Friday, May 28, 2021

May Quick Reviews

The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher (2020)

Grace Kelly was a Hollywood star, even winning an Academy Award, when she gave it all up for love and became the Princess of Monaco.  In this historical fiction novel, author Kerri Maher uses research and her own imagination to fill in the gaps of what Kelly's life was like, from her beginnings as an actress until her untimely death.  While I knew of Grace Kelly before I read this book, I feel like I know her so much better now.  She was committed to her craft, but was willing to give it up for love and family, at least for a time.  The story moves back and forth between her early twenties and her later life, as Princess.  I really enjoyed both timelines - I loved the old Hollywood feel and famous names that pop up, and also getting more into Grace's mind about how she felt about being royalty.  4 stars
To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (2016)
I've had this book on my shelf for awhile now and I finally decided to pick it up.  It turns out there was so much to like about this book!  In 1885, Colonel Allen Forester leads an expedition into the newly acquired Wolverine River section of Alaska.  His group encounters many natives along the way, but there also seems to be a supernatural presence following them.  Back at home, his pregnant wife Sophie awaits his return.  The story is told mainly through the journal entries of Sophie and Allen, interspersed with news articles and present-day letters between a museum curator and a descendant of Allen's.  While Allen's and Sophie's journal entries perhaps felt a bit too literary and wordy, Ivey's writing is without a doubt beautiful.  It has an ethereal and haunting quality, and is definitely very atmospheric.  I liked the way the book linked the old journal entries with the modern letters as their stories unfold.  Sophie's sections move a little slowly, but I really enjoyed her character; she's clearly a woman before her time!  4 stars

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: It Happened One Summer

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Tessa Bailey
Expected publication date: July 13, 2021
Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town... where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong. 

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar... in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. - from Goodreads

I really like the sound of this opposites-attract romance and the small-town vibe!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Nonfiction Quick Reviews: Iconic Buildings

An hour outside of Chicago, along a riverbank, lies the Farnsworth house, an architecturally significant home of the 20th century.  Designed by Mies van der Rohe, the home started as a collaboration between the architect and his new friend, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, but the two had a falling out while the property was under construction, leaving a stain on the history of the home.  I really enjoyed this nonfiction book.  I loved learning about van der Rohe's architectural philosophies and styles (luxurious materials, open floor plans, "letting the outside in") and how he was inspired by the surrounding forest and river to create a unique home made almost entirely of glass and steel beams.  Unfortunately, while beautiful to look at, the home was a nightmare to live in, and Farnsworth and van der Rohe ended up suing each other when the costs began adding up.  So interesting and easy to read, and I really enjoyed the incorporation of many quotes, from interviews, documents, and even the trial.  4 stars

In this nonfiction book, Shawn Levy recounts the history of the famed hotel Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.  From its start as an apartment building, just above the Sunset Strip, the Chateau quickly became a haven for Hollywood's elite, despite its lack of amenities compared to other local hotels.  I thought this was a really interesting look at an iconic building.  The book is set up chronologically, as it focuses on major periods in the hotel's history, framed by the owner of the time and the context of the surrounding area.  It features short anecdotes about the different personalities who have stayed there, from big names of old Hollywood to rock stars of the '70s and '80s.  In a town where celebrities are followed relentlessly, it's intriguing to read about a place that is renowned by the famous for its discretion and privacy.  There are a lot of names mentioned, some of which I wasn't familiar with, and it's always more fun to read about people you "know."  At times there was a bit too much background information (I didn't necessarily need the life story of each owner), it was overall an engaging read.  4 stars

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Rehearsals

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Annette Christie
Expected publication date: July 13, 2021
Fans of Josie Silver and Rebecca Serle will delight in this romantic debut novel--that has a Groundhog Day twist--about a couple who call off their wedding after a disastrous rehearsal dinner, only to wake up the next morning trapped in a time loop. Together.

Two people. One wedding. No end in sight.

Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?

A funny, romantic, and big-hearted debut novel, The Rehearsals imagines what we might do if given a second chance at life and at love—and what it means to finally get it right. - from Goodreads

The "Groundhog Day" aspect of this story sounds so fun!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Down The TBR Hole #22

Down the TBR Hole is a feature created by Lost in a Story (although the blog seems to be down).  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:
Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald
A woman who can't remember anything from the night her mother was murdered is a suspect in the case, and she tries to do her own investigation into her mother's past.  This one isn't grabbing me - pass!

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey
 A woman down on her luck helps another woman, and as she gets drawn into her life, she makes some decisions about her own.  I've been wanting to read this author, but this blurb doesn't really interest me that much - pass!

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn
In the near future, science has figured out a way to transfer a person's consciousness to a machine, to either remain with their families or be rented out as servants. What happens when the companions fight back?  This sounds really cool - keep!

