Friday, June 28, 2024

Quick Reviews

 The Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland (2022)

Four high school friends (Melissa, Priya, Tara, and Suki) receive high superlatives upon graduation, but 25 years later, three of the four haven't achieved the success they thought they would.  After meeting up at their 25-year reunion, they form a pact to make their high school dreams come true (albeit maybe in different ways than they imagined).  This one was a mixed bag for me - I like the idea of a friendship group that has stood the test of time, that these four women, despite having families and jobs that have taken them all over, are still close.  I think taking stock of your life and deciding to make big changes or try a new adventure is also really relatable.  However, I felt the pacing was off.  I don't know if it was because I was listening on audio, but it felt like it took forever to get to the meat of the story where the friends decide to change their lives.  I thought that was what the bulk of the book would be about, but it wasn't.  Also, one of the friends, Suki, has built a massively successful company and doesn't attend the reunion (and thus isn't part of the pact, or really, even need to be in it).  She felt like an enigma for most of the book and only becomes a bigger character later in the story.  So overall, an interesting premise that unfortunately fell a bit short.  3.5 stars

The Truth About the Devlins by Lisa Scottoline (2024)

In a family of high-achieving, successful lawyers, TJ Devil is the black sheep, an alcoholic who went to jail for a brief period of time and now works as an investigator at the family law firm.  One night, his older brother John admits to TJ that he murdered a client.  As TJ digs deeper into the case, he finds lies, deception, and danger at every turn.  Can the Devlin family survive?  I've been wanting to read more mysteries/thrillers, and this was an okay return for me.  I liked the character of TJ - he's really trying to learn and grow and become a better man, wanting to overcome his past mistakes.  It pained me when his family didn't believe in him.  The short chapters kept the story moving, and there are a few twists that keep it interesting.  However, the cringey dialogue really took me out of the story a few times.  If you enjoy legal dramas with a dose of mystery and family dynamics, this might be the book for you.  3.5 stars

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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Guest Blogger: Getting Guys to Read

 My sister is back today with a post on getting the men in your life to pick up books.  Awhile ago, I did a post on books I'd recommend for my husband (who is most definitely NOT a reader), and this is a really great (and updated) accompaniment to that!


After hearing me rave about Fourth Wing and Iron Flame (and armed with the knowledge that it is already being adapted for TV), my husband, James, decided to dive into the series.  He is not a big reader, usually gravitating towards technical books when he does (relating to his profession as a software engineer and his lifelong love of computers).  He did enjoy them and we have already preordered Onyx Storm, so we have that to look forward to next year.  Surprisingly, he wanted to continue his reading journey so it got me thinking – what kinds of books would we recommend to get the guys in our life reading?  

The Arc of a Scythe series and Dry by Neal Shusterman


All YA novels about dystopian futures, they are quick, engaging reads.  James has already read two of the three Scythe books and is loving them!


James and I have listened to both of these and the audios are fantastic.  They are quirky and really, really funny.

Anything by Neil deGrasse Tyson or Randall Munroe



If you have a science nut in your life, you need these books.  You will learn something and definitely chuckle along the way.  I would also recommend these in audio – they are all fantastic and allowed us to have some great conversations about the material.

Do you have readers in your life?  What books would you recommend to reluctant or new readers?

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Monday, June 24, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #48

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 Karla Sorensen
Expected Publication: July 16, 2024

From Goodreads:
He’s commitment phobic. She believes in happy endings. The twist of fate that binds them is a surprise they never saw coming in a bittersweet romance about instant family—and not-so-instant love.

A decade-old animosity is the only thing Liam Davies and Zoe Valentine have in common. Until their mutual best friends pass away and they’re appointed co-guardians of the trusting couple’s precocious toddler, Mira.

Liam is committed only to professional football. Relationship-wise, he’s even better at defense. Still wrestling with a tough childhood, he’s not cut out to be a father. Why his late best buddy believed in him, Liam has no idea.

An optimistic romantic, Zoe has always dreamed of a fairy-tale life. But even though Liam’s biceps make her dizzy and she can’t stop thinking about his lips on hers, he’s not exactly Prince Charming. With or without that brooding Brit, she is determined to make good on her friends’ last wish.

