Book Review: Soldier On by J. D. Wynne

Soldier On by J. D. Wynne

Soldier On
by J. D. Wynne

Molly is a young woman in the Army reserves. She wants to be a doctor, and joins the reserves to pay for medical school. After 9/11 strikes, she is working alongside active duty troops to guard prisoners in Afghanistan. During her time in Afghanistan, she works long hours, shares camaraderie with other female soldiers, and falls for a guy.

This story is told from Molly’s point of view, with some parts of the book written as diary entries. I kind of wish the entire book had been diary entries. Maybe it would have flowed a little better. Sometimes the perspective switched from first to third person, making it a choppy read.

Molly is a likable character. She works hard, has a sense of humor, stands strong, and seems real. She is young and doing a very difficult job. She is away from her family and friends, which can be very lonely. Molly is friendly and works at making her time there bearable, which makes it hard to read when tragedy strikes.

This read a little like a YA book. The main character is nineteen, and everything is from her point of view. A good read for young women interested in the military.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

Friends and Other Liars
by Kaela Coble

A group of childhood friends gather 10 years after high school at one of their funerals. “The Crew” is Danny, Ruby, Murphy, Ally, and Emmett. They have fallen out of touch over the years, but come together at Danny’s funeral. Danny has left a sealed envelope for each of his friends containing their biggest secrets. He wants them to tell their secrets to each other, or they risk a more public outing to occur if they don’t come clean on their own.

Told from multiple points of view, but mostly from Ruby’s POV. The story is also told with multiple timelines, current day and flashbacks from their younger years.

Friend drama. A light, entertaining read that kept my interest. I was curious what everyone’s secrets would be, though they were not hard to guess. I read this on vacation, and it was a good choice for a vacation read.

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman

The Welcome Home Diner
by Peggy Lampman

Cousins, Addie and Sam, open Welcome Home Diner in Detroit. They start to see some success, the only problem is that they don’t exactly have the support of the neighborhood where the restaurant is located.

This story is told from alternating points of view. Addie was super annoying and Sam was only slightly better, though she was the more flighty one. It was okay to read both Addie and Sam’s viewpoints, but a third person story would have worked too. The most interesting characters were the staff of the diner.

The cousins are both a bit idealistic, but work hard to build a successful business. Part way into the novel, their relationship is strained. That makes both their personal and professional lives more tense.

This book was hard for me to get into. Not a lot happens. It’s about food and relationships, where the food part was more engaging than the relationships.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Book Review: Just Another Week in Suburbia by Les Zig

Just Another Week in Suburbia by Les Zig

Just Another Week in Suburbia
by Les Zig

Casper lives the typical suburban life. One morning, he finds something in his wife’s purse that changes everything.

The story was told from Casper’s point of view. After making a discovery about his wife, he started to question things. The book covered one week of Casper’s life, starting on Monday and ending on Sunday.

Realistic and relatable. Casper and his wife seemed to live the average, kind of boring suburban life. After Casper started to question his marriage, he encountered additional issues in life. His work life got more complicated and his feud with his neighbor escalated. At first, I wasn’t a fan of Casper. He was too weak. He struggled with insecurity, but his awareness lead to his growth as the story progressed. In the end, I found myself rooting for Casper. I wanted things to turn around in his life.

I was expecting this to be a slower read, but I flew through this book. Sure, the mundane and every day life was covered, but this well-written book had enough going on that I wanted to know how the story would end.

I received this book from Pantera Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Heirs by Susan Rieger

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

The Heirs
by Susan Rieger

Synopsis: After the family patriarch dies, his widow and five sons are faced with a woman who sues his estate claiming she had two sons with him. The grieving family are all upset with this claim and are unsure if they should believe it.

I enjoyed the writing and the way the story was told. Each chapter was from a different character’s viewpoint, but still remained third-person.

The family was very wealthy, and a bit dysfunctional. I enjoyed Eleanor, the widow, most of all. She was much more complex than she first appeared. The sons all had different personalities, and the family dynamics were entertaining to read.

I wavered on how to rate this book. It’s short – something of this length I would normally read in one sitting, but this one took me a few days. Though it was well-written, it didn’t always hold my interest. Also, I didn’t like the ending.

Book Review: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters
by Joshilyn Jackson

Synopsis: A dysfunctional Southern family learns secrets about one another.

