Monday, October 2, 2023

Month in Review: September 2023


September was a pretty quiet month, if you can't tell by the amount of books I was able to read!  One of my brothers had a Labor Day BBQ, so that was a fun afternoon spent with family.  Henry's daycare had their "first day of school," and they had the most adorable balloon arch to welcome the kids back after a week break.  It rained a lot this month, but at least the hot weather finally went away!  Henry is learning new words all the time, although his favorite is still "no." (Like literally, he says no to everything, whether he means it or not.)  He loves reading books, playing with blocks, and exploring our yard.

The Books

The Posts and Reviews
How are you doing?
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Friday, September 29, 2023

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Sellers Books, Plus Library Express Bookstore

We recently took a trip to the Poconos in Pennsylvania and while on a day trip to Jim Thorpe, we stopped at Sellers Books, a small independent bookstore that has been located in the historic downtown area since 2008.  This store is literally jam-packed with books from all genres, with space for only two rows of books, plus a small nook in the back.  It didn't feel cluttered, but rather quaint and charming.  A sign in the store lets browsers know that while they used to focus on used books, the pandemic and trying to compete with Amazon has led them to stock mostly new releases now.  I ended up buying two contemporary romances that looked cute to me, as well as a book about trains for Henry (he and Tom took a scenic train ride while in town).  I definitely recommend stopping here if you're ever in the area!

I also wanted to mention one other place we visited during our Pennsylvania trip - Library Express Bookstore!  Not a traditional indie bookstore, this branch of the Scranton Public Library is located at the Marketplace at Steamtown (basically a mall, but it also has a small aquarium and even a dentist's office!).  It acts as both a library and a bookstore - on one side of the store, patrons can check out library books and other materials, and on the other side, there are books for purchase, both used and new.  All proceeds benefit the public library system.  They also have lots of fun bookish merch, such as socks and tote bags.  Their creative window caught my eye, as the display (along with another inside) is made out of book pages!  I bought yet another book for Henry, this time the newest Little Blue Truck book (shhh!).

Have you visited any cool indie bookstores recently?

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Midnight is the Darkest Hour

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Ashley Winstead
Expected publication date: October 3, 2023
From the critically acclaimed author of In My Dreams I Hold A Knife and The Last Housewife comes a gothic Southern thriller about a killer haunting a small Louisiana town, where two outcasts—the preacher's daughter and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks—hold the key to uncovering the truth.

For fans of Verity and A Flicker in the Dark, this is a twisted tale of murder, obsessive love, and the beastly urges that lie dormant within us all...even the God-fearing folk of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. In her small hometown, librarian Ruth Cornier has always felt like an outsider, even as her beloved father rains fire-and-brimstone warnings from the pulpit at Holy Fire Baptist.

Unfortunately for Ruth, the only things the townspeople fear more than the God and the Devil are the myths that haunt the area, like the story of the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to steal into sinners' bedrooms and kill them on moonless nights. When a skull is found deep in the swamp next to mysterious carved symbols, Bottom Springs is thrown into uproar—and Ruth realizes only she and Everett, an old friend with a dark past, have the power to comb the town's secret underbelly in search of true evil.

A dark and powerful novel like fans have come to expect from Ashley Winstead, Midnight is the Darkest Hour is an examination of the ways we've come to expect love, religion, and stories to save us, the lengths we have to go to in order to take back power, and the monstrous work of being a girl in this world. - from Goodreads


Monday, September 25, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #28

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!


By Ashley Poston
Expected Publication: October 3, 2023

From Goodreads:
Kate Bishop's Hawkeye is still figuring out how to be a Super Hero—and a functioning human being—in this thrilling YA mystery adventure that has her crossing paths with some of the Marvel Universe's greatest heroes—and most dangerous villains.

When Kate Bishop, the young Hawkeye, solves a minor crime and saves the surprisingly cute Milo in the process, she counts it as a rare win. But a mix-up of their bags means that nope, Kate's life is still refusing to run smoothly. In that bag is a mysterious book that holds powerful, dangerous secrets—ones that New York City's most powerful super villain, the Kingpin, would kill to uncover.

Kate finds herself on the run, searching for Milo and what he knows, texting her Super Hero besties for moral support, and trying to solve the mystery she's blundered into before she becomes the victim of her own story. 

