Friday, July 23, 2021

Quick Reviews

Meet Me in Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft (2021)

In 1913, on the eve of World War I, Maddy and Luke meet in Bombay, India.  Their whirlwind romance and marriage are interrupted when Luke is called to serve in the war.  An injury causes him to lose his memory of his wife and child; will Maddy ever find out what happened to her husband?  I really enjoyed this book because it had a little bit of everything - romance, family secrets, amnesia, mistaken identity.  I liked the interspersed chapters of Luke in the hospital, desperately trying to remember who he is, with Maddy clinging to his memory while almost everyone around her encourages her to move on.  The writing was beautiful, elegant, and so atmospheric - I could really feel the heat and humidity of the Bombay days and nights.  Although I thought the ending was a little abrupt, I really enjoyed this story of family and love.  4 stars

Santa Monica by Cassidy Lucas (2020)
Secrets abound after a handsome physical trainer is found dead.  The blurb for this book compares it to Liane Moriarty, and I found that to be a pretty accurate assessment.  This is definitely a domestic drama, with a splash of murder mystery thrown in.  The novel starts with Zack's half-sister, Lettie, finding his body, and then it flashes back to the months before his murder.  Lettie, an illegal immigrant who relies on Zack to keep her and her son in the United States, is just one of the women in Zack's life.  There's also Regina, who is in debt and trying to start a business with him, while also doing some shady things, and Mel, who is new to the Santa Monica area, doesn't quite fit in, and finds herself very attracted to Zack despite her marriage.  I loved watching how all the characters are intertwined with each other.  Each has secrets that would be very harmful if they got out.  I thought Mel was a little too over-the-top and there was too much political talk, but the story moved quickly and held my interest.  4 stars

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: What Once Was Mine

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Liz Braswell
Expected publication date: September 7, 2021
The 12th installment in the New York Times best-selling series asks: What if Rapunzel's mother drank a potion from the wrong flower?

Desperate to save the life of their queen and her unborn child, the good people of Corona search for the all-healing Sundrop flower to cure her—but mistakenly acquire the shimmering Moondrop flower instead. Nonetheless it heals the queen, and she delivers a healthy baby girl with hair as silver and gray as the moon. With it comes dangerous magical powers: the power to hurt, not heal. For her safety and the safety of the kingdom, Rapunzel is locked in a tower and put under the care of powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel.

For eighteen years Rapunzel stays locked away, knowing she must protect others from her magical hair. But when she leaves the only home she's ever known, wanting only to see the floating lights that appear on her birthday, she gets caught up in an adventure across the kingdom with two thieves—a young woman named Gina, and Flynn Rider, a rogue on the run. Before she can reach her happy ending, Rapunzel learns that there may be more to her story, and her magical tresses, than she ever knew. - from Goodreads

I have been loving the Twisted Tales series, and now it's Rapunzel's turn!


Monday, July 19, 2021

Mid-Year Check-In: 2021 Resolutions

How is this year already more than half over??  Seriously, though, it's a good time to check in on the bookish and blogging resolutions I made at the beginning of the year!

  1. Bring back my Try It series.  I actually did one of these back in February, where I tried out the genre Nordic Noir (and really enjoyed it!).  I have at least one more on my list that I want to try this year, too.
  2. Read one book from my shelf of unread physical books per month.  Pass so far!  There was even a month where I read three books from that shelf.  Unfortunately, I keep borrowing books from my sister, so it looks like I'm not making a lot of progress!
  3. Keep growing my Instagram account.  My Instagram account has grown at least 20% since the beginning of the year!  I'm enjoying participating in photo challenges and sharing what I'm reading on a more current basis than my monthly recaps here allow.
  4. Host a giveaway. Pass!  I hosted a giveaway for my 5th blogoversary in April.  Thank you to everyone who participated!
  5. Attend at least 2 bookish events.  I attended a virtual book event hosted by the Morristown Festival of Books with VE Schwab back in February, which was really fun, but I've been slacking ever since.  I feel like I don't keep up enough with finding virtual events.  I'm really hoping, though, to attend an in-person event later this year.
  6. Do more to promote books/authors I love.  This was kind of an amorphous goal, but basically what it boiled down to was that I wanted to be more involved in the bookish community.  I've participated in a couple blog tours this year, and I've also signed up to be a part of the blogging communities for Smartypants Romance and author Staci Hart.  Staci Hart is an author I love, so it's been fun helping promote her 2021 releases.  My sister introduced me to Smartypants Romance and through them I've found some amazing new authors and books.
I'm actually pretty surprised at how well I've done at my resolutions so far!  My reading really slowed down for a couple months, but I feel like I'm getting back into the groove and I'm excited to see what the rest of the year brings!