Forced into a predicament they never expected, Zoe and Liam are discovering things about each other that could scorch through boundaries, warm hearts, and change minds. And best of all, with their shared love for a pint-size surprise like Mira, they might just turn a house into a home.

I loved the first book in this series and Karla Sorensen never disappoints - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, June 21, 2024

Quick Reviews

Once Persuaded, Twice Shy by Melodie Edwards (2024) 

A modern retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, Once Persuaded, Twice Shy is the story of Anne, living a life she believes is just fine, until her ex-boyfriend comes to town, and she starts wondering if her life could have been (or still could be) different.  I have to admit, I've never read the original story, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I enjoyed the author's first novel and I wanted to give this one a try.  Unfortunately, this one didn't have the same spark as the first for me.  The "romance" fell really flat here.  Although we get some idea of what Anne and Ben were like the first time around, in the present day there is just not enough of them spending page time together to make me feel like they belonged together.  There is too much telling (mostly through Anne's thoughts) and not enough actual action to make it believable; a very quick resolution to the romance doesn't help the case.  A good portion of the story is spent on Anne trying to reconcile her life's choices, and she actually makes a lot of growth over the course of the book.  I enjoyed this part, especially when Anne stops enabling her selfish family members and forces them all to become more independent.  Overall, a bland romance that would be better marketed as a personal growth story.  3 stars

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn (2006)

Gregory Bridgerton thinks he has found "the one," but he needs the help of her best friend Lucy to win her over.  In the process, Lucy, despite being practically engaged, finds herself falling for Gregory, and he realizes that Lucy is truly the one for him.  But, Lucy's uncle has promised her to another, and Lucy can't get out of it - unless Gregory can help.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the Bridgerton series, and this installment was a fantastic finale.  Watching Gregory and Lucy work together, getting to know each other and realizing that they are truly in love was such a treat.  I loved how many other Bridgertons made an appearance in this one, particularly matriarch Violet, who has some heartfelt moments with Gregory.  The story takes a suspenseful turn near the end, as Lucy's uncle is desperate for her to marry a particular man (who really turns out to be quite a gem, but clearly not right for Lucy), and the characters all have to band together to help Gregory and Lucy find the happy ending they deserve.  4 stars

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Game Changer

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

Lana Ferguson    
Expected publication date: July 9, 2024
A hockey player and a baker shoot their shot in this steamy new romance by Lana Ferguson, USA Today bestselling author of The Nanny.

When a very public breakup becomes a PR nightmare for Ian Chase's team, he hopes to focus on his game, but that suddenly seem less likely than a hat trick. With his career and the team’s image in jeopardy, Ian is surprised to find a solution through none other than Delilah Baker, his best friend and teammate's little sister…who isn’t so little anymore.

Delilah Baker is known as “the darling of baking” on her local cable show, and being in the public eye is her bread and butter. But with her numbers dwindling and her producers turning up the heat, Delilah offers up the half-baked idea to collaborate with her brother’s team to entice the hockey fans of Boston to tune in to her show. Delilah thinks it will be a piece of cake—until the team sends Ian Chase, her brother’s best friend and the object of a decade-long crush that she’s never quite gotten over.

Delilah's and Ian’s teams think it’s a true win-win situation—gaining higher numbers for Delilah’s show and casting Ian in a more positive light. And viewers are eating them up like a cupcake, sparking the idea to play up their relationship for the goal of good press. With more than just their careers on thin ice, the line between what’s real and what’s for show begins to blur, but one thing’s for certain: This PR stunt will either be a total game changer—or leave them both totally pucked. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our summer TBR.  I'm really going to lean into the seasonal vibes for this one!

What will you be reading this summer?

