Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Head Over Heels

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~


Synopsis (from Amazon):  Named a best beach/summer read by O, The Oprah MagazineCosmopolitanParadePopSugarMarie ClaireBustle, and more!

From the author of the Love at First Like and Playing with Matches, an electrifying rom-com set in the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics, full of Hannah Orenstein’s signature “charm, whimsy, and giddy romantic tension” (BuzzFeed).


The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jasmine Guillory, Head Over Heels proves that no one “writes about modern relationships with more humor or insight than Hannah Orenstein” (Dana Schwartz, author of Choose Your Own Disaster).


One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Head Over Heels is great story and very timely in todays world. Avery returns home after a hard break up with her pro football player boyfriend.  She needs to decide what to do with her life.  All she knows is gymnast.

Taking a job at her old gym as a gymnast coach to an olympic hopeful, she confronts difficult people from her past.  Stands up to her old coach who was extremely abusive.  Avery becomes a very strong women!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I enjoyed Love At First Like.  I would like to read Playing With Matches.


Hannah Orenstein is the author of Playing with Matches and Love at First Like, as well as the senior dating editor at Elite Daily. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Seventeen.com. She lives in New York.


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Friday, June 26, 2020

Sisters by Choice

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~


Synopsis (from Amazon):  From the New York Times bestselling author of California Girls comes an all new original Blackberry Island novel told with Susan Mallery’s trademark humor and charm. Sisters by Choice is a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.

Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…

After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.

Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.

Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Sisters by Choice has a mix of strong and weak characters.  The strong characters are Sophie and Kristine.  I loved how Sophie learned to let go of duties and rely on people she hired to do the job.  I loved her transformation.  Kristine was my hero.  She wanted to start her own business and claim something as her own.  Her husband was not supportive of her at all and left for awhile hoping to force her to give up her dream.  She didn't….I loved how strong she was and he finally came around.  Heather was weak but finally learned how to stand up to her mother and take control of her life.  Her mother was not a good person and blamed everyone around her for her hardships.  

I really enjoyed how the three main characters helped each other become better people.  I would love to have cousins that close to me in my life.  Very much enjoyed Sisters by Choice and happy I got to read another Susan Mallery this summer.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Last summer I had the pleasure of reading The Summer of Sunshine and Margot so I was excited to have the opportunity to read another Susan Mallery book this summer.  She has a ton of books I would love to read.






#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She's known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.



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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What's In Your Beach Bag?



For the past two summers I have posted What's In Your Beach Bag?  The first year (2011), I didn't do so well.  I still have 5 books out of 14 that I haven't read.  Still on my bookshelf though.  

Last year, it took my until fall to finish my list.  I read all 11 books on last year's list and posted 10 reviews.  One book is still with the publisher and I have been ask to hold on the review until there is release date. Here's to doing better in 2020!

Leave me a comment letting me know at least one of the books you plan on reading this summer.  I love book suggestions.



Here is what is in my beach bag this summer.  

1.  The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'neal

2. Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell



3. The Little Book Shop of the Siene by Rebecca Raisin

4. The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley



5.  Behind the Red Door by Megsn Collins

6. Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel



7. Beach Read by Emily Henry

8. Liberation by Imogen Kealy



9. A Little Bit of Grace by Phoebe Fox



10. The Search Party by Simon Lelic

11.  One Hundred Daffodils by Rebecca Winn






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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

I Was Told It Would Get Easier

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~





Synopsis (from Amazon):  Squashed among a bus full of strangers, mother-daughter duo Jessica and Emily Burnstein watch their carefully mapped-out college tour devolve into a series of off-roading misadventures, from the USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. 

Jessica and Emily Burnstein have very different ideas of how this college tour should go.

For Emily, it's a preview of freedom, exploring the possibility of her new and more exciting future. Not that she's sure she even wants to go to college, but let's ignore that for now. And maybe the other kids on the tour will like her more than the ones at school. . . . They have to, right?

