Monday, April 15, 2024

Meeting Abby Jimenez! Plus, A Giveaway!

When Abby Jimenez released the tour schedule for her new book, Just for the Summer, I was excited to see that she was going to be stopping in New York City, just a short(ish) train ride away!  My sister and I snatched up tickets and on Saturday, April 6, we (escorted by her husband) made our way to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square.


The event started at 6pm on the 4th floor of the bookstore, and we chose our seats shortly before that.  Every chair was full for the sold-out event!  Originally, Abby was supposed to be in conversation with author BK Borison, but she had to back out due to illness, so Abby was interviewed by AD Jarvis, a local author who happened to already have a ticket to the event and is a big Abby fan.  For someone who had to fill in at the last minute, I think she did a great job!  She asked Abby questions about the new book (of course), her characters, and her writing process.  Although a self-proclaimed introvert, Abby is a wonderful public speaker - she’s warm, engaging, funny, and charismatic.  Her love for her books and her characters really shines through.  She seemed so happy to be there, and that’s really awesome for fans to see.  She even dropped some information about her next book!




After an hour of interviews and an audience Q&A session, the meet-and-greet portion of the evening began.  Since we were near the back of the audience, we did have to wait quite awhile, but it’s nice that Abby took the time to briefly chat with each person, sign their books, and snap a photo.  My sister met her first, and they had a good laugh about Abby almost spelling her name wrong in her personalization (my sister is one of those elusive one L Michele’s!).  Then it was my turn, and of course I can never think of anything smart to say, so I just mentioned that the previous guest was my twin sister, and she was the one who got me hooked on her books.  Abby replied that she loves meeting friend or sister pairs and hearing which one found her books first.  




LOL, yes, my eyes are open, but just barely!


It’s funny to think that when I was younger, authors were these elusive, almost anonymous figures in my life, but now, through social media and in-person events, it’s possible to get to know them and even meet them!  I’ve had the good fortune to meet a couple of my favorite authors, and I always get starstruck!  I’m glad we had the opportunity to see Abby Jimenez, and hopefully we will get to meet other authors soon!

And now for a giveaway! My sister had preordered a copy of Just for the Summer before we decided to go to this event, so she has an extra SIGNED copy that she has generously donated for this giveaway!

A few rules and notes:
  • You must be at least 13 years old and a resident of the United States to enter.
  • The giveaway will be open until April 22, 2024.
  • The winner will be notified by email, and they will have three days to respond with their full name and mailing address.  If they don't, another winner will be chosen.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks and good luck!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Little Free Library Sightings

It's always fun to see a Little Free Library "out in the wild!"  I love to spot them, browse their selection, leave a book if possible, and then look them up on the official website, because sometimes they have interesting stories to go along with them!  There's also an app you can download to find local Little Free Libraries where you can even "check in" to keep track of the ones you've visited!  Here are a couple I've visited recently!

 #58226 - I stopped by this LFL after a recent visit to my sister's house.  I didn't really have time to browse too much, but I did notice that it was packed with books.  I love the rich green color of this one, and the ivy climbing the post was a surprise because the picture in the app didn't have that.  But, I thought it was beautiful!

#111671 - This LFL is also near my sister's house, not far from the previous one, so it was easy to make a stop. It was completely stuffed with books!  Unfortunately, I didn't have any with me to leave.  I love the bright color of the library, as well as the Dr. Seuss quote on the side, "The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Monday, April 8, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #43

 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 John Marrs
Expected Publication: May 9, 2024

From Goodreads:
From the acclaimed author of The One and The Marriage Act, The Family Experiment is dark and brilliant speculative thriller about families: real and virtual.

Some families are virtually perfect…

The world's population is soaring, creating overcrowded cities and an economic crisis. And in the UK, the breaking point has arrived. A growing number of people can no longer afford to start families, let alone raise them.