Friday, June 14, 2024

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews

During the first half of the 20th century, transatlantic travel aboard large ocean liners was one of the main ways to reach far-off countries.  Although historically a place for men, gradually ships and ocean liners became havens for women, from those looking for employment, to those seeking opportunities in a new country, to those simply enjoying the luxury of a cruise ship.  Maiden Voyages sets out to tell the stories of those women, although it does so with mixed effectiveness.  I very much enjoyed learning about female crew members.  It's amazing how much information Evans was able to find about these women, from their reasons for joining to different experiences they had onboard.  She also includes anecdotes about various wealthy and famous women who traveled on ocean liners - here, the results were a little less successful, as Evans often spent more time describing their lives and work rather than their time on the ships.  Sometimes it felt like there was only one or two sentences about the ships and their time on them in several pages of background, and it seemed a stretch to include such stories in a book that is purportedly about transatlantic travel and the important roles women played in it.  I think Evans' writing flowed nicely and was easy to read, although there were several typos that I was surprised at.  Overall, an interesting premise with some truly fascinating stories, that unfortunately missed the mark a bit.  3.5 stars

The Head That Wears the Crown by Mariah Stewart (2023)

A 40-something divorced mom from Philadelphia finds out she's next in line to the throne of a tiny European nation in this story that feels like a grown-up version of The Princess Diaries.  I am a sucker for royal stories, so of course I had to read this one, although with some mixed results.  Annie is our mom-turned-duchess and I appreciated the first-person POV that allowed me to feel like Annie was a close friend just telling me a story.  The writing is easy to read and familiar - it keeps the story flowing even as the plot seems to slow down sometimes.  Although reluctant at first to believe it, Annie (along with her kids and sisters) eventually move to their family's homeland to restore the monarchy and start making changes to the country.  I think it was a little unbelievable that the entire family was so on-board with just picking up and moving their entire lives to a country that they had never even heard of before, but it kept things positive.  Annie's transformation from insurance company employee to duchess was also a little unbelievable - overnight she seemed to gain a completely new persona, one that talked more elegantly and seemed completely comfortable with giving orders.  There's some tension near the end that the story really needed, and while I appreciated the epilogue, I kind of wish it was even further into the future so we could see how Annie and the country are faring!  3.5 stars

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Ladykiller

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

Katherine Wood
Expected publication date: July 9, 2024
When an heiress goes missing, her best friend races to unravel the secrets behind her disappearance using clues left behind in an explosive manuscript…

Gia and Abby have been best friends since they were girls, forever bonded by the tragedy that unfolded in Greece when they were eighteen. In the aftermath, bookish Abby threw herself into her studies while heiress Gia chronicled the events of that fateful summer in a salacious memoir.

Twelve years later, Gia is back in Greece for the summer with her shiny new husband and a motley crew of glamorous guests, preparing to sell the family estate in the wake of her father’s death. When Abby receives an invitation from Gia to celebrate her birthday in September beneath the Northern Lights, she’s thrilled to be granted the time off from her high-pressure job. But the day of her flight, she receives a mysterious, threatening email in her inbox, and when she and Gia’s brother Benny arrive at the Swedish resort, Gia isn’t there. After days of cryptic messages and unanswered calls, Abby and Benny are worried enough to fly to Greece to check on her.

Only, when they arrive, they find Gia’s beachfront estate eerily deserted, the sole clue to her whereabouts a manuscript she wrote detailing the events leading up to her disappearance. The pages reveal the dark truth about Gia’s provocative new marriage and the dirty secrets of the guests they entertained with fizzy champagne under the hot Mediterranean sun. As tensions rise, Gia feels less and less safe in her own home. But the pages end abruptly, leaving Abby and Benny with more questions than answers.

Where is Gia now? And, more importantly, will they find her before it’s too late? - from Goodreads

Monday, June 10, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #47

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 India Holton
Expected Publication: July 23, 2024

From Goodreads:
Rival ornithologists hunt through England for a rare magical bird in this historical-fantasy rom-com reminiscent of Indiana Jones but with manners, tea, and helicopter parasols.

Beth Pickering is on the verge of finally capturing the rare deathwhistler bird when Professor Devon Lockley swoops in, capturing both her bird and her imagination like a villain. Albeit a handsome and charming villain, but that's beside the point. As someone highly educated in the ruthless discipline of ornithology, Beth knows trouble when she sees it, and she is determined to keep her distance from Devon. 

For his part, Devon has never been more smitten than when he first set eyes on Professor Beth Pickering. She's so pretty, so polite, so capable of bringing down a fiery, deadly bird using only her wits. In other words, an angel. Devon understands he must not get close to her, however, since they're professional rivals. 

