Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is new-to-us authors we discovered in 2023.  This is always a fun list to put together because there always seems to be at least one major author that I've finally read for the first time, way after the rest of the world!  Here are some new-to-me authors I read in 2023:

  1. Emma Scott
  2. Melanie Harlow
  3. Kristy Woodson Harvey
  4. Alice Feeney
  5. Elsie Silver
  6. Olivia Dade
  7. Ashley Winstead
  8. Emma Straub
  9. Leddy Harper
  10. K. Bromberg

Who are some authors you read for the first time in 2023?

Monday, January 29, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #38

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 Amanda Jayatissa
Expected Publication: February 20, 2024

From Goodreads:
Inspired by Sri Lankan folklore, award-winning author Amanda Jayatissa turns her feverish, Gothic-tinged talents to late 19th century Sri Lanka where the daughter of a traditional demon-priest—relentlessly bullied by peers and accused of witchcraft herself—tries to solve the mysterious attacks that have been terrorizing her coastal village.

Being the daughter of the village Capuwa, or demon-priest, Amara is used to keeping mostly to herself. Influenced by the new religious practices brought in by the British Colonizers, the villagers who once respected her father’s craft have turned on the family. Yet, they all still seem to call on him whenever supernatural disturbances arise.

Now someone—or something —is viciously seizing upon men in the jungle. But instead of enlisting Amara’s father’s help, the villages have accused him of carrying out the attacks himself.

As she tries to clear her father’s name, Amara finds herself haunted by dreams that eerily predict the dark forces on her island. And she can’t shake the feeling that it’s all connected to the night she was recovering from a strange illness, and woke up, scared and confused, to hear her mother’s frantic No one can find out what happened.

Lush, otherworldly, and recalling horror classics like Carrie and The Exorcist, Island Witch is a deliciously creepy and darkly feminist tale about the horrors of moral panic, the violent space between girlhood and adulthood, and what happens when female rage is finally unleashed.

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

Friday, January 26, 2024

Quick Reviews

Silent Came the Monster by Amy Hill Hearth (2023)

Inspired by the 1916 shark attacks along the New Jersey shore, Silent Came the Monster is a fictionalized version of those events.  Dr. Halsey, after examining the body of the first victim, is convinced a shark is stalking the coastline, but many do not believe him.  After more people are killed, will they finally listen to him?  I don't often come across books set in New Jersey, so I was interested to read this; unfortunately, it had a lot of issues.  The story itself is intriguing, but the writing is lackluster, awkward, and often juvenile.  At times it felt like it wanted to be a nonfiction book because it included so many random facts.  The author also places the attacks in the bigger picture of the era (a world on verge of war, a medical epidemic claiming the lives of babies), but whenever the characters talked about these other events, it didn't feel natural or like it fit with the story.  I think the author did a great job with the research, but it didn't all come together for me in the way I wanted.  3 stars

Kiss the Girl by Zoraida Cordova (2023)

Ariel is a famous pop star who just wants to take some downtime before starting her next career move, but her father has other plans.  Ariel, however, decides to put herself first for once and decides to go on the road, anonymously, with an up-and-coming band and its dreamy lead singer, Eric.  Obviously, this is a Little Mermaid reimagining and I couldn't resist!  Elements of the story were cute - I liked seeing how the author took pieces of the story/movie and fit them into this new setting and time period.  Seeing Ariel try to act like a "regular" woman was fun, getting to experience all these things, some seemingly mundane, for the first time.  However, I had trouble connecting with Ariel and Eric.  Even though they are in their mid-to-late twenties, they just felt so young and immature.  The slow burn between them was just waaayyy too slow for me, and I thought the villanous character of Ariel's father was just a bit too much.  3 stars

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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Fangirl Down

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

Tessa Bailey
Expected publication date: February 13, 2024
Wells Whitaker was once golf's hottest rising star, but lately, all he has to show for his "promising" career is a killer hangover, a collection of broken clubs, and one remaining supporter. No matter how bad he plays, the beautiful, sunny redhead is always on the sidelines. He curses, she cheers. He scowls, she smiles. But when Wells quits in a blaze of glory and his fangirl finally goes home, he knows he made the greatest mistake of his life.

Josephine Doyle believed in the gorgeous, grumpy golfer, even when he didn't believe in himself. Yet after he throws in the towel, she begins to wonder if her faith was misplaced. Then a determined Wells shows up at her door with a wild proposal: be his new caddy, help him turn his game around, and split the prize money. And considering Josephine's professional and personal life is in shambles, she could really use the cash...