Just like its main character, Kate Bishop, Ashley Poston's Super Hero adventure doesn't miss a single shot in one of the funniest, twistiest Marvel stories ever told.

I love superhero stores and especially Marvel characters - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Quick Reviews: Time Travel and Time Loops

Twice in a Lifetime by Melissa Baron (2023)

Isla, suffering from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, trades her life in Chicago for a more slow-paced one in Missouri.  She is surprised one night to receive a text from someone claiming to be her husband, since she's definitely not married.  But, she eventually believes that he is contacting her from the future, one in which they are no longer together.  As they build their relationship over the phone, soon the time will come for them to meet in person - can Isla fix things this time around?  I really wanted to love this book - I'm such a sucker for time travel - it never makes sense to me (and it really doesn't in this book), but I'm always up for it.  However, this book missed the mark for me.  The author gives trigger warnings up front for depression, anxiety, and suicide, and much of the story is devoted to Isla and her mental health.  I know it's important to have issues like this represented in books, but it was very hard for me to read.  At times it almost felt like a checklist of important points about depression and anxiety was used to craft certain parts of the story, and it felt clinical and textbook-y.  I know lots of people have enjoyed this book, but it was just a little too heavy and dark for my personal taste.  3 stars

Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major (2023)
Emma, a literary agent, is having a terrible day - something's off with her kids, she's facing a crisis at work, her sister-in-law is acting strange.  Then, she and her husband get into a fight, and when he leaves to take the dog for a walk, he is struck by a car and killed.  To Emma's surprise and confusion, when she wakes up the next day, she's repeating her terrible day all over again, and again, and again.  No matter what she does, she can't save her husband.  I love books that feature a time loop.  Although they can seem repetitive at first, I like watching the characters try to figure out how to get themselves out, usually by making some realization about themselves.  Emma is a very relatable character - she's always on the go, always needing to answer a text or go to a meeting, thinking about what needs to be done next - but she's also very caring and loving, almost to a fault.  My heart broke for her as she struggles with the time loop and losing her husband every night, but I was also happy when she realized that this time could be seen as a gift.  The inclusion of Emma's husband's anniversary letters to her over the years added some much-needed history and context to the story.  4.5 stars

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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.  I'm really going to lean into the season and go with horror/thriller types, although I still snuck a romance in there!  And yeah, two Grady Hendrix books because I've enjoyed his books in the past and now seems like a good time to catch up!

What will you be reading this fall?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Micheles Monday Picks #27

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!


By Sara Raasch & Beth Revis
Expected Publication: October 3, 2023

From Goodreads:
A witch and a hunter. Vengeance is their mission. Love is their destiny.

Fritzi is a witch. A survivor of a brutal attack on her coven, she's determined to find her only surviving family member and bring the hexenjägers—zealot witch hunters—to justice for the lives they ended. To do this, she will need to take down their leader—Kommandant Dieter Kirch.

Otto is a hexenjäger and a captain, the second in command to Dieter Kirch—but that's just his cover. Years ago, the hexenjagers burned his innocent mother alive and since then, he has been planning a move against the witch hunters that tore his family apart. And now the time has come for them to pay for what they've done.

When Fritzi and Otto are unexpectedly thrown together, neither is sure they can trust the other, despite their common enemy. But all they have is one another, and they both crave revenge. As truths come to light and trust shifts, Fritzi and Otto uncover a far more horrifying plot at the center of the hexenjäger attacks . . . but their own growing feelings for each other may be the most powerful magic of all.

Witches and witch hunters, sounds like a great read for fall - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, September 15, 2023

Guest Blogger: Bookish Podcasts #1

 Michele is back today to talk about some of her favorite bookish podcasts!


When I’m not listening to an audiobook, I catch the next best thing – bookish podcasts! I’ve found a lot over the past few years. Some are run by authors, others by book lovers. Some focus on author interviews and others trend toward book reviews and other bookish topics. Here are a few that I follow:

Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.

Join Instagram book content creator @getlitwithlianna as she sits down with a different guest author to chat about their books, writing career, and everything in between!


