Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Mayfair Bookshop

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Eliza Knight
Expected publication date: April 12, 2022
USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight brings together a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop.

“An absolute must-read!”—Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author The Last Bookshop in London

1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly sparkling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.

Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author. Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways. - from Goodreads

Dual timeline, historical fiction, WWII-adjacent?  Yes, please!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is the best books we read in 2021.  With all the romance reading I did this year, it's not surprising that the genre dominates my list of favorites, but there's also historical fiction and even a nonfiction book on this list!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke
Get Lucky by Lila Monroe
Fool Me Once (now Champagne Problems) by Staci Hart
Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan
Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl
Street Smart by Aly Stiles

What made your best of 2021 list?

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Wedding Veil

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Kristy Woodson Harvey
Expected publication date: March 29, 2022
The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky and the Peachtree Bluff series brings “her signature wit, charm, and heart” (Woman’s World) to this sweeping new novel following four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family.

Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.

Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.

1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.

In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time. - from Goodreads

I'm very intrigued by the Vanderbilt family/Biltmore Estate connection!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Year-End Wrap-Up: 2021 Resolutions

It's hard to believe, but this year is just about over!  Time to take a look back at the reading and blogging goals I set way back in January and see how I did!

  1. Bring back my Try It series. So I only managed two new editions of the Try It series, but hey, I think that counts as a pass!  I tried Nordic Noir and dark romance this year.
  2. Read one book from my shelf of unread physical books per monthPass!  There were even months I read as many as three books from my unread shelf.  I really was able to move a lot of books from this shelf and there's currently only a couple left.  It'll be nice to start 2022 with a (mostly!) clean slate.
  3. Keep growing my Instagram account.  My Instagram account has grown over 45% 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.  I also watched an Amazon Live with Penny Reid, during which she gave a sneak peak of the covers of her upcoming novels!
  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 few blog tours this year with TLC Book Tours, and I've also signed up to be a part of the blogging communities for Smartypants Romance and author Staci Hart. It was really fun being involved in Staci Hart's releases and helping promote the spring and fall Smartypants Romance launches!
I'm really proud that I was able to accomplish my goals this year, especially considering that my reading slowed down for quite a bit while I was pregnant (and will probably be down for awhile while Henry is so young), and I'm looking forward to seeing what next year brings!

How did you do on your reading/blogging goals this year?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Even More Holiday Quick Reviews

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox (2021)
Charlie is the judge on a reality TV baking show, and when an accident causes her to lose her sense of taste and smell, she convinces her twin sister Cass to fill in for her, while Charlie takes over at the family bakery.  Things get complicated when they each start falling for a guy in the other's life.  Being a twin myself, I always love stories about twins, although I tend to find it hard to believe that practically no one is able to tell that the two have switched places.  Anyway, this was a cute double romance, although I didn't feel the Christmas vibes too much until the end.  I liked that Cass and Charlie each got to experience what the other is going through in their life, after growing apart a little, and I think that they also got to learn a lot about themselves and even come to some realizations about what they really want.  And the descriptions of all the baked goods were mouthwatering!  4 stars

Hate Me Under the Mistletoe by Kelly Jamieson (2021)
Amy and Ryder find themselves sharing the same cabin when they're accidentally offered it at the same time by their friends.  Amy wants to spend Christmas alone, but Ryder is all about the Christmas spirit, planning to spend only a couple days at the cabin before joining his family for the big holiday.  A sudden blizzard, however, may change their plans - and their feelings.  This was a really fun - and steamy - Christmas romance.  I liked that Amy and Ryder have a history together, knowing each other since they were teenagers.  It made the warp speed of their relationship make a lot of sense.  Even though this book was pretty short, more of a novella, Jamieson managed to pack a lot into it.  There was not only the shared history, but Amy is also working through feelings of inadequacy about her career and life in general, and Ryder is worried that his workaholic tendencies are causing him to miss out on the good things in life.  It all made for a really well-rounded story.  Although I didn't really care for Amy's harsh attitude at the beginning, I soon found myself rooting for her and Ryder.  Perfect for readers looking for all the Christmas feels mixed with some seriously steamy scenes!  4 stars

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Allison Pataki
Expected publication date: February 15, 2022
An epic reimagining of the remarkable life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress and trailblazing leader of the twentieth century, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sisi

Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard--even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar's treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood's biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie's journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father's barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post's Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie's story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process. - from Goodreads

I don't know really anything about Marjorie Post, but from this blurb she sounds fascinating and I can't wait to learn more about her!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My 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.  With a newborn at home, I don't know how much reading time I'm going to be getting, so I'm keeping my TBR small and mostly taking advantage of my Kindle Unlimited subscription and books I already own!


