Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday Skim

 



Finished:





Currently Reading:






Looking Forward To:






As you can tell it was a great reading week. It did help that both my audiobooks were quick reads. If you are a foodie or a fan of Stanley Tucci, I highly recommend listening to Taste, since it's read by the actor.  

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Julie's Review: The Department of Rare Books & Special Collections

Author: Eva Jurczyk
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 25, 2022
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Publishing
Pages: 341
Obtained: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: An ode to libraries, books and librarians everywhere 
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she's left to run things, she discovers that the library's most prized manuscript is missing. Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book, but is told repeatedly to keep quiet, to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian unexpectedly stops showing up to work. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues' pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long—and about the people who care for and revere them—shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life. ~amazon.com 

Review: Sometimes I feel that a good mystery gets lost with all the suspense and thriller books out there now, so when I read the summary for The Department of Rare Books & Special Collections I knew it would be a good switch to some of my current reads. 

When a rare, collectible book goes missing at the same time the library director has a massive stroke it's up to Associate Director, Liesl to figure out what exactly is going on. Is the book stolen or just misplaced? If misplaced or shelved in the wrong place, why can't the team of librarians find it? And why does everyone, including the University President, want her to keep this quiet, brush it under the rug and not get the police involved? For the life of her she can't figure out what's going on. 

Add to the missing book, another department wants to do carbon dating on another one of their rare books. For some reason Liesl is hesitant but eventually gives in and allows Rhonda to do the testing. What's interesting is how this comes full circle in the novel. 

This novel is choc full of interesting characters and interesting relationships. Everyone is linked in some way or has something in their path that they don't all know about. That's about to changes as one of the librarians goes missing and everything starts unraveling. Liesl feels that things are out of her control and starts to let herself go a bit as well. 

I really enjoyed the character development in this one along with the plot. The interactions between all the characters are curious and lend to the mystery. I enjoyed the mystery and the inner workings of how a library and donors work at a university. 

I definitely recommend this novel for book lovers. 



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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Skim

 



Finished:




Currently Reading:




Looking Forward To:









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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Julie's Review: What Might Have Been

Author: Holly Miller
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 18, 2022
Publisher: Putnam
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Had me at the Sliding Doors comparison
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: What if “meant to be” happened twice? Lucy is at a crossroads. The same night she quits her thankless job she meets Caleb, a local photographer in her seaside town, and has a run-in with Max—the once love of her life. As Lucy decides the right path forward—finally pursue her dream of becoming a writer or move to London and revive her career—her choice will change her life in unimaginable ways. Stay. After a decade of trying to run from her dream, Lucy is finally facing her fears and putting pen to page. With her budding romance with handsome, artistic Caleb, she has more inspiration now than ever. But can Lucy and Caleb open themselves up after their past heartbreaks? And will their different paths take them to the same place? Go. Lucy can’t believe her luck when a room in her best friend’s London house share opens up and she lands a job at the prestigious Supernova. It gives her the courage to face Max, who’s serendipitous encounter still has her reeling, and ask what really happened almost a decade ago? But does she really want to know, when being together feels like fate? In concurrent storylines that track what would have happened if Lucy chose to Stay or Go, What Might Have Been is a sweeping story that poses the questions: is it destiny or chance that decides who we are meant to be, and who we are meant to love? And is there such a thing as a soul mate? ~amazon.com 

Review: I love stories that have the "what if" aspect and Ms. Miller makes the 2 paths easy to distinguish in What Might Have Been by calling them Stay or Go. One night after Lucy quits her job she goes to a local pub and meets Caleb but then she also sees the one that got away, Max. This is when it is split into Go - Max or Stay - Caleb. Both stories are compelling for different reasons. For all of us I'm sure there's the one person we always wonder what would have happened if you had stayed together. For Lucy she gets to live that out by bumping into Max and moving to London. Except their story isn't all rainbows and butterflies, there is a big WTF moment that I'm not sure I could have gotten over or forgiven. 

With Caleb it's new, fresh and exciting. Caleb isn't like all the other guys she's dated, he's a bit off her type, which isn't a bad thing according to Lucy's sister. Except Caleb does come with some baggage that Lucy needs to work her way through, even though he's been nothing but up front with her. Where Lucy and Max jump right back to where they were 10 years prior; Caleb and Lucy take their time to get to know each other. 

Often I felt that Lucy and Max were trying to make up for lost time without truly understanding where they currently were in their lives. At times I felt that Lucy gave up herself and her dreams to be with Max. There are a few other things that kept this book from being a 5 ⭐ novel for me but I'll let you read and figure it out. 

What happens throughout the book is learning about the relationships and how each path has a different effect on other friendships and relationships in Lucy’s life. It always comes full circle. 

I really loved this book, but the most important question for those who have read is: #teamMax or #teamCaleb.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Julie's Review: Greenwich Park

Author: Katherine Faulkner
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 25, 2022
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 383
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Best final paragraph I've read in a long time
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Helen’s idyllic life—handsome architect husband, gorgeous Victorian house, and cherished baby on the way (after years of trying)—begins to change the day she attends her first prenatal class and meets Rachel, an unpredictable single mother-to-be. Rachel doesn’t seem very maternal: she smokes, drinks, and professes little interest in parenthood. Still, Helen is drawn to her. Maybe Rachel just needs a friend. And to be honest, Helen’s a bit lonely herself. At least Rachel is fun to be with. She makes Helen laugh, invites her confidences, and distracts her from her fears. But her increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling. And Helen’s not the only one who’s noticed. Her friends and family begin to suspect that her strange new friend may be linked to their shared history in unexpected ways. When Rachel threatens to expose a past crime that could destroy all of their lives, it becomes clear that there are more than a few secrets laying beneath the broad-leaved trees and warm lamplight of Greenwich Park. ~amazon.com 

Review: What a freaking ride. I'll be honest and tell you that there will be times when Helen grates on your nerves and you want to shake her but then there are times when you feel incredibly horrible for her. She might be married and expecting a baby, but you get the feeling that she's really alone. Unfortunately, that makes her easy to befriend and its exactly what Rachel does. You know she's not genuine by her actions, but Helen is so na├»ve she believes they are all just coincidences. 

