Book Review: After Happily Ever After by Leslie A Rasmussen
After Happily Ever After
Author: Leslie A Rasmussen
Published: April 6, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 24-27, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Maggie Dolan finds herself at forty-five at a crossroads in her life. Once a high-level executive, she’s chosen to be a stay-at-home mom for the last seventeen years. But now with her daughter, Gia, soon leaving for college, and her husband, disconnected and with secrets he hasn’t shared, Maggie decides it’s time to figure out what she wants for the rest of her life. As she begins her journey, she has to deal with a narcissistic mother, a brother who doesn’t like her and most damaging of all, the news that her father, her rock, has medical issues that may take him from her. Overwhelmed by all these issues, she’s led in a direction that could destroy what she’s built and make her question the choices she’s made. She’s torn between the life she’s always known and something more exciting that she never expected.
This is one I was interested in, as I am close in age to the protagonist Maggie, but it just didn’t deliver. Maggie is at a crossroads in her life with her daughter getting closer to leaving the nest for college and issues with her parents and brother. Maggie has a sort of mid life crisis with the ‘hot guy’ from the gym she befriends. This is where I had all my issues: OMG stop it! You are having an affair! It may not be a physical one, but it was definitely a mental affair. What made it worse is that she knew it, but just kept going on with it.
Her husband isn’t really around for her and her daughter is having her own issues with school life. Maggie also has mom issues and loves her dad, but is slowly losing him to dementia. The dementia story line is what kept me going with this novel. There is a twist that happens that you are not expecting.
The audiobook was almost 8 hours long and I also had some issues with the narrator. She didn’t change her voice any when the narrated pov switched characters: So if you are not paying close attention at the beginning of the chapter you could get confused as to which character was narrating. This could also get complicated since one character has dementia.
After Happily Ever After has been out for just over a year and was just recently released in audiobook form, which I was given a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks for the copy, I just wish I had enjoyed it more.
I can’t recommend this novel, but would give the author another try in a future novel.
Blog Tour: Book Review: My Secret Sister by Lauren Westwood
Today I am helping to end the blog tour for My Secret Sister by Lauren Westwood. I enjoyed this one. There is also an international giveaway going on for e-copies of the novel!
Two DNA tests, one big lie…
“As I speed off in the ambulance holding my daughter’s hand, I wonder how I could have been so stupid. I should have made the bargain, paid the price – anything to avoid being right here, right now.
A voice whispers in my head that I can’t silence. This is all your fault. You killed her. It’s her voice, the one I hear in my nightmares. The woman who stole my memories, the woman who stole my life. And, this time, I know she’s right.”
How far would you go to save your child?
Claire is living every mother’s worst nightmare. Her daughter, Jess, has been diagnosed with a rare illness and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. With no match on the registry, Claire turns to a charismatic geneticist for help and embarks on a Genetic Journey to seek a familial match for her daughter.
On the other side of the country, Marianne suffers her eighth miscarriage. Her perfect life is rotting underneath, but she is determined to do whatever it takes to have a baby.
When DNA test results reveal that Claire and Marianne are half-sisters, Claire must face the dark lies of the past and make impossible choices about the future. Is her secret sister the answer to her prayers, or will she cost her everything?
My Secret Sister is a tense and emotional family drama with a moral dilemma at its heart. Fans of Liane Moriarty, Jodi Picoult, and John Marrs’ The One will be gripped.
My Secret Sister
Author: Lauren Westwood
Published: August 31, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 24- November 11, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
My Secret Sister shows how at home DNA testing can be like opening Pandora’s Box: Are you sure you actually want to take the test as you never know what family secrets you may bee revealing. This is the kind of book that book clubs are made for: Covering many topics ranging from IVF, parental issues, medical issues, deceit, and at home DNA testing, this one will have many discussions!
The author started writing this novel before Covid-19 and chose to keep it out of the story. I am glad she chose this as it would have muddied the waters of an already complicated situation. As Covid-19 will most likely always be with us, it doesn’t have to be present in novels that deal with medical situations.
We have three narrators throughout the novel with Claire, Marianne, and Becky and see each of their sides with a variety of emotions. I was pulled in the most with Becky’s chapters. I am not a parent, but have a sister with a physical disability, so I identified with Becky. I can see mothers identifying with Claire and women who have experienced fertility issues identifying with Marianne. Needless to say I think every reader will identify with one of our narrators.
I was intrigued and also unsure with what was going to happen and we get some twists and turns as well. Are we going to have a happy ending or not? My Secret Sister really starts moving around the last third of the novel, but the final twists just did not work for me, as they really came out of left field.
Otherwise, I did enjoy this novel and look forward to what else Westwood has written!
My Secret Sister is recommended.
Buy My Secret Sister: http://mybook.to/MySecretSister
About the Author:
My books explore the darkness and the light of the human spirit, and take you on an emotional journey. My Sister’s Secret is a tense and emotional drama about a mother’s race against time to save her daughter’s life. My Mother’s Silence is a gripping and romantic drama about homecoming and family secrets set in the wild Scottish highlands. It was shortlisted for the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award 2020. The Daughter She Lost is a dark journey of self-discovery and overcoming the secrets of the past. My holiday romance Moonlight on the Thames is a love story to classical music and the healing power of love. It was a bestseller in urban fiction and top 100 Kindle book. My first three novels: Finding Home, Finding Secrets and Finding Dreams all feature mysterious old houses and intelligent, feisty contemporary heroines who set out to unravel the mysteries of the past. I also write award winning children’s books as Laurel Remington. I am originally from California, and now live in Surrey, UK with my partner and three daughters.
Win one of 5 e-copies of My Secret Sister
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Book Review: Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin
Happy & You Know It
Author: Laura Hankin
Narrator: Laura Hankin
Published: May 19, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 24-31, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
A dark, witty page-turner set around a group of wealthy mothers and the young musician who takes a job singing to their babies and finds herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets….
After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.
There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.
Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood—exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women—while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.
Can you imagine you are in a band right on the verge of superstardom and then you are kicked out? This is what happened to Claire. And now she is struggling to make a living and comes across this mommy group that needs a musician for the babies’ enrichment. Do these mommy groups actually exist and do they exist as they do in this novel? Maybe in the rich, upper-class neighborhoods like this novel takes place in. And not just a mommy group, but a paid musician to sing songs to the babies while the mommies gossip and drink?
I came across this one on my Libby app and decided to give it a shot. At about 50% in I was debating on DNF’ng (Did Not Finish) as I am not a mom and was identifying more with Claire the struggling single musician versus the mommy group. I kept going and then at about 65% in the novel went in a direction I was not expecting, which did keep me listening. My ‘favorite’ mom was Amara.
The direction the novel goes in gives a different feel from the beginning of the novel and the moms are far from perfect themselves. Life is not as happy as they make it seem at first to Claire. Now, I feel I can’t say more about the direction it goes in without giving spoilers, but if you pay attention to things going on, you might see what will come.
The author also narrated the novel, and I felt she did a good job with her narration. This might not be for everyone, but I can see some readers enjoying it more than others. I awarded it 3.5 stars, so it was just over a ‘good’ read for me.