Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Adult Assembly Required

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Abbi Waxman
Expected publication date: May 17, 2022
A young woman arrives in Los Angeles determined to start over, and discovers she doesn’t need to leave everything behind after all, from Abbi Waxman, USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

When Laura Costello moves to Los Angeles, trying to escape an overprotective family and the haunting memories of a terrible accident, she doesn’t expect to be homeless after a week. (She’s pretty sure she didn’t start that fire — right?) She also doesn't expect to find herself adopted by a rogue bookseller, installed in a lovely but completely illegal boardinghouse, or challenged to save a losing trivia team from ignominy…but that’s what happens. Add a regretful landlady, a gorgeous housemate and an ex-boyfriend determined to put himself back in the running and you’ll see why Laura isn’t really sure she’s cut out for this adulting thing. Luckily for her, her new friends Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob aren't sure either, but maybe if they put their heads (and hearts) together they’ll be able to make it work for them. - from Goodreads

Abbi Waxman's books always seem to have a good mix of humor and heart, so I have high hopes for this one!

Friday, March 25, 2022

2022 Rereading Project: Update #1

One of my reading goals for 2022 is to reread from my own shelves, with the intention of pruning some books (making room for more, of course!).  I want my home library to be filled with books I absolutely love and would read again, so if there's a book there that would be a better fit with another reader, it's better for me to donate it.  Here are the results from my first two rereads!

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (2017)
My first reread of 2022!  I first picked up this book in 2018 and looking back at my review, I see that I really enjoyed it.  In this story, Claudia finds herself reluctantly working with Iris, a fellow classmate, on the school play, and they end up growing really close as friends.  Claudia also gets to know Gideon, who is one of the play leads.  I liked Mills' books because they felt so relatable, but I've found myself moving away from YA books in recent years because I just can't connect as much to the characters anymore.  While I still enjoyed the story, I found myself relating more to Claudia's older sister, who is expecting her first baby and anxious about what type of mother she'll be.

Verdict: Although I like this story and contemplated keeping this just for the beautiful cover alone, this book should find a new home.  Donate!

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (2014)

I shelved this book on Goodreads back in late 2015, before I was giving a star rating to pretty much every book I read, so, given that I don't remember anything about this book, I can't even tell you if I enjoyed it!  I guess I must have, because it's been on my shelves for almost 7 years?  I think it's a bit love story, a bit mystery, and a bit magical.  I tried reading it again recently, but couldn't get into the writing; I DNFed it pretty quickly.

Verdict:  I don't remember anything about this book and couldn't get through a reread - donate!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Something Wilder

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Christina Lauren
Expected publication date: May 17, 2022
Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime. - from Goodreads

I always look forward to a new release from this writing duo!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Henry's Shelves #1

I have been buying books for our nieces and nephews for years, so when we find out we were having a baby, I immediately began to think about all the stories I wanted to read with him.  I've bought Henry a bunch of books, and our families and friends know how much I enjoy reading, so Henry's shelves are already rivaling mine and he's only 3 months old!  He's starting to show interest in books, concentrating on the pages and reaching for them, which makes me so happy!  I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of the books Henry and I have been reading together, so here are some of our recent favorites!


Have you read any of these with your littles?

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Friday, March 18, 2022

Blog Tour + Review - Never Give Up: My Life in the Wild

Thank you to Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for Never Give Up: My Life in the Wild by Bear Grylls!  I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 
Bear Grylls
Published March 1, 2022
Admired by millions as the star of Man vs. Wild and the acclaimed NGC series Running Wild, global adventurer Bear Grylls has explored places few would dare to go. Now, he shares time-honored lessons for leading an adventurous life through stories drawn from his personal experiences, as well as encounters with a diverse group of celebrities who have participated in his wildly popular television shows.

In these inspiring pages, Grylls chronicles his life since stepping onto the small screen, taking readers on his most famous adventures, sharing stories from his favorite expeditions, and capturing his hairiest survival challenges. The follow-up to the internationally best-selling Mud, Sweat and Tears, this new autobiography goes behind the scenes on infamous Man vs. Wild shoots and provides an insight into what it's really like to “Run Wild” with guests including President Obama, Roger Federer, and Julia Roberts.