When a competition to become Birder of the Year by capturing an endangered caladrius bird is announced, Beth and Devon are forced to team up to have any chance of winning. Now keeping their distance becomes a question of one bed or two. But they must take the risk, because fowl play is afoot, and they can't trust anyone else—for all may be fair in love and war, but this is ornithology.

I am so excited India Holton has a new series starting - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, June 7, 2024

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Frenchtown Bookshop

My dad and stepmom gifted me a Guess Where trip for my birthday (basically it's a company that plans surprise day trips - you get 4 envelopes and it tells you where to go, recommendations for activities, shops, and restaurants at each stop, etc.), so Tom and I took a day off last month and went exploring!  I don't want to give too much away in case anyone decides to try this company, so I won't say the name of this particular trip, but at one point, we ended up in Frenchtown, New Jersey, and one of the recommended stops was a bookstore!  Of course, I had to go in!

The Frenchtown Bookshop is "a family-owned independent bookstore... committed to selling worthwhile books carefully chosen to inspire curiosity, connection, and compassion. The Bookshop is committed to partnering with the many diverse residents and organizations of the Frenchtown area and to emphasizing the art, literature, and natural setting of the Delaware River Towns."


From the outside, it's super charming, in a beautiful historic building.  There are chairs and benches on the front porch, which was a great place for Tom to hang out while I browsed.  The charm continues on the inside, which is light, bright, and airy, such a perfect environment for browsing books!


It's bigger on the inside than it might appear from the outside, and there are SO many books, on shelves lining the walls, tables, and shelves spread around the floor.  Bestsellers, new releases, fiction, nonfiction, self-help, poetry - I saw a bit of everything.  There's a section for children's books in the back, and I really had to stop myself from buying everything.  So many interesting-looking books, different from what I normally come across.  

In the back, there is a little nook containing cookbooks (shown below), and through the white doorway is a small room, filled with gardening books and places to sit and read!

This was such a delightful little gem of a store - I'm so glad it was recommended during our adventure and that I got a chance to visit!

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Summer Pact

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

Emily Giffin
Expected publication date: July 9, 2024
In the wake of tragedy, a group of friends make a pact that will cause them to reunite a decade later and embark upon a life-changing adventure together—from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Meant to Be.

Four freshmen arrive at college from completely different worlds: Lainey, a California party girl with a flair for drama; Tyson, a brilliant scholar and law school hopeful from D.C.; Summer, a recruited athlete and perfectionist from the Midwest; and Hannah, a mild-mannered southerner who is content to quietly round out the circle of big personalities. Soon after moving into their shared dorm, they strike up a conversation in a study lounge, and the seeds of friendship are planted.

As their college years fly by, their bond intensifies and the four become inseparable. But as graduation nears, their lives are forever changed after a desperate act leads to tragic consequences. Stunned and heartbroken, a pact is made to be there for each other in their time of need, no matter how separated they are by circumstances or distance.

Ten years later, Hannah is anticipating what should be one of the happiest moments of her life when everything is suddenly turned upside down. Calling on her closest friends, it soon becomes clear that they are facing their own crossroads. True to their promise, they agree to take a time out from lives headed in wrong directions and embark on a journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and acceptance.

In this tender portrayal of grief, love, and hope, Emily Giffin asks: When things fall apart, who will be at our sides to help pick up the pieces? - from Goodreads

Monday, June 3, 2024

Month in Review: May 2024


May was a big month for us!  Henry moved up to the Pre-3 room at school (kind of a precursor to preschool) and he has been doing great!  Almost as soon as he started, they said he showed an interest in potty training (most of the kids in his class are a little older than him and so use the regular bathroom), so with their help, we have started!  It's been slow going since, to me, it doesn't seem like he's actually that interested, but we'll see!  We just got a bunch of "potty" books from the library and he's actually enjoying reading those.  We spent a long weekend in Cape May with Tom's mom and two sisters.  The weather wasn't great, lots of drizzly rain, but we still managed to fit a lot in - the zoo, an aviation museum, a trip to the Wildwood boardwalk, a visit to the Cape May lighthouse, and lots of walks around downtown and the beach area.  Later in the month, Tom and I went on a Guess Where trip that my stepmom and dad got me for my birthday.  We had a fun time exploring two small towns, seeing some covered bridges, and going for a short hike. 

The Books

The Posts and Reviews

How are you doing?

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