Tag: 3.5 stars

The Magnolia Story

Authors: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Published: October 18, 2016
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 5-8, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description from Amazon:

Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people? What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:

  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

Jessica’s Review:

I will admit I knew almost nothing about Chip and Joanna Gaines before I listened to the audiobook of The Magnolia Story. I had only seen the show once while my car was being serviced about two years ago.  All I knew is that they flipped houses and are Christians. I chose to listen to The Magnolia Story as I am waiting on another audiobook to arrive from the library. The Magnolia Story is a short narration of only five hours.

Both Chip and Joanna narrate, but Chip is the better narrator.  To me it sounded like Joanna was reading a report in school that she had to write for class.  If she had been the sole narrator I would not have finished the memoir.  I did enjoy The Magnolia Story as I liked hearing how they met and their life together.  Hearing about some of the financial difficulties they had and how God brought them through it helped me personally.  Even though some of the difficulties were through their choices it helped me to hear about them and their faith.  I am interested in watching their show. They could do wonders on my house. Hmmm…. Maybe Chip will buy it and Joanna will go along with it….  😉

Both Chip and Joanna are far from perfect people. In fact no one is perfect, but Chip does seem very impulsive, almost recklessly.  Buying houses without consulting Joanna and refusing to pay tickets to the point where your wife almost goes to jail after just having a baby!?!? They were fortunate that they were able to get the name on the tickets switched to Chip’s name. Then he says he had a pleasant experience in jail… What?!?

Chip definitely has some growing up to do.  He left his infant child home alone… twice!  Then he drove a four-wheeler with his infant.  What!?!? I’ve never been around babies much, but even I know you don’t do those kinds of things!

For me, it was a good introduction to Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I would like to see their show after listening to the audio book to see more of what they are about.  The Magnolia Story is recommended. I would suggest reading the book versus listening to the audio due to the narration issues I had.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

Exposed

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: August 15, 2017
AUDIOBOOK

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 22- September 2, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 Stars

Book Description from Amazon:

A BATTLE FOR JUSTICE PITS PARTNER AGAINST PARTNER…

Mary DiNunzio wants to represent her old friend Simon Pensiera, a sales rep who was wrongly fired by his company, but her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company. When she confronts Mary, explaining this is a conflict of interest, an epic battle of wills and legal strategy between the two ensues—ripping the law firm apart, forcing everyone to take sides and turning friend against friend.

SOMETIMES LOYALTY CAN BE LETHAL.

Jessica’s Review:

Exposed is the fifth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series. They can be read as standalones and you not miss much with the backstories or even read out of order.  I have been reading them out of order as I won Damaged (the fourth in the series, my review is here) in a Goodreads giveaway not knowing it is a series. My local library has them all in audio, so I plan to listen to the other two that I have not listened to yet.

Mary is again the main lawyer featured in Exposed.  Bennie is featured some as well.  In the previous books of the series Mary’s family is around a lot; in Exposed they have a smaller role. I kind of missed them as her family tends to be the comic relief in these books.

Mary wants to represent her friend Simon. He feels he was fired from his job because his child is very sick and his employer did not want to pay for the high medical bills.  Of course his employer says that is not the reason, it was his job performance.  There becomes a conflict of interest issue with Mary against Bennie since Bennie represents the parent company that Simon works for.  Exposed never dragged for me, but most of the novel focuses on this issue and it was too much ‘legal talk’ that did not interest me at all. Scottoline could have condensed that more to focus on the excitement of the last portion of the novel.  Exposed becomes so much more than a case about Simon and his job. It picked up for me in the last two discs.  I never thought about stopping the book as I wanted to know what was going to happen.

Scottoline ends the novel with optimism and a promising future.  I really enjoyed the ending and look forward to the next in the series.  I can’t wait to see where Rosato and DiNunzio go next!

Exposed is recommended.

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He Said/She Said

Author: Erin Kelly
390 pages in Paperback

To Be Published: June 6, 2017
Dates Read: May 10-29, 2017

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.

From Erin Kelly, queen of the killer twist, He Said/She Said is a gripping tale of the lies we tell to save ourselves, the truths we cannot admit, and how far we will go to make others believe our side of the story.

My Review:

The premise of He Said/She Said intrigued me, so I was excited when I received my ARC in the mail.  I made sure to fit it in and have it read by the release date on June 6th.  The two narrators are Kit and Laura and we get both of their perspectives of what happened.  We also go back and forth in time starting in 1999 at an eclipse festival and fast forward to 2015.  As the description says, Laura stumbles across a sexual assault and from there everything changes for Laura and Kit.  The fallout from the events of that festival changes everyone’s lives who are involved.

The description of He Said/She Said really had me wondering what was going to happen in this novel.  Why would Kit and Laura go to such extremes to stay hidden away from a sexual assault victim?  This curiosity is what pulled me into the novel and kept me reading. I wanted to know how it was going to end!

He Said/She Said is a book that very slowly builds itself up to the fast paced ending.  I will admit, I had difficulty with it until the halfway mark.  I did debate stopping it, but some earlier reviews I read stated that it is worth it to keep reading, which ended up being true for me.

There are twists throughout the novel.  I continually changed my mind on who to believe.  This novel is truly a ‘he said/she said’ situation and I found myself having no clue who to believe.  He Said/She Said is being marketed with #WhoDoYouBelieve and even after reading it I am still blown away by the ending.  You continue to guess and have doubts up to that final shocking paragraph! Even with the slow beginning Erin Kelly had a purpose with her writing throughout the novel. I never saw the twists that she wrote coming and when you think you have it figured out, she goes and throws another twist at you.

I give He Said/She Said 3.5 stars as I did struggle for half of the novel.  If you are struggling with it, keep going as it will be worth it in the end.

He Said/She Said is recommended.

**Thank you to Minotaur Books for my ARC copy and my solar eclipse glasses to use during the solar eclipse on 8/21!

 

 

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