Welcome to Ivory Owl Reviews

Just browsing?
Click on any of the above photos to jump to one of my popular posts (on desktop version)

Want to see what's new?
Scroll down for my most recent posts (desktop and mobile versions)

Looking for something?
Use the search box in the right hand column (desktop) or at the bottom of the page (mobile)

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

Title: If I Could Turn Back Time
Author: Beth Harbison
Publisher: St. Martin's
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
ISBN: 9781250043818
Number of Pages: 384
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: Kindle
NetGalley Description:
Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty. On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: "Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time..." Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

My Review: 
It took me forever to read this because I kept daydreaming! Seriously, what would you do if you suddenly woke up in your 18 year old body with all your current knowledge? Haven't we all asked ourselves, at one point or another, "If I had it all to do over again, what would I do differently?" The storyline was engaging but I kept taking my own journey off to "what if" land. Ramie's high school bedroom was MY high school bedroom and so many details in the book brought back previously forgotten memories of my own senior summer. The best part about this novel is that Ramie changed things she thought she regretted but when the new outcomes came to fruition, she second-guessed herself again. This book was the perfect length and I loved the ending. Prepare yourself for crazy flashbacks and a fun time following Ramie's "do over."

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Three Rivers by Tiffany Quay Tyson

Title: Three Rivers 
Author: Tiffany Quay Tyson
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
ISBN: 9781250063267
Number of Pages: 304
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads Description:
Melody Mahaffey, trapped into touring for years with a third-rate Christian pop band she can hardly stand, is almost relieved to receive her mother’s distress call. But when she returns home to care for her dying father and brain-damaged brother at the sprawling, defunct Three Rivers Farm, Melody is shocked to discover that her mother has abandoned the family. Sure that her daughter will do the right thing, Geneva has left to seek spiritual guidance and break things off with her long-time lover.
Rain begins to fall and an epic flood threatens the Mississippi Delta. While Melody tries to get a handle on the chaos at home, a man and his little boy are squatting on her land, escaping their own nightmare. Obi is on the run from a horrific mistake, and he’s intent on keeping his son with him at any cost. When the storm arrives, though, they have no choice but to take shelter in Melody’s house. And the waters just keep rising.
A lifetime of lies, misunderstandings and dark secrets bubble to the surface as the flood destroys the land and threatens their lives. Set against the fertile but dangerous landscape of the rural south near the fictional town of White Forest, Mississippi, Three Rivers beautifully weaves together three parallel stories, told over three days, as each character is propelled headlong into the storm.

My Review: 
Wow. This was a very fast read for me. I loved Melody by page 8 but Obi was my favorite. The buildup of the storm coming moved the story along quickly and made for a beautiful mishmash of  thrown together characters. It is pretty amazing to be able to pull off the cast of characters in Three Rivers and not feel like any are unnecessary, but Tiffany Quay Tyson pulls them all together and integrates them seamlessly. An impressive debut that will put this author on my "automatic read" list.

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

The World's 60 Best Brunch Dishes Period by Veronique Paradis

Title: The World's 60 Best Brunch Dishes Period  
Author: Veronique Paradis
Publisher: Cardinal
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 9782920943483
Number of Pages: 191
How I Got It: From publisher
Format: paperback
Back Cover:
These days, we're faced with a mountain of choices when it comes to finding ideas for delicious, original dishes that break the everyday routine. We look for inspiration from the Internet, cookbooks, television, friends and colleagues, but it's easy to become overwhelmed by so many suggestions...both the good and the bad. Our team of chefs and researchers consulted dozens of foodies and kitchen-tested hundreds of different ingredient combinations to create this collection of the world's 60 best brunch dishes. Why 60? Because the 60 we've selected are the creme de la creme...de la creme! So get cooking and see for yourself--these are the best brunch dishes ever. PERIOD. 

My Review: 
This is a great cookbook for beginner cooks. The recipes are all fairly easy and could be done by most anyone. The book is laid out so that on the left page contains a title column with a few notations and tips below it and the recipe is posted vertically alongside. The right pages consist of full page photos showcasing the left page's recipe. From frittatas, quiches, and blintzes to the brunch basics of eggs Benedict and Sunday ham, this cookbook will have you turning out yummy brunch items for your friends and family. The next time you have company, (or are too hungover to go out) for brunch, pull out this collection and you are sure to find something to please.

