Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Skim

Week 5/23/2021:


I loved The Audacity of Sara Grayson! I though it was fantastic because of the way you feel for Sara and her struggles. You really should pick it up. I enjoyed The Book of Lost Friends but I didn't love it like I did Before We Were Yours but I still felt that the history was interesting. 

Currently Reading:

I'm hoping to get some good reading in this holiday weekend while being somewhat social.  😄
We do have a baseball tournament this week but it depends on how we do and the weather about how much time it takes up. 


Friday, May 28, 2021

Julie's Review: The Audacity of Sara Grayson

Author: Joanie Elliott
Series: None
Publication Date:  May 25, 2021
Publisher:  Post Hill Press
Pages: 331
Obtained: Meryl Moss Media Group
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Sometimes something drastic has to happen to get yourself on the right path
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Summary: What happens when your mother’s dying wish becomes your worst nightmare?
What happens when the world’s greatest literary icon dies before she finishes the final book in her best-selling series?  And what happens when she leaves that book in the hands of her unstable, neurotic daughter, who swears she’s not a real writer? Sara Grayson is a thirty-two-year-old greeting card writer about to land the toughest assignment of her life. Three weeks after the death of her mother—a world-famous suspense novelist—Sara learns that her mother’s dying wish is for her to write the final book in her bestselling series. Sara has lived alone with her dog, Gatsby, ever since her husband walked out with their Pro Double Waffle Maker and her last shred of confidence. She can’t fathom writing a book for thirty million fans—not when last week’s big win was resetting the microwave clock. But in a bold move that surprises even herself, Sara takes it on. Against an impossible deadline and a publisher intent on sabotaging her every move, Sara discovers that stepping into her mother’s shoes means stumbling on family secrets she was never meant to find—secrets that threaten her mother’s legacy and the very book she’s trying to create. 

Review: I think this cover deftly captures Sara Grayson and how she feels throughout most of the novel about being thrown into a situation where she feels that she has no control over. It's kind of the theme of her life over the last couple years. She's teaching at a college but she's not passionate about it. In fact, she's not passionate about much these days. So when her famous novelist mother dies and her will states that Sara must write the final novel of her extremely popular series, Sara freaks out. She doesn't want to work with her mom's old editor because there are some hurt feelings from previous interactions. 

Yet when no one thinks she can do it, she buckles down and starts to pound out the words. What Sara lacks is confidence but her mom believed in her, so she tries to pull from that in her journey. She writes in different locations to try to emulate her mom's structure. It doesn't help that there is a family mystery that also occupies Sara's thoughts and actions when she should be writing. 

Sara is a great character and so very relatable. She's lacking in self-confidence, unsure of her path in life and then dealing with 2 loses within a year or so of each other. I loved how the people around her both new and old, encouraged her and believed in her. We all need our village to support us especially in times of self-doubt. 

I flew through this book and throughly enjoyed it. I'm hoping there's a sequel because I'd very much like to visit them again. 


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Skim

Week 5/16/2021:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

Laura Dave's latest is definitely different  than her other books that I've read but I really enjoyed it. It definitely had some twists that I didn't see coming. An American Marriage wasn't at all what I expected but I enjoyed it. 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Julie's Review: It Had to Be You

Author: Georgia Clark
Series: None
Publication Date:  May 4, 2021
Publisher: Atria Publishing
Pages: 384
Obtained: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A gem of a romantic comedy
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Summary: For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine. It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.

Review: Not going to lie, it took me a little bit to get into the groove of this one but once I did, I wanted to keep reading. All of the characters are wonderful and their stories are all woven together and by their connection to each other through In Love In New York. This is owned by husband and wife team of Liv and  Eliot Goldenhorn until he dies in a hotel room in Kentucky. Enter Savannah, Eliot's secret girlfriend, who now owns his share of the business. Liv, in shock and coming off a bad review decides that the business is defunct. Savannah isn't one to give up so easily and she convinces Liv to revive the business and do one for no cost if the bride uses social media to promote her wedding and them. 