How are you doing on your reading/blogging goals?

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fiction/Nonfiction Mini-Reviews: The Mr. Darcy Edition

Dating Mr. Darcy by Kate O'Keeffe (2020)

In order to promote her activewear line, Emma joins a reality TV dating show where the women compete to win the heart of their own "Mr. Darcy," in this case an English aristocrat named Sebastian.  Only intent to stay on for a short time, she unwittingly begins to fall for him.  
I love Pride & Prejudice retellings, so I was eager to try this one out.  Unfortunately, I had some issues with the story.  Emma often comes across as obnoxious and immature (seriously, how many times can one person say "dude"?).  She's so obviously not on the show for the right reasons (although, to be fair, how many dating reality show participants are?) that I'm surprised they didn't kick her off immediately.  She tries to be the comedian of the group, but she's so sorely unfunny.  The plot is rather predictable, as well.  I did, however, enjoy the reality TV show aspect and getting to know the other participants (they range from totally crazy to totally sweet).  I also liked watching Emma and Sebastian learn about each other and their completely different worlds.  So, overall, a bit cheesy and predictable, but for those who enjoy clean, low-angst romances, it might be worth a try!  3 stars

There's Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm (2020)
Mr. Darcy, introduced in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, is probably one of the most popular and enduring characters in literature.  In There's Something About Darcy, Gabrielle Malcolm explores different aspects of the character, how he may have inspired other classic characters, and his impact on modern novels.

I feel like I was expecting something different from this nonfiction book.  I think I expected more analysis and while it was obvious the author had done her research on Darcy and the myriad of ways he shows up in pop culture, the book often just felt like a laundry list of books and movies.  Malcolm recounted the plots of many books and it just felt extraneous at times.  I think she's also put a lot of stock in the Colin Firth version of Mr. Darcy; I've never seen that adaptation and it clearly hasn't impacted my enjoyment of the original book and the many retellings I've read.  I liked her analysis of the original Darcy character and how he was been influenced by the time period Austen lived in, but I suppose I wanted more about how the character's (and original story's) universal traits have an almost timeless appeal that still translates today, especially considering the many modern retellings that have been published just in the last couple decades alone.  3 stars

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Velvet Was The Night

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Expected publication date: August 17, 2021
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and anti-heroes. - from Goodreads

I'm really interested by the noir feeling of this book!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Guest Blogger: Musings on Preorders

Today I'm welcoming to the blog my sister, Michele!  Many of our conversations revolve around books and we recently had a discussion about preorders - personally, I'm sometimes intimidated by them because if a book was so highly anticipated for me that I took the time to preorder it, I have really high expectations that I'm worried won't be met, so I usually end up putting them off.  Keep reading for Michele's thoughts!


As I have gotten back into reading the last few years and started following many authors on social media, I have learned how important preorders are to those authors. When a reader preorders an author’s next release, it helps them earn spots on bestseller lists, allows their publisher to extrapolate early demand, and assists book stores in properly stocking their shelves. Showing early excitement and enthusiasm is one of the best things we can do for the authors we enjoy.


