Friday, April 29, 2022

Quick Reviews

Blush by Jamie Brenner (2021)

The Hollander Estates winery has been a family-run business for 50 years, but now they might be forced to sell it.  However, three generations of Hollander women may be able to turn it around, with the help of some scandalous books.  I really enjoyed this story!  The characters were so well fleshed out and had such deep and complex backgrounds that I almost forgot I was reading a fictional novel.  It was really interesting to see how matriarch Vivian, daughter Leah, and granddaughter Sadie wanted to save the family business, despite not being allowed major roles in it by patriarch Leonard, and how they bonded over "trashy" novels from the 1980s and were inspired by some of the characters.  The three women showed strength and creativity while facing some tough decisions.  And if you're a fan of wine and cheese, you're going to love all the lush descriptions of the different varieties and the wine-making process.  4 stars
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (2012)

Charlotte is supposed to be getting married soon, but she can't seem to summon the happiness and enthusiasm she thinks she should be experiencing.  Then, she finds a perfectly preserved wedding dress in an old trunk - as she learns more about the history of the dress, and the three other women who wore it, she hopes she'll find some clarity in her own life.  I really liked the idea of this novel - that there's this sort of magical dress, passed down through the years, and each bride has her own special story - but the execution was lacking a bit for me.  The story mostly moves back and forth in time between Charlotte, in the present day, and Emily, the original bride from 100 years ago.  The other two brides show up so much later in the story, and only for a relatively short time, that it was hard for me to connect to them.  Emily's story was by far the most intriguing, so I enjoyed those chapters.  Charlotte's story felt very slow and it was a little jarring that her love interest received a couple chapters from his own perspective, but I guess it helped explain his wildly swaying emotions.  If you enjoy clean, sweet romances, this might be one for you to try.  3 stars

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Gilt

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 21, 2022
A luxurious and richly compelling new novel from the acclaimed author of Blush, about a famous family jewelry dynasty and the hidden past that could topple it all.

One perfect diamond is all it takes to divide a family. Could one summer be enough to fix it?

The Pavlin family built an empire on love. As the first jewelers to sell diamond rings exclusively for proposals, they started a tradition that has defined engagements ever since. But when an ill-fated publicity stunt pits the three Pavlin sisters against one another for a famous family jewel, their bond is broken. No ordinary diamond ring, the Electric Rose splinters the sisters, leaving one unlucky in love, one escaping to the shores of Cape Cod, and the other, ultimately, dead.

Now, over a decade later, Gemma Maybrook is still reconciling the reality of her mother's death. Left orphaned and cast out by her family after the tragic accident, Gemma is ready to reclaim what should have been hers: the Electric Rose. And, as a budding jewelry designer in her own right, Gemma isn't just planning on recovering her mother's lost memento, she's coming back for everything.

From Manhattan's tony Fifth Avenue to the vibrant sands of Provincetown, Gilt follows the Pavlin women as they are forced to confront the mistakes of the past if they have any hope of finding love and happiness of their own.

I just love the sound of this and think it will be a great summer read!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Pretty Dresses 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           on the cover.  Whenever I see a pretty dress on a book cover, it's pretty much guaranteed that I will at least take a second look and see what it's all about!  So, here are some books with pretty dresses on the cover from my TBR!

What cover elements are you drawn to?

Monday, April 25, 2022

Blog Tour + Excerpt: Book Smart


Book Smart, an all new friends-to-lovers sweet romance by debut author Amanda Pennington, is available now in Kindle Unlimited!

Melanie Hirsch is tired of watching life pass her by…

I’ve spent the last few years watching my dreams of a writing career and true love fade away, settling for a dead-end job and denying my feelings for my best friend – until I find a list of dating advice for single women to “find a husband” in the 1950s. I decide to experiment: try out the 1950s advice on my 21st-century dating pool and write about the results. If love is timeless, some of the dating advice still holds value. Maybe my experiment will launch my writing career. Maybe I’ll get over my best friend and meet someone new. Either way, I’m done watching from the sidelines.

Cameron Whitacre can’t wait forever…

I’ve spent the last few years in love with my best friend, hoping she’ll notice my friendly overtures have more than friendly intentions – but before I realize what’s happening, she declares me her wingman for a dating experiment. This idea could launch her writing career, so I’m trying to be supportive. But her experiment turns my life into a desperation-fueled dumpster fire. I need to show her how I feel without jeopardizing our friendship, all before she falls for someone else.

‘Book Smart’ is a full-length contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Book #3 in the Work For It series, Educated Romance World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Grab your copy TODAY!

