Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Colorful Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is colorful book covers.  I always enjoy cover-related topics, so here are some that I found!

What are some of your favorite colorful covers?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Romance Mini-Reviews

 Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke (2021)

Veterinarian Holden McKenzie needs to prove to a potential employer that he's a stable, committed man; when he finds out his childhood friend Sophie needs some quick cash to save her B&B, he proposes a marriage of convenience to help solve both their problems.  Neither expected the feelings the fake marriage brings up.  

I loved this book so much.  Within the first couple of pages, Holden had me laughing out loud.  I liked his drive to obtain a dream job at a prestigious place in Florida, and I loved Sophie's commitment to her late grandmother's B&B and her roots in her Tennessee town.  The banter between Holden and Sophie felt so natural, and even though their marriage started off lightheartedly, as time went on, you could tell the tone got a little more serious as their romantic feelings started to blossom and the stakes got higher.  Their history together (summers spent together growing up) made their relationship feel so effortless and right, and I was rooting for them all along!  The small-town atmosphere, where everyone knows everyone else (and their business), only added to the story.  Overall, a sweet and at times unexpectedly sexy romance!  4.5 stars

Heart Smart by Emma Lee Jayne (2021)
Scientist and college professor Max Ramsey is up for a prestigious fellowship, but due to his gruff demeanor, communications lecturer Holly is brought in to help clean up his image and prepare him for a series of speeches.  They butt heads right from the start, but could their tension evolve into something else? 

This was a really great read.  I loved the college campus setting, with the focus on professors instead of students.  Max and Holly are each well-rounded characters, especially Holly.  At first, Max seems intimidating and dismissive of Holly, and I liked how she never backed down.  There's also a lot of representation here; Holly has ADHD, and it was interesting to see how it has affected her life, her coping mechanisms, and how it's different for her as a woman.  Max not only has a physical disability (a limp as well as scars from a childhood accident), but he also reveals he has Asperger's.  I thought that came across a lot more in the second half of the book, where we can really see his difficulties with social cues and expressing himself.  He seems much more vulnerable than at the beginning of the story.  I wish there has been more in the story about the speech series, getting ready for it, and how Max performed in his bid to win the fellowship, though.  4 stars

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Maidens

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Alex Michaelides
Expected publication date: June 15, 2021
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly).

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life. - from Goodreads

This sounds like it's going to be an incredible thriller, and I love the Greek mythology elements!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Podcasts I'm Listening To Lately

Without my work commute, I was finding it really hard to get through audiobooks last year.  While I could listen to them while going for walks or doing chores, they were just taking way too long.  My sister suggested that I try podcasts instead; their shorter lengths make them much more manageable.  Since then, I've found quite a few podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, and here are some of my favorites!

First up are the two Bravo-related podcasts I listen to (I'm obsessed with Housewives, #sorrynotsorry).  Real Moms of Bravo features two friends (and moms) who recap all their favorite Bravo shows and sometimes talk about personal things.  On Mention It All, Dylan and Bari not only recap the shows, but also insert their snarky analysis and report on all breaking Bravo news.

For deep (and funny) thoughts on all things related to food, you have to try A Hot Dog is a Sandwich.  The two hosts choose a culinary question or debate for each episode, such as crunchy vs. smooth peanut butter, is bacon overrated, and what's the best pizza style.  Since I'm obsessed with the British royal family (and just royalty in general), of course I listen to Royally Obsessed.  The hosts break down all the royal news and sightings each week, as well as "this week in royal history."

Books and the City is hosted by four friends who met at a book club and then started a podcast.  They live and read in New York City.  You and Me Both with Hillary Clinton is the only semi-political podcast I listen to, but it's really so much more than that.  Each week she sits down with a guest (or two or three) and chats about things ranging from religion to cooking to politics (of course).