We also have the employees of In Love In New York who are the centerpiece to the novel as well. You've got Zia who is independent, fierce and devotes her life to helping others until a handsome, famous actor enters her life. Their relationship will make her question herself, her past and if she's really able to give herself fully to someone else. She's never relied on someone before. We also have a possible romance blooming between the members of the band but will they both get out of their own way to see what is in front of her. 

Then there is the adorable Gorman and Henry, who truly adore each other but seem to be on different pages when it comes to their long-term plans and future together. 

Fans of any kind of rom-com, will love this novel. I did feel that at times it did drag on a bit but recovered in the end. 


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cover Reveal: The Next Ship Home


The Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island
by Heather Webb

Publication Date: February 8, 2022
Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Historical Fiction

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures to ensure she will make it off the island, Alma fights for her dreams of becoming a translator, even as women are denied the chance.

As the two women face the misdeeds of a system known to manipulate and abuse immigrants searching for new hope in America, they form an unlikely friendship―and share a terrible secret―altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them.

Inspired by true events and for fans of Kristina McMorris and Hazel Gaynor, The Next Ship Home holds up a mirror to our own times, deftly questioning America's history of prejudice and exclusion while also reminding us of our citizens' singular determination. This is a novel of the dark secrets of Ellis Island, when entry to "the land of the free" promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, and when immigrant strength and female friendship found ways to triumph even on the darkest days.

Pre-order now!
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About the Author

Heather Webb is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2017, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the Women's Fiction Writers Association award, and in 2019, MEET ME IN MONACO was shortlisted for both the RNA award in the UK and also the Digital Book World Fiction prize.

Up and coming, Heather's new solo novel called THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND is about unlikely friends that confront a corrupt system altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them, and it releases in Feb 2022. Also, look for her third collaboration with her beloved writing partner, Hazel Gaynor, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, releasing this July! (2021)

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

For more information, please visit Heather's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Julie's Review: The Woman with the Blue Star

Author: Pam Jenoff
Series: None
Publication Date:  May 4, 2021
Publisher: Park Row 
Pages: 336
Obtained: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Friendships can save lives
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Summary: 1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the KrakĂłw Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers. Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding. Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

Review: I really never get sick of reading WWII novels and The Woman with the Blue Star is no exception to that. Sadie is living in the Ghetto in Krakow when they have to get out without being put on a train. Her dad secures them passage through the tunnels of Krakow. To add onto it, her mother is pregnant with her sibling and they are unsure of how long they will have to remain in hiding. 

Ella is a well to do young lady but she lives with her step mom who survives by entertaining the local Nazi officers. Ella's house that she grew up in has become the place she doesn't want to spend her time. So she often wanders the streets during the day trying to blend in. Until one day she she spots Sadie in the tunnel grates and has a sudden urge to help. Ella wants to do something to feel like she's helping someone other than herself. 

As Ella and Sadie develop a bond, they take risks that jeopardize both of their lives and the lives of those that Sadie is in hiding with. It is also what will end up saving them both in different ways.

What I love about Ms. Jenoff's books is there is always some element of surprise in them, just when you think you've figured it out. Her books are always impeccably researched and immediately pull you in. This book was about survival, love, hope and most of all friendship. How friendship can save you even in the darkest of times. 


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Skim

Week 5/2/2021 and 5/9/2021:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

Work has been kicking my butt lately, so reading and listening have going a little slow. I am enjoying An American Marriage and I really enjoyed It Had to Be You as well. You can't go wrong listening to Lenny Kravitz' voice but he also had a very interesting youth. I'm hoping he does another one that dives a bit deeper into his career. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Julie's Review: Little Pieces of Me

