Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Quick Reviews

 Ewe Complete Me by Susannah Nix (2023)

After a disastrous first date, Chloe and Bran hope to never see each other again - except his mom is Chloe's boss and she's getting married, expecting both of them to attend the wedding weekend.  A road trip and the subsequent weekend bring the two opposites closer, but can their relationship translate to the real world once they get home?  I loved the awkward date that kicks off the book, leaving me to wonder how Chloe and Bran could ever recover from it.  Although it is a very short timeline, it was fun to see how as they got to know each other, a deep understanding formed, despite their differences.  This book was a great example of how opposites attract and complement each other.  I also loved the focus on each of their careers and how they were each at kind of a critical time (mid-twenties, Bran studying to become a lawyer and Chloe wanting to become an artist).  I guess my only issue was the intensity of the relationship because of their young age and wondering how that will sustain for the future.  Also, this book is part of a series - although it is marketed as can be read as a standalone, it might help to understand the side characters by reading their books first, especially since they play such a large role here.  4 stars

Love Me Do by Lindsey Kelk (2023)

While Phoebe is visiting her sister in California, she finds herself acting as a matchmaker for her sister's personal trainer and neighbor - but when she starts to fall for the neighbor herself, she wonders how she can keep up the charade.  Lindsey Kelk's books are always so cheerful, full of fun quirky characters and laugh-out-loud moments.  This book was no exception.  Although there is a bit of darkness in Phoebe's past, she has learned from it and is moving forward.  She and Bel have so many heartwarming moments together as they become friends, and watching her try to help Bel snare Ren was so fun - it was interesting to see how the confident, beautiful Bel was totally flustered by Ren!  An elderly neighbor down the street added some flavor to the story, acting as sort of a mentor for Phoebe.  My big issue with this book was that I just didn't totally feel the eventual romance between Phoebe and Ren.  The connection didn't quite fit for me, maybe because there's so much going on and not a lot of one-on-one time between the two.  So, if you're coming here just for the romance, you might be a bit disappointed!  3.5 stars

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Friday, February 23, 2024

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Out of this World Edition

When NASA was first formed, women were excluded because originally only military test pilots were considered for astronaut positions.  In the late 1970s, though, restrictions were lifted and NASA welcomed the first group of female astronauts in its class of 1978 - six women who would overcome great odds to make their mark on the agency and go to space.  Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon were the first women chosen and even if you don't know all their names now, you'll be impressed with all of them by the time you finish the book.  Grush explores the early lives of each woman, how she came to apply to NASA, and of course the time each spent there, culminating with one or more trips to space.  She goes into great detail about the training they went through and the scrutiny and bias they endured.  Grush has a very readable and relatable writing style - often nonfiction can seem dry, but Grush's writing is engaging and flows nicely.  I appreciated the research that went into this book (although she wasn't able to speak to most of the women, for various reasons) and really enjoyed the quotes she was able to find - hearing from the women in their own words was incredible.  At times, the book seemed a little surface level but overall I learned a lot about these pioneering women of space.  4 stars

Eversion by Alastair Reynolds (2022)

A sailing ship in Norway in the 1800s, a zeppelin in Antarctica in the 1900s, a space ship exploring an alien structure in the distant future - what do they all have in common?  Dr. Silas Coade was present at all these events, and in every single one, Dr. Coade and his crew fail terribly.  How do these events keep happening, and how can Coade stop it?  This book was so unexpected - when we first meet Coade, he is the on-board surgeon for a ship trying to locate a mysterious building, called the Edifice.  This journey, like many that follow, will end badly for Coade - but little nuggets along the way will clue you in to the fact that all is not as it appears to be.  I loved the reveal of Coade's true nature and purpose (I hope I'm not being too spoilery!), and I also loved how the author changed up the feel and tone of the story for each iteration (like using language appropriate for the time period).  There are deeper questions about the nature of humanity and its desire to explore and heal and also some meditations on technology and its role in our lives.  A uniquely touching sci-fi story!  4 stars

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Expiration Dates

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

Rebecca Serle
Expected publication date: March 5, 2024
Being single is like playing the lottery. There’s always the chance that with one piece of paper you could win it all.