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:



A man with perfect golden-blond hair and a slim-cut suit appeared next to me. He smiled with the bright ease of someone who’s had enough alcohol to lower his inhibitions but not enough to make him obnoxious—yet.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” He gestured at my face with his Guinness.

“I’m new here.”

He grinned. “This is like a throwback to college days, huh?”

Not any college I’d ever been to.

“Right,” I said, “those good ol’ days.”

“So tell me.” He stepped closer. “Are you here for the business or the fun?”

My best friend Ivy hadn’t mentioned which business we were supposed to be involved in, so—“I’m here for the fun.”

Guinness’s smile took on an edge. “Excellent. Want to dance?”

Glancing around for Cameron and Ivy, I couldn’t spot them. The lone bartender was busy with a large crowd, so Cameron would be a long while, and Ivy must’ve been tied up with the host. Besides, wasn’t the point of being here to meet someone new? “Sure.”

We moved to the dance floor at the edge of the pool, swaying with the bass. The light of the chandelier above us cast a glow over everyone, and Guinness looked charming in the glass refractions, his golden hair glinting.

His lips brushed my ear. “You’re beautiful.”

It was nice, feeling charmed.

I took a breath to answer him with my own compliment—probably about his pretty hair—when my gaze locked on Cameron. He stood across the room, leaning one shoulder against an exposed pillar. I smiled at him, but he didn’t return it. He just stared. My rhythm faltered. Tossing back the last of his drink—which actually might have been the gin and tonic he got for me—he moved through the crowd without the ease and friendliness he’d had earlier. No mischief lit his face. He didn’t look away from me—not once—and I forgot that Guinness existed at all.

Cameron broke eye contact when he reached us, glancing at Guinness before opening his mouth to speak.

The crowd on the dance floor surged, jostling us toward the pool. Cameron’s hands reached for me at the same moment Guinness let go of me. An instant passed as we fell into the pool, and then warm, chlorinated water surged up my nose. Even though I didn’t stay under for long, I gulped breaths when my head broke through the surface of the water. The shock of suddenly being in the water, not to mention Cameron’s actions, had left me breathless.

“Pool party!” someone yelled—it sounded like Guinness—and people jumped in at random. The water churned, and chaos reigned. The suits and tuxedos and gowns made a colorful kaleidoscope in the turquoise water.

Cameron grasped my hand underwater. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Are you?” I sputtered around a wave of water when someone cannonballed next to me.

A man swam into view but I didn’t recognize him until he spoke. The dim lighting of the chandelier was replaced with the harsh blue glow of underwater pool lights, and his golden hair was now flat against his head. He looked completely different. Wet Guinness was not at all attractive.

“Did you bring a swimsuit?” Guinness asked.

Irritation jabbed at me. Did I look like I was expecting a late-night swim? “No.”

He grinned. “I don’t mind.”

And that was my cue to leave. I already felt disoriented from the surprise swim, but this? It wasn’t his fault we were in the pool, or that he looked bad without his golden hair, but it was his fault for suggesting skinny-dipping at this exact moment.

Book note: The appeal of skinny-dipping relies entirely on the context.

I turned away and followed Cameron to the edge of the pool, moving through the water in that vaguely weightless, slow stride I’d seen Grandma use in her water aerobics classes. He climbed out first and then turned to offer me a hand.

I looked up. Oh.

Mr. Darcy at the lake had nothing on Cameron emerging from the pool. Clingy, wet clothes; rivulets of water streaming down his chest; his cowlick sticking on end even as it dripped. Frantically looking away, I took his hand. I couldn’t let Cameron see me staring—he’d never let me live it down.

About Amanda Pennington

Amanda Pennington lives outside Louisville, Kentucky with her husband in their fixer-upper house. When she’s not writing, Amanda loves traveling, running, and reading anything within reach. More information is available at

Find Amanda online







Connect with Smartypants Romance







Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Hotel Nantucket

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Elin Hilderbrand
Expected publication date: June 14, 2022
After a tragic fire in 1922 that killed 19-year-old chambermaid, Grace Hadley, The Hotel Nantucket descended from a gilded age gem to a mediocre budget-friendly lodge to inevitably an abandoned eyesore — until it's purchased and renovated top to bottom by London billionaire, Xavier Darling.  Xavier hires Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton as his general manager, and Lizbet, in turn, pulls together a charismatic, if inexperienced, staff who share the vision of turning the fate of the hotel around. They face challenges in getting along with one another (and with the guests), in overcoming the hotel's bad reputation, and in surviving the (mostly) harmless shenanigans of Grace Hadley herself — who won't stop haunting the hotel until her murder is acknowledged.
Filled with the emotional tension and multiple points of view that characterize Elin's books (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added touch of historical reality, Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this summer drama for the ages. - from Goodreads

