. As the doors closed, I heard laughter and applause. At least they didn’t see the tear that finally escaped. Their last image of me would be of a strong, independent and defiant woman.

 

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

**Review**

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

After finishing Daisy Jones and the Six, I needed more TJR in my life. The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo did not disappoint.

I was intrigued on page one. I was hooked after the first husband. I couldn’t put the book down.

It was also heartbreaking. The love of her life was someone society refused to accept. For that reason, Evelyn and her true love were kept apart for decades.

The book surprised me in many ways. One, I loved Evelyn Hugo and a few of her husbands. The story was relatable and felt real. I very much wanted all of the characters to be real. In the end, I struggled with Evelyn – should I like her? Should I hate her? I still don’t know.

At its core, this is the story that should inspire you to be true to who you are, society’s expectations be damned.

Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane

**Review**

Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane (release date 5/28/19)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ask Again, Yes is a gut wrenching family drama about love conquering all. The Stanhopes and the Gleesons begin their tale with Brian and Francis attend the police academy together and ultimately become neighbors. Though not close, their two children, Peter and Katie, begin a friendship and relationship that spans decades.

There is a lot of story packed into this book. It spans decades and generations. Not short on tragedy, Ask Again, Yes was ripe with family drama, relationships, love, personal growth and a long-hard look at mental health in America. The story captivated me, but I wanted more – each character got limited page time, but they were such complex characters that they needed more.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC to review.

4.9.19 InstaShortie – Redesign

“Ok. Deep breath. Exhale slowly. Now, open your eyes. Take in your surroundings. Process it all with an open mind.”

Callie opened her right eye, slowly and with just a hint of skepticism. She then blinked and both eyes popped open. The room was covered in the colors of both diarrhea and Pepto. Pepto diarrhea. How was that even possible, she wondered. Her best friend has managed to mix the two things that are meant to counteract each other. She inhaled sharply and let out a quiet, polite sigh. Turning to her friend, she was greeted with a huge smile and a face that said, “please don’t crush my dreams.”

Callie looked from the hot pink shag rug to the shit brown sofa, and the even brighter pink walls to the crystal brown chandelier. She took it all in, eyes wide and a fake smile plastered across her face. Gritting her teeth, she returned her attention to Tia.

“Oh, Tia, it’s just… ” Callie paused, waiting for the words to come. She had to be delicate. She had to be polite. She could feel the desperation seeping off of her friend. “It’s pink shit.”

So much for being either polite or delicate. Callie wasn’t usually one to hide her true feelings, but she’d thought she could lie just a little to spare her best friend’s feelings. Even if her words wouldn’t have deceived her, her face would. There was no hiding her disgust, much like the Pepto pink, it was painted all over her face. Her nose wrinkled, her eyes wide and her lips turned down.

“CALLIE!” Tia exclaimed, her spirit dying with each over emphasized syllable. “This is exactly what you asked for.”

“I’m sorry, T. I wanted brown with hints of pink. You know, pink accents,” she paused and walked to the wall, touching it to be sure it was real. “Accents – like, curtains, pillow shams, rugs. And a complementary pink! Not neon, glow-in-the dark pink!”

Tia stared at her friend in disbelief. She’d spent months designing and curating the perfect items for this job; her very first paying design gig. Now her supposed best friend was literally poo-pooing her work. Her creation. Her design. She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.

“I cannot believe how ungrateful you are being.”

“Ungrateful?” Callie asked. “I paid you over two thousand dollars to turn my living room into the sanctuary of a ninety-year-old cat lady. The only thing missing are the lace doilies and the porcelain cats.”

Callie waved her arm, grazing it through the air. Her eyes darted from corner-to-corner. She squinted and stepped towards the bookshelf in the corner. Tia flinched and held her breath, knowing full well what Callie was going to find when she took a second look.

“Oh,” Callie breathed.

There sitting proudly on the bookshelf was a large porcelain cat figurine. Underneath it? A lace doily. Tia didn’t say anything. She offered a sheepish smile.

A robust laugh exploded from deep within Callie’s gut. “I hope you haven’t quit your day job yet.”

Tia’s smile faded.

“You didn’t?”

“You have so many well-connect friends, Callie! I just assumed this job would lead to more and I’d be set.”

“Oh, no, Tia. No, no, no.” She realized then how important this job had been to Tia. Everything, not just her dreams, was riding on this. “Do you still have the receipts? I honestly don’t know what made you think that rug was a good idea.”

