Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Blog Break + What I'll Be Reading

Hi, everyone!  Just a quick post today to let you know that I'll be stepping away from the blog for about a week because Tom and I will be taking a long-awaited vacation!  Picking out what books I'll be bringing with me is just as important as remembering to pack underwear and sunscreen, so here's what I'll be reading during my break:


I'm reading Anne of Green Gables on the Serial Reader app, so I'll be continuing with my daily snippet of that. 

I'll use the long car ride to finish up my audiobook, Opposite of Always.


I've been wanting to reread The Runaway Princess for awhile now, so I'm going to bring that along with Cress.  I started a reread of The Lunar Chronicles last year and still haven't finished; now seems like a good time to continue it!

See you in September!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Adding To My Personal Library

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books I've read that I'd like to add to my personal library.  For awhile now, I've really tried to curtail my spending on books and limit myself to books I've read, loved, and could see myself reading again, so this topic is perfect for me!  Here are some of my favorites of the year that I'd love to add to my own collection:




And then these two random books:


I love the Disney princesses, and this papercut book with abridged versions of the classic movies looks gorgeous!  And I'm reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time and this hardcover version is just so pretty (besides that big Netflix sticker)!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Review: Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time
Kasie West
Published July 9, 2019
One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year's Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn't so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places. - from Goodreads
Sophie works for a florist in a small town, which means she's working at practically every big event in town.  And since there's really only one caterer in town, too, it's inevitable that her path will cross with theirs and with Andrew, the son of the celebrity chef helping the caterer grow his business.  Although they get off on the wrong foot, Sophie eventually realizes that Andrew is not as bad as she thought he was.

Since I started blogging, I've been seeing the name Kasie West around.  A lot.  I really liked the premise of this book, so I thought it would be a good place to start and get an introduction to the author.  The story has a bit of an atypical structure - each part takes place at one event, such as a wedding, Fourth of July barbeque, or Valentine's Day party, and there's really nothing of the characters' lives in between.  Since they're only spending a couple hours with each other every few weeks, I wondered how well Sophie and Andrew would get to know each other.  Honestly, I didn't think they had a ton of chemistry - he seemed far friendlier with Sophie's best friend Micah, who he actually spent time with outside of the events.

At first, I thought the adults in this book were pretty terrible.  Sophie's mom seemed like a flake, and she knew nothing about her daughter.  Andrew's dad screamed at everyone, and Sophie's boss Caroline seemed to leave a lot of her work to other people (especially clean up!).  As the book went on, I began to realize that there was a lot more depth to many of the characters, and I appreciated that.  I began to see them in a new light.

Even Sophie experienced growth.  She really wants to go to design school in New York City, so she spends a lot of time thinking about what she wants to submit in her portfolio, but Micah kind of forces her to examine why she seems so desperate to get away from their small town. I really liked Micah - she had a good head on her shoulders.

I enjoyed West's writing - it was easy to read and the story flowed nicely, even though the structure was pretty segmented.  Although I wasn't totally buying the romance, I did enjoy that there were several other types of relationships featured in the book.

3.5 stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Giver of Stars

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

The Giver of Stars
Jojo Moyes
Expected publication date: October 8, 2019
Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their unforgettable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You and The Peacock Emporium

When Alice Wright agrees to marry handsome American Bennett Van Cleve and leave behind her stifling life in England for a new adventure in Kentucky, she’s soon disenchanted by her newlywed status and overbearing father-in-law, owner of the local coal mine. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice's greatest ally, is Margery, the smart-talking, self-sufficient daughter of a notorious local criminal, a woman who's never asked a man's permission for anything. Alice finds Margery as bracing and courageous as anyone she's ever met--and comes to rely on her, especially as her marriage starts to fail.

They will be joined by three diverse women and become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to these women--and to the men they love--becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers--from moonshiners to snakes, from mountains to floods--and social disapproval to boot. But they believe deeply in their work bringing books to people who had never had any, expanding horizons and arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America's past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling--the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women's friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. - from Goodreads
This book has so many things going for it - JOJO MOYES, based on a true story, Depression-era setting, and a traveling library!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Down The TBR Hole #4

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 Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

I absolutely loved my first Sally Hepworth book.  The second, not so much, and I skipped her last book.  Although I've seen good reviews for this story about the complicated relationship between a woman and her daughter-in-law, I'm just not really interested any more.  Pass!

 Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

I recently featured this book about a female firefighter during Can't-Wait Wednesday, so I'm definitely keeping this one!
 Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

When I read Strawser's first book, I was a bit disappointed because it had been marketed as a thriller when it clearly wasn't.  This story is about friendship and what happens when people grow apart.  I've seen reviews that indicate that it also has been mis-marketed, and so I'm not really interested in being burned again.  Pass!
 If, Then by Kate Hope Day

This book about the residents of a small town having visions of an alternate reality intrigued me when I first heard about it, and I'm still interested in it, although I haven't seen many reviews for it.  Keeping this one!
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

I read the first book in Jane Harper's Aaron Falk series and really enjoyed it.  I meant to keep up with her books, but just haven't had time.  This is a stand-alone book about a man's death and the brothers he left behind.  Keeping this one!