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Atlantic City, New Jersey is at a standstill after the disappearance of two girls, but a local psychic may have some answers in her visions.  While I like the New Jersey setting, I'm just not into crime novels right now - pass!

You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer
A woman's life changes when her partner is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she is also forced to reexamine her relationship with her daughter.  I really love emotional stories - keep!

All the Breaking Waves by Kerry Lonsdale
A woman returns to her hometown after her daughter experiences a series of nightmares.  This one isn't grabbing me, either - pass!
The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, and Allyson Charles
A small town, Halloween, magic, a local bakery, and romance - even though this sounds like it could border on cheesy, it's appealing to my autumn-loving heart!  Keep!
Have you read any of these?


Friday, May 14, 2021

Romance Quick Reviews

Mad About Ewe by Susannah Nix (2021)

Thirty years after her crush Mike rejected her in high school, Dawn is divorced and running her own yarn store when he walks in one day.  He's back in town after two divorces to help out his widowed mother.  Will these two get a second chance at love?  I really enjoyed this book!  I love that the two main characters are a bit older than most romances I read; they're more experienced and know more of what they're looking for in a partner.  Both Dawn and Mike are rebuilding their lives after divorces, so it was interesting to see how that played out for each of them.  I really enjoyed the perspective Mike had on the person he was in high school, how he was a bit ashamed of the way he acted towards Dawn, and his unabashed adoration of her now.  They were so cute together!  Probably my only issue with this book is that there are a lot of things going on, some really quite heavy, so I don't think that the proper attention got paid to all of them.  It felt like there might be some loose ends.  4 stars

Give Love a Chai by Nanxi Wen (2021)
Ten years ago, childhood friends Tia and Andrew got married on a whim, but a series of miscommunications led to their separation.  Now, Tia is getting married to someone else and needs a divorce, but upon seeing her again, Andrew wants another chance.  I really enjoyed the characters of Tia and Andrew.  Tia has a complex relationship with her parents, and I liked the Chinese representation.  Andrew has worked really hard and overcome a difficult childhood to become the success he is today.  Seeing the chemistry these two still have together after so many years apart and their willingness to try again after the problems they had was nice, but at the same time, so many of Andrew's decisions were problematic for me.  Knowing how he felt about Tia, I couldn't understand why he couldn't just commit 100% and be open and honest with her.  His actions and words didn't mesh.  Their continued miscommunications were frustrating, and the last part of the book went a little off the rails for me.  3.5 stars

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover (2020)
After Beyah's mom passes away, she decides to spend the summer before college at her dad's house, where she meets her neighbor, Samson.  At first, they seem like complete opposites, but they have an inexplicable connection, but is it enough to overcome the challenges they will face?
Ok, unpopular opinion time: sorry, guys, but I just didn't like this book.  I understand Beyah had a difficult childhood, but she's so bitter and willing to throw it in everyone's face that she was poor.  It was uncomfortable.  I didn't like the way she treated her dad; she blamed him for things that were out of his control and never even questioned anything.  Maybe if she had kept better in touch with him, she would have realized how her mother was manipulating them both.  On to Samson: I just couldn't get behind this insta-love.  He barely tells her anything about himself and (spoiler) everything he does tell her ends up being a lie - and Beyah doesn't care!  She's ready to give up her life for a guy she's known for a few weeks that she literally knows nothing about.  I don't understand how someone can just overlook that.  The only redeeming part of this book was Beyah's stepfamily, Alana and Sara, who welcomed her in, no questions asked, and made her feel loved.  2.5 stars

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Blush

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Jamie Brenner
Expected publication date: June 22, 2021
From acclaimed author Jamie Brenner comes a stunning new novel about three generations of women who discover that the trashy novels of a bygone era just might hold the key to saving their family's coastal winery--and to finding the love that's eluded them.

For decades, the lush vineyards and majestic manor house of the Hollander Estates winery made it the North Fork of Long Island's premier destination for lavish parties and romantic day trips. Now the Hollander family fortunes have suffered, and as matriarch Vivian Hollander prepares for the arrival of her daughter and granddaughter for their annual summer reunion, she fears it might be their last. Worse, selling the family legacy to strangers might expose the dark secret she's harbored for thirty-five years....

Visits to the winery have been bittersweet for Leah Hollander Bailey ever since her father refused to let her take her place in the family business. Now a successful Manhattan shop owner, Leah loves the life she's built with her husband and daughter--but with her store, and her marriage, at a crossroads, she can't help but view this year's pilgrimage home as a sorely needed escape.

