Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Month in Review: June 2020

Another month in the books!  June definitely felt like it went faster than May - it's hard to believe we've officially been home for over 3 months now.  We're both still working at home - Tom at the kitchen table and me upstairs.  Tom's company has given him no indication of when he might return to the office, and while my company has opened to 50% capacity, they're really not pushing at all for people to start coming in again.  I've actually been working more hours recently, so that's helped fill a lot of my time.

Tom has been doing all the grocery shopping by himself, but I finally went to Walmart for the first time in over two months (I've able to get most things we need online, but not everything, so I finally broke down and went).  I got there really early to avoid the crowds.  It wasn't too bad.  Everyone seemed to be wearing masks and adhering to protocols.

For the first time in over three months, I visited my library!  I finally had some holds come in, so I scheduled a curbside pickup.  The library is supposed to be reopening with limited capacity after the 4th of July holiday, and I'm really looking forward to browsing the stacks again!

Being home has allowed us to complete some projects we've been putting off.  We got our landscaping redone; our beds no longer look like a jungle, so that's good!  Hopefully we can keep it looking nice.  We also got some electrical work done outside.  We're contemplating a couple more things, too.

The weather was pretty hot for a good portion of the month, so I tried to take walks really early in the morning, before work, and then stay in the AC during the hottest parts of the day!  It also means we've been watching a lot of TV - still working on The Great British Baking Show and we also started rewatching Psych from the beginning.

The Books

 The Book Charmer (audio) // The Night Olivia Fell (review to come) // The Fate of Mercy Alban (review to come) // I Temporarily Do (review to come)

The Posts and Reviews

So, how are you doing?  How was your June?

Monday, June 29, 2020

Down The TBR Hole #12

Down the TBR Hole is a feature created by Lost in a Story (although the blog seems to be down recently).  I've seen it on a few other blogs and thought I would try it out myself!  It seems like a really good way to cull your TBR of those books you're no longer interested in.  So, how does it work?

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
Here are the books I'm looking at this time:

 The Body Double by Emily Beyda

When a famous actress has a mental breakdown, her team hires a body double to take her place in public.  Amazing premise, but the reviews are not great for this one - pass!
 The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

In this story, social media is monitored by the Hive, and if you cause too much trouble, it's legal for a group of people to hunt you down and teach you a lesson.  This just sounds a little too eerie for me - pass!
 Twenty by Debra Landwehr Engle

After a woman decides to end her life in 20 days by taking a mysterious bottle of pills, she realizes her life is worth saving.  Even though this deals with a lot of heavy topics, I think (and hope) that ultimately this will be an uplifting story.  Keep!
 The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott

In the wake of World War I, a woman searches for her husband with the help of his brother.  I love the sound of this one, definitely keeping it!
 The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

A woman running from her past starts receiving books on the mail, and she thinks they're from the man who was part of her downfall.  Although I love books about books, for some reason this one isn't grabbing me.  Pass!
 One More River to Cross by Jane Kirkpatrick

This story follows a group of people heading west in America in 1844.  This isn't a setting I come across a lot, so I think I'll keep this one!
Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie

A woman faces the loss of her Hollywood lifestyle when her producer husband kicks her out of their home.  The low ratings on Goodreads are not inspiring confidence for me - pass!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Mini-Reviews: Time Travel Romances

Virginia and The Vagabond by Skyler Frey (2020)

Thank you to Stephanie at Bookfever for the recommendation!

After being accidentally transported back to 1912 England, Virginia is stunned to meet Eric Rylander, a famous actor from her own time.  The two have an instant connection, but there is more than one hurdle to their relationship.

