Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Pride and Premeditation

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Tirzah Price
Expected publication date: March 9, 2021
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman who desires a law career must be in want of a case. So when seventeen-year-old Lizzie Bennet hears about a scandalous society murder, she sees an opportunity to prove herself as a solicitor by solving the case and ensuring justice is served.

Except the man accused of the crime already has a lawyer on his side: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious Pemberley Associates law firm. Lizzie is determined to solve the murder before Darcy can so that she can show the world that a woman can be just as good as a man. (The fact that Darcy is an infuriating snob doesn’t help.) But there’s still a killer on the loose, and as the case gets more complicated, Lizzie and Darcy may have to start working together to avoid becoming the next victims themselves. - from Goodreads
You know I cannot resist a good P&P retelling, and this one sounds very unique!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2020

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our favorite books of 2020.  I read over 200 books this year and there were a lot of great ones, but these really stood out!








Did any of these make your list?
 
 
* This post contains affiliate links.  As a Bookshop.org affiliate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Monday, December 28, 2020

2020 Goals and Challenges Wrap-Up


This year has been so crazy, it's almost hard to believe!  When I set these goals at the beginning of the year, I never could have imagined how our lives would be affected by COVID-19.  It almost seems a little silly, but I still want to take a look back at those goals, as well as wrap up my reading challenges.

Reading

  • Reread more. I reread 20 books this year, including the Harry Potter ones below. 
  • Reread the Harry Potter series. Done!
  • Make a dent in the unread physical books on my shelf. I've definitely read a few, as there seems to be a noticeable difference in the shelf!
  • Attend at least 2 bookish events.  I ended up attending two virtual bookish events - one with Taylor Jenkins Reid interviewing Katherine Center and one with Fiona Davis in conjunction with the New York Public Library.  Hopefully we'll be able to have in-person events again next year!

Blogging
  • Respond to comments faster.  I think I did really well at this!
  • Get ahead on my book reviews. I think I did ok at this.  I started doing more "quick reviews," which meant the actual writing took less time, but I needed to review more books.  At most points during the year, I was at least a couple weeks ahead, so I think that's pretty good.
  • Build up my #bookstagram account.  My #bookstagram has grown about 60% since the beginning of the year!  I'm having fun participating in photo challenges and coming up with creative pictures.  If we're not already, let's be friends!

Life
  • Get new passports.  Done!  Aaaaand we still have nowhere to go!
  • Drink more water.  I definitely failed at this.  At least a couple times a week, I catch myself thinking, hmm, I should be drinking more water.
  • Run a 5k. Total fail.  Maybe next year? 
  • Make 100 blankets for Project Linus.  I made 66 blankets, so I didn't reach my goal, unfortunately.  
 

The 2020 Audiobook Challenge is hosted by Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer.  My goal was 20-30 audiobooks and I ended up listening to 29.  I have to admit, though, I haven't listened to one since September; without my work commute, I was finding it was taking way too long to listen to audiobooks.
 

The Retellings Reading Challenge is hosted by Tracy at Cornerfolds.  My goal was the Elemental Witch level, which is 11-15 retellings, and I beat that with 32 retellings read!  AND I completed the Bingo board!
 

Beat the Backlist is hosted by Austine at NovelKnight; my goal was to read at least 60 backlist books this year, and I crushed that!  I've read 137 backlist books this year!
 
How did you do on your goals and challenges?

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Surviving Savannah

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Patt Callahan
Expected publication date: March 9, 2021
It was called "The Titanic of the South." The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten--until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she's shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can't resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly's research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah's society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving. - from Goodreads

I love historical fiction, and this is an event I've never heard of before!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Down The TBR Hole #18

 
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 Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni
 
A woman finds out she's inherited a noble title and a castle in Italy, but she also discovers dark family secrets.  I like the premise, but the reviews are very mixed.  Pass!

Actress by Anne Enright
 
A woman explores her mother's history, a famous actress who also committed a serious crime.  I don't know, this one just isn't grabbing me - pass!

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
 
A group of people from all walks of life come together to try to preserve Jane Austen's home and legacy, in the wake of the second world war.  I hear Jane Austen and I'm all in - keep!

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
 
Three women share the same husband; when one of the wives shows signs of abuse, another tries to figure out who their husband really is.  Eh, this just seems a little weird to me - pass!

 The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell
 
A dual timeline story about the women and children who survived WWI by taking shelter in the cellars beneath French vineyards and the present-day woman who discovers a decades-old secret after reading correspondence from WWI.  This sounds like something I would love - keep!

The Antidote For Everything by Kimmery Martin
 
Two doctors are caught up in a scandal when they have to choose between treating patients or following the new rules set by their hospital.  This doesn't sound like the book for me - pass!