But for those desperate to experience parenthood, there is an alternative. For a monthly subscription fee, clients can create a virtual child from scratch who they can access via the metaverse and a VR headset. To launch this new initiative, the company behind Virtual Children has created a reality TV show called The Substitute. It will follow ten couples as they raise a Virtual Child from birth to the age of eighteen but in a condensed nine-month time period. The prize: the right to keep their virtual child, or risk it all for the chance of a real baby…

Set in the same universe as John Marrs's bestselling novel The One and The Marriage Act, The Family Experiment is a dark and twisted thriller about the ultimate Tamagotchi—a virtual baby.


John Marrs’ thrillers are so good - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, April 5, 2024

Review: Wild Card by Staci Hart

Staci Hart
Published April 5, 2024
The hot baseball player I’m forced to stay with for my best friend’s wedding is off limits.

Remy Winfield has more muscles than manners, and he’s on a mission to get me into bed by way of the filthiest mouth I’ve ever wanted to kiss. He doesn’t care about my long time crush or my certainty that we’re finally about to happen.

Remy's sure I’ll break first and kiss him, and he’ll tease me to the limit to make sure I do. I might be a Lady, but I can still play his dirty little game. It’s perfectly safe, totally harmless.

Until I fall for him.

Suddenly, Mr. Long-Time Crush doesn’t matter at all.

And my best friend can never know. -  from Goodreads
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jessa is in Tennessee for her best friend Cass' wedding.  She thinks it's her opportunity to finally make something happen with her friend Henry, who is the best man in the wedding, but she doesn't count on a mix-up which has her rooming with Cass' cousin, Remy, a super sexy baseball player.  While Cass expressly forbids the two from hooking up, it doesn't stop them from fake dating to make Henry jealous - but then they both catch feelings.  With Jessa heading back to England after the wedding, where will that leave her and Remy?

After a bit of a break, Staci Hart is back with a brand-new romance that will satisfy all her fans.  While there are certain Staci Hart elements, this book also feels different from her previous stories, and I was all in!  Jessa and Remy are total opposites - she's a high society British lady, while he's a small-town athlete.  But from the moment they meet, there's a spark that Jessa can't ignore, even though she's there for Henry.  Their sexual tension is off the charts, and their flirtatious banter is perfection.  This book is much steamier than her previous offerings; I am the first to point out if a story has too many sex scenes that take away from the story, but that isn't the case here.  Yes, there are a lot of steamy scenes, but to me they only served to show how much chemistry Remy and Jessa had and how into each other they were.  

Staci's books are always filled with great writing, but this one had a lightness to it that I appreciated.  Even as Jessa and Remy (and the other characters) face some tough issues, the vibe felt fun, with some moments of true humor.  There's small-town shenanigans, wedding prep, and plenty of sweet and sexy moments.  And, Staci sets up the next book in the series in an unexpected way!

4 stars

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Demon of Unrest

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Erik Larson
Expected publication date: April 30, 2024
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Splendid and the Vile brings to life the pivotal five months between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War—a slow-burning crisis that finally tore a deeply divided nation in two.

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the fluky victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds; Southern extremists were moving ever closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but somehow the passions of North and South came to focus on a lonely federal fortress in Charleston: Fort Sumter.
 
Master storyteller Erik Larson offers a gripping account of the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter—a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were “so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them.”
 
At the heart of this suspense-filled narrative are Major Robert Anderson, Sumter’s commander and a former slave owner sympathetic to the South but loyal to the Union; Edmund Ruffin, a vain and bloodthirsty radical who stirs secessionist ardor at every opportunity; and Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a prominent planter, conflicted over both marriage and slavery and seeing parallels between both. In the middle of it all is the overwhelmed Lincoln, battling with his duplicitous Secretary of State, William Seward, as he tries desperately to avert a war that he fears is inevitable—one that will eventually kill 750,000 Americans.
 
Drawing on diaries, secret communiques, slave ledgers, and plantation records, Larson gives us a political horror story that captures the forces that led America to the brink—a dark reminder that we often don’t see a cataclysm coming until it’s too late.