Have you read any of these?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Backlist Mini-Reviews: The Jessi Kirby Edition

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (2015)

After her boyfriend's death, Quinn wants to find all the recipients of his donated organs.  The heart recipient never gets back to her, but she's able to find out his identity.  When she meets him, she doesn't anticipate falling for him - while trying to keep her secret.

When we meet Quinn, she has spent the last year mourning the death of her boyfriend, Trent.  She's finished high school, but has no other plans and is just sort of floating through life.  It made me sad that she was only 18 and felt her life was over.  Quinn's desire to reach out to all the organ recipients was bittersweet, and even she wondered if it was bringing her closure or helping her cling to Trent's memory.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her search for the heart recipient.  I wanted her to respect their desire for anonymity, if that's what they truly wanted, and the fact that she's even able to discover his identity was a little crazy.  When Quinn and Colton meet, it seemed a little convenient that he's a gorgeous, sweet guy and they fall for each other.  I thought their kayaking dates were cute, but I kind of wish Quinn had found out about Colton's donated heart after they met - it would have felt more like fate.  The fact that she had this big secret and had to pretend like she didn't know all about him already was a little off-putting.

Quinn's family was a great addition to the story.  I wanted more of her spunky grandma, and I really loved the way her sister helped her move forward, even though she was going through some stuff of her own.  Overall, this was a well-written, emotional story that had a few bumpy elements.  3.5 stars

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby (2017)

After a near-fatal car crash, Liv wakes up from a coma to realize she has no memory of the last four years of her life.

I think this is my favorite Jessi Kirby book so far.  I loved how real it felt.  At times, I was maybe hoping for some more drama or bigger secrets and revelations, but in the end, I appreciated the story for what it was.  Liv was an amazing main character.  She's understandably freaked out when she realizes the accident has taken her memories of the last four years, but I actually thought she handled it pretty well.  I mean, she can't remember her entire high school experience - her best friend is no longer her best friend and she doesn't know why; she doesn't remember learning how to drive; she finds her birth control pills but has no memory of having sex with her boyfriend of two years.  It's kind of devastating to realize all the big AND little things she can't remember.  Kirby did a great job of getting inside Liv's head; I really enjoyed watching her try to understand how the person she was at 14 became the person she is today.  I thought there were some good lessons, too, about being the person we want to be, not the one others want us to be, and following our passions.

As always, Kirby's writing is simple, straightforward, and just plain good.  Although the ending felt a bit rushed, following Olivia on her recovery journey (and also meeting her fantastic family) made for a truly solid read.  4.5 stars

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Conceal, Don't Feel

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

Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales #7)
Jen Calonita
Expected publication date: October 1, 2019
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?
As the future Queen of Arendelle, Princess Elsa's life is full of expectation and responsibility-not to mention, questions. What type of ruler will she be? When will she have to pick a suitor? And why has she always harbored the feeling that some critical piece of herself is missing?
Following the unexpected death of her parents, Elsa is forced to answer those questions sooner than she'd hoped, becoming the sole ruler of her kingdom and growing lonelier than ever. But when mysterious powers begin to reveal themselves, Elsa starts to remember fragments of her childhood that seem to have been erased-pieces that include a very familiar-looking girl. Determined to fill the void she has always felt, Elsa must take a harrowing journey across her icy kingdom to undo a terrible curse . . . and find the missing Princess of Arendelle.- from Amazon
I've really been enjoying this Twisted Tales series, which puts fantastic spins on your favorite Disney movies.  Plus, my niece is obsessed with Frozen, so I had to feature this one!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Quotables #14

In this age where people portray "perfection" on social media, I think it's important to remember that everyone has their own problems.  They might be smaller than yours, they might be bigger than yours, but trust me, they have them.

Even though my sister might disagree, we all know that pink Starbursts are the best Starbursts, and don't we all deserve to be treated as the best?

I mean, I think this one is just perfect for all the bookworms out there.  Reading might seem like a solitary activity, but we readers get to visit new places and meet new people everyday.

Which of these is your favorite?

Friday, August 9, 2019

DNF&Y #2

DNF&Y is a feature hosted by Lindsi at Do You Dog-ear?  According to Lindsi, "DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative!"  Since I tend to DNF quite a bit, I thought it would be fun to participate!

 More Than Words by Jill Santopolo (2019)

More Than Words tells the story of a woman named Nina as she tries to figure out what she wants from her life and how it relates to the three most important men in her life - her father, her boyfriend, and her boss.

I got about 50 pages in before I started skipping around just to see where the story was going.  It was feeling predictable, and from what I could tell, I wasn't wrong.  The short chapters made the story feel choppy, and Nina came across as kind of a "poor little rich girl."  I couldn't relate to any of the other characters, either.