Author: Alison Hammer
Series: None
Publication Date:  April 13, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 398
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: How do you define everything you know when something turns it on its head?
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Summary: When Paige Meyer gets an email from a DNA testing website announcing that her father is a man she never met, she is convinced there must be a mistake. But as she digs deeper into her mother’s past and her own feelings of being the odd child out growing up, Paige begins to question everything she thought she knew. Could this be why Paige never felt like she fit in her family, and why her mother always seemed to keep her at an arm’s length? And what does it mean for Paige’s memories of her father, a man she idolized and whose death she is still grieving? Back in 1975, Betsy Kaplan, Paige’s mom, is a straightlaced sophomore at the University of Kansas. When her sweet but boring boyfriend disappoints her, Betsy decides she wants more out of life, and is tired of playing it safe. Enter Andy Abrams, the golden boy on campus with a potentially devastating secret. After their night together has unexpected consequences, Betsy is determined to bury the truth and rebuild a stable life for her unborn child, whatever the cost. When Paige can’t get answers from her mother, she goes looking for the only other person who was there that night. The more she learns about what happened, the more she sees her unflappable, distant mother as a real person faced with an impossible choice. But will it be enough to mend their broken relationship? Told in dual timelines, Little Pieces of Me examines identity and how the way we define ourselves changes (or not) through our life experiences. 

Review: Little Pieces of Me is a study in nature vs. nurture. How important is DNA to who you are and who you want to be? Does it change everything you thought you were? Does it change how you view your parents? This is what Paige has to confront when doing a DNA test alerts her to the fact that she has a different father than she thought. Especially since her dad died and she can't go to him.  It pretty much sends her spirally and vacillating between wanting to connect to her biological father and feeling like she would be betraying her dad. Paige and her mom, Elizabeth, have never been close and so asking her any questions about this situation is next to impossible. 

The story changes POV between Elizabeth (Betsy) during college and Paige dealing with the aftermath of her mom's decisions. For this reader, the flashbacks didn't make me like Betsy anymore than if we hadn't gotten the past. I can understand why she did what she did but it doesn't really put her in a good light. 

Meanwhile, Paige is trying to figure out how to connect with her distant mom, her new "dad", her sisters that she's never been really close to and now she understands why she always felt a bit out of place in her own family.

Ms. Hammer did a fantastic job with the subject matter and getting to the core of the novel, what really makes a family. Does one fact change who you are and who you were going to be? I really liked Paige but her friends are really the thing that sold this book for me. They kept her grounded and push her when she needs to be pushed. 

I can't wait to read what she writes next! 


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Julie's Review: The Perfect Couple

 Jackie Kabler
Series: None
Publication Date:  April 17, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Pages: 328
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: Nothing is ever "Perfect"
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Summary: A devoted wife…

A year ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been perfect. But one evening, Danny doesn’t return home. 

A missing husband…
Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees photos of the victims she is even more stunned…they all look just like Danny.

Who would you believe?
But the police are suspicious. Why has no one apart from Gemma heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or is this marriage hiding some very dark secrets?

Review: Whenever I see a book or something with the title "Perfect" it is usually a big indicator to me that it is anything but that descriptor. So of course I find it super intriguing to see what isn't perfect. Gemma returns home from a quick business trip only to find that her husband isn't home and that no note was left for her. For a bit she's ok with the fact that he's not around but then he doesn't answer texts or phone calls. It isn't for a couple days that she decides to go to the police to report him missing. 

Meanwhile the police are starting to think they have a serial killer at large due to recent murders. What alarms them is how much Gemma's missing husband looks like all of the victims. From here on out you turn the pages so that you can get to the conclusion of the novel. Where is Danny? Is he a victim as well? Does Gemma know something she's not sharing?

We all know there's nothing such as a perfect anything, so you know that they were probably far from it but you aren't sure if Gemma is lying either.  After a while I was getting annoyed with Gemma and felt that the Police were a bit inept at their jobs. You can't just investigate was seems like a good lead to you, you have to investigate all of them. 

I felt that some of the middle of the novel could have been tightened up to move the book along a bit quicker and overall felt the ending was ok but was hoping for more. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sunday Skim

Week 4/23/2021:


Currently Reading:

Looking Forward To:

I enjoyed listening to The Roxy Letters more than I thought I would. It was funny, poignant and witty. Even if I don't understand the whole underemployed thing. I've been waiting for Lenny Kravitz' autobiography to be available on Overdrive and I finally started it on Friday.