For Jessica, it's a chance to bond with the daughter she seems to have lost. They used to be so close, but then Goldfish crackers and Play-Doh were no longer enough of a draw. She isn't even sure if Emily likes her anymore. To be honest, Jessica isn't sure she likes herself.

Together with a dozen strangers--and two familiar enemies--Jessica and Emily travel the East Coast, meeting up with family and old friends along the way. Surprises and secrets threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  I Was Told it Would Get Easier is a perfect book for this time of year.  Summer time is a great time for college visits….well it used to be.  I guess we are doing them virtually.  

Mother and daughter on tour of colleges with a bus full of strangers gives them both lots of time to think about life.  Jessica is a lawyer and threatened to leave if the firm didn't promote one of her mentees. However, during the college trip and visiting friends and old flames makes her realize that she is in need of change.

Emily is struggling with a scandal at school and whether she even wants to go to college. As the drama at school unfolds Emily confides in her mother.  The strained relationship between Jessica and Emily seems to disappear little by little as the make their way through the college visits

The thoughts that Emily had regarding her mother and her work really hit home with me. I work long hours and am often pulled to work.  It made me stop and think, do my kids feel/think the same way. It really had me stopping, reflecting and having wonderful discussions with my children. 

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  My favorite book is The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.  But I enjoy all her books: Other People's House and The Garden of Small Beginnings. All are great reads!



Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman, who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.



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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Husband Material

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~




Synopsis (from Amazon):  A young widow must face the grief she’s always set aside when an unexpected delivery throws her life into disarray

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But when her quest reveals a shocking secret, Charlotte is forced to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at a new life arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Charlotte has been a widow for five years and still hasn't moved on with her life.  When her dead husband's ashes end up on her doorstep she is forced to start healing.  Part of the healing is finding out all sorts of things about her dead husband.  By learning to forgive and how to be more trusting of others, she opens up her mind and heart.  

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I would love Eightysixed and Hot Mess.




Emily Belden is a journalist, social-media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novels Hot Mess and Husband Material, and of Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals.



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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Always the Last to Know

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~




Synopsis (from Amazon):  Sometimes you have to break a family to fix it.

From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins, a new novel examining a family at the breaking point in all its messy, difficult, wonderful complexity.


The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other...who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters-- Barb's favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John's darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn't be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad--and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she's spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks. 

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what's been going on in their marriage all along.

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Always the Last to Know is a great story of the dynamics of family.  Barb knew her marriage has been over for years.  Just as she is getting up the nerve to end it, her husband John has a stroke.  While at the hospital waiting for word on how John is doing, she finds out he has been having an affair. 

Julie, the perfect and highly successful daughter is hiding in closets having panic attacks. She is struggling with her mentee at work and the fact that she saw her father with his mistress and is keeping it from her mother. 

Sadie is her father's favorite daughter and a free-spirit.  She comes home from New York to care for her father.  She ends up falling in love and has to decide whether to stay or go back to New York.

All three ladies go through their own discoveries and come out even stronger in the end.  Always the Last to Know was a good read!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I have read Life and Other Inconveniences.  There are a ton of her books I would like to read. 


Kristan Higgins is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly twenty novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children and dogs. If you want to know when Kristan's next book will be out and hear news of her appearances, subscribe to her mailing list at www.kristanhiggins.com.





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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Royal Kiss and Tell

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~








Book Summary:  Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…

Every young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand—except one. Handsome rouĂ© Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember Caroline’s name, and the insult is not to be tolerated. So Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure Leo never again forgets: sees that scandalous morsels about his reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.

Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it is ruining him. More important, it jeopardizes his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of British government. Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…

A Royal Kiss & Tell
London, Julia 
FICTION/Romance/Historical/Victorian 
Mass Market | HQN Books | A Royal Wedding #2
On Sale: 5/19/2020 
9781335136978
$7.99
$10.99 CAN

Excerpt: Since the day of Eliza’s betrothal to Prince Sebastian, Caroline had also assumed, quite incorrectly, that she would be the principal bridesmaid. After all, she and Eliza and Hollis had been entwined in one another’s lives since they were very little girls. 
“I am content with flower girls, honestly,” Eliza said. “I’d be content with a very simple affair. I was content with the civil ceremony. But Queen Daria prefers otherwise.” 
“Naturally, she does. This is the wedding where you will be seen by all the people you will rule one day.” 
Eliza snorted. “I will not rule, Caroline. I’ll be fortunate if I can find my husband in this massive place.” She’d gestured to the decorative walls around them. It was not an exaggeration—Constantine Palace appeared to be bigger than even Buckingham. 
“Let me be the maid of honor,” Caroline had begged her. “I am much better equipped to see to your train than Hollis is.”
 “I beg your pardon! I am her sister,” Hollis reminded Caroline. 
“The train is thirty feet, Hollis. How will you ever manage? You’ve scarcely managed your own train since we’ve been in Alucia. And my gown should be seen. I spared no expense for it.”
 Eliza and Hollis looked at Caroline. 
“I mean, of course, after your gown is seen.” 
The sisters continued to stare at her. Caroline shrugged a very tiny bit. “Obviously,” she added. 
“I rather thought that’s what you meant,” Eliza said charitably. The three of them had gleefully adopted the Alucian style of dress since arriving a month ago in Helenamar. The English style of dress—full skirts, high necks and long sleeves—was hot and heavy. They’d admired the beautiful Alucian gowns that fit the curves of a woman’s body, with the long flowing sleeves, and, most of all, the elaborately embroidered trains…until they discovered that the unusually long trains were a bit of a bother to wear. 
“I will manage,” Hollis had insisted. “No one has come to this wedding to see your gown, Caro.” 
“Well, obviously, Hollis, they haven’t. But they will be delighted all the same, won’t they? And by the bye, there’s no law that says the attendant of honor must be one’s sister.”
 “There is no law, but she is my sister and she will be the attendant of honor,” Eliza said. “And besides, if you were to stand with me, I’d fret the entire ceremony that you were too enthralled with Leo to even notice my train.” She’d arched a golden brow directly at Caroline. 
As if Caroline had done something wrong.
 She most certainly had not. “Leo? Is that what we’re calling him now?” she drawled. Leo was Prince Sebastian’s younger brother. His Royal Highness Prince Leopold.
 Prince Leopold, as everyone knew, had spent the last several years in England, “attending” Cambridge, which meant, in reality, that he spent more time at soirees and gentlemen’s clubs and hunting lodges than studying. Caroline had encountered him last summer in Chichester at a country house party. They’d engaged in a charming little exchange that Caroline recalled perfectly, word for word. Prince Leopold, on the other hand, remembered it not at all. Worse, he didn’t seem to remember her
The archbishop’s voice suddenly rose into a chant of some sort, drawing Caroline’s attention back to the ceremony. Oh dear, she was thinking about Prince Leopold again when she should be watching her best friend marry a prince. At that moment, Eliza slipped her hand into Prince Sebastian’s hand and held on tightly as the archbishop asked her to repeat after him in English. To love, to honor, to protect and defend. 
So romantic. 
Caroline glanced to her right. She was seated next to her brother, the baron Beckett Hawke. He was older than her by half a dozen years and had been her guardian since she was eight and he was fourteen. She leaned against him. 
“Isn’t she lovely?” she whispered. 
Ssh.”
 “I think she is lovelier than even Queen Victoria on her wedding day,” Caroline whispered. “Her gown is beautiful. It was my idea to use the gold and silver thread on the train.” 
Beck pretended not to have heard a word. 
“Do you know, I think I could have made that train.” Her brother put his hand on Caroline’s knee and squeezed as he turned his pale green eyes to hers. He frowned darkly. 