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Friday, April 9, 2021

March Quick Reviews

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg (2020)

Elsie Camden lives in a Victorian England where people must pay to use magic and cast spells, but the ability to break spells is a gift only some are born with.  Elsie is a spellbreaker, but as she is unregistered, technically the work she does is illegal.  One day she is caught by a magic user, and she strikes a deal with the mysterious (and handsome) stranger.  I always enjoy Holmberg's stories; she creates unique and interesting magical systems that merge well with their settings.  The magical system in this book really highlights the class differences of the Victorian era.  I liked Elsie's character; she believes she's using her spellbreaking abilities to help the common people.  The plot was a mix of a historical fantasy and a cozy mystery.  There were some unexpected twists and turns that took the story in some interesting directions, and it sets up the second book of the duology nicely.  4 stars

Layla by Colleen Hoover (2020)
This is not going to be an easy review to write; I've been ruminating on my feelings for a couple days and I still don't have a firm grip on how I feel about this book!  For Leeds and Layla, it's love at first sight, until an attack leaves Layla with a traumatic brain injury.  To help her recover, Leeds takes her back to the B&B where they first met, but while working on their relationship, Leeds meets Willow, and he's torn between the two women.  I think it's common knowledge by this point that this book is a paranormal romance, but I don't want to say too much more than that because it really is better to go in as blind as possible.  Hoover's writing is great, as always, but I couldn't help but really dislike Leeds; he makes so many questionable choices!  The story definitely held some surprises, too - each time I thought I knew what was going on, Hoover threw a wrench into it.  But - I can't decide if this book was totally brilliant or totally cheesy!  I do feel like the ending came on really fast and would have liked a little more closure.  3.5 stars

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett (2020)
In the 1930s, a young woman searches for her adventurer/historian father, with the help of her former beau, after he disappears while searching for a mystical ring that formally belonged to Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula.  This book is basically the YA/lite version of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and since that's one of my favorite books, I was both excited and nervous to read this story.  The Lady Rogue is a quick-moving historical fantasy, as Theodora and Huck search Romania for her father and dive into the history of the region.  It had a lot of spunk and humor, which made the sometimes dark topics more palatable.  Although I understood the unresolved feelings Theo and Huck had for each other, I thought the story relied too much on their romance.  It just felt unnecessary in a story that was so heavily focused on danger and adventure.  Not every YA book has to have romance!  Can we focus instead on how intelligent Theo is?  The ending was super rushed, but maybe we'll get to see these characters on another adventure!  3.5 stars

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Luck of the Titanic

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Stacey Lee
Expected publication date: May 4, 2021
From the critically acclaimed author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British - Chinese acrobats traveling aboard the Titanic on its ill fated maiden voyage.

Southampton, 1912: Seventeen-year-old British-Chinese Valora Luck has quit her job and smuggled herself aboard the Titanic with two goals in mind: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie--her only family now that both their parents are dead--and to convince a part-owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus to take the twins on as acrobats. Quick-thinking Val talks her way into opulent firstclass accommodations and finds Jamie with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. But in the rigidly stratified world of the luxury liner, Val's ruse can only last so long, and after two long years apart, it's unclear if Jamie even wants the life Val proposes. Then, one moonless night in the North Atlantic, the unthinkable happens--the supposedly unsinkable ship is dealt a fatal blow--and Val and her companions suddenly find themselves in a race to survive.

Stacey Lee, master of historical fiction, brings a fresh perspective to an infamous tragedy, loosely inspired by the recently uncovered account of six Titanic survivors of Chinese descent.
- from Goodreads

I'll never get tired of stories about the Titanic, and this sounds like a really interesting angle!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Battle of the Book Covers #4

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 2016 for Fiona Davis' debut novel, The Dollhouse.  Fiona Davis writes beautiful historical fiction novels set in iconic New York City buildings, and their covers generally feature a picture of the subject building, which in this case is the Barbizon Hotel. 

2016 US // 2017 Bulgarian // 2017 Dutch

2017 German // 2017 Italian // 2018 Norwegian

While I love the viewpoint of the German edition and the glamour of the Italian cover, I think my favorite is...

The 2016 US cover!  I love the grayscale with the pops of red.  I think this might have been based on an actual postcard, but I'm not 100% sure!

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

Friday, April 2, 2021

Month in Review: March 2021

March was a pretty quiet month around here.  We had a lot of really nice weather, so we took advantage of it and went for afternoon walks almost every day.  My niece had a sleepover at my mom's house one weekend, and since she lives nearby, I spent the afternoon with them, going to the playground and crafting, painting rocks to look like ladybugs.  Tom made a traditional meal for St. Patrick's Day, which is basically his favorite holiday of the year.  While most of my co-workers are busy with tax season, I'm in kind of a quiet time, so I attended some educational webinars and caught up on other projects.

It's hard to believe that it's officially been a year since the pandemic started.  Tom and I are both still working from home, and we don't see that changing soon.  He is eligible to get a vaccine through his employer but hasn't made an appointment just yet.
The Books

The Posts and Reviews
 How are YOU doing?
* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.