As they travel together, spending days on the green and nights in neighboring hotel rooms, sparks fly. Before long, they're inseparable, Wells starts winning again, and Josephine is surprised to find a sweet, thoughtful guy underneath his gruff, growly exterior. This hot man wants to brush her hair, feed her snacks, and take bubble baths together? Is this real life? But Wells is technically her boss and an athlete falling for his fangirl would be ridiculous... right? - from Goodreads

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Farley's Bookshop

 We recently took a short ride to New Hope, Pennsylvania to take Henry to the Bucks County Children's Museum - a really fun interactive place that we're sure to go back to!  After our museum outing and a quick lunch, I asked Tom if we could walk around the adorable downtown area a bit and maybe stop by a local bookstore - turns out he had done his research ahead of time and already knew where it was!  So, we strolled down to Farley's Bookshop!

Farley's Bookshop originally opened in 1967 after a husband and wife team purchased an existing bookstore (the owner was retiring).  In 1971, they moved to their current location.  The shop was owned by the Farley family until October 2022, when they sold it to three long-time employees!

When you walk in, you are immediately greeted by the employees at the register.  To the left, there are some bookish items (like tote bags) and notecards, among other little gift ideas.  The first room is mostly devoted to nonfiction, in tall bookshelves along the walls.  Areas like food and history are highlighted here.  The store then opens up into another very large room in the back (I was surprised at how big the store was - definitely a TARDIS moment, ha!).  Adult fiction lined one wall, which then led into YA, picture books, and more children's books.  In the center was a rack of children's non-bookish items - puzzles, coloring books, etc. - and a great selection of interesting chapter books for young readers.  The room was so bright, airy, and welcoming, just a beautiful place to walk around.

I ended up choosing a book for Henry (Planet Earth from the Hello, World! series).  The employee helping me check out commented that his own kids loved this series, so that was a nice recommendation!

Have you visited any independent bookstores recently?

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2024


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our bookish goals for 2024.  I didn't really set any goals last year as I was still trying to get back into the swing of reading after having Henry.  I'm slightly more confident now in how much I'm able to read, so I figured it would be a good time to set some goals!  Here are a few things I want to get done in 2024:

  1. Read 75 books.  I was able to read more than this last year, but I also had a month or two where my reading just skyrocketed and I can't predict that will happen again.  This is a good number for me as it averages to slightly more than 6 books per month, which I think is doable.
  2. Reread once a month.  I haven't reread anything in quite awhile, and that makes me a little sad.  My shelves are full of books I have loved and want to revisit, so I'm going to challenge myself to do one reread per month.
  3. Read at least six nonfiction books.  I barely read any nonfiction last year, which is unusual for me.  I didn't even participate in Nonfiction November because I felt I didn't have anything to contribute.  There are so many interesting-sounding nonfiction books on my TBR, and I want to make time for them in 2024.
  4. Finish the Bridgerton series.  I made good headway on it in 2023 and I only have two books left!
  5. Purge my shelves.  As always, my shelves are overflowing!  I want to curate a collection that's just full of those books I absolutely love and can't live without.  Plus, it'll make room for more books I'll inevitably buy during the year.
And because 10 is too many for me, I asked my sister to share some of her goals:

  1. Read 275 books.  This would make my Goodreads goal lower than 2023, but with my daughter getting older and having more activities and me wanting to cultivate hobbies outside of reading (puzzles, cycling, etc.), I feel good about this development. 
  2. Track my reading contemporaneously.  I created an excel tracker for myself in late 2023 so I could see the breakdown of my reading format (physical, audio, ebook) and the source of my books (hauls, library, Kindle Unlimited).  However, this meant I had to categorize over 300 books at once, which almost broke me.  In 2024 I'll make sure to update the tracker at least a couple times a month to make it easier.
  3. Binge author backlists via audio.  I've already identified a couple authors whose backlists I want to explore in 2024.  I like to be as current as possible with new releases via physical or ebooks, so I think consuming some of these backlist titles via audio will work out best here.
  4. Listen to 5 audiobooks with my hubby.  Despite the fact that he used to work at a well-known audiobook company, my husband is not a huge audiobook listener.  But we do have some road trips coming up in 2024 and audiobooks will be a good way to pass the time.  Finding titles that appeal to both of us can be a little challenging (although Neil DeGrasse Tyson and John Scalzi have been hits in the past), but I'm looking forward to it.