 I have fallen way behind on Hilderbrand's books, but this sounds amazing and is going to the top of my TBR!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: Sinking Ships

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan (2021)

Surviving Savannah tells a fictionalized account of the real-life sinking of the steamship Pulaski in 1838 through dual timelines.  The past storyline is told from the points of view of two related Savannah society women as they fight for their survival, and the survival of their loved ones, after the ship's boiler explodes, causing irreparable damage.  In the present storyline, readers meet Everly, a history professor who is curating a museum exhibit after the discovery of the doomed ship and its artifacts.  The detail in this novel was just incredible.  The amount of research Callahan did and was able to incorporate into the story was amazing - and the result was far from dry, as the 1838 storyline hit so many emotional levels.  The present-day storyline takes place mostly in Savannah, where Everly lives and works.  Savannah is a place I've always wanted to visit, and I felt like I practically did after reading this book.  Callahan's lush descriptions almost made me feel like I was actually there.   Although I felt Everly's personal story sometimes detracted from the heart of the novel, I enjoyed the way the two storylines came together and seeing Everly's process of researching and creating the exhibit.  Overall, a fantastic novel about a historic event that most people have probably never heard of!  4 stars
The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria by Greg King and Penny Wilson (2020)
In 1956, off the coast of Nantucket, the glamorous Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria was struck by another ship and sank hours later.  In this book, author King and Wilson use in-depth research and interviews with the survivors to tell the story of the last hours of the ship.  A ship sinking like this was kind of unthinkable at the time, as modern technology prevented ships from getting that close to each other, but a confluence of events (fog in the area, a sailor who didn't fully understand the equipment) caused such a tragedy.  This was an event I had never heard of before, so I'm glad I was able to learn about it.  The writing is very descriptive and heavily relies on quotes from those involved; hearing the survivors' stories in their own words is incredible.  The authors give a lot of background on many of the passengers and the narrative moves from person to person and their experiences as the hours of the sinking went on.  While this gave the story a very personal touch and was very gripping, it was often hard to keep track of all the people mentioned and almost felt overwhelming at times.  There are of course sections that are hard to read because lives were lost, but there are also many instances of bravery, survival, and hope.  4 stars

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: See You Yesterday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Expected publication date: May 17, 2022
From the author of Today Tonight Tomorrow comes a magical romance in the vein of Groundhog Day about a girl forced to relive her disastrous first day of college—only to discover that her nemesis is stuck in the time loop with her.

Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.

The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.

When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow? - from Goodreads

I've really been enjoying Solomon's adult romances, and the college setting and Groundhog Day aspect of this one are really appealing to me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Want to Read in 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is authors we haven't read yet but want to.  Here are a few new-to-me authors I want to try this year!

Jenny Colgan
Leddy Harper
S.L. Scott
Sarina Bowen
Flora Harding
Ilsa Madden-Mills
Jill Shalvis
Kristy Woodson Harvey

What new authors do you want to read this year?

Friday, April 8, 2022

Romance Quick Reviews

The Right Player by Kandi Steiner (2020)

Ever since a rough break-up in college, Belle has stuck to her three-date-max rule - she has fun and never lets things get too serious.  That is, until she meets Makoa, whose opposite three-date rule may have her reconsidering.  But Makoa is hiding something, and it may be a dealbreaker for Belle.  This was such a good read!  Belle was fun and feisty and hard-working, and I loved getting to know her.  Makoa was a total cinnamon roll; although he was a little cheesy at times, he was so romantic and such a gentleman, and I adored the way he revered Belle.  Their chemistry was off the charts and led to a couple very spicy scenes.  I did get a little frustrated with Makoa and the secret he was keeping from Belle, especially after finding out her history, but overall this was an entertaining and light sports romance!  4 stars

Highland Games by Evie Alexander (2021)
Zoe makes a huge change in her life when her great-uncle dies and leaves her his cabin in the Scottish Highlands; she moves into the almost-uninhabitable cabin and comes face-to-face with Rory, who is responsible for the surrounding Kinloch castle and thought he might move into it, too.  I felt like I was reading two different stories here.  First, we get the hot grump Rory playing pranks on Zoe, trying to get her to move out, while Zoe gets reacquainted with the friends she made while visiting her uncle decades ago.  The overall feel of the story at this point is very innocent, almost twee, but this doesn't last long and when the two inevitably admit their feelings for each other, suddenly the story became raunchy.  I don't mind sex scenes in my books, but these came out of nowhere and just went on and on!  I also didn't care for all the random declarations of insta-love.  I thought the secret Rory was keeping added some interest to the story, but unfortunately, this one didn't work for me.  2.5 stars

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Neanderthal Seeks Duchess

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Laney Hatcher
Expected publication date: May 3, 2022
There are three things you need to know about Lady Jane Morrison:
1. She frequently finds herself the talk of the ton and for all the wrong reasons.
2. A dashingly mysterious gentleman has caught her attention and even more dangerous...she has caught his.
3. She’s rubbish at embroidery.