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Month in Review: March 2024

 
 
March was a very busy month for us!  While it did rain a lot, we did have one week of beautiful weather, and Henry and I spent a lot of time at the park after work/school.  My in-laws came over for St. Patrick's Day, with Tom cooking all the staples - corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.  Henry and I both caught a stomach bug, which made for an unpleasant couple of days.  I even called out sick from work one day, which I felt weird doing because I work from home.  Henry attended his first non-family birthday party - one of his daycare classmates invited him to his party at a local indoor playground, and he had a great time!  It's a place we've been wanting to try, so I'm glad we got to go.  At the end of the month, my mom came for a visit from Oklahoma.  She stayed with my sister because my niece was on spring break and my sister is still very busy with tax season.  Henry's daycare was closed for Good Friday, so my mom and I took the kids to an indoor trampoline park, and they had a blast.  The next day we went down to my sister's again, and my mom took us out for manicures and dinner for our upcoming birthday.  My sister then also hosted Easter, and that was another fun day - Henry is very into hunting for eggs!

Obligatory Henry update - man, it was a rough month for the terrible twos!  The tantrums!!  It's overwhelming sometimes when my normally very sweet boy just melts down.  And the communication issues - he asks for something, we give it to him, he cries, we take it away, he cries even more.  I just don't know what to do sometimes!  It often feels like a lose-lose situation for me.  But, when we are not melting down, Henry is very into music - he loves to sing and actually knows (some of) the words to a few songs!  My mom got him a small guitar, so he has been loving strumming that.  And his language is just blowing up, new words every day.  I actually had two teachers at his school this month compliment his speaking skills - one said he talks like a much older child, and the other was impressed by his vocabulary and grammar, saying that it was proof that we spend a lot of time reading together at home, which was nice to hear!

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, March 27, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The House on Biscayne Bay

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Chanel Cleeton
Expected publication date: April 9, 2024
As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s atmospheric new novel.

With the Great War finally behind them, thousands of civilians and business moguls alike flock to South Florida with their sights set on making a fortune. When wealthy industrialist Robert Barnes and his wife, Anna, build Marbrisa, a glamorous estate on Biscayne Bay, they become the toast of the newly burgeoning society. Anna and Robert appear to have it all, but in a town like Miami, appearances can be deceiving, and one scandal can change everything.

Years later following the tragic death of her parents in Havana, Carmen Acosta journeys to Marbrisa, the grand home of her estranged older sister, Carolina, and her husband, Asher Wyatt. On the surface, the gilded estate looks like paradise, but Carmen quickly learns that nothing at Marbrisa is as it seems. The house has a treacherous legacy, and Carmen’s own life is soon in jeopardy . . . unless she can unravel the secrets buried beneath the mansion’s facade and stop history from repeating itself. - from Goodreads


Monday, March 25, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #42

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!

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By Sylvie Cathrall
Expected Publication: April 25, 2024

From Goodreads:
Dive into the curious correspondence of Sylvie Cathrall’s delightful debut novel, A Letter to the Luminous Deep.

A beautiful discovery outside the window of her underwater home prompts the reclusive E. to begin a correspondence with renowned scholar Henerey Clel. The letters they share are filled with passion, at first for their mutual interests, and then, inevitably, for each other.

Together, they uncover a mystery from the unknown depths, destined to transform the underwater world they both equally fear and love. But by no mere coincidence, a seaquake destroys E.’s home, and she and Henerey vanish.

A year later, E.’s sister Sophy, and Henerey’s brother Vyerin, are left to solve the mystery of their siblings’ disappearances with the letters, sketches and field notes left behind. As they uncover the wondrous love their siblings shared, Sophy and Vyerin learn the key to their disappearance – and what it could mean for life as they know it.

Perfect for fans of A Marvellous Light and TJ Klune, A Letter to the Luminous Deep is a whimsical epistolary fantasy set in a mystical underwater world with mystery and heart-warming romance.

