Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Diana Gabaldon
Expected publication date: November 23, 2021
The past may seem the safest place to be . . . but it is the most dangerous time to be alive. . . .

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.

Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.

Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family.

Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet . . . on his son’s behalf, and his own.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before. - from Goodreads

Finally, more Jamie and Claire - yes, please!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Quick Reviews

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney (2020)
After a visit to a matchmaker/witch, Jane Austen finds herself time traveling to the 21st century, where she meets actress Sofia and her brother Fred.  As feelings bloom between her and Fred and her return to 1803 is put off, she is horrified to find that her books are disappearing from existence.  In the end, she'll have to choose between true love and her literary legacy.  I thought this was a delightful, charming read!  I loved watching Jane's reaction to finding out her books are famous classics and how she navigates living in a new century.  Although I felt that some of Sofia's dialogue was really stilted and awkward, I also enjoyed her secondary storyline of being an aging actress who was recently left by her director husband.  Even though the book is rather long, it never felt that way - the pacing was excellent, and I found myself wanting to read on and find out what fate Jane chose.  I really felt for her - either way she had to give up something precious, the writing she loved so much or the love she never thought she would find. Very entertaining and a great addition to the time travel romance genre!  4 stars

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle (2021)
Maybell is surprised to find out that her great-aunt Violet has passed away and left Maybell her grand Tennessee estate.  Then she finds out she has to share her inheritance with Violet's groundskeeper, Wesley, and they have very different visions for the property.  I really loved Hogle's last book, so I was very much looking forward to this one, but I was so disappointed - it felt like another author completely.  Maybell has not had an easy life with her flake of a mother, but the one glorious summer she spent with Violet as a child always remained in her mind.  She's excited for the opportunity to start over.  Wesley didn't pop for me as a character very much.  He's so rude to Maybell at the beginning, but once it's revealed why he behaves the way he does, his personality does a 180 and he becomes this clingy, overly cutesy admirer.  With the way he was constantly reminding Maybell to stay hydrated and tying her shoes for her, he felt more like a mother than a love interest.  I liked watching them restore the manor to its former glory, but that was about it.  Hogle's previous book was fun and relatable, but this book had no depth.  It was just saccharine insta-love.  Even when it tried to be serious about mental health issues, it still failed for me.  Maybell's daydreams felt dangerous, not cute - she could lose hours in them, including one time she literally got lost in the woods in bear country.  2 stars

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Homecoming King

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Penny Reid
Expected publication date: December 14, 2021
Rex "TW" McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn't bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn't keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he's always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.

Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She's dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.

The guy who just walked into her bar.

The guy who doesn’t recognize her.

The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home.

The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse. - from Goodreads

I'm always up for a good romance!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our fall TBR!  From my summer TBR, I read 9 books and DNFed just one, so that was pretty good!  I'm going to stick to my strategy of focusing mostly on books I already own.  Here are the books I'm hoping to get to this fall:

Where should I start first?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blog Tour + Review: Kicking Ass in a Corset

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Kicking Ass in a Corset by Andrea Kayne!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Andrea Kayne
Published September 15, 2021
What can organizational leaders in business, education, government, and most any enterprise learn from an unemployed, unmarried woman who lived in patriarchal, misogynistic rural England more than 200 years ago? As it turns out, a great deal. In identifying the core virtues of Austen’s heroines—confidence, pragmatism, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility—Andrea Kayne uncovers the six principles of internally referenced leadership that, taken together, instruct women how to tap into a deep well-spring of personal agency and an internal locus of control no matter what is going on around them. Utilizing practical exercises, real-life case studies, and literary and leadership scholarship, Kicking Ass in a Corset maps out effective leadership that teaches readers how to tune out the external noise and listen to themselves so that they can truly live and lead from the inside out. - from Goodreads
I'm not generally one for books about leadership, but I was really interested in finding out how author and professor Andrea Kayne could apply the writings of Jane Austen to a modern leadership style.  Using Austen's heroines, Kayne has identified six core personal characteristics that women can use to become better leaders.

It might seem a little unorthodox to look at books written 200 years ago by an unmarried woman and build a leadership style around them, but the values Kayne has pulled from the books are timeless.  Confidence, logic/practicality, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility - these are the traits Kayne has identified in Austen's heroines that became the tenets of her internally referenced leadership style, which focuses on using your inner strength and values, instead of outside forces, to inform how you act as a leader. 

Each chapter is devoted to a different character and uses quotes from the texts and various analyses of Austen's writings to describe how the trait exemplified by the character can contribute to being a better leader.  Although sometimes the jargon got a little overwhelming, for the most part the writing is succinct and accessible.  Kayne also incorporates the stories of real women who either embody these traits or were able to learn them, showing the real-world applications of her theories.

Even if you're not necessarily interested in becoming a better leader, I think this book would still be interesting.  For Jane Austen fans, it's intriguing to see how her books are still relevant today and how her characters can inspire women from all walks of life.  The six traits identified by Kayne can also be a starting point for people looking to make personal growth and help them better react to situations in their own lives. 

4 stars

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Just Haven't Met You Yet

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Sophie Cousens
Expected publication date: November 9, 2021
From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you pick up the wrong suitcase in an airport, only to fall head over heels for its unseen owner?

Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura's dream man--she's sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she'd find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. And if beneath Ted's gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura's long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find--and as she realizes that the love story she's held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect--she'll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants. - from Goodreads

This sounds so sweet and charming!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Guest Blogger: Musings on Author Worlds

My sister Michele is back again with another guest post!  This time she's talking about author worlds.  I'll be honest, this is something I didn't even know existed until she introduced me to them!  But, it's such a cool concept and I love the idea of exploring an already-established bookish world in more depth.