I have a number of auto-buy authors and I always eagerly anticipate their latest release. Sometimes I will even preorder it a number of months in advance. However, I typically don’t actually end up reading it anywhere near release day. Even though it’s something I have been looking forward to, I feel like putting off reading it right away helps me savor it just a little bit more.

I recently noticed that my book hauls for 2021 have contained a number of preordered books and I decided to designate the month of June to finally catch up on those titles. I am glad I did because there were so many good reads!

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This – Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba – Chanel Cleeton

Take Me Home Tonight – Morgan Matson

To Love and To Loathe – Martha Waters

Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez

Do you dive into your preorders as soon as they release? What authors do you preorder books from?
* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Quick Reviews: The Camille Pagán Edition

Libby, feeling uncharacteristically dissatisfied with her life, decides to take her family to Puerto Rico, where she and her husband met and fell in love.  However, an incoming storm puts her family in danger.  I think a lot of people will be able to relate to Libby.  On paper, it seems like she has it all - a great marriage, two amazing kids, a fulfilling career, and her cancer has been in remission for a decade.  But, that doesn't tell the whole story about how her husband has been distant, her daughter is dealing with a diabetes diagnosis, and she feels stagnated in her job.  Even though Libby is normally the eternal optimist, lately she can't muster her typical happiness.  She thinks a trip to Puerto Rico will help, but a big storm will threaten everything.  I expected a bit more humor from Pagan, and this story definitely had a more pessimistic tone, but I still enjoyed it.  It was a quick read that had me turning the pages to see how the family would fare.  4 stars
Annie is having a rough time - she was forced to resign from her job due to something that was totally not her fault, and her fiance Jon has decided to jet off to Paris by himself for a month.  She decides she needs space from people in general, but a new neighbor and a private investigator might change her mind.  I didn't love this one as much as I thought I would.  I love that Annie is a chemist, but unfortunately, we never really get to see her in practice.  She has a very clinical, analytical personality that I couldn't always relate to or enjoy.  I sometimes felt like the story was going nowhere, and the ending was way too abrupt. I wasn't sure if I was meant to hate or like her fiance Jon.  However, I did enjoy the format of the story, told in emails and journal entries.  I liked Annie's growth throughout the story and the story arc of her new neighbor, Harper, which was kind of surprising.  3.5 stars

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: My Cone and Only

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Susannah Nix
Expected publication date: July 20, 2021
Wyatt King isn’t looking for love…because he’s already found it.

Too bad she’s off-limits. He’s not going to be the jerk who messes around with his best friend’s little sister, so he keeps his feelings bottled up and settles for acting as her protector instead.

Andie Lockhart’s dreamed of kissing Wyatt for as long as she’s known what kissing is. But since he’s dated nearly every woman in town but her, she’s long since accepted he’ll never see her as anything more than his best friend’s tomboy little sister.

When a real estate developer threatens the beloved old house Andie inherited from her grandmother, her white knight Wyatt swoops in with his handyman skills to save the day. But the more time they spend working on the house together, the harder it becomes to ignore their irresistible attraction.

Until the night an accidental kiss blows the lid off those feelings they’ve both kept buried.

After that, things between them get a lot hotter—and a lot more complicated. Forbidden love, broken promises, family secrets, and jealousy all threaten to tear them apart. If he intends to hold on to the woman he loves, Wyatt will have to put everything on the line. - from Goodreads

I love a good romance for summer!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Month in Review: June 2021