This sounds so unique - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, March 22, 2024

Quick Reviews

The Minders by John Marrs (2021)

In the near future, one country thinks it has figured out a foolproof way to prevent its important information from being hacked - put it in the brains of 5 humans and then send them out into the world, anonymously.  It all sounds good until someone figures out who they are and starts hunting them down.  John Marrs always has the most interesting (and even somewhat plausible) sounding scenarios, especially when you think about technology and where it might go in the future.  In this book, several countries around the world are being targeted by hackers/terrorists, and the United Kingdom comes up with a unique plan.  The story takes place in the same universe as a couple of Marrs' other books; if you haven't read them, it's probably not a huge deal, but it would add a great deal of context as the events of those books are heavily referenced here.  We follow four main characters (plus another woman, whose role is somewhat nebulous for awhile), all of whom are given the choice to leave behind their old lives and start anew, while holding the entire knowledge of a nation in their heads - they're now privy to state secrets, conspiracy theories, and coverups.  The short chapters keep the story moving at a frantic pace, sometimes ending on a cliffhanger.  There are some great twists and reveals (and some not-so-great ones), but Marrs isn't ever afraid to try something.  Overall, another great thriller from this author!  4 stars

The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis (2022)

Trapped on a ski lift during a terrible snowstorm, strangers Jane and Levi are convinced they are going to die.  When Levi calls his mother, she hears Jane's voice; in that moment, he wants his mom to be happy and so tells her that Jane is his girlfriend.  When they survive the ordeal, Jane and Levi decide to continue the ruse for a little bit longer - but when Jane's feelings turn real, will she allow herself to experience the happiness she's always craved?  I've been meaning to read this author for a long time, and I'm so glad I finally did!  Levi and Jane are the perfect complements to each other - Levi has always been surrounded by a big family and poor Jane had a hard family life growing up, although she wants to reconnect with her grandfather.  It's obvious from the beginning that Levi's feelings are real (and he was maybe a little TOO perfect at times), so the bulk of the story is about Jane finally admitting, to herself and Levi, that she wants this relationship, this family, this stability.  There's a secondary storyline about Jane's friend Charlotte starting a relationship with Mateo, a fellow doctor - while I enjoyed the friendship between Charlotte and Jane, I could have maybe done without so much of this second romance and just focused on Jane and Levi.  There are some true moments of humor and hints of spiciness, and overall a lot of heartfelt connections.  4 stars


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


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring TBR

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our spring TBR.  I have one book left over from my winter TBR (The Villa) that I included here, and then I tried to pick some books that have been languishing on my TBR (and shelves!) for far too long.


What's on your spring TBR?

Friday, March 15, 2024

Little Free Library Sightings

It's always fun to see a Little Free Library "out in the wild!"  I love to spot them, browse their selection, leave a book if possible, and then look them up on the official website, because sometimes they have interesting stories to go along with them!  There's also an app you can download to find local Little Free Libraries where you can even "check in" to keep track of the ones you've visited!  Here are a couple I've visited recently that actually aren't mapped in the app, but we came across them anyway!

This Little Free Library, called Raritan Library, is located at the edge of a park, just beside an elementary school.  We've passed it a couple times when going to the playground with Henry.  It was built and installed as part of an Eagle Scout project in 2021.  It currently has mostly adult books in it, but I've grabbed a book for Henry from there, too!
#123610 - We came across this LFL just outside a big public playground that we took Henry to for the first time recently.  It was installed by a Girl Scout Troop for a project in 2021.  It has an official LFL charter number and sign but for some reason is not on the official LFL maps.  In any event, the first time we saw this library, it was actually empty.  I made a mental note to bring some baby books we were looking to unhaul the next time we visited, but of course I forgot!  But, it was nice to see some books in there the second time!  And since they're all "adult" books, there are some choices for parents, too!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Just For The Summer

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Abby Jimenez
Expected publication date: April 2, 2024
Justin has a curse, and thanks to a Reddit thread, it's now all over the internet. Every woman he dates goes on to find their soul mate the second they break up. When a woman slides into his DMs with the same problem, they come up with a plan: They'll date each other and break up. Their curses will cancel each other’s out, and they’ll both go on to find the love of their lives. It’s a bonkers idea… and it just might work.