A newer trend in publishing is the concept of author “worlds,” series of books connected to an author’s original work, written by a separate group of authors. Three main worlds that I follow are:

  1. Penny Reid’s Smartypants Romance Universe. These series are based off of a number of Penny Reid’s works, including the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City. Readers can spend time in the Green Valley Library, the Donner Bakery and the Cipher offices, among many others.

  2. Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. These books are offshoots of Sarina Bowen’s True North series and we get to learn more about the characters at the local university, coffee shop, taproom and bookstore/wine bar.

  3. Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero Club. All of the books in this world are related to the duo’s Cocky Bastard series.

Author worlds are great for a lot of reasons. Have you ever gotten to the end of a series and lamented the fact that you don’t get to hang out with those characters anymore? In these worlds, those original characters often show up – they aren’t main characters but we do often get interaction with them! Because the books in these series are written by different authors, readers are exposed to new writers and can find some amazing new people to follow. I’ve discovered so many new-to-me authors through these worlds and their work can be really great.

What do you think about author worlds? Do you follow any?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Quick Reviews

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie (2021)
Tom and Megan have been together for 12 years, but all it takes is one disastrous night at their rehearsal dinner for them to call it all off.  The next morning, they wake up in a time loop and wonder how they'll get out of it, or if they'll be stuck in one of the worst days of their lives forever.  Other reviews and blurbs led me to believe this would be a funny, lighthearted, sweet romance; unfortunately, it was anything but.  The day before their wedding, Tom and Megan each find out a secret that the other has been keeping.  To me, each of these secrets could, and maybe should, have been a major dealbreaker, so I almost felt right from the beginning that I couldn't root for these two to find a way back to each other.  It would just involve way too much compromise or unrealistic forgiveness.  The story felt so heavy, as the characters face major issues about themselves and their relationship.  I didn't mind that there were heavy, relatable issues, but I felt kind of mislead.  The writing was good, and I actually kind of liked the open ending, but I can't get past some of the major plot issues.  3 stars

Get Lucky by Lila Monroe (2016)

Romance author Julia and divorce lawyer Nate wake up naked in bed together in Las Vegas with no memory of how they got there.  What happens next is a hilarious, hijink-filled story of how two people found what they really needed.  I've read a couple of Lila Monroe's books, and I just can't scream about them enough.  The writing is so fun, witty, and quick-moving - the story just grabs you and never lets go.  Even though it's a fairly short novel, Julia and Nate are well-rounded characters - Nate is more stoic and realistic, while Julia has this wonderful positive attitude.  I loved watching them work together (and with their great group of friends) to figure out what they did the night before (The Hangover-style) and realizing that their first impressions of each other might not have been totally accurate.  This book is full of banter, heart, and steam - if you're like me, you'll finish this book wishing it was longer!  4.5 stars

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Heard It In A Love Song

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Tracey Garvis Graves
Expected publication date: November 2, 2021
From the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances.

Love doesn’t always wait until you’re ready.

Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.

Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.

Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away? - from Goodreads

I think this is going to be a really relatable story for a lot of readers!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Romance Quick Reviews: The Men in Suits Edition

The Invitation by Vi Keeland (2021)

Stella meets Hudson when she crashes his sister's wedding - their chemistry is great, until he realizes she's not who she says she is.  Their paths cross again as Stella tries to get her business off the ground - but can they overcome their disastrous first meeting?  I loved the "women in business" aspect of the story.  I really felt Stella's passion for her custom perfume business and the work that goes into starting a business and taking on investors.  Once some difficulties were overcome, I thought the romance was sweet - I've never read this author before, but for some reason I was expecting a bit more heat.  I liked that Hudson had a well-rounded backstory and those family issues added to the story, but there were a few too many coincidences that helped move the story along.  It was a little difficult to believe at times.  4 stars

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne (2018)
Ian is a hotshot Wall Street investor, and Lara is the SEC agent assigned to investigate him for insider trading.  He swears he's innocent, but Lara knows cracking this case is her chance to impress her boss and may be her ticket to the FBI, her lifelong dream.  What they don't count on is their feelings for each other.  I thought this was a great read.  I loved Lara's devotion to her job, but also her devotion to the truth when something didn't seem right.  Her desire to take that next step in her career was really refreshing.  Ian had a great backstory: he basically came from nothing and made a huge success of himself.  Even though he's typically not a relationship guy, he really changes once he meets Lara.  Watching them fight their feelings for each other was really fun, as their chemistry was undeniable.  Great romance, some drama with the SEC investigation, and a cast of incredible secondary characters really made this a well-rounded story!  4 stars

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Month in Review: August 2021

August was a busy month! We took a much-anticipated vacation to Wildwood, NJ.  My sister invited us along on her family vacation, which was very generous of her!  We had a great time walking the boardwalk, spending time at Cape May Point State Park, going to the Cape May County Zoo, and going mini-golfing (I finally beat Tom!).  The weather was beautiful - low humidity and not too hot.  Of course I also had to visit two bookstores while we were there!  In our downtime, we watched the Olympics and I spent a lot of time drawing with our niece.

We went to the movies twice, to see The Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise - the theaters were pretty much empty each time we went, so that was nice.  Tom's birthday was this month, and he chose mini-golf as the activity (probably to get revenge for me beating him earlier in the month).  There's actually a place by us that has two 18-hole courses, so we did one course and will save the other one for another time.  He won this time!

My company is working on a hybrid reopening plan for mid-September, although with the way COVID cases are rising in our state, I'm not sure it will actually happen.  They are looking to have people in the office a little bit more, but still allow working from home.  I went to the office one day this month to conduct some trainings, and it worked out that Tom was working down in the area the same day, so we were able to carpool.  For a few weeks now, Tom has been going into work a couple days a week, although his full reopening has been pushed back to mid-October.

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