What's on your TBR?

Friday, December 10, 2021

More Holiday Quick Reviews

A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes (2021)

Sabrina is staying at the Plaza Hotel, ghostwriting the memoir of famous art dealer Grayson Westcott, when she meets Ian.  Through some misunderstandings, Sabrina thinks Ian is British aristocracy and he thinks she is a wealthy businesswoman.  There's a spark between them, but will they feel the same way when they find out the truth about each other?  The Plaza Hotel/NYC setting is so perfect for a Christmas romance, and I really felt all the holiday vibes coming through.  The romance was sweet, although maybe a little too chaste and old-fashioned for my liking, particularly for a contemporary novel.  I was pleasantly surprised by a second timeline depicting Grayson's time as a butler at the Plaza more than 50 years ago, when he served Kay Thompson, author of the Eloise books set at the hotel.  And I loved the way the two timelines ended up coming together!  4 stars

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday (2020)
Leo, a guy from NYC taking care of his little sister, finds himself acting as chauffeur to a real-life princess during her stay in the city.  The two grow close and Princess Marie invites Leo and his sister to her country to celebrate Christmas.  Although there are feelings between Marie and Leo, their different backgrounds may make it impossible for them to be together.  I really liked this holiday romance, and the royalty angle is something I can never resist!  I loved the relationship between Leo and his sister Gabby - I could really tell how much they love each other and how hard he's trying to give her a normal life.  I was rooting for Marie in her desire to do some good in the world and break away from her father's demands.  Although Marie seemed a little stiff at times, the growing feelings between Marie and Leo were sweet and then, surprisingly, pretty steamy!  I definitely wasn't expecting such a spicy romance, but I enjoyed it!  A little predictable in the end, but overall, a lovely romance with all the trappings of a Hallmark Christmas movie!  4 stars

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Running Wild

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Running Wild (The Simple Wild #4)
K.A. Tucker
Expected publication date: January 25, 2022
From the internationally bestselling author of The Simple Wild comes a new story in the Wild world featuring veterinarian Marie and her struggles to find her own happily ever after. - from Goodreads

So, at the time I'm putting this post together, there isn't much of a blurb for the book, but I'm still excited to return to this world and get to know one of the side characters better!


Monday, December 6, 2021

Guest Blogger: Indies Invade Philly 2021

Michele is back today recapping a bookish event she attended in November, Indies Invade Philly 2021!  I've really missed attending in-person book events, so I'm glad I get to go vicariously through her!


On November 13, 2021, I attended Indies Invade Philly, a huge author event that took place in, you guessed it, Philadelphia, PA. I have been to other book events and signings but this was by far the largest one I’ve ever attended. Over the course of the morning and afternoon sessions, over 700 romance book lovers got to meet and mingle with their favorite authors and narrators. 

I originally first heard of this event over the summer and was able to secure tickets before they sold out in about 10 minutes! When I first got my tickets, I was really only attending to meet Melanie Harlow and my queen, Sarina Bowen. But in the months leading up to the event, I tried to read books by some of the other authors and I’m so glad I did because I found many new-to-me authors that I intend on following in the future. Another fun thing about this particular event was that they also included audiobook narrators – it was really cool meeting the voices behind some of the books I’ve listened to!

Some of the authors and narrators that highlighted my day were:

Sarina Bowen

Melanie Harlow

Amy Daws

Amber Kelly

Claire Kingsley

Melanie Moreland

Kathryn Nolan

Lucy Score

Rebecca Sharp

Erin Mallon (narrator)

Teddy Hamilton (narrator)


Every author and narrator was so gracious and lovely and judging by the social media posts after the event, they were just as excited as the fans to be able to get together for a book event in person again. This event was extremely well run and organized and I would highly recommend it to other book lovers. Special thanks to my hubby for lugging the books and taking all the pictures while I fangirled for 3+ hours. Can’t wait until next year’s event!


Have you been to any big book signings? Any you are looking forward to?

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Month in Review: November 2021

Our family was doubly blessed this month!  Early in November, my youngest brother and his wife received the call they've been waiting for, and they adopted a newborn baby boy!  We are so thrilled to have another nephew to love!  Then, at the end of the month, our little bear cub made his way into the world - Henry August was born on November 28 at 9:40am.  We have been home for a few days now and are settling in as a family of three.  As I'm writing this, I'm watching him nap peacefully and I can hardly believe this is my life!