Just a little housekeeping note - as I'm sure you've all heard, Google's FeedBurner is going into maintenance mode at some point this month.  That means the email subscription service my blog uses will no longer function.  As I'm too lazy to research another option, I would encourage my lovely email subscribers to follow another way, either by Bloglovin' or Facebook, and links to both of those can be found to the right!
So, onto June!  This was actually a really quiet month.  Tom and I have been working on cleaning/organizing/purging some areas of our house - we have way too much stuff and it's getting overwhelming!  I spent a Saturday shopping with my mom and sister (I know, seems counterproductive to what I just said, but it was for clothes, so I feel like it's ok!).  It's nice to just be able to go places and not have to think about it too much!  Work has been pretty busy.  The woman I've been training with/working under for the past year retired this month (it was well-deserved, she stayed on for way longer than she had planned to), so suddenly I feel a lot more pressure!  I actually had to go into the office for the first time since November to help train some new staff members, and it was nice to be around other people for a few hours!  We are mainly still working from home, although the company is working on a reopening plan for the fall, so we'll see what happens.

The Books
The Posts and Reviews

How are you doing?
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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Last Debutantes

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Georgie Blalock 
Expected publication date: August 24, 2021
Fans of The Kennedy Debutante and Last Year in Havana will love Georgie Blalock’s new novel of a world on the cusp of change...set on the eve of World War II in the glittering world of English society and one of the last debutante seasons. 

They danced the night away, knowing their world was about to change forever. They were the debutantes of 1939, laughing on the outside, but knowing tragedy— and a war—was just around the corner.

When Valerie de Vere Cole, the niece of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, makes her deep curtsey to the King and Queen of England, she knows she’s part of a world about to end. The daughter of a debt-ridden father and a neglectful mother, Valerie sees firsthand that war is imminent.

Nevertheless, Valerie reinvents herself as a carefree and glittering young society woman, befriending other debutantes from England’s aristocracy as well as the vivacious Eunice Kennedy, daughter of the U.S. Ambassador. Despite her social success, the world’s troubles and Valerie’s fear of loss and loneliness prove impossible to ignore.

  How will she navigate her new life when everything in her past has taught her that happiness and stability are as fragile as peace in our time? For the moment she will forget her cares in too much champagne and waltzes. Because very soon, Valerie knows that she must find the inner strength to stand strong and carry on through the challenges of life and love and war. - from Goodreads

You all know I can't resist a WWII novel, and the way this mixes debutante culture with a country on the brink of war is really appealing!  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our most anticipated releases for the second half of 2021.  There are a lot of incredible-sounding books coming out later this year, and these are just a few of the ones I'm most looking forward to!

Are you looking forward to any of these books?

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

Friday, June 25, 2021

Mini-Reviews: Pride & Prejudice Retellings

As much as I love P&P retellings, this one fell way short for me.  Trisha is a successful neurosurgeon who has been somewhat estranged from her family for almost 15 years.  DJ Caine is a chef whose sister is being treated by Trisha.  The two have their issues from the start, but might they be able to overcome their first impressions?  I did enjoy some things - I loved the culture and the food, and the way the author played with elements of the original story (the two leads are kind of swapped) without tying herself down with trying to incorporate everything.  Unfortunately, there was a lot I didn't like - first, the book was way too long (almost 500 pages!).  It could have easily been 100 pages shorter.  There was so much extraneous background information on so many of the characters.  I just didn't need it all.  I hated the way Trisha's family treated her.  They were basically gaslighting her for something that was in no way her fault (and it also happened when she was a teenager - they need to get over themselves).  The romance was lacking - I know P&P is a slow burn, but to not get a payoff on the romance until literally the last few pages in a book this long was frustrating.  Finally, the writing was very repetitive.  The author would constantly detail what the characters wanted to say in a heated conversation followed by what they actually said.  It was very confusing and I had to keep rereading sections to figure out what was actually happening.  2.5 stars