What are some of your bookish goals for 2024?

Friday, January 12, 2024

Quick Reviews

The Prince & The Apocalypse by Kara McDowell (2023)

Wren's perfect trip to London doesn't go as planned, especially when she ends up helping Prince Theo of the Royal Family escape a pack of tourists.  When she gets to the airport later that day, Wren learns that a huge comet is heading towards Earth, poised to destroy all life on the planet in just 8 days.  Now, the only person she can rely on to get her home to family is the prince.  Folks, I just loved this book.  Every time I picked it up, I got lost in Wren and Theo's story and I had to keep reminding myself that the world was not, in fact, ending in 8 days.  Wren's need to always have a plan was endearing and relatable, and you could feel her frustration in the impossible situation she's found herself in.  And on one hand, she's attracted to Theo, but on the other, he's still pretty much a stranger - how much can she really trust him?  And Theo - I love me some royalty in my books, so to get that little glimpse behind the curtain was fun, although I felt for him and how trapped he felt by his position.  Wren and Theo have to work together and come up against some crazy obstacles, but you'll be rooting for them the whole way.  Part love story, part road trip, part adventure, part apocalypse - so many elements that work together seamlessly.  And - I can't wait to find out what happens next!  5 stars

Strangers in the Night by Heather Webb (2023)
In this novel, Heather Webb explores the relationship between crooner Frank Sinatra and actress Aa Gardner, set against the backdrop of Old Hollywood.  I know a little about Frank Sinatra but really nothing about Ava Gardner, so I was interested to learn more about the both of them.  Their tumultuous relationship leaps off the page - the high highs and the low lows, so much jealousy, so many breakups and makeups.  The glimpses we get of how Hollywood worked back then were also really interesting.  However, the story is very repetitive - the two are having a good time, then one small thing sets off a huge fight, and they find a way to come back together, over and over again.  There's so much drama between Sinatra and Gardner that just felt unnecessary to include and their relationship is so volatile that it almost felt uncomfortable at times.  3 stars

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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Women

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

Kristin Hannah
Expected publication date: February 6, 2024
The missing. The forgotten. The brave… The women.

From master storyteller Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds, comes the story of a turbulent, transformative era in America: the 1960s. The Women is that rarest of novels—at once an intimate portrait of a woman coming of age in a dangerous time and an epic tale of a nation divided by war and broken by politics, of a generation both fueled by dreams and lost on the battlefield.

“Women can be heroes, too.”

When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these unexpected words, it is a revelation. Raised on idyllic Coronado Island and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing, being a good girl. But in 1965 the world is changing, and she suddenly imagines a different choice for her life. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.

As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war, as well as the unexpected trauma of coming home to a changed and politically divided America.

The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on the story of all women who put themselves in harm’s way to help others. Women whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has all too often been forgotten. A novel of searing insight and lyric beauty, The Women is a profoundly emotional, richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose extraordinary idealism and courage under fire define a generation. - from Goodreads

Monday, January 8, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #37

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 Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Expected Publication: January 23, 2024

From Goodreads:
A rising-star musician has a second chance at love with an old flame she remembers all too well in this swoony romance from the acclaimed authors of The Roughest Draft.

Riley Wynn went from a promising singer-songwriter to a superstar overnight, thanks to her breakup song concept album and its unforgettable lead single. When Riley’s ex-husband claims the hit song is about him, she does something she hasn’t in ten years and calls Max Harcourt, her college boyfriend and the real inspiration for the song of the summer.

Max hasn’t spoken to Riley since their relationship ended. He’s content with managing the retirement home his family owns, but it’s not the life he dreamed of filled with music. When Riley asks him to go public as her songwriting muse, he agrees on one condition - he’ll join her in her band on tour.

As they perform across the country, Max and Riley start to realize that while they hit some wrong notes in the past, their future could hold incredible things. And their rekindled relationship will either last forever or go down in flames.