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books by Edward Wilson-Lee (2019)

So apparently the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus had a dream to amass a personal library of everything ever printed.  I was super-intrigued by this nonfiction book and it's almost not fair for me to include this book as a DNF since I quit so early.  I rapidly lost interest during the first chapter and found myself skimming almost immediately.  It was more about Columbus than his son and seemed to be a little scattered.  It could just be a matter of bad timing on my part and I just wasn't in the mood for this book at the time.

Have you DNFed any books lately?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: American Royals

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

American Royals
Katharine McGee
Expected publication date: September 3, 2019
What if America had a royal family? If you can't get enough of Harry and Meghan or Kate and William, meet American princesses Beatrice and Samantha.

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown.
Two girls vying for the prince's heart.
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren't just any royals. They're American. And their country was born of rebellion.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America's first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she's breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn't care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there's Samantha's twin, Prince Jefferson. If he'd been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded--and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history. - from Goodreads
I love anything royalty-related and the fact that this book is also an alternate American history makes it sound even more fun!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Books?

How many books do you read at one time?  That's a question running through my mind because I think I'm going a little overboard lately!  At the time I'm writing this, I have FIVE books going:

  1. A Clash of Kings for the #IronThroneReadalong
  2. Another one at home that I alternate with #1
  3. An audiobook in the car
  4. A book I keep in my desk at work and read during my lunchbreak
  5. A book on the Serial Reader app
Reading multiple books at a time is a relatively new thing for me.  It never really occurred to me that I could or should have a couple books going at once.  A couple years ago I started listening to audiobooks in the car during my work commute, and that was really the first time I started juggling more than one book.

Reading two books at a time seems reasonable, but how did I get up to five?  It's all about wanting to maximize my reading time.  The audiobook gives me an extra hour (at least) of reading a day, and it's a great multi-tasking tool for driving.  I now have an hour-long lunch break at work, and it's nice if I need to run an errand, but most days, I use that time to read and can get through an extra book per week.  For the #IronThroneReadalong, we're getting through about 150 pages a week, so I still have plenty of other reading time at home.  And the Serial Reader app (which I'll be talking about in an upcoming post) is only 15-20 minutes a day.

My sister thinks I'm kind of crazy to read so many books at the same time.  Isn't it hard to keep them all straight?  It can be, but I've tried to diversify my reads so that each book is very distinct and there's less chance of getting them confused: adult high fantasy with Game of Thrones, a nonfiction at home, YA during lunch, women's fiction in the car, a classic on Serial Reader.  It doesn't always work out this neatly, but it's nice when it does!

How many books do you read at one time?  How many is too many?  What are your best tips for maximizing your reading time?

Friday, August 2, 2019

Month in Review: July 2019

July was such a busy month!  We celebrated the 4th at my sister's house.  She had quite the crowd and it was fun to see all the kids running around.

Summer hours continued at work - I'm still not crazy about staying late Monday through Thursday, but it has been kind of nice having half days on Fridays.  Tom and I have been having lunch dates on Fridays, and we even went to the movies one afternoon to see Spiderman: Far From Home (which was awesome, by the way!  Perfect movie to follow Avengers: Endgame).

I've mentioned a couple times that my sister, mom, and I work with our local Project Linus chapter (it's an organization that donates homemade blankets to children in need).  This month our group underwent some big changes, and my sister has been appointed our new chapter chairperson!  I've come on as an assistant and have been helping out with creating literature and putting together our first newsletter. We're having a lot of fun so far and are really excited about some stuff we have coming up.

My brother, his wife, and their two boys came to visit from Oklahoma at the end of the month.  We spent a day at the beach and the boys loved running in and out of the waves and playing in the sand.  We took a walk on the boardwalk and ran into the Queer Eye guys filming.  Even though the production crew was telling people, "No pictures!", we managed to snag a couple.


My nephews love trains, so we also took a little train ride with them.  We hadn't seen them since November, so I'm really glad they decided to come visit.  The boys are growing up so fast!  I also got to spend a little girl time with my sister-in-law and cousin, and we hit up a new brewpub nearby.

I have to end this month's recap on a very sad note.  Our book blogging community has lost one of its biggest cheerleaders and brightest lights.  As I'm sure you've all heard, Grace from Rebel Mommy Book Blog passed away last week after a battle with cancer.  I was devastated to hear this news.  I've read through several tributes from other bloggers and one thing that stuck out to me was that so many of them said that Grace was one of their earliest followers and she was always so supportive and welcoming to new bloggers.  This was absolutely my experience with Grace, as well.  I was so grateful that this successful blogger took the time to read my posts and comment so thoughtfully and so often.  Over the last 3 years, I felt like I had gotten to know her pretty well; we read a lot of the same books and watched the same TV shows.  I always hoped I'd get a chance to meet her one day since we both lived in New Jersey, but I am so appreciative of the virtual friendship we struck up.  Her positivity and strength are something I'll always remember.  My thoughts are with her family, especially her young children, during this difficult time. 

The Books

 The Dazzling Heights // Our House // Recursion // A Game of Thrones (#IronThroneReadalong, reread)
The Posts and Reviews

How was your July?  Did you do anything fun?