Join Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 30 titles and the “Queen of the Beach Reads,” and Tim Ehrenberg, creator of the popular Tim Talks Books, as they talk shop and host spirited discussions with special guests from bestselling and internationally recognized authors, to publishing industry insiders, to local island legends who feature prominently in Hilderbrand’s prolific Nantucket stories.  From what it’s like to take a book to the screen to the intricacies and intimate details of an author’s writing process, Hilderbrand and Ehrenberg take listeners on an exciting (and amusing) journey each episode, bringing books to life in a brand-new way.


Buzzing about Romance is a Romance Reader Podcast. The Hosts of Buzzing about Romance Podcast love talk about all things in the Romance Book Genre. Our goal is to help the romance reader find their next great read. We do this by recommending books based on tropes and through critical book reviews. Join Duchess Katie and Lady Sadie on the sister podcast, Corset and Crown, as they explore the works of Historical Romance and the amazing humans writing it.

A gothic, mystery and horror podcast hosted by Agatha Andrews.

Do you listen to podcasts? Share your favorites!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Winter in New York

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Josie Silver
Expected publication date: October 3, 2023
A young chef stumbles on a secret family recipe that might lead her to the love—and life—she’s been looking for in this stunning novel.

When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice. 

But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to a famous autumn street fair in Little Italy, and as they walk through the food stalls, a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s?

Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?

Iris offers her services as a chef to help them re-create the flavor and finds herself falling for Gio and his family. But when Gio’s uncle finally wakes up, all of the secrets Iris has been keeping threaten to ruin the new life—and new love—she’s been building all winter long. - from Goodreads


Monday, September 11, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #26

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!


By Kerri Maniscalco
Expected Publication: October 3, 2023

From Goodreads:
The adult debut of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kerri Maniscalco, Throne of the Fallen is a seductive new standalone novel set within her fan-favorite Kingdom of the Wicked world, perfect for readers of fantasy, romance, and mystery alike.

Sinner. Villain. Ruthless.

These are wicked names the Prince of Envy welcomes. They remind him what he isn’t: a saint. And when a cryptic note arrives, signaling the beginning of a deadly game, he knows he’ll be called much worse before it ends. Riddles, hexed objects, anonymous players, nothing will stand in his way. With a powerful artifact and his own future at stake, Envy is determined to win, though none of his meticulous plans prepare him for her, the frustrating artist who ignites his sin—and passion—like no other…

Talented. Darling. Liar.

The trouble with scoundrels and blackguards is that they haven’t a modicum of honor, a fact Miss Camilla Antonius learns after one desperate mistake allows notorious rake—and satire sheet legend—Lord Phillip Vexley to blackmail her. And now it seems Vexley isn’t the only scoundrel interested in securing her unique talents as a painter. To avoid Vexley’s clutches and a ruinous scandal, Camilla is forced to enter a devil’s bargain with Waverly Green’s newest arrival, enigmatic Lord Ashford ‘Syn’ Synton, little expecting his game will awaken her true nature . . .

Together, Envy and Camilla must embark on a perilous journey through the Shifting Isles—from glittering demon courts to the sultry vampire realm, and encounters with exiled Fae—while trying to avoid the most dangerous trap of all: falling in love. 

There are so many YA authors branching into Adult and I’m here for it - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, September 8, 2023

Quick Reviews

 Dream On by Angie Hockman (2022)

When Cass wakes up from a coma after a car accident, she is convinced that she is dating a man named Devin - she knows what he looks like and all these things about him.  But, no one in her life knows Devin.  Then, Cass actually meets him, the real Devin, in a flower shop a year later.  Is a relationship meant to be?  I wanted to love this one - the premise is so unique!  Cass has memories of someone she's never met, and then they cross paths!  However, it was evident from very early on in the book what was actually going to happen once Cass and Devin start dating for real.  Even though he seemed like a nice guy, Cass always had some issue with something he did or said.  I did enjoy the glimpses into Cass' work life (starting a job as a lawyer while still trying to recover from her accident), and her friends and family seemed pretty great.  I just wanted more whimsy, more charm, and this ended up falling flat for me.  3 stars 
The Spectacular by Fiona Davis (2023)
Dancer Marion takes a big chance on trying out for the Rockettes and is thrilled to find out she made the cut.  But, her family and boyfriend are not happy about her new career, and when the Big Apple bomber strikes Radio City Music Hall, Marion will have some tough choices to make in the wake of personal tragedy.  Fiona Davis quickly became an auto-buy author for me, and her books just keep getting better and better.  While I've always loved her writing, in this book it just felt like she hit an amazing groove.  Marion is a character that you're going to love - she wants more from her life than what her father and boyfriend expect of her.  She's passionate and determined.  After the bombing, she wants to get more involved in the investigation, worried that the police aren't doing enough.  She starts working with a friend, a doctor, who helps the police create a psychological profile of the bomber.  The story is the perfect blend of a coming-of-age story of sorts for Marion combined with a murder mystery - there's a little something for almost any reader.  I can't wait to read more from Davis and see what iconic NYC building she chooses next.  4.5 stars