Emma hadn't planned that her next assignment as a traveling nurse would be in Minnesota, but she and her best friend agree that dating Justin is too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially when they get to rent an adorable cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka.

It's supposed to be a quick fling, just for the summer. But when Emma's toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they're suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected–including catching real feelings for each other. What if this time Fate has actually brought the perfect pair together? - from Goodreads


Friday, March 8, 2024

Quick Reviews

 She Wouldn't Change a Thing by Sarah Adlakha (2021)

Maria is a 39-year-old wife and mother, totally overwhelmed by her job and family - until the day she wakes up as her 17-year-old self, unsure of how she got there or how to get back to her family.  She comes to realize that she has a chance to change history, but the change will prevent her from meeting her husband or having her children in the future - how does she make this impossible choice?  I love time travel stories and I was so taken with the premise of this one, but unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers and it hindered my enjoyment of this book.  We find out that a certain event propels Maria into the past, where she learns she isn't the only one this has happened to.  She then discovers she has been sent back for a "purpose," which to me wasn't super clear - like, if you couldn't figure out this purpose, what was the point?  And also, there's basically no going back, but completing your purpose will change the future you thought you knew.  So, why these people?  Why this purpose?  And since you can't go back to your old life, what is the point of you reliving your life, albeit very differently?  Would certain things still happen, regardless?  And should you (or could you) try to change those things, too?  I didn't care for the bit of insta-love that was thrown in as well.  I did enjoy the connections between the characters and trying to figure out how it would all work out.  Incredible premise, but the execution didn't work well for me.  3 stars


Icebreaker by Hannah Grace (2023)
 
When a college hockey team and ice skating team are forced to share a rink, sparks fly between the captain and the star skater.  Anastasia doesn't have time for a relationship, but will she make room for a new partner?  I have to admit, I'm not quite sure what to think about this one - it's definitely going to end up being 3 stars for me, though.  There were parts I liked - the college setting is one I don't read often, so it was nice to revisit that.  It was way spicier than the cover might make you think (although sometimes it felt like the sex scenes were taking over the story).  The timeline is realistic (no real insta-love here).  But, I did have issues with it.  First off, there were WAY too many side characters to keep track of and after awhile I just stopped caring.  The book is at least 100 pages too long (it's well over 400 pages, there's a lot of repetition in the forming of the relationship between Anastasia and Nathan, and there were plot points that could have been omitted entirely while important ones were totally glossed over).  While it makes sense than Anastasia would be deeply in touch with her emotions after many years of therapy, I felt like the characters were a little too self-aware (and mature, maybe?) for their ages, and there's so much talking at the expense of actual plot.  And don't get me started on that epilogue!  3 stars


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

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Fate Be Changed

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Farrah Rochon
Expected publication date: April 2, 2024
What if the witch gave Merida a different spell? This New York Times best-selling series twists Disney•Pixar's Brave into a fast-paced story in which Merida is sent back in time.

If you could change your fate, would you? Merida understands that as princess of Clan DunBroch, she has certain obligations—but that doesn’t mean she has to like it. Especially when one of those obligations means losing her freedom by becoming betrothed to a man she has never met. Merida balks at this tradition, but her mother Queen Elinor insists that Merida must do this to embrace her role as future queen.

Determined to chart her own path, Merida follows magical wisps to a witch’s cottage, where she is given a magic pastry and promised it will incite “a great transformation” in her mother. But instead of feeding Elinor the pastry, Merida eats it herself.

Merida awakens in the past, a now-teenage Elinor holding a knife to her throat and accusing her of espionage. She’s been transported to a time when the Clans MacCameron and DunBroch are bitter enemies. And it just so happens that the timing of Merida’s arrival has kept Elinor and Fergus from meeting.