A modern take on Pride & Prejudice between two Civil War historians at a small Mississippi college.  Ransom and Shelby's first meeting doesn't go well after he writes a terrible review of her book in a national magazine.  Her blunt honesty and his stoic nature find them in one misunderstanding after another but they eventually get to know each other better.  Although I didn't love this book, I thought there were things to enjoy.  One thing I had an issue with was how nasty some of the characters were to Shelby, and it felt completely unwarranted.  Her department head is constantly finding ways to undermine her, for instance.  I also felt like there were scenes and plot threads that went nowhere.  But I did enjoy the way the author took elements of the classic novel and adapted them to a more modern setting.  She didn't use every character and situation, but the ones she did are easily identifiable.  I also liked the college setting and the fact that the two main characters are historians.  The little touches of Southern history were really interesting.  I didn't realize this book was Christian fiction, so the story was fairly clean and the romance very simplified, but it worked here.  3.5 stars

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Her Heart For A Compass

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
Expected publication date: August 3, 2021
London 1865

In an attempt to rebel against a society where women are expected to conform, free-spirited Lady Margaret Montagu Scott flees the confines of polite society, and an arranged marriage. But Lady Margaret’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, as close friends with Queen Victoria, must face the public scrutiny of their daughter’s impulsive nature, and Margaret is banished from polite society.

Finding strength amongst equally free-spirited companions, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, Margaret resolves to follow her heart. On a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain, Lady Margaret must follow her internal compass and search for her place, and her own identity, in a changing society.

Incorporating research into her heritage and drawing upon her own unique life journey and experiences, the Duchess pens a fictional account of the life of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. Rich in historical detail, Her Heart for a Compass offers a compelling look at Victorian England and the fascinating journey of a woman, born into the higher echelons of society, whose only desire is to follow her heart.

With co-writer Marguerite Kaye, an accomplished Mills & Boon historical author, The Duchess has created a breathtaking romantic novel of daring to follow your heart against all odds. Set amongst the drawing rooms of Victoria’s court, and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland. - from Goodreads

I'm pretty obsessed with royalty, so a book BY someone royal modeled on their own ancestor, a member of high society herself, of course has made its way onto my TBR!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Quotables #19: The Bookish Edition


I love all of these quotes for basically the same reasons - they all perfectly capture the different ways that books touch our lives.  Books are reliable and can be an escape.  We can relate to the characters and see ourselves in them.  Books never judge us and can also make us see ourselves in different ways, even if only within its pages and in our minds.

Which one of these is your favorite?

Friday, June 18, 2021

Romance Quick Reviews

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh (2020)
Samira has returned to Australia to help her cousin launch her new business, and after many years of relationship troubles, she finds herself having a fling with a younger man - but could it be something more?  I really wanted to like this book, but a few things just held me back.  I was expecting a sweet and sexy romance, which it was for a little while, but then things got real serious and the whole tone of the book changed.  It felt unrealistic and unnecessary.  I liked the inclusion of Samira's Indian culture, even though it was frustrating that her mother and her friends judge Samira's worth on marriage and children, completely ignoring the amazing career she's built.  Rory is a total sweetheart, and I loved his story of overcoming childhood issues to get to where he is today.  But my big issue with the book is that Samira is 10 years older than Rory and they are constantly referencing that fact.  Samira is the exact same age as me, and they were making her sound ancient - harsh!  3 stars 

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (2020)
Minnie and Quinn were born at the same hospital on New Year's Day, but because Quinn was born just minutes earlier, his family won the cash prize for the year's first baby born.  Minnie thinks her bad luck stems from this day, and she's resentful of Quinn, until they run into each other on their 30th birthday and she finally gets to know him.  I thought this was such a sweet and charming story.  Quinn has become this almost mythical figure in Minnie's mind, but when they actually start spending time together, she realizes his life isn't as charmed as she thought it would be.  I could have used a bit more romance in this book, but I enjoyed Minnie's growth throughout the story as she finally takes control of her own life.  I also liked the flashbacks to other New Year's Eves, where we see all the times Minnie and Quinn have run into each other without realizing it.  It really made it feel like these two were fated to be together!  4 stars

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Madness of Crowds

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #17)
Louise Penny
Expected publication date: August 24, 2021
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny's latest spellbinding novel

You're a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He's asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson's views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it's near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds. - from Goodreads

Every year I look forward to a new installment from Louise Penny in her Inspector Gamache series, and this sounds like it will be another incredible story!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our summer TBR!  I only read about 70% of my spring TBR, so, not great!  I haven't been going to the library much lately, so for my summer TBR, I'm going to mainly focus on books I already own (physical and ebook).