Along the way, Bear explores the valuable lessons he's learned in the wild, opens up about his most personal challenges and achievements, and celebrates the true value of adventure and the enduring importance of courage, kindness, and resilience. Written for outdoor enthusiasts and armchair adventurers alike, Never Give Up offers an inspiring path to help readers live their best lives.
- from Goodreads
I've been a fan of Bear Grylls for awhile, so I was very excited to be asked to review an early copy of his newest autobiography, Never Give Up.  I haven't read his first memoir, but this one focuses on how he got started in TV, the adventures he's had over multiple shows, and what his life is like today, and since I know him best from his show Running Wild, I thought this seemed like a great place to start!
The best part about this book is how Bear's voice really comes through.  He has a pretty distinctive way of speaking, and having watched him on TV so many times, I definitely felt like I could hear him in my head as I read.  His humble, charming, spirited, and positive personality came through each word.  I think Bear does an admirable job detailing how his various TV shows came about and how he has been able to forge his own path in an industry that doesn't often allow for independence like that.  Even when a venture wasn't a success, he appreciated the opportunity and learned from it for the next one. 
The chapters are fairly short, each one practically its own story or answer to a frequently asked question.  I really enjoyed his stories about the celebrities he has taken into the wild and how each of those adventures is set up.  Bear also takes some chapters to delve into more personal thoughts on things like fear, faith, and family, and his words are often very inspiring.  His family is so important to him, and it was really nice to get to know them better and see how he makes family time a priority, even with his booming career.

Overall, this would be an interesting read for adventure seekers and reality TV junkies alike, and even more so if you're already a fan of Bear Grylls!

4 stars

Purchase Links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: website, Instagram, and Twitter


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Lost Summers of Newport

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White
Expected publication date: May 17, 2022
From the New York Times bestselling team of Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White: a beachy historical novel of romance and intrigue set among the famous summer mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, spanning over a century from the Gilded Age to present-day.

2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America’s most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, the beach town of the ultra-wealthy, famous for the historic, over-the-top “summer cottages” of Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One: that no one speaks to her. Two: that no one go near the mansion’s ruined boathouse.

1899: Ellen O’Donnell has been hired to give singing lessons to Maybelle Sprague, a naive young heiress from out West whose brother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport’s elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the demure-seeming Ellen has her own checkered past, and she’s hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall.

1958: Lucia di Conti has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When her family fled Mussolini, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house her grandmother owned but hadn’t seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, she’s lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set, even acquiring a suitably blue-blooded husband, but one fateful night in the mansion’s old boathouse will roil the waters...and change everything.

As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever…. - from Goodreads

When Team W gets together, it's always a hit - and the setting of Newport, Rhode Island is always a draw for me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our spring TBR.  I managed to read the six books I chose for my winter TBR, so I'm happy about that.  Honestly, this quarter's TBR is filled with books I chose almost completely at random.  My reading is in a weird (but good) place lately (which I might talk about in a discussion post soon...), and I'm just trying to keep things fun and easy for myself!

What will you be reading this spring?

Friday, March 11, 2022

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Beekeeper Edition

Honey and Venom is touted as a year in the life of NYC beekeeper Andrew Cote.  While it was not quite what I expected, it was still an enjoyable and informative read!  Cote is a fourth generation beekeeper (or "beek" as they sometimes call themselves) who clearly has a passion for the art.  Each chapter represents a month of the year and he briefly describes the type of work that he will typically do in that month, while also recounting stories from his life that also took place during that time of year.  His beehives grace the rooftops of some of New York City's most famous buildings, but his career has taken him all over the world as he educates others.  Cote also gives the reader lessons in honey bee anatomy and behavior.  His writing style is very readable and approachable, and he made the more scientific parts easy to understand.  Although it was a bit uncomfortable when he called out other people's bad behavior, many of his stories were fun and interesting.  4 stars