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
 
A 1980s Massachusetts high school field hockey team take some inspiration from the Salem witches in their winning season.  This actually sounds pretty fun - keep!




Have you read any of these?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday Quick Reviews: Short Stories

Booked for Christmas by Lily Menon (2020)

An author and her worst critic are trapped together in a cabin during a snowstorm in this adorable holiday short story.  Sophie is hosting a holiday party at her cabin when Evan shows up as one of the guest's plus ones; he's unable to leave before a snowstorm hits.  I enjoyed watching these two get to know each other, since they only really know each other's writing.  They both start to understand the other's point of view, and sparks fly.  The writing was super readable and flowed nicely.  Perfectly light and cheery for the holidays!  I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, but I think it's good that I wanted more!  4 stars

 
If you enjoy your holiday stories with lots of heat, then this is the short story duo for you!  In Snowed in With The Billionaire, party planner Paige is setting up an event at music executive Ace's home when a snowstorm leaves them stranded alone.  Both characters are well-rounded despite the length of the story.  In Christmas with The Billionaire, Broadway actress hopeful Jill plays fake girlfriend for producer Oliver.  There's an interesting angle in this story when Jill gets the role of a lifetime and wonders if it was only because of Oliver.  Although both of these stories were a bit unrealistic (insta-love!), I still enjoyed them.  Monroe is great at creating witty, realistic dialogue, and the mix of humor and steamy scenes was just right.  Both stories are entertaining from start to finish!  4 stars

Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Toni Shiloh, Mikal Dawn, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver (2019)
 
This collection of five short stories takes your favorite classic fairy tales, modernizes them, and gives them a Christmas twist. I thought these stories incorporated clever modernizations that still kept the essence of the timeless tales.  Sleeping Beauty is updated to tell the story of Talia, who loves being onstage in her family theater but is felled by a strange sleeping disorder; Mulan is a lawyer fighting to save a small business; Snow White is an heiress who flees her conniving fiance and stepmother; Cinderella is a reality TV producer who falls for one of her show's stars; and The Little Mermaid is a college student/hotel worker who longs to open her own art gallery someday.  The stories are easy to read, with little in the way of true conflict - yes, there are dark moments, but you know there will be a happily ever after.  The anthology would fall under Christian fiction, although some stories had more religious themes than others.  If you're looking for sweet, pure romances set during the holiday season, this might be the collection for you.  3.5 stars

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Rose Code

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

Kate Quinn
Expected publication date: March 9, 2021 
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart. 1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer... - from Goodreads

 I know I've posted about this book before, but I'm just that excited about it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our winter TBR!  From my fall TBR, I managed to read 8 of the 10 books; one I lost interest in and one I carried over to this TBR - The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly!  I think this TBR has a good mix of genres, so I'm excited about it!


Where should I start?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Holiday Quick Reviews: The "What If?" Edition

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell (2020)

Paige's anxiety makes it difficult for her to make decisions, but a freak accident allows her to experience both of her Christmas vacation options - spend it with her best friend (and crush) Fitz in the mountains or visit New York City for the first time.  I enjoy books that have parallel storylines like this - it's interesting to see how fate plays a role in our lives.  Will Paige's outcome be the same no matter what she picks?  I thought Fitz was a great friend and I could see why Paige liked him, although I thought the book went a little overboard on romance in this book.  It seemed like Paige's life revolved around Fitz, and there was also a secondary storyline with Paige's best friend, who's ready to settle down with her boyfriend at age 18.  But overall, a cute holiday read, especially being able to visit NYC at Christmas time!  3.5 stars

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren (2020)
 
Mae is spending a traditional Christmas vacation with her family and close friends.  The trip hasn't gone well, and on the way home, Mae asks the universe to show her what would make her happy.  Suddenly, Mae finds herself reliving the week over and over again, although no one else seems to notice.  It's up to her to figure out how to break the loop, fix everything, and maybe find romance.  I loved the Groundhog Day concept, although I was expecting at least a couple more iterations of the week.  Watching a years-in-the-making romance bloom between Mae and Andrew was so sweet, and family friend Benny as the voice of reason was a total delight.  Having the whole story take place over a short period of time in one location definitely hampered the character development a bit, but I loved this "found family" and all their holiday traditions.  This book was the perfect addition to the holiday season.  4 stars

All About Us by Tom Ellen (2020)

Ben's marriage to Daphne is a little rocky, and his old friend Alice (the woman he always felt was "the one that got away") has recently gotten in touch.  Ben finds himself at a bit of a crossroads when a chance encounter with a strange man leaves Ben 15 years in the past, on the day he met his wife and decided not to pursue a relationship with Alice.  Will he make the same decisions when given another chance?  I think it's more accurate to say that this book is a retelling of A Christmas Carol.  Ben visits more than just that one night 15 years ago, as he is transported to other past December days where things both big and small happened in his life.  This book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, as he is able to do things differently but also not change them.  And it's about more than romance; Ben's relationships with his parents and friends are also explored.  I loved seeing Ben realize the things that are most important to him, making this the perfect holiday book.  4.5 stars


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

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Float Plan

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
 
Trish Doller
Expected publication date: March 2, 2021
Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller's unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself...