From the New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years and One Italian Summer comes the romance that will define a generation.

Daphne Bell believes the universe has a plan for her. Every time she meets a new man , she receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it—the exact amount of time they will be together. The papers told her she’d spend three days with Martin in Paris; five weeks with Noah in San Francisco; and three months with Hugo, her ex-boyfriend turned best friend. Daphne has been receiving the numbered papers for over twenty years, always wondering when there might be one without an expiration. Finally, the night of a blind date at her favorite Los Angeles restaurant, there’s only a Jake.

But as Jake and Daphne’s story unfolds, Daphne finds herself doubting the paper’s prediction, and wrestling with what it means to be both committed and truthful. Because Daphne knows things Jake doesn’t, information that—if he found out—would break his heart.

Told with her signature warmth and insight into matters of the heart, Rebecca Serle has finally set her sights on romantic love. The result is a gripping, emotional, passionate, and (yes) heartbreaking novel about what it means to be single, what it means to find love, and ultimately how we define each of them for ourselves. Expiration Dates is the one fans have been waiting for. - from Goodreads

Monday, February 19, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #40

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my little series, Michele’s Monday Picks!  I’m not a blogger or bookstagrammer, but I love getting excited about new releases with the rest of you.  Here I’ll be sharing new books I’m really looking forward to!


By Lyra Selene
Expected Publication: March 12, 2024

From Goodreads:
The Cruel Prince meets For the Wolf in a sizzling fantasy romance inspired by Celtic mythology, spinning a magical tale of a defiant changeling, her cursed sister, and the dangerous fae lord she must defeat to save her family.

In a kingdom where magic has been lost, Fia is a rare changeling, left behind by the wicked Fair Folk when they stole the High Queen's daughter and retreated behind the locked gates of Tír na nÓg.

Most despise Fia's fae blood. But the queen raises her as a daughter and trains her to be a spy. Meanwhile, the real princess Eala is bound to Tír na nÓg, cursed to become a swan by day and only returning to her true form at night.

When a hidden gate to the realm is discovered, Fia is tasked by the queen to retrieve the princess and break her curse. But she doesn’t go alone: with her is prince Rogan, Fia's dearest childhood friend—and Eala’s betrothed.

As they journey through the forests of the Folk, where magic winds through the roots of the trees and beauty can be a deadly illusion, Fia’s mission is complicated by her feelings for the prince…and her unexpected attraction to the dark-hearted fae lord holding Eala captive. Irian might be more monster than man, but he seems to understand Fia in a way no one ever has.

Soon, Fia begins to question the truth of her mission. But time is running out to break her sister's curse. And unraveling the secrets of the past might destroy everything she has come to love.

This sounds so unique - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, February 16, 2024

Little Free Library Sightings

It's always fun to see a Little Free Library "out in the wild!"  I love to spot them, browse their selection, leave a book if possible, and then look them up on the official website, because sometimes they have interesting stories to go along with them!  There's also an app you can download to find local Little Free Libraries where you can even "check in" to keep track of the ones you've visited!  Here are a few I've visited recently:

#1299 - I stopped by this one on my way home from the office one day.  It's at a park I pass all the time and I never realized it was there!  It's such a unique structure - here's the story: "This library is a six foot tall structure that was custom built out of cedar to fit into an old hollow tree stump in Marquand Park on Lovers Lane in Princeton N.J. It is located near a large sandbox play area that is well used and much loved by the community. It is dedicated only to children's books only and is intended to enhance the visitor's experience to the Arboretum. Gui Nelesson of Lost inStudio is the builder and Robert Wells of the Marquand Park Foundation is the steward."  I love that it was intended for children's books and is inside the park.  When I stopped there, there were more than just books (DVDs, CDs) and definitely more than just children's books.  I didn't take any books and unfortunately didn't have any to leave.

