Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Reading and Blogging Goals: Year-End Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe that 2022 is already just about over!  It seems so long ago that I set some reading and blogging goals for this year, but let's take a look back at them anyway.

  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 99 books, which is WAY more than I expected to read this year.
  3. Don't be so rigid about a blogging schedule.  I think I did pretty well with this.  I haven't always been able to stick to my "normal" blogging schedule, but I haven't let this bother me.  I do get a little anxious when I don't have a lot of pre-scheduled posts, but that's the nature of life right now.  My sister has taken a larger role on the blog this year, and that makes me so happy!  She shared about two bookish conventions she attended, penned a series on independent authors, and has even started a new series showcasing upcoming releases she's excited about.  
  4. Continue growing my Instagram account.  I've gained about 150 followers this year, but unfortunately my engagement doesn't seem to reflect that!  However, 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.  I attempted 6 rereads - of those, I DNFed two of them and I donated five.  I kind of gave up on this goal around mid-year, because right now there are just too many new books I want to read and I preferred to spend more time on those.
  6. Keep track of how much I'm spending on books.  I added a line item to my budget spreadsheet for this, so I did keep track of this all year (although I'm not going to say how much I've spent - eek!).  Admittedly, most of my book spending was on Henry!

 How did you do on your 2022 goals?

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Countess

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Sophie Jordan
Expected publication date: March 28, 2023
New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan kicks off her amazing new high concept series, The Scandalous Ladies of London, which chronicles the lives of a group of affluent ladies reigning over glittering, Regency-era London, vying for position in the hierarchy of the ton. They are the young wives, widows, and daughters of London’s wealthiest families. The drama is big, the money runs deep, and the shade is real. Life is different in the ton.

“My husband is a good man… just ask all the women he has bedded.”

Wealthy society maven Lady Gertrude knows how the world works. If her husband is less than faithful, it’s an acceptable price to pay for her coveted position at the apex of London’s most fashionable set. No exclusive soirée or lavish ball is complete without her and her group of decadent, well-connected friends. And this Season promises more excitement than usual: Tru is launching her daughter into Society, helping her navigate the cutthroat Marriage Mart, complete with fortune hunters, jealous debutantes, and malicious gossips.

As skilled as Tru is at playing the high-stakes games of the ton, she never expects to meet her match—until Jasper Thorne begins to court her daughter. Jasper needs a titled bride, but when he meets Tru, all his carefully laid plans go up in smoke. The attraction between Tru and Jasper is undeniable…and unacceptable. To indulge in an affair with her daughter’s suitor would be ruinous. If it becomes public, she’ll never survive the scandal. Especially as it becomes clear that he wants more than one night…he wants the impossible. He wants forever.

A sizzling story of scandalous ladies, irresistible temptation, and the dangers—and joys—of being true to yourself. - from Goodreads


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to Henry's Shelves

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is recent additions to our book collections.  I haven't gotten that many new books lately, but Henry received many books for his birthday and Christmas - here are some of his most recent additions!

All Year Round // Babies Love Kindness // Count to Sleep Chicago

Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo // Night Night, Dino-Snores // Mr. Boddington's Studio: NYC ABCs

Never Touch a Porcupine! // Hello, World! Snow

Tokyo: A Book of Senses // Count to Sleep Vermont

What new books have you gotten lately?

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

Friday, December 23, 2022

Holiday Quick Reviews

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan (2020)
My aunt recommended this book to me after reading it with her book group, and I'm so glad she did!  Nora and Simon own a bookshop in a small English village, but unfortunately, it's looking like they might have to close.  When a customer buys one of the oldest books in their shop, they're inspired to gift books to others in their community who aren't necessarily feeling the Christmas spirit.  Although there are some heavy topics here (grief, depression), overall the tone of the story is uplifting and hopeful.  You'll be rooting for Nora and Simon to find a solution to their problems, and you'll enjoy getting to know all the other characters in their small village.  The story is infused with Christmas traditions and holiday spirit, and it'll make you feel all the warm and fuzzies.  It's also a love letter to books and the power of the written word, and it's so fun to follow along with the characters as they talk about new and old favorites.  4 stars

Home For Christmas by Courtney Cole (2022)

