Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Julie's Review: Shipped

Author: Angie Hockman
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 19, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via Netgalley
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Fun story with some climate discussion thrown in 
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it. The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend. Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard. With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live? Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings. ~amazon.com 

Review: I love books that are fun reads but do have some sort of purpose as well. Henley is all work and no play when it comes to her life. In fact, she doesn't really know how to relax since she's also pursuing her MBA at night. So when a new Director role opens up she figures she's a shoe-in for it, since she's devoted her life to the company. Only she's not the only candidate for the job, there's Graeme, her arch nemesis. When their boss decides that they should go on a cruise together to come up with ideas on how to get more people on this cruise. 
Of course everything Graeme does is wrong and Henley thinks there is an alterior motive in his every move.  Graeme is a bit confused why Henley seems so hot and then cold with him. Even on this trip, Henley is all about work and often sneaks off to try to get her proposal done. Except she can't come up with any good ideas because she's so worried about Graeme and what he's going to do for a proposal. 

It isn't until Henley let's go of her preconceived notions about having to have to nail this promotion and it being the job of her dreams. What she finds is that opening yourself up can you lead you in directions you didn't know about and that is where you are supposed to be. 

I enjoyed this rom-com novel a lot. I also liked that it had a eco/climate message to it but didn't hit you over the head with it. 

This is definitely one to pick up if you are looking for something fun.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Julie's Review: Find Me In Havana

Author: Serena Burdick
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 12, 2021
Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 328
Obtained: Publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Complicated mother-daughter relationship
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

Summary: Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is 9 years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration - from Havana to New York’s Copacabana and then Hollywood - becomes the one true accomplishment no one can take from her. Not the 1933 Cuban Revolution that drove her family into poverty. Not the revolving door of husbands or the fickle world of film.Thirty years later, her young adult daughter, Nina, is blindsided by her mother’s mysterious death. Seeking answers, the grieving Nina navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms.Based on true events and exclusive interviews with Nina Lopez, Estelita’s daughter, Find Me in Havana weaves two unforgettable voices into one extraordinary story that explores the unbreakable bond between mother and child, and the ever-changing landscape of self-discovery. ~amazon.com

Review: I always love books that are told from different points of view and this one is different since it's told in letter format. The letters are between mother, Estelita and her daughter, Nina about certain points in their relationship. Nina's letters are looking for explanations while Estelita's are trying to explain why she did the things she did. Nina seeks answers that perhaps her mother can't give her and Estelita's letters are full of excuses about her actions. Their relationship is also complicated by the fact that Estelita's mother lives with them and is truly the one that looks after Nina. She's also the one managing Estelita's career to a certain degree and has always been the one to push her to leave Cuba and follow her talent to New York and eventually Hollywood. 

Things start to unravel for them when Nina's dad picks her up from boarding school and takes her back to Mexico to live with him. She doesn't really live with him but is instead stays in his house with a nanny while him and his current wife travel and stay at their beach house. She doesn't even get to know her other siblings while there but is shuttled to and from school. Estelita comes up with a plan to take Nina back to the US and it is quite the adventure for the two of them. While it bonds them in some ways, Nina realizes that she's always a ploy in her mom's publicity. It isn't until they go to Cuba that Nina starts to understand that some things in her mom's life weren't always in her control and that she tries to control the things within her reach. 

What Find Me in Havana does well is show the push and pull of a mother daughter relationship and how something you don't understand as child until you are older and perhaps a parent yourself. I thought both women were extremely complicated and communication with each other wasn't their strong suit. Perhaps if they had talked to each other, some of these misunderstandings wouldn't have been there. 

It also highlights strong female relationships throughtout the book. Either between Estelita and her mother, Nina and her grandmother, Nina and her Aunts/Cousin and Estelita and her sisters. This was a nice highlight of the books as well.

I had never heard of Estelita before this book, so of course I had to use Google. Definitely don't think she gets the recognition that she deserves. 


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Skim

Week of 1/3/21 and 1/10/21:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

I love it when the new year/new month starts off with some very good books and very different stories. It bodes well for the coming year of reading. 

What did you start off 2021 with reading? 


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday Skim - Year End Wrap Up

Week of 12/20/2020 and 12/27/2020:


These were the last books of 2020 that I read and I'm happy that they were the ones I chose because they were each so good and so dfiferent than the one before it and after it. Technically I finished Harlan's on New Year's Day but I'm still counting it for 2020. 😀

As for the rest of 2020, I didn't make my goal of 104 books and so much so I edited it down to 85 and still didn't make it. You know what, I'm still ok with what I did read because 2020 was a weird year to say the least. In reflection it's acting as a Teacher's Assistant, binge watching shows, lack of audiobooks and inability to focus at times for why my numbers were down. I'm hopeful for 2021 and one of my goals is to read my own TBR, even if it's 10. 

Here is the round up of my favorite 2020 reads, in no particular order:

Here's to a better 2021 in all areas of our lives!