#15104 - This Little Free Library is only a couple streets away from the previous one, so it was easy to stop by both on my way home!  This is on a charming little side street in Princeton, New Jersey.  The steward, of course, encourages people to take and leave books but also just wants people to enjoy and spread the word about Little Free Libraries.  This LFL was well-stocked, but I did not take or leave any.

#109735 - I've passed by this LFL many times and finally decided to make a point to stop at it on our way home from the store.  It's on a pretty major street, but with the sidewalks, I can see how it would be a great place for passersby to stop.  This LFL was absolutely stuffed with books, and while nothing in particular caught my eye, I was able to leave a book I pruned from my own shelves recently.  I love how it matches the house behind it!
 #102383 (aka East Main Little Library) - This LFL is actually only a block or so away from the one above, so it was an easy stop on our drive.  This library looked impeccably maintained, like someone really takes the time to organize it often and make sure all the books are lined up and straight.  There was a great mix of books by some big-name authors and some newer releases.  I left a book but did not take anything.  I like how this one also matches its owner's home!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Quick Reviews: The Improbable Meet-Cute Series (Amazon Original Stories)

The Exception to the Rule by Christina Lauren (2024)

An accidental email sent on Valentine's Day leads to a decade-long "friendship" that might just turn into something more in the most unexpected of ways.  I listened to this short story as an audiobook, which might have been a bit of a mistake because the first half of it is email exchanges between the two main characters.  It wasn't really fun to listen to email addresses, dates, and subject lines being read aloud, but I did enjoy that there were two separate narrators.  When the story finally moves away from the emails that T and C exchange every year on Valentine's Day, I got way more into it, as we finally get to know them a little better.  I enjoyed the twists and turns that finally got these two together.  Fun, quick read/listen.  4 stars

Worst Wingman Ever by Abby Jimenez (2024)

A mistakenly delivered Valentine's Day card brings together a hospice nurse and a handyman, but will their penpal notes lead to a real-life meeting?  OMG, how does Abby Jimenez do it?  This short story was just utter perfection.  Even though it was only 61 pages (and a quick listen), it felt much longer (but in the best way!).  I loved how John and Holly got to know each other through the notes they left on her car and was just itching for the moment they would finally meet in person.  There was so much character development, too - I feel like we got to know Holly and John so well, despite the shortness of the story.  They were both such fleshed-out characters, especially Holly, a hospice nurse taking care of her own grandmother at the end of her life, verging on burning out and healing from a breakup.  John, too, is starting over after a breakup, and both realize that they need to be better to themselves.  But this story wasn't just about romantic love, but also familial love, as Holly is facing a hard time with her grandmother's decline.  I loved the relationship she has with her family.  I laughed, I cried - I just loved this story!  5 stars 
Royal Valentine by Sariah Wilson (2024)
Princess Ilaria just wants one weekend where she can be a normal person, so she switches places with her assistant and heads out into Rome.  She meets a Scottish photographer and in their short time together, the two begin to fall for each other.  However, will it all come crashing down when he finds out who she really is?  I love a good royalty/commoner romance, but unfortunately this was a miss for me.  I didn't think Ilaria and Callum's meet-cute was particularly swoonworthy, and while it is romantic to feel that love/lust at first sight, the writing in this story was a bit of a letdown.  So overdone, so cringey, and the characters felt very immature.  As for the audiobook, I wish there had been two narrators, because a female voice trying to do a male Scottish accent was just.. not great.  There was a twist I didn't see coming, but overall I was just disappointed with this one.  3 stars

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogger Love


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is a love freebie in honor of Valentine's Day.  Since I haven't done it in awhile, I thought it would be nice to spread some love about the book blogging community and share some of my favorite bloggers!  I'm so grateful to be a part of this book blogging community - there's so much love and support, and this is just a small list (in no particular order) of some wonderful people!