After her grandmother passes away, Piper is unsure she wants to keep running the Alaskan family home and business.  While out searching for her clients, Piper is caught in a blizzard and finds herself transported to 1945, where she meets her grandmother, now a young woman, and other family and friends.  She gets to know a different side of her grandmother and maybe even meets the love of a lifetime.  I really enjoyed this book - it was so different from other holiday stories I've read.  Piper is at a crossroads in her life, but the time travel forces her to slow down and experience a totally different way of living.  WWII is still going on, and the family is trying to make a decent Christmas, despite facing rationing, dwindling reserves, illness, and wild animals.  The story is, at turns, emotional, heartwarming, and wholesome, and the time travel/magical realism elements were nicely incorporated.  It truly is a story about family and legacy.  The ending was a bit abrupt, but overall, I loved this holiday story.  4 stars

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

Monday, December 19, 2022

Michele's Monday Picks #3

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with a new little series, Michele’s Monday Picks! I’m not a blogger or bookstagrammer, but I love getting excited about new releases with the rest of you. Here I’ll be sharing new books I’m really looking forward to! 

Strangers in the Night

By Heather Webb

Expected publication: March 21st, 2023

From Goodreads:

It was the tumultuous romance that scandalized the world: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner fought, loved, and lived life to the hilt. Now their unbridled story is brought vividly to life by Heather Webb, the bestselling author of Meet Me in Monaco and The Next Ship Home.

In the golden age of Hollywood, two of the brightest stars would define--and defy--an era...

She was the small-town southern beauty transformed into a Hollywood love goddess. He was the legendary crooner whose voice transfixed the world. They were Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Separately they were irresistible; together they were an explosive combination.

Ava's star is rising just as Frank's career--and public image as a family man--is taking a hit. Gone are the days of the screaming bobbysoxers and chart-topping hits. Ava, however, finds herself gracing the front page of every tabloid in America. Jealousy and cheating abound, and when the two succumb to their temperaments and their vices, their happiness is threatened at every turn.

As the pair ride the rollercoaster of success and failure, passion and anger, they both wonder if the next turn will be the end of their careers, and most devastating of all--the end of all they've shared.

A captivating novel with a star-studded cast spanning continents and decades, Strangers in the Night brings to life the most riveting love story of the twentieth century.

I have loved Heather Webb’s collaborations with Hazel Gaynor, so I am excited to read her newest solo effort!

Do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, December 16, 2022

Holiday Quick Reviews

The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk (2022)

Facing a recent breakup and some serious issues at work, Gwen is hoping that a Christmas spent in her childhood home will be just what she needs to get back on track.  But when she keeps waking up on Christmas Day, Groundhog Day-style, she will need to figure out what's holding her back.  Guys, I LOVED this book!  I'm a sucker for time travel/time loop stories, and this was a great one.  Each iteration of Christmas Day felt fresh and new, as Gwen tried to "fix" something with a different member of her family, hoping to get out of the loop.  The family dynamics (a strained relationship with her sister, feeling pressure to make her dad proud) were so real and relatable.  I could maybe have used a bit more romance, because there are shades of it and I loved Dev, the boy next door/lifelong crush, but the focus on family, and Gwen's realizations about her own life, were top-notch.  Funny, heartwarming, full of holiday cheer and shenanigans - please read this one!  4.5 stars

Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday (2021)

Max, a future duke, is feeling pressure from his parents to marry a suitable bride, and soon, so that the future of the family is settled.  Dani is a college professor who has sworn off men after her divorce.  The two are just friends, but sometimes the best relationships blossom from strong friendships.  I have to say, this book was not marketed well as a holiday romance.  There's not really much holiday stuff in it at all, which was kind of disappointing.  It's the second book in a series, although I don't think you necessarily need to read the first book to enjoy this one.  I enjoyed that a portion of the story is devoted to Max and Dani as friends, and they then realize their attraction to each other and start to figure out how all that could work.  I think the story was overly long and a bit repetitive, though.  Cute premise, just didn't really work for me.  3 stars

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Someone Else's Shoes

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Jojo Moyes
Expected publication date: February 7, 2023
A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope--she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.

That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. But Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag--she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change—and that thing is herself.