Will Merida be able to bridge the rival clans, help her parents fall in love, and change her own fate? - from Goodreads


Monday, March 4, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #41

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 Elsie Silver
Expected Publication: April 9, 2024

From Goodreads:
Rosie Belmont has been driving me wild for years. The good kind of wild. The bad kind of wild. But mostly the kind of wild that comes with wanting your best friend’s little sister and knowing you can’t have her.

After living in the city, she comes blasting back into Rose Hill like a storm. Beautiful, messy, and chaotic.

And one wide-eyed desperate plea for a job is all it takes for me to hire her.

Forbes may have labeled me the World’s Hottest Billionaire but all I care about is opening my new recording studio. Something that comes to a screeching halt when I end up face-to-face with a young girl who claims I’m her biological father.

Now I spend my days balancing business with parenting a sullen twelve-year-old all while trying desperately to keep my hands the hell off my best friend’s little sister.

I vow to keep Rosie at arm’s length. I try to stick to scowls and grumpy one-liners. But with her verbal sparring is merely foreplay—friction that turns to blistering heat.

I know damn well I shouldn’t cross that line.

But shouldn’t and can’t are two very different things.

And the only thing I truly can’t do is resist her.


If you haven’t yet started your Elsie Silver journey, here is the perfect time as she starts a new series - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, March 1, 2024

Month in Review: February 2024

 

February was a fun, kind of quiet month.  I took my niece out for her birthday (which was in January), and she chose lunch at Panera and browsing around Barnes & Noble - I love that she's become such a big reader!  We had two snowstorms this month, which is practically more snow than we've gotten in the last few years combined.  One of them was totally unexpected (at least the severity of it) and we ended up getting about 10 inches overnight, which was quite the surprise to wake up to.  My siblings and I decided last year to not buy gifts for all the kids/cousins anymore, because with a family as big as ours, it just gets overwhelming.  We decided instead to do a get-together for the kids.  Last year, we went to see the Christmas lights at the zoo, and this year we decided to go to one of those indoor trampoline parks, and the kids had a blast (I'll be honest, I think the adults did, too!).  With everyone's busy schedules, it's nice that we were able to find a day to spend together.  Work has been fairly quiet for me, as the accountants are in their busy season.  I do have some added administrative tasks, which fill some time.

Henry is doing great, learning new words every day (and I've realized I have to be careful about what I say around him, because he has started to repeat EVERYTHING).  He loves to play outside - we took him to a big playground here in town, and now he is constantly asking to go back to the "big park."  He's also very into art lately - my stepmom got him his own art cart and stocked it with supplies, which came in really handy when it snowed and we were stuck inside.  We did get to play in the snow a bit, though, and Henry loved it - except he kept wanting to use our shovels, so Tom bought him his own kid-sized one!


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, February 28, 2024

Quick Reviews

 Ewe Complete Me by Susannah Nix (2023)

After a disastrous first date, Chloe and Bran hope to never see each other again - except his mom is Chloe's boss and she's getting married, expecting both of them to attend the wedding weekend.  A road trip and the subsequent weekend bring the two opposites closer, but can their relationship translate to the real world once they get home?  I loved the awkward date that kicks off the book, leaving me to wonder how Chloe and Bran could ever recover from it.  Although it is a very short timeline, it was fun to see how as they got to know each other, a deep understanding formed, despite their differences.  This book was a great example of how opposites attract and complement each other.  I also loved the focus on each of their careers and how they were each at kind of a critical time (mid-twenties, Bran studying to become a lawyer and Chloe wanting to become an artist).  I guess my only issue was the intensity of the relationship because of their young age and wondering how that will sustain for the future.  Also, this book is part of a series - although it is marketed as can be read as a standalone, it might help to understand the side characters by reading their books first, especially since they play such a large role here.  4 stars

Love Me Do by Lindsey Kelk (2023)