I love this duo’s adult romances - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, January 5, 2024

Quick Reviews: Time Travel Edition

 The Good Part by Sophie Cousens (2023)

Lucy is tired of her mediocre life, and when she comes across a wishing machine, she takes a chance and wishes to be taken to "the good part" of her life, where she's gotten everything figured out.  The next day, she wakes up 16 years older, married with children and a great job.  But, she doesn't remember anything of how she got there.  I mean, how captivating is this premise?  Who hasn't wished for something like this - but would it be worth it?  Watching Lucy navigate a life she literally woke up in was fun - getting to know her husband and children and figure out how to do her job.  She also has to come to terms with the person she has become.  I think it got a little overly long and repetitive at times, but the ending surprised me and Cousens' writing always keeps me engaged, with subtle humor and lots of heart.  4 stars

The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston (2023)

After her beloved aunt's death, Clementine buries herself in work and tries to plan for the future, but when she moves into her late aunt's apartment, through a bit of magic, she finds herself falling for a man who lives seven years in the past.  I was intrigued by this premise and how Clementine and Iwan would figure out a way to overcome the time difference.  As I'm writing this, the book has a 4.29 starred rating on Goodreads - and unfortunately, I'm going to be an outlier.  I just could not get into this story and considered DNFing it many times.  The writing didn't jive for me - too much purple prose, and every time Clementine and Iwan had a conversation, I just kept thinking to myself that people don't talk like this in real life.  Iwan's character was just too perfect and unbelievable.  The pacing didn't work for me at all, either.  Not enough time spent in the past and too much time in the present focusing on things I didn't really care about, like the side characters, unfortunately.  I felt for Clementine and her grief over her aunt's death, but Clementine was also such a contradictory character.  For instance, when we first meet her, she loves her job so much and is looking forward to moving up in the company; then, when she finds out that will actually be happening, suddenly she is panicking and full of dread.  I know many people have loved this book, but it just wasn't for me.  2.5 stars

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Thursday, January 4, 2024

Guest Blogger: Michele's 2023 Wrap-up!

 Michele is back today to share some stats from her incredible year of reading in 2023!


2023 was a fantastic reading year!  I was able to read 334 books and because I finally tracked them in a spreadsheet (not just Goodreads), I know my breakdown by format and source was as follows:


Ebook - 182
Physical - 61
Audio - 91


Haul - 193
Library - 48
Kindle Unlimited - 93

My most read authors were Katee Robert (14), Devney Perry (11), Deanna Raybourn, Elle Kennedy and Karina Halle (7 each).  I caught up on some backlists and also found some really fantastic new-to-me authors.  Romance was still my top genre, but I definitely branched out into some new subgenres within that.  I gave over 50 books 5 stars!  Here are some of my favorites:


Do we share any favorites?  What books are you looking forward to in 2024?

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2023 Reading Year in Review

Happy new year, everyone!  Yesterday I shared my top ten books of the year, so today I thought it would be fun to share some additional reading stats from the year.

Let's start with a look at Goodreads.  I read 95 books this year, which is way more than I thought I would!

I've always been really inspired by Aj at Read All The Things! and the cool end-of-year graphics she puts together, and this year, with help from her tutorial, I finally did it!  These are all pretty basic, but I thought they were fun to look at at!
It doesn't surprise me that I read more backlist than new releases this year.
This one just makes me laugh because of how lopsided it is!  I did read one book that had male and female co-authors, though!

I'm still reading a ton of romance, it seems!  I tried my best to fit each book into a genre category, although some of them fit into more than one, so decisions had to be made!

Since almost half of my books came from my unread shelf, it would seem I did okay with that goal!

Do you have any interesting or fun stats from your 2023 reading year?

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books of 2023!


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our favorite books of 2023.  It's always hard to narrow it down, but here are the books I enjoyed the most during 2023!

What was your favorite book of 2023?

Monday, January 1, 2024

Month in Review: December 2023


Happy New Year!  December was a bit of another crazy month.  I had car troubles starting right before Henry's birthday and couldn't get it in anywhere for awhile, so I didn't have a car for almost 2.5 weeks.  Thankfully, I got it back just in time to go to my company's Christmas party.  Christmas was a several-day affair, starting with Tom's company holiday get-together at TopGolf - and yes, I actually swung a club in front of strangers!  Christmas Eve was spent at my dad's house with most of my siblings and their kids, so it was a long and loud but fun day.  We spent Christmas Day at home, and Tom's family came over.  Henry was absolutely spoiled with gifts!  The day after Christmas, we all had off from work and school, so we took Henry to the Bucks County Children's Museum.  It's such a fun place and it actually doesn't cost a million dollars for tickets, which is nice.  The rest of the week was quiet while I worked a bit and Tom had off.  As I'm writing this, it's New Year's Eve, Henry is taking a nap, I'm watching my fantasy football team as they compete in our league finals (!!), and Tom is relaxing on the couch.  

Thank you all for another fantastic year of reading and blogging!  Wishing you all the best in 2024!

The Books


The Posts and Reviews
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