Full of Jojo Moyes’ signature humor, brilliant storytelling, and warmth, Someone Else’s Shoes is a story about how just one little thing can suddenly change everything.
  - from Goodreads

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our winter TBR.  I want to focus on the unread physical books on  my shelf, so here are some I'm aiming to read this winter!

What will you be reading this winter?

Monday, December 12, 2022

Michele's Monday Picks #2

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with a new little series, Michele’s Monday Picks! I’m not a blogger or bookstagrammer, but I love getting excited about new releases with the rest of you. Here I’ll be sharing new books I’m really looking forward to! 


It Happened One Fight

By Maureen Lee Lenker

Expected publication: July 11th, 2023

From Goodreads:

From Entertainment Weekly writer Maureen Lee Lenker comes a swoony romantic comedy set in the world of 1930s film.

Joan Davis is a movie star, and a damned good actor, too. Unfortunately, Hollywood only seems to care when she stars alongside Dash Howard, Tinseltown's favorite leading man and a perpetual thorn in Joan's side. She's sick of his hotshot attitude, his never-ending attempts to get a rise out of her―especially after the night he sold her out to the press on a studio-arranged date. She'll turn her career around without him. She's engaged to Hollywood's next rising star, after all, and preparing to make the film that could finally get her taken seriously. Then, a bombshell drops: thanks to one of his on-set pranks gone wrong, Dash and Joan are legally married.

Reputation on the line, Joan agrees to star alongside Dash one last time and move production to Reno, where divorce is legal after a six-week residency. But between on-set shenanigans, fishing competitions at Lake Tahoe, and intimate moments leaked to the press, Joan begins to see another side to the man she thought she had all figured out, and it becomes harder and harder to convince the public―and herself―that her marriage to Dash is the joke it started out as.

The 1930s and this cover (!!) – how can you go wrong?

Do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, December 9, 2022

Holiday Quick Reviews

Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert (2022)

Jack has lived his whole life inside the Julemarked, a magical Christmas market that moves from December to December, and place to place, every four weeks.  Many times over the years he has run into Astra in Milwaukee, and he thinks he could be ready to settle down - but will Astra be willing to give up her whole life in order to join his magical one?  Although I didn't love this as much I'd hoped, it was still an enjoyable holiday romance!  Let's get the things I didn't enjoy out of the way - the writing was very repetitive (how many times could Astra say she missed out on the births of her friend's children?) and Astra's ex-husband was a total pill (who divorces someone and then still asks them to hem their pants??).  I thought Jack was a little naive in just assuming Astra would come live him with him; I mean, did he even consider leaving the Julemarked at all?  But, it was interesting to see how two people who have very different lives could try to make a relationship work.  I also liked how Reichert had answers for some of the questions about the Julemarked's magic, but left others to the imagination.  If you're looking for a sweet romance, with all the holiday feels, definitely give this one a try.  3.5 stars

Christmas at the Ranch by Anita Hughes (2022)

Author Samantha has barely left her house in years, but now her publisher has invited her to a week-long Christmas party at his home in Wyoming and she has to go.  On the plane ride there, she meets a man who helps her brave the flight.  It turns out he's the publisher's son, and even though Samantha has feelings for him, his fiancée soon shows up.  Ugh, guys, this was just... not good.  Can we first talk about how rude it would be to invite someone, at the very last minute, to your home for a WEEK over Christmas and insinuate that if they don't come, they could lose their job?  So I felt a bit bad for Samantha, but then she turned out to be the most unlikeable main character.  She is afraid of EVERYTHING and is just constantly talking or thinking about her dog, Socks.  Her mind wanders to "plots" for her books, about a James Bond-esque female super spy (although the plots sound more like just scenes).  I don't think it would be a huge spoiler to say that the publisher's son, Drew, and his fiancée end up breaking up, paving the way for him and Samantha, although what he sees in her, I don't know.  He's a world traveler who wants to change the lives of children in Thailand, and Samantha just wants to stay on the couch in her pajamas.  We're supposed to believe that is attractive to him, or that she could just change her life overnight?  Just so much cringe here, I could go on for far too long.  However, I did enjoy the descriptions of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and all the wintery activities... so there's that.  2 stars

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Villa

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Rachel Hawkins
Expected publication date: January 23, 2023
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy. - from Goodreads


Monday, December 5, 2022

Guest Blogger: Indies Invade Philly 2022

 Michele is back today to recap her recent trip to Indies Invade Philly!