The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy (2018)
A dual timeline story about a woman in the present day who works at the Chateau Bellevue in France and another woman who lives and works as a beekeeper on the property during World War II and finds herself working for the Resistance.  On paper, this book should have been perfect for me - dual timelines, WWII time period, chateau setting in France, loads of good reviews and a 4.3 average rating on Goodreads.  Unfortunately, it was anything but.  The current day storyline was completely unnecessary.  Although I felt for Abi and how she was trying to recover from an abusive relationship and terrible accident, it just didn't work compared to the hardships Eliane was facing during WWII.  The connection between the two timelines was forced and didn't make a lot of sense.  As for the historical timeline, I think the rural French setting was interesting, but the story added nothing new to the WWII historical fiction genre.  It felt like it was just ticking off boxes of things that "should" be included in such a story.  It was too surface level, and a lot of things happened off page.  The writing was simplistic; perhaps if there had been more nuance, description, and character development, it could have elevated the story.  However, like I said, this book has really high reviews on Goodreads, so this could just be a "me" issue.  2 stars

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Part of Your World

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Abby Jimenez
Expected publication date: April 19, 2022
The New York Times bestselling author of Life's Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his? - from Goodreads

I was a little late to the Abby Jimenez party, but now I'm a big fan and I can't wait to read this one!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Romance Trope

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our favorite trope/theme.  One of my favorite tropes in romance books is when royalty and "commoners" fall in love - there's just something about two people from wildly different walks of life meeting, falling in love, and finding a way to overcome their differences - bonus points if it's a forbidden love!  I actually did a Top Ten Tuesday with this theme about 5 years ago, but it seems like a great time to update my list!

What are some of your favorite royal romances?

Friday, March 4, 2022

Bookish Romance Quick Reviews

Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley (2021)

Kara is a bestselling romance novelist who is facing some serious writer's block on her current book until her college ex-boyfriend Ryan shows up as a groomsman in the same wedding she's in.  Their encounter sparks her writing, but she'll have to keep him around for awhile in order to finish her book.  Could a rekindling of their relationship also be in the cards?  Oh man, I wanted to like this book, but there were just too many issues for me.  The premise was decent, but the execution was severely lacking.  The pacing was off from the beginning - everything was happening at warp speed for no reason.  There was so much telling and not enough showing - and from what Kara tells us of her previous relationship with Ryan, it didn't sound that great, especially the way it ended, so I was really confused as to why everyone was pushing them to get back together.  I didn't think Ryan was charming and he only got worse as the book went on.  I love bookish characters, so the fact that Kara is an author and bookstagrammer should have been so fun, but the way she talked about her two passions felt like such an info-dump.  Like, I would think most people reading this book are fans of romance novels - you don't need to explain tropes to me.  Unfortunately, this one was a miss for me.  2.5 stars

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser (2021)
Thea's husband just left her and she was laid off from her job; then she finds out a distant relative has passed away and left her his home and impressive book collection, so she takes off for the Scottish Highlands, where she runs into a grumpy bookseller.  Unfortunately, this one was a DNF for me.  It wasn't necessarily that it was a bad read.  The writing was ok.  But, I got 70 pages into it and felt like nothing had happened, and the story wasn't going anywhere.  There were also too many characters introduced too quickly, and I didn't have the energy to keep track of them!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Month in Review: February 2022

February was a busy month!  Tom returned to work in January, but this month he had to start actually going in more often (instead of working from home) and to different sites, so I had a few days where I was home alone with Henry for most of the day.  Then, in preparation for my return to work, Henry started daycare on Valentine's Day, so he could get used to it and we could start to figure out our routine.  Turns out, he has adjusted just fine; it was me who was literally sobbing that entire first day.  Tom and I went to breakfast after dropping him off, and I had tears streaming down my face in the diner booth.  Pretty embarrassing!  It's gotten better since then, thankfully.  Near the end of the month, I started back at work (still working from home, luckily!).  While it's busy season for the accountants at the firm, it's a quieter time for me, so I've just been catching up on stuff from the three months I was off.  We celebrated my mom's birthday this month and ordered in from a local restaurant we all enjoy.  My mom and I also took a Chinese New Year cooking class.  It was less cooking and more demonstration than we thought, but we did get to make our own dumplings, and the food was delicious!  Henry turned three months old on the last day of February; he loves to smile and kick and has recently discovered his left hand, which he is fascinated by!

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