After scandalous events during the London season, Lady Jane is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Her reputation is at risk as well as all her carefully laid plans for the future. And for better or worse, a chance encounter with a mysterious lord sets forth a series of events that will change their lives forever.

‘Neanderthal Seeks Duchess: a Penny Reid Universe Reimagining’, is a full-length historical romance, can be read as a standalone, and is book #1 in the London Ladies Embroidery series, Smartypants Romance Out of this World, Penny Reid Book Universe. - from Goodreads

I've really been enjoying the various Smartypants Romance releases, and now they're starting a new imprint called "Out of This World" in which the stories have some sort of tie to their existing bookish universe but are in completely new genres - the first is historical romance!

Monday, April 4, 2022

Discussion: A Good Problem To Have

For a few months last year, I was in a bit of a reading slump.  While I was still reading a good amount of books each month, I wasn't really that excited about it and it was taking me longer than normal to get through a story.  I was feeling tired and sick a lot, so that didn't help, either!  Cut to the end of the year, and now I'm home all day, every day, on maternity leave.  All of a sudden, I want to read EVERYTHING.  Every single book on my TBR sounds appealing to me (as it should, I suppose!), and I'm making lists in my head of what I want to read next... and after that... and after that.. and ooh wait, that sounds good, too!

So, I'm out of my reading slump.  I mean, that's good, right?  So what's the problem?  Time!  Time is the problem!  I don't have enough of it!  Between getting back to work, taking care of Henry, and keeping the house clean, I'm lucky if I pick up my book by 9:30pm and get in a few chapters before my eyes start to close.  There always seems to be something else that needs to be done, and as much as I love it, reading is unfortunately something that has to fall a little lower on the priority scale right now.  I know, I know, I sound a *little* whiney - believe me, I realize how lucky I am to have a full-time job, a nice house, a husband who does all the cooking, and the most adorable baby on the planet.  And I know my situation is not unique - we all have stuff going on!  But, I just want a little time to do what I love, too, something that has defined and fulfilled my life for so long!

Yes, I'm reading less than I have in previous years, and honestly, I'm reading more than I thought I would with a newborn.  But, choosing what to read next is becoming a challenge.  Like I said before, everything on my TBR sounds *so good*, so I'm still getting lots of books from the library and buying physical books and ebooks, but because I'm reading so slowly, it's all just piling up (I've had some library books for a couple months now - oops!).  I'm whatever the opposite of a mood reader is right now, and if books were food, I'd say that my eyes are bigger than my stomach.  

I don't think I'm that different from most book lovers - I think many would say that there just aren't enough hours in the day for all the reading we want to do.  So I guess my problem is - when you're short on time but have a ton of books that you just can't wait to read, how do you prioritize them?  I'm juggling so many different types of books:
  • Unread physical books from my own shelves
  • Ebooks languishing on my Kindle
  • Nonfiction books
  • Random review requests
  • Rereads
  • Making use of my Kindle Unlimited subscription before I have to choose to renew or cancel it in a couple months
Right now my solution to this problem is to just kind of rotate between all of these, but I can't help but wonder if there's a better way!

Tell me - how do you choose what to read next when your TBR seems endless?  Do you tend to prioritize certain books?  Have you figured out a way to add a 25th hour to your day so that you have more time to read?  If you only have time for one book a week, how do you choose that book?

Friday, April 1, 2022

Month in Review: March 2022

March was a pretty quiet month.  Work has been a little slow for me, as the accountants are now deep in tax season and not working on the jobs I normally work on.  It has made for a nice, easy transition back to work, though!  My brother-in-law and his wife came over and met Henry for the first time (their household was all sick on and off for awhile, including with COVID, so we had to reschedule a bunch of times), so that was nice.  Tom cooked a St. Patrick's Day dinner and we had some family over for that, too.  Other than that, we are settling into our routine of work and daycare.  Henry has adjusted really well and is growing like a weed!  I had a little cry one day over the fact that I had to switch out his clothes for a bigger size!  He loves to smile and "talk" and is obsessed with putting everything in his mouth, including, but not limited to, his hands, shirts, and toys.

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.