College senior Sadie Bailey has a thesis to write, and the towering shelves of the manor's library offer endless academic inspiration. But when Sadie discovers evidence that her proper Grandma Vivian once ran a book club dedicated to the scandalous women's novels of decades past, the shockingly outrageous tomes give her new insight into her family's glory days.

Resurrecting the trashy book club begins as the distraction all three women need. But as they battle to save their birthright and heal old wounds, they just might find that the pages contain everything they need to know about how to fight for what they want--and for the life, and love, they deserve. - from Goodreads

Jamie Brenner is always good for a summertime read, and this sounds like it has a lot of great elements - multi-generational family, drama, and a book club!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Nature on the Cover

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is books with nature on the cover.  I love topics dealing with covers, so here we go!

What are some of your favorite covers with nature on them?

Friday, May 7, 2021

April Quick Reviews

The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan (2020)
When their father, a famous author, passes away, sisters Maggie, Liza, and Tricia come together to settle his estate and find out the unexpected news that they have a half-sister, who actually grew up next door to them.  Now they have to deal with their father's legacy and the fact that their family will never be the same.  I tend to enjoy stories about sisters, and this was no exception.  I liked that each sister has her own life and issues going on, but they still relate to each other so well, and the way they reminisce about their childhoods felt so relatable.  My main issues were two-fold.  One was Tricia - she used way too much "lawyer speak" and all her dialogue felt like an info dump.  My other issue is that the nature of the book felt confusing - it wasn't dark enough to be a complete drama and there wasn't a big event that the story was leading up to, but it also wasn't lighthearted or funny.  The story just kind of moved along and by the end I was wondering what the point of it was.  3.5 stars

Geekerella by Ashley Poston (2017)

Elle hopes that winning the cosplay contest at the convention her dad founded many years ago will be her ticket away from her wicked stepfamily, and she finds herself crossing paths with the famous young actor who is starring in the movie based on the classic TV show she loves.  I wanted to love this one more than I did.  I love the Cinderella retelling vibe - it was so easy to pick out the parts that matched up to the original.  I also loved the whole con/fandom aspect; I think it's a very relatable interest, especially these days.  Finding your people, people who love the same things you do and don't make you feel bad about it, who you can geek out with and feel accepted - that was all amazing.  Unfortunately, it was the romance I wasn't buying.  I don't know if I wasn't paying attention closely enough or what, but I just didn't get the whole texting thing between Elle and Darien.  It seemed to get so serious so quickly, for something that was basically an accident to begin with, and then they didn't actually meet until so late in the book.  It felt forced.  Cute idea, but the execution just didn't work for me.  3 stars

Always Only You by Chloe Liese (2020)
Star pro hockey player Ren has been in love with his team's social media manager, Frankie, since he joined the team, but dating a co-worker is off-limits.  When Frankie announces that she's leaving to go to law school, Ren jumps on the chance to finally tell her how he feels.  This was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  I like that Liese incorporates representation into her books and that many readers will find characters to relate to that they normally might not. Frankie has autism (#ownvoices) and also rheumatoid arthritis.  I felt like I learned a lot about both of them and her ways of coping with the world.  I thought Ren was a total sweetheart, but he also seemed too perfect, if you know what I mean?  He's gorgeous, reads Shakespeare, is totally thoughtful, can get fierce when someone he loves is threatened - there's basically nothing wrong with him and it didn't feel real.  I loved the way he worshiped Frankie, though - don't we all want that?  And as much as I love Harry Potter, I thought there were way too many references to it in the book.  3.5 stars

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: My Contrary Mary

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Expected publication date: June 22, 2021
Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she's a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an EĆ°ian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It's a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper's nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary's secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll. - from Goodreads

I really loved the Lady Janies series, and I can't wait to see what this trio of authors does with some famous Marys!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Month in Review: April 2021

April is one of my favorite months because there's usually a lot going on and we start getting out of the house more after a long winter, and this month was no exception!
My birthday happened to fall on Easter this year, so we celebrated both at my mom's house, with a cake for my sister and me and an egg hunt for my niece!  We got our landscaping cleaned up, and I'm excited to get all our furniture out and planters full and hopefully have some people over soon!  Tom and I took my mom axe-throwing one Saturday afternoon - of course she and Tom were great at it while I did terrible!  Although, the first time I actually hit the board was for a bullseye, so that was fun.  I also went to my first real event in a long time - my cousin's wife's baby shower!  It was held at a restaurant that had kind of an indoor/outdoor room (one of the walls completely opened up), which I thought was a great compromise.  It was a beautiful shower and so nice to see some family members we haven't seen in a really long time.  Lastly, my blog turned 5 this month!  I can't believe it's been that long already.  Thank you to everyone for your kind words and for entering the giveaway - the winner has been notified and their prize has been ordered!

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