Tia nodded. Her head dipped slightly. She studied the fibers of the hot pink rug beneath her feet and wondered what had possessed her to buy it. An image flashed through her mind. A smile. Blue eyes peering into hers. Massive biceps straining against a too small T-shirt. It was all so clear now. She hadn’t been in her right mind. Her cheeks flushed.

Callie took one look at her friend and knew instantly what had happened. A boy. A little flirting. The witty sales pitch. An exchange of numbers – his phone and her credit card.

“He better have been cute,” she mused. “Alright, everything pink goes back. The brown isn’t so bad on it’s own, we can work with that.”

Tia nods. “He was sexy AF, Cal. We have a date tomorrow,” she said proudly. For a moment, she forgot all about her friend’s rejection. Callie rolled her eyes. Tia grabbed the box she was handing her and headed towards the bookshelf.

“Wait!” Callie shouted. The corner of her lip twitched, curling into a mischievous grin. “The cat stays.”

The Night Before, Wendy Walker

**Review**

The Night Before, Wendy Walker

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

(Release Date 5/14/19)

I’ve read a lot of thrillers lately. A lot. This one stands up. Every single chapter left me wanting more. I didn’t want to put it down, no matter how heavy with sleep my eyes were.

I questioned everyone. I didn’t know who to believe. I wish I could tell you I predicted the outcome, but I’d be lying. Okay, I had a small hunch, but no solid proof until the end.

The Night Before was a cliffhanger until the very end.

Misery Loves Company

Writing is often a lonely pursuit. Aside from the characters, dialogue, stories and ideas floating around your brain, writers prefer to be left alone while writing. I’ve also found that many writers, like me, are introverted. Human interaction is taxing and, sometimes, uncomfortable.

For may writers, the process of writing a novel is torture. This is not the case for me. I love writing. Maybe I don’t love editing, but I love what it means… that I have finished a book and am getting it ready to share with the world. That is huge.

Often when I hear other writers talk about spending decades writing a book and bemoaning how miserable they are during the process, I start to wonder if I am doing it wrong. Can I really be a good writer if it only takes me 30-45 days to write a first draft? Does it mean I am horrible at it if I don’t hate it? Am I doing it wrong?

It is so hard to avoid the comparison game. As hard as I try to, I still fall into the trap. But why do I feel bad for not being miserable and hating the process? If a friend were to express these concerns, I would remind them that every writer’s process is different. One isn’t better than the other. What matters is that you produce your best work and deliver a manuscript you are proud of.

As I write this and lament my feelings of self-doubt and impostor syndrome, I am forcing myself to be both mentor and friend. It’s okay to feel this way on occasion, but I cannot let it deter or distract me. I can only write the way I write. My process is mine and mine alone.

Okay enough stalling, off to edit and revise and do it all again.

4.3.19 InstaShortie – Is This It?

“No,” I whispered. The words catching in my throat, threatening to linger. I shook my head, unable to look at him. My hand slapped my leg as he dropped it.

“No? What do you mean, no, Sarah?” His voice pitched higher. It only did that when he was upset or on the verge of losing his temper. Both were likely.

Kneeling before me, he still held the delicate platinum band between his thumb and index finger. The half carat Princess cut diamond caught the fading sunlight. He fell back but caught himself. He shoved himself away from me, backing towards the ocean. The waves lapped the shore, singing their song as if our entire world weren’t crashing down around us.

In the absence of my response, the only sound that remained was the waves lapping on the shore. A deep pink and purple Malibu sunset reflected on the pristine waters behind him. Literally everything about this moment was exactly how I’d imagined it.

We’d spent the better part of the day in bed. First surrounded by French toast and mimosas. Then tangled in a mess of sheets and clothes. We’d made love at least three times since the sun first woke us. Our bodies close and blended together, lost in passion.

For the first time in years, we’d been free to just be together. No cameras. No interviews. Nothing to hide. At first it was freeing, but now it suffocated me.

“Brody,” I finally said, his name bittersweet on my lips. “I can’t marry you. I’m so sorry.”

“Why?” He pushes off his knees and leapt to his feet. His face flushed.

I didn’t have an answer for him. Nearly a decade together and I couldn’t find the words to tell him why.

Every question that came to mind was answered with a resounding No.

Did I want to spend the rest of my life as Mrs. Brody Wilson? No.

Could I imagine loving anyone else? No.

Did I want to marry him? No.

Did I want to break up? No.

I couldn’t wrap my head around why I couldn’t say yes. The reasons to say yes were all there. Brody and I were high school sweethearts. We’d survived the long-distance thing when he moved to Nashville to pursue music and I headed off to California for college. Our relationship outlived his first year on the road as a touring musician. We’d overcome groupies and tabloids, rumors and expectations. Literally everything about us was perfect.