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

Title: The Moon Sisters 
Author: Therese Walsh
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
ISBN: 9780307461605
Number of Pages: 336
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle
NetGalley Description:
This mesmerizing coming-of-age novel, with its sheen of near-magical realism, is a moving tale of family and the power of stories. After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.
Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
My Review: 
I had a tough time getting into this book but think it might just be me. First of all, the two main characters are sisters, Jazz and Olivia. I felt the entire time that I read the novel that they had the wrong names. The selfish sister with synesthesia should have a name like Jazz and the stubborn, straight-forward sister should have been named Olivia. Not the other way around. I don't know why but this just really felt wrong during my entire reading. But then again, the whole novel is filled with difficult and disagreeable characters. I know some readers love this type of character but I do not. I would recommend this to readers who like Aimee Bender. I didn't love it but I think readers who like Bender's style of uncomfortable magic realism would enjoy it. 
***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Foodie Friday:: Review of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

Title: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publisher: Gallery
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
ISBN: 9781501100710
Number of Pages: 336
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle
NetGalley Description:
You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities. In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancĂ©…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.
Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst. The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?
Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.
My Review: 
Let's start with the cover: simply delicious. Since they've added the cover voting option on NetGalley, I've never seen a cover with so many "thumbs up" votes (210 as of today.) The newspapers and the coconut cake play important roles in the story and I think this is a perfect cover match for this perfect piece of foodie fiction. The characters are well-formed and I really want them to be real so we can hang out. Restaurant critic for the local Milwaukee newspaper, A. W. Wodyski "obliterates every restaurant he reviews. But he does it in the most entertaining way. Like Dennis Miller as a restaurant critic." I liked how the author was able to show two personalities of this character by having him use A. W. Wodyski as a pseudonym. Lou and her friends were lovable and real. I especially loved when Lou would do relatable things like yelling at her voicemail or making distracted mistakes with her cooking. The supplied description really nails it with the comparison. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is part You've Got Mail and How to Eat a Cupcake. If you liked each of those then you will love  the yummy debut!

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Review and Giveaway: As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman

Title: As Night Falls
Author: Jenny Milchman
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
ISBN: 9780553394818
Number of Pages: 384
How I Got It: direct from author
Format: paperback ARC
Goodreads Description:
Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.
In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.
Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.
Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

My Review: 

Tamara and I featured Jenny Milchman's Ruin Falls on Book Talk with R and T back in October so I knew I was going to love the writing style in As Night Falls. I didn't realize that I would love to hate her characters so much! Even though it doesn't sound like it, that's a good thing!! First of all, Milchman plays on the home invasion fear and causes readers to evaluate what they would physically do in that situation. Then she adds in the psychological layer and tension between the captors and hostages that is both raw and complex. Also, the dual narrative provides backstory to the characters and let's just say that "mama's boy" doesn't do justice in describing one of the relationships. I think Barbara may top my list of teeth-grindingly frustrating characters, very Kathy Bates in Misery. Again, I mean that in the most complementary way. This thriller had me on the edge of my seat just like Ruin Falls did. I suggest this release to anyone who loves a fast paced psychological thriller.

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Foodie Friday:: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks by Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman

Title: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks
Author: Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
ISBN: 9781611801774
Number of Pages: 288
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle
NetGalley Description:
Leave the packaged snacks behind! Little Bites offers 100 wholesome, seasonal, vegetarian snacks perfect for active families. Anyone with children knows the stampede that occurs whenever the phrase "snack time" is uttered. Children associate snacks with fun, tasty, easy-to-eat foods, but as parents, we know that the very best snacks are all that and more. Snacks, when done right, serve an important purpose--they give our kids a needed boost of energy, whether after a long day of school or during an especially active trip to the playground. While at home with their young sons, Chitnis and Waldman discovered that when you are on the go with little ones, snacks become an important part of the day, nutritionally speaking. Never ones to settle for premade crackers or bags of sugary treats, they used their creativity and love of food to develop wholesome snacks that are easy to pack and simple to make. The result is a collection of inspired recipes that are healthier, tastier, and just right for active families that care about what they eat.

My Review:

I have a confession. Even though this book is targeted for kids, I wanted to read it in hopes of discovering some new snack options for myself. Working from home leads me to graze all day and sometimes that means realizing I just ate a half a box of crackers. I wanted some easy snack ideas and thought that the "for kids" angle would be perfect. I was right! There are several recipes I'm going to try "as is" but there are a few I might change a bit (I think the Brussel Sprout Crisps would be extra yummy if you added a little chopped bacon.) This book also has a great introductory section that includes alternatives to plastic snackware, the benefits of shopping local, and lists of pantry staples, seasonal produce, and time-saving techniques. The recipes are divided into seasonal sections. Here are a few examples: 
Spring: Honey Frozen Yogurt-Dipped Strawberries, Creamy Asparagus Dip with Flax Crackers, and Rhubarb Lemon Biscotti
Summer: Bunny Rabbit Rolls, Tomato-Scallion Biscuits, and Lemon-Glazed Blueberry Donuts
Fall: Brussel Sprout Crisps, Roasted Pumpkin Hummus, and Apple Power Pockets
Winter: Maple Brown Rice Pudding, Cranberry Gingerbread Cookies, and Cauliflower Mac-'n'-Cheese
I loved the photography and style of the book as well. The simple pictures would be great to talk about and show children as you were cooking together. This would be a perfect holiday gift for parents with young children or picky eaters wanting to snack healthier. 