The main character is Leia Birch Briggs, a 38 year-old white woman from a traditional Southern family. She works as a comic book artist. She’s done the artwork for other’s graphic novels, but she also wrote a popular graphic novel. One that did well enough that she’s under contract to write the origin story for her character. I liked that the main character was a nerd. She loved graphic novels, Wonder Woman, and other nerdy type things.

At the beginning of the novel, Leia finds out she’s pregnant… From a one night stand. At a comic convention. With a guy dressed as Batman. Also, Batman was a black guy. So, not something she’s excited to tell her family. Also, she doesn’t remember the guy’s name or how to contact him.

Shortly after discovering she’s pregnant, Leia is summoned to Alabama to help her grandmother Birchie. With the help of her best friend Wattie, Birchie has been hiding her illness and dementia. However, while at a social event, Birchie acts very unlike herself and her secret is out. After Leia arrives in Birchville, Alabama, she finds out Birchie wasn’t only hiding her illness, but also other, darker secrets.

While dealing with all of this, Leia is also trying to help her stepsister Rachel. Rachel’s marriage is in trouble and Leia wants to help, but usually Rachel’s the one fixing everyone else’s problems. Rachel and her daughter Lavender end up in Birchville with Leia, Birchie, and Wattie.

This novel is humorous, yet deals with difficult topics. I loved the writing. It was an enjoyable read and stayed up late to finish this novel. I haven’t read anything by Joshilyn Jackson before, but now I want to pick up some other books by her.

Book Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin

Jane Young was once Aviva Grossman. Aviva was in her early twenties when she was an intern for a Florida Congressman. She had an affair with him, and it adversely affected her future. While the Congressman was forgiven and his career and marriage survived, Aviva was unable to find work and had to move away and change her name.

This story is divided into five sections and is told from different points of view. The first section is from Rachel’s, Aviva’s mother, point of view and includes some history of the scandal. The second section is from Jane’s point of view and covers what is currently happening in her life. The third section is from Ruby’s, Jane’s daughter, point of view and covers current events. The fourth chapter is from Embeth’s, the Congressman’s wife, point of view about current events. The final section is from Aviva/Jane’s point of view and covers the scandal to current events.

I liked the different viewpoints in this novel. While Aviva obviously made a poor decision as a young woman, the scandal did not only affect her life, but those of other’s too. Her parents, primarily her mother, had to deal with the consequences of Aviva’s affair. The Congressman’s wife, Embeth, had to deal with public scrutiny of her marriage and her decision to stay with her husband. These women all made mistakes, but they were also strong in their own ways.

I enjoyed the writing and it was an easy reading novel. This was a quick read, but it dealt with some important topics, mainly the differences that men and women face when such scandals arise.

Book Review: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Nikki is at a bit of a standstill in her life and is looking for a new direction. She dropped out of law school and is currently working as a bartender, much to the disappointment of her family. While at a local community center in a London Punjabi neighborhood, she notices a job posting for a creative writing class. She takes the job thinking it will help her resume and it will be a way she can save up some extra money.

At the first class meeting, she is surprised to learn that the women, who are all Punjabi widows, cannot read or write English. They are in class to learn English, not how to write short stories.

Before the next class, Nikki stops in a shop to purchase some materials to help the women learn English. On a lark, she also picks up a book of erotic stories to send her sister as a joke. While Nikki steps away from class, one of the women, the only one who can read and write English, notices the book in Nikki’s bag and starts reading aloud to the class. This leads to the women laughing and saying they would rather read and write stories like that than the children’s study materials Nikki has given them.

In a way, the class becomes a creative writing class after all. The women tell erotic stories, with the one woman who writes English writing everything down as the women tell them. Since it would not be safe for the women if others found out about what they were up to, they need to keep it quiet about what they do in class. Eventually, word starts to spread about the class.

This Punjabi neighborhood is a very traditional Sikh community. The widows were all in arranged marriages, some of which were not so good. They consider themselves to be invisible in the community. Nikki is a young woman who identifies as British and Punjabi and Sikh, but she leads a more independent and Western lifestyle than most in the Punjabi community. This opens the door for Nikki to introduce new ideas and help the women learn to express themselves.

I found Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows to be a very interesting read. It’s a story of immigrants, with a bit of feminism thrown in, plus some steamy storytelling. I loved how these lonely, isolated women became stronger and more independent as the story progressed. And it’s not just about the older women, Nikki learns a few things herself as the story moves along. It’s a great story about women being supportive of one another. It’s written in a lighthearted way, and is both amusing and uplifting.

I would consider this novel to fall under the genre of contemporary fiction, but be aware that the stories the women tell are erotic in nature.