Frankly, beside Helen, Katie is the only other character that I feel is on the up and up. The rest are all just a little suspect for me. The way Helen's husband treats her isn't awful but he's also not doting or concerned like an expectant father typically is. Then her seeming best friend doesn't have a single picture of the 2 of them together around her house, which just doesn't seem right. Helen's two brothers have sketchy passes as well. 

This is a fast-paced thriller that has you guessing around every turn and just when you think you have it all figured out, another shoe drops taking you in yet another direction. 

That last page of the book will leave you shell shocked. I can't recommend this enough!



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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Skim

 



Finished:




Currently Reading:





Looking Forward To:





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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Julie's Review: Must Love Books

Author: Shauna Robinson
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 18, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 336
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A journey on mental health and finding your passion
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: Meet Nora Hughes―the overworked, underpaid, last bookish assistant standing. At least for now. When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist. With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet...and maybe poach some Parsons' authors along the way. But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or...herself and her future. ~amazon.com

Review: I thought Must Love Books would be more Romance than a self-discovery book but in the end I'm good with the plot of the novel. There is romance but its about coming to terms with your path in life and changing your outlook. 

Nora is pretty much the last editorial assistant standing after her friend, Beth hightails it out of there for a better opportunity. Instead of getting more opportunity to do more, she gets tasked with menial tasks. That's not the worst thing though, they expect her to do this for lower pay than she's already making. It's not like she has a lot of options right now other than to agree and try to find something else. When a unique opportunity comes along to do some freelance work for another publisher but she's going to have to figure out how to balance it all. What she didn't expect was author Andrew Santos to be thrown into the mix and for her to be in charge of getting him to sign a contract for his next book. Except now, Nora is wondering where Andrew's book belongs. It doesn't help that she definitely likes spending time with him in a non-professional manner as well. 

Nora also suffers from low self-esteem and high self-doubt. She's having a hard time figuring out her next move in her career and it's pretty much paralyzed her from taking any action. Both Beth and Andrew try to help her in various ways but as we all know, you have to be ready for that change. 

It isn't until things really fall apart that it forces Nora to challenge herself for the betterment of herself. I think we all can identify with Nora as she tries to navigate her career in the early years. It's not easy and it's really not easy if you don't have the confidence and faith in yourself. 

Ms. Robinson does a great job of making you feel for Nora without making you pity her, which I think is important. You root for Nora; you want her to figure it out and get on a path that will fulfill her professionally.  And of course, as a reader, you are totally cheering for her and Andrew.     


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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Sunday Skim

 



Finished:







Currently Reading:



Looking Forward To:



Welcome to the first year of the New Year! I don't know about you all but I was not ready to go back to the grind. I could have used another week off! At least I've got some good books ready to go for January!


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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Julie's Review: Last House on the Street


Author: Diane Chamberlain
Series: None
Publication Date:  January 11, 2022
Publisher: 
Pages: 328
Obtained: publisher via NetGalley
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Very different subject matter for the author
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

Summary: 1965: Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill. 2010: Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built. Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth--no matter what that truth may bring to light--in Diane Chamberlain's riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice. ~amazon.com

Review: I've been a fan of Diane Chamberlain's books since I read my first one a few years ago and while she always deals with serious issues, this one about race, the Klan and the South has to be one of the hardest to read. She really doesn't hold any punches in parts of the book to show how things were back in the 60's (and probably to some extent today). Yes people, the Klan still exists but just not in the same way that it used to. 

The Last House on the Street is about moving on, grieving, surviving loss and finding your purpose. It is about how the past always comes back in the present. Kayla is moving into the house that her late husband and her built together and she's already unsure of moving there when she starts getting weird visits and then strange happenings on the property. Meanwhile she befriends her neighbor, Ellie until Ellie figures out who her dad is, her old sweetheart. We get both Ellie's POV from 1965 and Kayla's from 2010 and then they come together. 

I loved Ellie's backstory and learning about the SCOPE program in the Southern states to get black people registered to vote back when they were hesitant to do so. She was the rare white Southern female to be part of the program since it was mainly comprised of Northern students. Ellie lived in a bubble so everything she was seeing and learning was opening her eyes. She even gave up her family and friends because she believed in the cause so much. I loved her gumption and that she did want to help no matter what the cost to her personally. It did alter her adult life in a way that she couldn't have possibly known. 

Kayla deals with the fallout of Ellie's story in the present because there are secrets that this small, southern town is hiding. All secrets eventually come out and it's about to for the town of Round Hill and it's residents. 

I have to stay I was stunned at the ending of the book; I kind of saw it coming but not quite how she wrapped it up. For fans of Ms. Chamberlain's previous books you will want to pick this one up and if you've never read her, The Last House on the Street is a great place to start. 


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Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 Year in Review



If I can say one thing about 2021 it was a fantastic reading year! I got back into Audiobooks this year which definitely helped my book stats! 

2021 Books Read: 104
5 Star Reads: 37
4+ Star Reads: 58
Below 4 Star Reads: 9
Best Reading Month: June (6/7 Books were 5 Stars)

2021 Historical Fiction Picks:












2021 Contemporary Fiction Picks:











2021 Contemporary Romance Picks:







2021 Audiobook Picks:










2021 Best of the Rest:













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