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Book Talk with R and T: Dream Movie Cast for THOSE GIRLS

Today Tamara and I are sharing our dream movie cast for Chevy Stevens' THOSE GIRLS. You know when you are reading a book and you can picture the characters in your mind? Here's who I would pick and why:

younger Danielle/Dani: (17, tomboyish, brunette) Bailey Madison would be great transition role for her from most commonly known child star role in Just Go With It
Dallas: (mid-30s, tough, athletic) Nikki Reed has the physique that could really be sculpted to look like a badass

younger Courtney: (16, pretty blond) Chloe Grace Moretz has already played several young sexpot roles very well
Crystal: (mid-30s, unstable, rough around the edges) Amanda Seyfried would be great in this role if she was aged a little bit. Maybe some extra wrinkles around the eyes from constant smoking.

younger Jess: (15, innocent)  Elle Fanning has the virginal, peaches and cream thing down pat.
Jamie: (early 30s, hardened) Alicia Silverstone because I would love to see her in a wizened mother role with a tough edge.

Skylar: (young, naive) AnnaSophia Robb would be believable as the daughter / niece of the sisters.

young Brian: (kinda cute, greasy, mastermind) Dylan Minnette because there is just something in his look that I think could be turned to cute guy on surface but evil underneath.
Brian: (more straightlaced with an evil undercurrent) Sam Rockwell. Have you seen The Green Mile? I rest my case.

young Gavin: (follower, less cute best friend) Spencer Breslin has an outcast/ school shooter vibe
Gavin: fat, chip on his shoulder Jack Black because he is so lovable but it would be great to see him in a dark role.

I'm so excited to see what Tamara thought and to hear who other readers think would be good fits for the movie roles. Be sure to leave a comment or tweet Tamara @RockStar1023 and Me @IvoryOwlReviews  #BookTalkwithRandT

Book Talk with R and T: My Review of THOSE GIRLS by Chevy Stevens

Goodreads Summary: 
Chevy Stevens is back with her most powerful, emotional thriller yet— a story of survival…and revenge.

Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney, and Dani live on a remote ranch in Western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s fists. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. Events spiral out of control and a chance encounter with the wrong people leaves them in a horrific and desperate situation. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives. Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened that summer when one of the sisters goes missing and they are pulled back into their past. This time there’s nowhere left to run. As much of a thriller as it is a deep exploration of the bonds among sisters, THOSE GIRLS is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil.

My Review:
Brace yourself and make sure you don't have anything else to do because this thriller will hook you.
I read this in two sittings (one evening and the next morning,) but could have easily read it in one if I didn't have to do that pesky "I'm a human and I need sleep" thing. When I woke on the second day this book was the first thing on my mind and I was already reading it, barely awake, while waiting for my tea kettle to boil. Otherwise, I was wide-eyed and mouth agape pretty much the entire time. I was so into the story that when my UPS delivery man rang the doorbell, I let out a yelp! The sisters' situations go from bad to worse and as a reader I was on the edge of my seat wondering how they are going to rescue themselves this time. I liked THAT NIGHT when I read it last year, but after reading THOSE GIRLS I am without a doubt a big fan of Chevy Stevens. I will be going back to read her previously released novels as well as snatching up any upcoming new releases. 
***In a note of full disclosure, there are several graphic scenes (violence and sex) that might be too much or a trigger for some readers.***

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***

Book Talk with R and T Announcement and Giveaway: THOSE GIRLS by Chevy Stevens

Yippee!! It's time for another Book Talk with R and T! Tamara and I are going to be talking about THOSE GIRLS by Chevy Stevens this week and we want all of our bookish and bloggy friends to join in! It is available through today on Netgalley and on sale everywhere tomorrow. Today, Tamara and I will be answering a few questions about Book Talk and the giveaway begins (be sure to enter below)! So without further ado, here are Tamara's responses to a few questions:

When deciding what book should be the next selection in Book Talk With R and T, how did THOSE GIRLS get selected?
Ugh! Starting off with a hard question, I see! I think to answer the question, people need to understand that Book Talk is about spotlighting books that we really want to read- whether it’s a newly published book or one that has been published in the past. The world is full of books and it’s not easy deciding on which book to choose. I think Chevy’s was an easy pick with the fact that THAT NIGHT was enjoyed by both of us last year!
What did you think of the cover of THOSE GIRLS by Chevy Stevens?
I thought the cover was eye-catching, but it was not till I started reading that I truly understood the meaning of the cover. The shattered mirror with the girls in each section really highlighted how their life was changing- and gave a peek into their future.
After reading THOSE GIRLS, are you more or less likely to seek out other Chevy Stevens books?
YESSSSSSSSSSS! A thousand times yes! I have already purchased 2 of Chevy’s backlist books- and eagerly await her next book. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway