Friday, July 29, 2022

Review: Run For Your Honey

Run For Your Honey (Blum's Bees #3)
Staci Hart
Published July 21, 2022
Twelve years ago, my first and only love left town and never came back.

How dare he show up now, looking like that.

And he’s running against me for mayor.

It’s unfair, him standing there, too tall and handsome for his own good. It’s audacious that his clothes accentuate every lean, strong curve of his body. It’s universal BS that his smile makes my heart flipflop, and it’s patently un-freaking-believable that my body would betray me when he turns that gorgeous smile on me.

I’ll do whatever it takes to win, and he knows it.

But when he kisses me, all bets are off.

If I win, he leaves.

If he wins, I lose.

And either way, he breaks my heart. - from Goodreads
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Poppy's high school sweetheart Duke left Texas for college and never came back - until now.  After twelve years, he's back and running against her in a mayoral race in their small town.  Their chemistry hasn't waned over the years, despite Poppy's heartache, but nothing good can come from them hooking up - right?  Only one of them can be mayor, and Duke doesn't plan on staying if he loses.

After reading Poppy's sisters' stories, I was excited to read the final book in the installment.  Each love story is totally unique, although there are some threads that flow through the series.  The small-town setting is just as important in this story, as now Poppy is trying to bring major changes to their struggling town by running for mayor.  I really admire the way the Blum sisters go for what they believe in.

The romance tropes are strong - and so so good - in this story.  Poppy and Duke are adversaries from the start when neither will back down in the race for mayor, so it's fun to see them finally hit a breaking point and turn from enemies to lovers (in secret, of course).  There's also the added element of their romantic history together and how their high school romance ended in such an unsatisfactory way.  Poppy thought Duke was cheating on her, but Duke really felt he couldn't come home because he knew he wouldn't leave Poppy again (and he needed to leave town to fulfill his dreams).  Poppy's protests that she hated Duke felt half-hearted, because you could just tell that there were still feelings there.  I was rooting for them from the start, even though they said it was just a fling this time around, and was wondering how Staci would give these two characters their happily ever after, because the odds seemed against them.  I wish we could have gotten a little more background on their previous relationship, though, maybe through a flashback or two.

As always, Staci's writing is beautiful and really elevates both humorous and serious scenes.  It's lush and swoony, so full of heart and hope that you can't help falling in love with these characters and this Texas town.

4 stars

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: An Indiscreet Princess

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Georgie Blalock
Expected publication date: September 27, 2022
From the acclaimed author of The Other Windsor Girl and The Last Debutantes comes a brilliant novel about Queen Victoria’s most rebellious and artistically talented daughter, Princess Louise, showcasing her rich life in Georgie Blalock’s signature flair.

Before Princes Margaret, before Duchess Meghan, there was Princess Louise: royal rebel.

As the fourth daughter of the perpetually in-mourning Queen Victoria, Princess Louise’s life is more a gilded prison than a fairy tale. Expected to sit quietly next to her mother with downcast eyes, Louise vows to escape the stultifying royal court. Blessed with beauty, artistic talent, and a common touch, she creates a life outside the walled-in existence of the palace grounds by attending the National Art Training School—where she shockingly learns to sculpt nude models while falling passionately in love with famed sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm.

Although Louise cultivates artist friends, artistic success, and a life outside the palace, she quickly learns that even royal rebels must heed the call of duty. For twenty years, Louise fights to maintain her relationship with Joseph and what freedom she can glean within the strict requirements of Queen Victoria’s court. When a near fatal accident forces her back under Queen Victoria’s iron rule, Louise must choose between surrendering to the all-consuming grief of lost love and dreams that plagued her mother or finding the strength to keep fighting for her unconventional life.
  - from Goodreads

Friday, July 22, 2022

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Heiress Edition

The Devil and the Heiress (The Gilded Age Heiresses #2) by Harper St. George (2021)
Violet Crenshaw, a wealthy heiress, knows her father is arranging a marriage for her - but she has other plans, becoming a published author, for one.  So, she decides to run away.  Christian, Earl of Leigh, is one of those men hoping to marry Violet and he hopes that by escorting her on her journey, maybe she'll fall in love with him.  As his feelings grow stronger, he'll have to convince Violet that he's more than his tawdry past.  I have to say, I loved Christian - while he has a bit of a past, he seems like he has really changed, and I enjoyed watching his feelings for Violet go from cheeky admiration to complete love.  While I thought Violet was a little too naive and child-like at times (to be fair, she is only 19), I admired her desire to become an author and the way she used the people and situations around her as inspiration.  The way these two fall in love, basically on an old-fashioned road trip, was unique for me in historical romances, and the twist their story takes in the latter half of the novel was pretty unexpected.  4 stars