On November 19, 2022, I attended Indies Invade Philly, a huge author event that took place in, you guessed it, Philadelphia, PA.  This is the second time I have attended this signing and it was just as great as the first.  Over the course of the morning and afternoon sessions, over 700 romance book lovers got to meet and mingle with their favorite authors and narrators.

Some of the authors and narrators that highlighted my day were:

Meghan Quinn
Tessa Bailey
Amber Kelly
Kandi Steiner
Kathryn Nolan
Rebecca Yarros
Erin Mallon (narrator)

This event was extremely well-run and organized, and I would highly recommend it to other book lovers.  Special thanks to my hubby for lugging my stuff and taking all the pictures while I fangirled for 2+ hours.  Can’t wait until next year’s event!

Have you been to any big book signings?  Any you are looking forward to?

Friday, December 2, 2022

Quick Reviews: The Tessa Bailey Edition

After socialite and influencer Piper lands in jail, her stepdad sends her to a small town in Washington to prove that she's more than just a pretty face and learn some responsibility.  There, she reconnects with her late father's family and friends and meets sea captain Brendan, who may just have her giving up her partying ways for a slower-paced life.  I wish it hadn't taken me so long to finally read this book, because I just absolutely loved it!  At first I was a little unsure of Piper - she seemed so naive, but underneath that innocent exterior turned out to be a heart of gold and a cute sense of humor.  I loved watching her grow and learn things about herself, that she's more than just an "it girl."  Brendan was the perfect foil for her - a widower totally set in his routines, he learns to loosen up a bit while giving Piper the stability she needed.  Although their relationship was a bit on the fast track, I was here for all of it - their chemistry had me turning the pages late into the night.  There's humor, there's lots of heart, and there are some seriously steamy scenes to keep readers satisfied!  5 stars

Happenstance (2022)

When aspiring journalist Elise finds herself stuck in a cable car with three strapping men, she never thought it would lead to the most unconventional relationship of her life, but now she's juggling three boyfriends while also trying to break a big story.  LMAO, what did I just read??  I thought maybe this was about a woman who is actually dating three men separately, but it turned out to be a reverse harem/polyamorous romance.  I've read lots of different types of romances, but never one like this!  It was so hard to reconcile in my mind how all four of these people felt an instant connection and understand how the men would make it work for Elise.  I mean, it must be nice to be completely adored, cherished, and admired by three guys!  I did enjoy how Bailey showed that the relationship brought out the best in each of them and how the men (and Elise) grow over the course of the book, but the sex scenes were maybe a little much for me?  Sometimes it seemed like that was the driving factor behind the relationship.  The bits of political intrigue were a nice (and needed) addition, breaking up some of the overwhelming lust and love between the four.  3.5 stars

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

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Month in Review: November 2022


First, I just want to apologize for being so behind on blog hopping and replying to comments - we have been so busy and work has been crazy, I barely have a moment to do anything else right now!  Hopefully I can catch up soon.  Now, onto November!

Like I mentioned, it has been a busy month!  I went to the office twice this month - one day for a luncheon for a partner's 50th anniversary with the firm and another to take part in an after-hours painting party, so I just worked there all day.  Our nephew turned one, so we went to his birthday party.  Tom and I finally got a chance to see Black Adam, and that was fun!  Of course I loved the post-credits scene.  Henry learned to crawl at the beginning of the month, and a few days later, I woke up to see him on the monitor, with his arms slung over the top rail and his head poking up.  So, the crib mattress had to be lowered immediately!  Now he is moving all over the place!  My brother and his family were supposed to come in December for Henry's birthday party, but some stuff came up, so they came in November instead.  It was so great to see them, as we hadn't seen them since last Christmas.  Among other things, we went to the Liberty Science Center.  We celebrated Henry's first Thanksgiving, and he actually ate some turkey and mashed potatoes, ha!  (Eating solid food has been a daily battle in our house.)   Later that weekend, we went on a Christmas train ride with a huge family group.  And lastly, we celebrated Henry's first birthday!  Thank you to everyone for your warm wishes!

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.