While Phoebe is visiting her sister in California, she finds herself acting as a matchmaker for her sister's personal trainer and neighbor - but when she starts to fall for the neighbor herself, she wonders how she can keep up the charade.  Lindsey Kelk's books are always so cheerful, full of fun quirky characters and laugh-out-loud moments.  This book was no exception.  Although there is a bit of darkness in Phoebe's past, she has learned from it and is moving forward.  She and Bel have so many heartwarming moments together as they become friends, and watching her try to help Bel snare Ren was so fun - it was interesting to see how the confident, beautiful Bel was totally flustered by Ren!  An elderly neighbor down the street added some flavor to the story, acting as sort of a mentor for Phoebe.  My big issue with this book was that I just didn't totally feel the eventual romance between Phoebe and Ren.  The connection didn't quite fit for me, maybe because there's so much going on and not a lot of one-on-one time between the two.  So, if you're coming here just for the romance, you might be a bit disappointed!  3.5 stars


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

Friday, February 23, 2024

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Out of this World Edition


When NASA was first formed, women were excluded because originally only military test pilots were considered for astronaut positions.  In the late 1970s, though, restrictions were lifted and NASA welcomed the first group of female astronauts in its class of 1978 - six women who would overcome great odds to make their mark on the agency and go to space.  Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon were the first women chosen and even if you don't know all their names now, you'll be impressed with all of them by the time you finish the book.  Grush explores the early lives of each woman, how she came to apply to NASA, and of course the time each spent there, culminating with one or more trips to space.  She goes into great detail about the training they went through and the scrutiny and bias they endured.  Grush has a very readable and relatable writing style - often nonfiction can seem dry, but Grush's writing is engaging and flows nicely.  I appreciated the research that went into this book (although she wasn't able to speak to most of the women, for various reasons) and really enjoyed the quotes she was able to find - hearing from the women in their own words was incredible.  At times, the book seemed a little surface level but overall I learned a lot about these pioneering women of space.  4 stars

Eversion by Alastair Reynolds (2022)

A sailing ship in Norway in the 1800s, a zeppelin in Antarctica in the 1900s, a space ship exploring an alien structure in the distant future - what do they all have in common?  Dr. Silas Coade was present at all these events, and in every single one, Dr. Coade and his crew fail terribly.  How do these events keep happening, and how can Coade stop it?  This book was so unexpected - when we first meet Coade, he is the on-board surgeon for a ship trying to locate a mysterious building, called the Edifice.  This journey, like many that follow, will end badly for Coade - but little nuggets along the way will clue you in to the fact that all is not as it appears to be.  I loved the reveal of Coade's true nature and purpose (I hope I'm not being too spoilery!), and I also loved how the author changed up the feel and tone of the story for each iteration (like using language appropriate for the time period).  There are deeper questions about the nature of humanity and its desire to explore and heal and also some meditations on technology and its role in our lives.  A uniquely touching sci-fi story!  4 stars



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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Expiration Dates

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Rebecca Serle
Expected publication date: March 5, 2024
Being single is like playing the lottery. There’s always the chance that with one piece of paper you could win it all.

From the New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years and One Italian Summer comes the romance that will define a generation.

Daphne Bell believes the universe has a plan for her. Every time she meets a new man , she receives a slip of paper with his name and a number on it—the exact amount of time they will be together. The papers told her she’d spend three days with Martin in Paris; five weeks with Noah in San Francisco; and three months with Hugo, her ex-boyfriend turned best friend. Daphne has been receiving the numbered papers for over twenty years, always wondering when there might be one without an expiration. Finally, the night of a blind date at her favorite Los Angeles restaurant, there’s only a Jake.

But as Jake and Daphne’s story unfolds, Daphne finds herself doubting the paper’s prediction, and wrestling with what it means to be both committed and truthful. Because Daphne knows things Jake doesn’t, information that—if he found out—would break his heart.

Told with her signature warmth and insight into matters of the heart, Rebecca Serle has finally set her sights on romantic love. The result is a gripping, emotional, passionate, and (yes) heartbreaking novel about what it means to be single, what it means to find love, and ultimately how we define each of them for ourselves. Expiration Dates is the one fans have been waiting for. - from Goodreads