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.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Holiday Quick Reviews

The Mistletoe Pact by Jo Lovett (2021)

Evie and Dan jokingly make a pact at Christmastime to marry each other when they reach thirty if they are both still single.  Eight years later, one drunken night leads to a Vegas wedding.  They've both had secret feelings for each other for years; what will they do now?  Unfortunately, this one was just a miss for me.  I liked the format of the book, which moved back and forth in time to show all the missed opportunities between Evie and Dan over the years (neither admitting their feelings, one of them being in a relationship, etc.) and what happens to them after the wedding, but the writing was a real letdown.  It felt stilted.  Also, I never really got a good sense of Evie and Dan as characters; I couldn't see what they saw in each other because they were so bland and not well-fleshed-out. The book started off quite well, but the execution just went downhill after that.  2.5 stars

A collection of three romance novellas that (mostly) take place in Reindeer Falls, Michigan, a quaint small town that loves Christmas and follows the stories of three sisters aptly named for the holidays, Holly, Ginger, and Noel Winter.  Holly sees a different side of her boss on a business trip to Germany; Ginger is competing against a (hot) professional chef on a reality tv baking show; and Noel is suffering from a case of mistaken identity after a one-night stand with a man in a Santa suit.  All three of these stories were really fun and different.  The writing is snappy and although there was some serious insta-love going on, I could forgive it a bit in the condensed nature of the stories.  I think I liked Holly's story the best - it felt the most fleshed-out, with her issues with her boss and how he's able to change her mind during the work trip.  All three stories, though, will get you in the holiday spirit, with some sexiness to boot!  4 stars

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

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Paris Apartment

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Lucy Foley
Expected publication date: February 22, 2022
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone's a neighbor. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling. - from Goodreads

I haven't been reading a ton of mysteries/thrillers lately, but I can't resist the Paris setting and I've enjoyed Foley's books in the past!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Guest Blogger: Cover Love

Michele is back with another guest post, and today she's talking cover love!  As a self-proclaimed cover snob, I'm definitely all about this topic!


Cover trends in the publishing industry are constantly changing and evolving. So too do our own personal tastes in book covers. Today I thought I would share some covers that I am really loving lately.


I used to definitely gravitate more towards the illustrated character covers for romance novels. But now, I really love when real models are used. Melanie Harlow’s Cloverleigh Farms all have really dreamy and beautiful covers. The covers for Karla Sorensen’s Ward Sisters series are also really fantastic. 

Fun fact – the cover models on Kristen Granata’s Someone You Love and Kandi Steiner’s Close Quarters and Say Yes are all couples in real life!

Illustrated – with a Twist

There are authors who design their own book covers, including Penny Reid and Staci Hart. Staci Hart’s covers are very fun and quirky, but Penny Reid put a crafty twist on hers. Her Winston Brothers series includes covers with cross-stitched bearded guys and the Solving for Pie series features string art.

The Stay a Spell series from Juliette Cross caught my eye immediately with their slightly gothic but still colorful, fully illustrated look.  Before it was relaunched as the Clifton Forge series with new covers, Devney Perry’s Tin Gypsy series all had striking covers that you would not normally associate with the romance genre.

What types of covers are you drawn to? Do you have any favorite covers?
* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Quick Reviews

This book actually turned out to be a collection of three romance novellas, all of which take place in Moonbright, Maine, a town that loves fall and Halloween, and have ties to a local beloved bakery.  Each story had a different romance trope - love at first sight between two chefs, although one is only planning on being in town temporarily; a sort-of enemies-to-lovers, in which a woman has her sights set on one man but eventually sees that the man in front of her is a better match; and two people who knew each other in high school and now work together in local government, years later.  I loved the small-town autumn vibe of each novella, and the stories are low drama with sweet romances and surprising steam at times.  My issue with novellas is that the story often doesn't feel fleshed out enough or things are wrapped up too quickly, and those both definitely happened here, but overall, these are charming stories that are perfect for autumn reading.  4 stars

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price (2021)
A Pride & Prejudice retelling where the characters are caught up in a murder mystery.  Lizzie Bennet wants to be a lawyer, and she gets a chance to prove herself to her father when she's brought on by Bingley to prove his innocence in his brother-in-law's murder.  Darcy is the lawyer-in-training officially handling the Bingley case.  I generally love P&P retellings, but this one missed the mark for me.  I didn't really understand the author's need to keep the story in the original time period, when she had to take serious liberties both plot and character-wise.  Just put this in a different time when it would have made more sense for a woman to train to become a lawyer.   I also didn't understand why Lizzie had to be so young (17) - also totally unrealistic.  Lizzie was supposed to be so smart, but her logic was flawed and very simplistic at times.  That all being said, I did enjoy seeing where the author stayed true to the original text and where she made adaptations.  The identity of the killer was also something I didn't guess, so that's always fun in a mystery.  Overall, a good idea for a P&P retelling, but lacking in the execution.  2.5 stars

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