In this nonfiction book, Laura Thompson takes a look at the lives of several heiresses through the course of history and how their inheritances shaped their lives, for better or worse.  Heiresses in centuries past had real reason to be scared of kidnappings or forced marriages, as their property automatically became their husband's upon marriage.  In later years, and more modern times, women still had fewer rights but could retain more control over their lives, marrying for love instead of a business arrangement, although that still didn't stop men from taking advantage of them.  The American "dollar princesses" make an appearance in these pages, which is always an interesting era to read about.  I enjoyed the author's writing style, which was entertaining and engaging, particularly for a nonfiction book.  The author did go off on a lot of tangents, though, and there were a lot of names to keep track of; sometimes it was difficult to follow the narrative.  I didn't really understand the shoe-horned references to the modern British royal family, either.  3.5 stars

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Lucy on the Wild Side

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Kerry Rea
Expected publication date: September 13, 2022
A charming and wildly funny new romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.

Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department.

When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it's obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases...and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild. - from Goodreads


Monday, July 18, 2022

Battle of the Book Covers #8

In Battle of the Book Covers, I pick one book, compile a bunch of different international covers, and choose my favorite - and I'd love for you to weigh in, too!  (Thank you to Heather at Random Redheaded Ramblings, who put together a list of 25 book blog post ideas, for the inspiration!)
For this edition, I've chosen The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, first published in 2015, another of my favorite books!

2015 US // 2015 Romanian // 2016 German

2015 Dutch // 2016 Lithuanian // 2016 Bulgarian

 2016 French // 2016 Swedish // 2016 Croatian
This one is hard because there are so many I like for different reasons, but I think I'll go with...

The 2016 French edition!  There's just something about the way the photograph evokes the time period and puts a real face to the characters.

Which one is your favorite?

Friday, July 15, 2022

2022 Rereading Project: Update #3

 Let's check in on how my rereading project is going!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (2019)
Former best friends Zorie and Lennon have to work together when they find themselves stranded in the wilderness.  They might be rekindling their friendship, but their families are still a mess.  I first read this book back in 2019 after winning it in a giveaway.  I gave it 4 stars then, but unfortunately, I DNFed it this time around, at about page 60.  I think this is just another example of my waning love and patience for YA books.  Zorie and Lennon came across as such cliches, Zorie as the hipster and Lennon as the goth, and I found myself not really up for all the drama.

Verdict: Donate!
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (2016)
Charlie Silver is a professional tennis player - after getting injured, she hires a notoriously successful coach to get her to the top.  But will all the changes to her personal and professional lives be worth it?  I have been a huge fan of Lauren Weisberger for years, ever since The Devil Wears Prada.  I first read this book back in 2016, pretty much right when it came out.  I gave it 4 stars then, and I concur with that rating today.  In my review, I noted how much I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be an athlete at the highest levels - the training, the travel, the highs and lows.  Weisberger's writing is always good, but I noticed then (and now) that her stories are a bit predictable (or, at least for awhile there was a stretch of books that were all very similar).  For that reason, even though I enjoy this story, I'm not sure I would read it again.

Verdict: Donate!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Sally Thorne
Expected publication date: September 6, 2022
From USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game Sally Thorne comes something a little unexpected... a historical rom-com that imagines Victor Frankenstein's sheltered younger sister, and her attempts to create the perfect man.

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor's ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?

Filled with carriages, candlesticks, and corpses, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is the spooky-season reimagining of the well-known classic that reminds us to never judge a man by his cadaver! - from Goodreads


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers That Feel Like Summer


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is book covers that feel like summer.  For this one, I went to my TBR to look for covers with beaches or pools, things like that.  There weren't as many as I thought there would be, so I've also added a couple that had "summer" in the title!

 What covers did you choose this week?