Since the loss of her fiancĂ©, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn't mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future. - from Goodreads

This sounds like it's going to be full of emotions and love!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Battle of the Book Covers #1


I've been trying to come up with ideas for new features for awhile, and I recently found some inspiration from Heather at Random Redheaded Ramblings, who put together a list of 25 book blog post ideas.  One of her ideas was to look at all the international covers of a book and pick a favorite.  I thought this was a great idea - I love seeing how the same book is given a new feel and look in various countries around the world.  So, in this new feature, I'll pick one book, compile a bunch of different covers, and choose my favorite - and I'd love for you to weigh in, too!

The first book I'm looking at is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - the original US hardcover is so bold and striking, can anything beat it?


2017 US Hardcover // 2018 US Paperback // 2020 Spanish



2019 Croatian // 2019 French


2019 Portuguese // 2019 Polish

This is a really hard one!  I like how most of the covers are pretty consistent, with shades of green and a dazzling dress.  Although I love the mysterious feel of the 2019 Polish edition, I think my favorite is...

The 2018 US paperback version!  It's just so dramatic!

Which one is your favorite?
 
 
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Friday, December 4, 2020

Holiday Mini-Reviews

Home For The Holidays by Sara Richardson (2020)

I picked this book up on a whim - I loved the cover and the blurb, about three sisters coming together at their aunt's inn for Christmas, really appealed to me.  I'm happy to say this book really delivered!  
 
As children, sisters Dahlia, Magnolia, and Rose used to spend every Christmas at their Aunt Sassy's Juniper Inn, but it's been years since they all got together.  Dahlia is busy raising her children and getting over her divorce; Magnolia is running a bakery business while struggling with infertility; and Rose is planning a big Southern wedding, but she's not sure her fiance's society lifestyle is what she really wants.  
 
When the sisters arrive in Colorado, they immediately remember all the good times they had there; I loved hearing about their family traditions and seeing the way they worked together to bring that magic to the inn one more time.  There's a bit of romance and some family secrets to work through, but the main focus is on the sisters and how they each make realizations and plans for the future.  Although it was pretty predictable (and oddly, had quite a few typos), this was a heartwarming read about family, love, and the holidays.  4 stars

Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd (2019)
 
I seem to be in the minority, because this book has generally very high reviews on Goodreads, but this one did not work for me at all! 

Public relations intern Olivia loves everything about the holidays; during the company's seasonal events, she decides to act as her boss Asher's fake girlfriend, to make his ex jealous.  Along the way, she realizes she has feelings for him.  There was just so much about this book that felt off for me.  Olivia's character is so contrived; she seems to subsist on coffee and sugar (let me know how that works out for you when you hit 30, Olivia).  For awhile, I couldn't figure out how old Asher was (turns out he's 26/27), but the two of them together act like immature teenagers.  Their banter is not cute, witty, or sexy; it's often mean-spirited and awkward.  I don't think Olivia understands the concept of "fake girlfriend," as from the beginning she's constantly coming on to Asher even when his ex isn't around.  The whole vibe is unprofessional and inappropriate - in what universe is it okay to walk around in your underwear in front of your boss or use his credit card to send him unwanted items?  While the tone of the book is mostly light, the author then adds this subplot of sexual assault surrounding one of the PR firm's clients.  It felt completely out of place and seemed kind of ironic given Olivia's own behavior towards Asher.  2 stars


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

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Month in Review: November 2020

 

It seems like so long ago already, but the election happened in November!  Tom and I were glued to the TV for days, watching for updates and taking in all the craziness.  I just hope that come January, things will have calmed down and inauguration day will be peaceful.

After six months of working from home at my new job, I finally made my way into the office one day for a few hours to get my laptop tuned up.  There weren't a lot of people there, since most of us are still working from home, so it was really quiet, but I managed to get a few things done and then did some shopping for our company's holiday charitable giving initiatives!

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving at my mom's house, and my sister's family joined us, too.  We had all our traditional foods, and Tom concocted a delicious sangria.  

I did a lot of online Christmas shopping in November and a little bit in person.  The only people I have left are Tom and my dad - is it just me, or are men impossible to shop for??

I participated in my first readathon - I completed 9 books and novellas for the Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to start the holiday season!

Books
 


 
 
 
 
 
The Posts and Reviews
 
 
How are YOU doing?


** This post contains affiliate links.  As a Bookshop.org affiliate, I earn a small commission on purchases made through affiliate links or my page.