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

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Faking Christmas

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Kerry Winfrey
Expected publication date: September 26, 2023
Laurel Grant is playing house for the holidays--complete with a fake husband and kids--in this delightful, cozy rom-com by Kerry Winfrey.

Laurel Grant works as the social media manager for Buckeye State of Mind, an Ohio tourism magazine and website. She is most definitely not an owner of a farm...but one tiny misunderstanding leads her boss, Gilbert, to think she owns her twin sister Holly's farm just outside of Columbus. Laurel only handles the social media for the farm, but she's happy to keep her little white lie going if it means not getting fired.

And keep it going she must when Gilbert, recently dumped by his wife, invites himself over for the farm's big holiday dinner (as advertised on Meadow Rise Farm's Instagram, thanks to Laurel herself). Laurel immediately goes into panic mode to figure out how she can trick Gilbert into thinking she's basically the Martha Stewart of rural Ohio and keep her job in the process.

Laurel and Holly come up with a plan--all Laurel has to do is pretend to own the farm for one dinner. But when Laurel shows up at the farm, an unwelcome guest is there: Max Beckett, her nemesis since Holly's wedding. The annoyingly attractive man she hates will be posing as Laurel's husband just for the evening, but when a snowstorm traps them all for the entire weekend, Laurel is going to have to figure out how to survive with her job and dignity intact. Whatever the case, this promises to be the most eventful Christmas in ages... - from Goodreads


Friday, September 1, 2023

Month in Review: August 2023


August was a busy month for us!  Two fun firsts for Henry - first haircut (he immediately looked years older) and first time in a pool!  My sister had a pool party for our niece, and although I rarely wear a bathing suit and haven't gone in a pool in years, I sucked it up for Henry.  Although a little resistant at first, he ended up loving it!  We went to the movies twice to see The Meg 2 and Blue Beetle - although neither were great, it was nice to get out for awhile.  We went on a family vacation to the Poconos with my dad, stepmom, and 4 of my 5 siblings, plus all their families.  Twelve adults, seven kids, four bathrooms, and endless memories made!  We spent a lot of time hanging out at the house (which had a pool and game room and backed up to a creek), but we also went out for some excursions.  We spent an afternoon at a state park, visited a zoo, walked around Jim Thorpe (a very cute small town), and drove to Scranton to go to the Steamtown historic site and an aquarium.  Henry's daycare was closed the last week of the month, so Tom took time off work while I continued to work from home (so I still got to hang out with them a bit, shh!).  The weather was great, so they went for some long walks and played on the swings at the park.  My in-laws also came over one afternoon to spend time with Henry.

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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Love, Holly

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Emily Stone
Expected publication date: September 26, 2023
A young woman tries to heal a rift in her elderly pen pal’s family in time for Christmas, all while falling in love—and maybe even reuniting with her own family—in this dazzling romance from the author of Always, in December and One Last Gift.

Sometimes it takes a stranger to bring you back to yourself.

Ever since a car accident tore her family apart, Holly has been part of a lonely-hearts holiday letter–writing club. Each December, she writes to a stranger who is also spending Christmas alone, and receives a letter from another lonely person in return. 

Usually, the letters go unanswered. That’s the point—the letters are anonymous, and the senders write whatever is in their heart. But this year, the letter Holly receives is different; not only is the letter full of a grief she knows all too well, but its writer, Emma, mentions a place that Holly has visited. When she realizes that she might actually be able to find the letter’s author, Holly becomes determined to reunite Emma with the estranged grandson, Jack, with whom Emma is desperate to reconnect.