I'm always up for a good time travel romance, and this was a good one.  I enjoyed the twist of Eric being a famous actor in his own time and then becoming one again over 100 years earlier.  Virginia and Eric's relationship, although it moved quickly, made sense - they can relate to each other and share a different world.  I did think Virginia's character was a bit muddled - in some ways her modern instincts come through, but in others she seems overly traditional.  I loved the inclusion of a big historical event and couldn't read fast enough to see how the characters would come out of it.  There were a few too many typos for me, but the story did set itself up nicely for the next installment with the addition of a rather sinister-sounding Network of time travelers running around.  3.5 stars

Across Time by Elizabeth O'Roark (2019)

Time traveler Amelie, plagued by dreams of her deceased sister, decides she needs to find fellow time traveler Marie in pre-war France and help her in some way.  While there, she also finds herself falling for Marie's brother, Henri.

This book has stellar reviews on Goodreads, so I feel like a bit of an outlier because I didn't love this one.  The pacing was really off.  For a good chunk of the book, it felt like nothing was happening to move the story forward.  I also didn't think some things were explained well.  There are lots of time travelers, but they seem to be disappearing, including Marie's mother and Amelie's aunt.  There's some sort of prophecy involved?  I don't know, I just wish more time had been spent on worldbuilding.  Amelie goes back to her own time for a bit, and that was just so confusing.  I did enjoy the way Henri challenged Amelie and really made her think about her life and the choices she was making.  Maybe more will be explained in the second book in the duology, but I'm not sure if I'll be reading it.  3 stars

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Fiona Davis
Expected publication date: July 21, 2020
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life--her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she finds herself drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club--a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage--truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history. - from Goodreads
Fiona Davis has become one of my favorite authors, and I love how she always focuses on a unique NYC landmark in her books - this time, it's the New York Public Library!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10 - Beach Reads!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week marks TTT's 10th birthday!  TTT is a feature I've enjoyed participating in since I started blogging over four years ago, so to celebrate, I decided to revisit the first TTT post I ever did, which you can check out here.  The topic that week was beach reads, and I made a list of my favorite books to read at the beach.  Today I have a collage of beachy/summery covers from my TBR, which I'll have to enjoy reading from my house, because let's face it, I'm probably not going to the beach this summer!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Retellings Mini-Reviews

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra (2019)

I haven't read Little Women yet, but this contemporary retelling, focusing on older sisters Meg and Jo, appealed to me anyway!  Meg and Jo are now grown adults leading very different lives - Meg is a stay-at-home mom in North Carolina and Jo is a line cook and secret food blogger in NYC.  However, when their mother gets sick, all the sisters come home to help.

I really enjoyed Kantra's writing; it's very readable and relatable.  The story is told from the alternating POVs of sisters Meg and Jo, with appearances by their younger sisters.  I loved Jo's story - trying to make it as a journalist in NYC, she ends up falling for her chef boss who doesn't know she's also a food blogger.  However, I felt her "friendship" with childhood friend Trey was poorly explained and executed.  Meg frustrated me a bit - she's the type of person that would rather do everything herself because she doesn't trust anyone else.  I felt so bad for her husband!  As much as I loved the March sisters and mother, their father made me angry - he does important work, but neglects his own family.  Overall, though, a great story about family!  4 stars

Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl (2020)

In this anthology, 10 authors re-imagine the legendary character of Elizabeth Bennet in a series of sequels, prequels, and retellings.  Even though I'm normally not a fan of short stories, I can't resist a good P&P retelling!

I wish there had been more variety in the stories.  A couple of them felt like they could have been chapters in the original story (Darcy fighting Wickham, Elizabeth touring Pemberley).  A couple took place in the times right before or right after the events of P&P.  I wish there had been more stories set in different times and places; to me, those were more creative and interesting.  Elizabeth as an electrical engineering student in the 80s; Elizabeth as a stage actress in the 1920s; and Elizabeth and Darcy going on a blind date in the present day - these stories show how timeless the classic really is.  While the writing was generally good in all the stories, none really stood out to me as completely amazing.  I often seem to have this issue with short story collections, though.  However, if you're a P&P fan, you might want to give this one a chance.  3.5 stars

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Sweet Mess

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

A Sweet Mess
Jayci Lee
Expected publication date: July 14, 2020
Bake a chance on love.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart. - from Goodreads
How adorable does this sound??