Except, it wasn’t.

As I stared into his desperate blue eyes I wanted to dive in head first. Take that leap of faith and give him everything he wanted. He deserved that. He deserved everything. But I couldn’t give that to him. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I was tired of being in the shadows and hiding our relationship. As long as his fans and his label had him, I never would. At least not all of him. Yet, that is what he expected from me. I’d be forced to give up my career to follow him from city-to-city and wait up for him. Lonely hotel rooms. Meals from bags or boxes. Standing on the sidelines.

That’s not what I wanted. It’s not how I saw my life unfolding. I wanted more, I knew that, but what I didn’t know was what that was.

He blinked. When his eyes opened again, he looked right through me. He knew the answer to his question. My face was an open book and he was reading every single page, flipping to the end. The final scene did not include him. A dark cloud washed over him.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

He walked away without looking back . His feet sank into the sand and he quickened his pace to a jog. Part of me wanted to run after him and apologize, begging for a second chance. Maybe I’d say yes when he asked again. Instead I just watched my entire world leave me alone on the beach. My ring and future walked away with him, along with the hotel key and my plane ticket home.

Every step he took away from me was one step closer to what I’d been craving… silence, room to breathe, a fresh start. Exhaling, I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, the outline of him was so small it barely existed. The ocean sang in the air behind me and its mist peppered my skin.

So this is what freedom feels like.

4.1.19 InstaShortie – Adventures in Nose Waxing

“Have you ever had your nose waxed?” she asked. My eyes popped open, wide with confusion. She leaned over me, her face inches from mine. Coffee on her breath and judgement filling her eyes. I wish I’d kept my eyes closed.

“My what, what?” I asked. I’d heard her loud and clear. I knew what she was asking, but it wasn’t exactly something I’d expected to hear. Before she could answer, I closed my eyes again, winching as she plucked a stray hair from my eyebrows.

“You know, just clean up the nose hairs so you don’t have any sticking out.”

I was fairly certain I did not have any Repunzel nose hairs, but a morbid curiosity took over. Still, the thought of ripping hair from my nostrils wasn’t exactly appealing. “Oh,” I whispered. “No, I think I am good. It’s allergy season after all.”

“We’re going to do it,” she affirmed. “Your filter hairs are in the back, we won’t get those.”

I nodded as if that clarification made a difference. The hairs belong in my nose, not on hot wax being ripped out of my nose. She yanks another stray hair from my face and giggles. “That was a good one.”

Convinced she was a masochist, I closed my eyes and focused on something other than hair being removed from my body. I suppose I was grateful she was just talking about nose hairs and not another unpleasant waxing opportunity. If she even hinted at the b-word, I was gone. Even if only one eyebrow was shaped. I’d suffer through my own Tweezers before I offered up my bikini area to hot wax.

Her focus returned to my horribly uneven and misshapen eyebrows… her words. Every so often, she’d muse on the quality of this hair or that hair as if my self worth were tied directly to the length or girth of the hairs above my brown eyes. I keep my eyes closed and mouth sealed shut. Nothing I can say will add to this one-sided conversation.

“Ok,” she finally said. I go to sit up but before I can lift my head from the pillow something soft and hot is shoved into my left nostril. Her fingers clamped down on either side. “Breathe through your mouth or the right side, your choice.”

I opted for my mouth. The thought of accidentally inhaling hot wax terrified me. I prayed the onion bagel I’d had for breakfast no longer lingered on my breath. The weight of her breasts pushed on my head as she leaned over me, pinching my left nostril as she yanked the wax and stick out. She giggled with delight.

“Do you want to see it?”

“Yes,” I replied, unsure of my motivation to give such an unexpected answer. I opened my eyes and gazed on the orange wax, now prickly with my snot hairs. I had a sudden urge to stick my finger in my nose to feel its bareness, but I controlled myself.

Before I could add my own commentary, my right nostril was clamped down around the wax. Already a pro, I closed my eyes and let my mouth take over my nose’s breathing duties.

Well, at least if he happens to look up my nose later tonight, he’ll have false hope that other areas are equally groomed.

An Anonymous Girl

**Review**

An Anonymous Girl, Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Well, I hated Gone Girl. When I saw all the comparisons of An Anonymous Girl to Gone Girl, I almost flat out rejected it. I’m glad I didn’t.

An Anonymous Girl sucked me in from page one and held all the way until the end. It kept me intrigued and guessing. A few twists I was able to predict and unwind from the little bread crumbs left.

The characters were engaging and well developed. I felt their fears and anxieties, which is what kept me hooked and unable to put it down.