Friday, July 8, 2022

Romance Quick Reviews

 That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn (2019)

Griffin Knightly thinks that he and his brothers are cursed in love, so after the death of his wife, he's content to be alone - until Ren Winters arrives in town and he can't help but feel something for the new woman in his life.  Will he finally take a chance on love?  Not gonna lie, I 99% picked this book up because of the cover!  But, I also got a really great romance from it!  There's so much to love in this book - the small town setting where everyone really does know everyone else's business (and may exaggerate it from time to time), the strong dynamics of the Knightly family, and the friendship and growing attraction between Griffin and Ren.  The chemistry between the two really jumped off the page - it was both sweet and passionate.  I also really enjoyed that the story was not just about Griffin taking a chance on love, but also about Ren starting a new life for herself in Maine.  Although the dialogue was a little cheesy at times, I loved watching Griffin and Ren find their way to each other.  4 stars

Maverick Mogul (Billionaire Bachelors #7) by Lila Monroe (2022)
Charlie needs a no-strings-attached date to the 12 weddings he has this month; Grace decides to take him up on his offer while she's between jobs.  It was supposed to be pure fun, with no feelings - but will the romantic nights brew up something between the two?  Lila Monroe is my go-to rom-com author.  She always delivers in the best ways.  This book is part of a series but can easily be read as a standalone.  There's a bit of history between Charlie and Grace (they went to the same high school but were definitely not in the same circles), but that doesn't really affect their present situation too much.  Charlie has his reasons for wanting to keep things "fake" and surface-level, so he's as surprised as anyone when he starts having real feelings for Grace.  Grace is fun and funny, and I loved them together, especially how Charlie believed in Grace enough to push her to start her own business.  If you're looking for a fun, low-drama, bingeable, steamy romance, definitely try this book!  4 stars

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Carrie Soto Is Back

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Expected publication date: August 30, 2022
In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet. - from Goodreads


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

2022 Reading & Blogging Goals: Mid-Year Check-In

It's hard to believe that 2022 is already half over, but it's a great time to check in on the reading and blogging goals I set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read Little Women.  I did it!  It took me a month and a half to read it, but I finally read Little Women!
  2. Read 52 books.  At the time I'm writing this post, I've read 50 books, so I'm actually almost done with this goal.  I figured I would maybe get to a book a week, so I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I've been able to read.
  3. Don't be so rigid about a blogging schedule.  I think I've been pretty good with this.  I've mainly been able to stick to my normal schedule, but I'm not pushing myself to fill in empty days like I used to.  I also haven't always been posting reviews every week and sometimes my "Friday reviews" don't show up until Monday, but that's ok!  I don't necessarily want to review every book I read on the blog, so because I'm reading less, there are fewer reviews.
  4. Continue growing my Instagram account.  I've gotten a lot of new followers, but my engagement doesn't seem to be growing, and I blame the algorithm, LOL!  I don't do reels, so I feel like the platform doesn't "promote" my posts very well to my followers.  But, I still have fun taking and sharing photos, so I'll continue with it for now.
  5. Reread from my own collection with the intention of pruning my shelves.  So far I've attempted 6 rereads - of those, I DNFed two of them and I will be donating five.
  6. Keep track of how much I'm spending on books.  I've adding a line item to my budget spreadsheet for this, so I've been tracking my book spending, although I'm not going to say how much I've spent!  I'm counting books I buy for Henry, too, and admittedly I go a little overboard when it comes to him.  I need to rein it in until his birthday/Christmas.

 How are you doing on your goals?

Friday, July 1, 2022

Month in Review: June 2022


June was a nice month - we had visits from all of Henry's grandparents at one point or another.  Tom and I took some time while Henry was at daycare to go see Jurassic World: Dominion - gonna be honest, definitely not my favorite of the series, but I'll never not watch a Jurassic Park movie.  We celebrated Tom's first Father's Day with a quiet day at home.  And now it's time for my monthly Henry update, LOL!  Sorry to everyone who doesn't want to hear about the goings on of a 7-month-old!  I woke up at 5:45am one day to Henry babbling on the monitor - and saw he was on his stomach!  We have a roller!  I saw him do it one more time a couple days later during tummy time, but he hasn't been too forthcoming with it.  I think the helmet hinders him a little.  Speaking of the helmet, he had a great evaluation at the end of the month; he is really making a lot of progress.  He's also been working on sitting up by himself; he's doing really good except for when he gets overexcited and throws himself backwards!  Unfortunately, he got pinkeye and an ear infection, along with a lot of congestion, the last week of the month, so we've been dealing with that.  It's the first time he's really been sick like this, and it's hard not to feel helpless as a mom when you can't make them feel better right away.

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.