When Holly finally tracks him down, she remembers that she’s met Jack once before . . . and the connection was electric. The spark between the two of them is still there—until a misunderstanding risks their burgeoning romance and his strained relationship with Emma, too. But Holly is determined; if she can fix Emma’s family, she might also be able to fix her own. Though as it turns out, Holly might have less time to put things right than she thought. - from Goodreads


Monday, August 28, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #25

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!


By Katharine Schellman
Expected Publication: September 19, 2023

From Goodreads:
Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Ashley Weaver, when a body is found shot to death after an unexpected snowstorm, Lily Adler quickly realizes that some people will stop at nothing to bury their secrets this holiday season.

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to returning to Hertfordshire to spend time with the family of her late husband. She is also excited that Captain Jack Hartley, her friend and confidante, will be visiting his own family after a long voyage at sea. With winter quickly approaching, Lily is most excited at the prospect of a relaxing and enjoyable Christmastide season away from the schemes and secrets she witnessed daily in London.

At a neighborhood ball, she soon becomes reacquainted with a friend of her late husband, Peter Coleridge, a wealthy man who not only manages Irish investments, but also a fund that most of the locals of Hertfordshire take part in. There, she also learns Jack’s sister, Amelia, is the subject of much of the neighborhood gossip—although Amelia refuses to explain if there is any truth to it. For a brief moment, Lily wonders if she ever really left London.

When a snowstorm forces several guests, including both the Adlers and the Hartleys, to stay the night, Lily quickly deduces that all is not well this holiday season. In the morning, a maid discovers the body of a guest in the poultry yard, shot to death—and he is the same man that is scandalously linked to Amelia.

Lily accepts the offer to assist in the investigation, but will she find more than what she bargained for the more she digs? Or will she herself be buried deep within the snow?

This Regency murder mystery series is such a gem - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, August 18, 2023

Blog Break!


Summer is winding down, so I'm going to take a short break from the blog next week!  Thanks for stopping by, and we'll talk books again soon!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Armor of Light

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
Ken Follett
Expected publication date: September 26, 2023
The long-awaited sequel to A Column of Fire, The Armor of Light, heralds a new dawn for Kingsbridge, England, where progress clashes with tradition, class struggles push into every part of society, and war in Europe engulfs the entire continent and beyond.

The Spinning Jenny was invented in 1770, and with that, a new era of manufacturing and industry changed lives everywhere within a generation. A world filled with unrest wrestles for control over this new world order: A mother’s husband is killed in a work accident due to negligence; a young woman fights to fund her school for impoverished children; a well-intentioned young man unexpectedly inherits a failing business; one man ruthlessly protects his wealth no matter the cost, all the while war cries are heard from France, as Napoleon sets forth a violent master plan to become emperor of the world. As institutions are challenged and toppled in unprecedented fashion, ripples of change ricochet through our characters’ lives as they are left to reckon with the future and a world they must rebuild from the ashes of war.

Over thirty years ago, Ken Follett published his most popular novel, The Pillars of the Earth. Now, with this electrifying addition to the Kingsbridge series we are plunged into the battlefield between compassion and greed, love and hate, progress and tradition. It is through each character that we are given a new perspective to the seismic shifts that shook the world in nineteenth-century Europe. - from Goodreads


Monday, August 14, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #24

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!


By Chloe Liese
Expected Publication: October 10, 2023

From Goodreads:
Childhood enemies discover the fine line between love and loathing in this heartfelt reimagining of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

Katerina Wilmot and Christopher Petruchio shared backyards as kids, but as adults they won't even share the same hemisphere. That is, until Kate makes a rare visit home, and their fiery animosity rekindles into a raging inferno.

Despite their friends' and families' pleas for peace, Christopher is unconvinced Kate would willingly douse the flames of their enmity. But when a drunken Kate confesses she's only been hostile because she thought he hated her, Christopher vows to make peace with Kate once and for all. Tempting as it is to be swept away by her nemesis-turned-gentleman, Kate isn't sure she can trust his charming good-guy act.

When Christopher's persistence and Kate’s curiosity lead to an impassioned kiss, they realize "peace" is the last thing that will ever be possible between them. As desire gives way to deeper feelings, Kate and Christopher must decide if it’s truly better to hate than to never risk their hearts—or if they already gave them away long ago.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series so I have high hopes for this one - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?