Where should I start first?

Friday, June 11, 2021

Review: Friends With Benedicts

Staci Hart
Published June 8, 2021
Timing is everything.

Presley Hale and Sebastian Vargas are no strangers to goodbye. Their high school summers were spent wrapped up in each other until she would inevitably go home to California. One season after college, Sebastian finally escaped the little Texas town to travel the world, and they said goodbye for what they thought might be the last time.  Sebastian went one way. Presley went the other.

For the first time in five years, they’re both in town, but the timing is no better than ever. So the only thing to do is what they do best. Keep it casual.

Friends with benefits.

They’ve done it before—doing it again will be easy.

But their hearts don’t get the memo.

When the lines of their arrangement blur, Presley and Sebastian are faced with decisions they’ve avoided for years. And that’s not even their biggest problem.
A small town in danger of failing.

A secret that could tear them apart.

And two hearts that can’t hide anymore.

They’ve shared so many summers, but none compare to what they’ll face.

Timing is everything.
And their time is almost up. - from Goodreads
Thank you to the author for providing me with a complimentary ARC of this book.  All thoughts are my own.
Presley and Sebastian spent summers together for years when she returned to his small Texas town to visit her family but haven't seen in each other in awhile.  Now, she's back in town and eager to reconnect, but a secret she's held onto for years could derail everything.

I loved Sebastian and Presley - Presley is so good-hearted and positive, and Sebastian is a good mix of serious and silly.  The chemistry between them leapt off the pages - you could tell each wanted to make their "friends with benefits" situation more permanent, but both worried the other one wouldn't want it.  The miscommunication was a little frustrating, but they did explain themselves well.  After Presley revealed her secret to Sebastian, it made me root for them even more.

A fun cast of supporting characters surround Presley and Sebastian; they're fleshed out enough so that I felt invested in them, but they also never felt like they were overpowering the story.  They added just enough!  Hart does a great job of creating the small-town atmosphere, where everyone knows each other and their business!  There's an additional storyline where the town's small businesses are being threatened by the possible arrival of a big box store, and it was great to see everyone come together and fight.

I always love Staci Hart's stories, and this was no exception.  I breezed through this story in just a couple days and it was exactly what I needed at the time.  A sweet romance, with some steamy scenes and just enough drama to keep things interesting!
4 stars

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: For Your Own Good

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Samantha Downing
Expected publication date: July 20, 2021
USA Today bestselling author Samantha Downing is back with her latest sneaky thriller set at a prestigious private school—complete with interfering parents, overeager students, and one teacher who just wants to teach them all a lesson…

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn't be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It's really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost. - from Goodreads

Samantha Downing always has the best blurbs that will shock you and draw you in, and her stories don't disappoint either!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Battle of the Book Covers #5

In Battle of the Book Covers, I pick one book, compile a bunch of different international covers, and choose my favorite - and I'd love for you to weigh in, too!  (Thank you to Heather at Random Redheaded Ramblings, who put together a list of 25 book blog post ideas, for the inspiration!)
For this edition, I'm going back to 2010 with The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, one of my favorite books! 

2010 United States // 2013 Serbian // 2011 Norwegian

2013 Bulgarian // 2013 French // 2011 Dutch

2012 Portugese // 2011 Italian // 2010 German

2013 Romanian // 2012 Spanish
This one is really hard, because there are so many to choose from - I wasn't expecting that!  I think I'll go with...

 The 2011 Norwegian cover!  Although I like the ones that show some version of the castle, I feel like the open gate is calling to me, telling me that there's some sort of secret or mystery behind it!

Which one is your favorite?

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