Caroline pushed his hand away and glanced around her. It was massive, this Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Painted ceilings soared overhead with visions of angels and other godly images. All the fixtures were gold plated, particularly the pulpit, which looked more like a monument than a stand for the Bible. There was so much stained glass that the morning light fractured across Eliza’s long train, turning it into a moving rainbow as sunlight shimmered through the panes. 
Every seat in the massive cathedral was taken, filled with beautiful people of varying skin tones and colorful costumes and glittering jewels. They had come far and wide, Caroline understood, from countries she’d never even heard of.
 In a cove above the altar, a choir of young men and boys sang the hymns that had accompanied Eliza down the center aisle to meet her prince. It had sounded as if the heavens had parted and the angels were singing for this bride. 
The ceremony, almost an hour of it now, was filled with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Caroline wasn’t entirely certain what was happening, as the ceremony was conducted in Latin and Alucian and, for the parts Eliza had to say, in English. It seemed to her that Eliza and Sebastian were up and down quite a lot, one minute on their knees with their heads bowed, and standing the next, staring starry-eyed at each other. There was a somber moment when Eliza was directed down onto her knees alone. It looked as if she were knighted or anointed in some way, and when it was done, the archbishop put his hand to her head, the king and queen stood, and then Prince Sebastian lifted her up and pinned a gorgeous sapphire-and-gold brooch to her breast. 
“She’s a real princess now,” Caroline whispered to Beck. Predictably, he ignored her. 
Eliza looked like a princess, too, and Caroline wished Eliza’s father, Justice Tricklebank, could be here. Alas, his advanced age and blindness had made it impossible for him to attend. There had been a smaller, private ceremony in England—the first civil union—before Sebastian had returned to Alucia. That ceremony, which her father had attended, had been necessitated by the fact that Eliza and Sebastian could not seem to keep their hands from each other for as much as a few hours. 
There was another civil union once Eliza had arrived in Alucia so there would be no question of impropriety, as the heat between Eliza and her prince had only grown. It was embarrassing, really. 
But neither ceremony had been anything like this. This was a pageant, a feast for the eyes and hearts of romantics everywhere. 
Caroline’s mind drifted, and she wondered if all these people would be at the ball tonight. She hoped so. She had a beautiful blue Alucian gown trimmed in gold that was astoundingly beautiful. She’d made the train herself. The ball would be her moment to shine…next to Eliza, of course. 
Yesterday, Eliza had nervously counted out the heads of state that would attend the wedding and the ball and had turned a bit pale as the number mounted. Caroline’s pulse had leapt with delight. 
“I can’t bear it!” Eliza had exclaimed, unnerved by the number of dignitaries, of the many kings and queens. “What if I say something wrong? You know how I am. Have you any idea how many gifts we’ve received? Am I to remember them all? I’ve never seen so many gold chalices and silver platters and fine porcelain in all my life! What if I trip? What if I spill something on my gown?” 
“My advice, darling, is not to fill your plate to overflowing,” Hollis had said absently. She was bent over her paper, making notes for the periodical she published, the Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies. The twice-monthly gazette covered such topics as the latest fashions, domesticity and health advice, and—the most interesting part—the most tantalizing on-dits swirling about London’s high society.
 Hollis could hardly keep up with the ravenous demand for society news now. She was planning to publish a gazette that would be twice the length of her normal offering with all the news of the royal wedding the moment she returned to London. She’d been busily dispatching letters to her manservant, Donovan, for safekeeping throughout the month they’d been in Alucia. 
She was so preoccupied that her advice, while offered freely, was not offered with much thought, and Eliza took exception. “I beg your pardon! I’ve hardly eaten a thing since I’ve arrived in Alucia. At every meal the queen looks at me as if she disapproves of everything I do! I’m afraid to do anything, much less eat,” Eliza complained. “They’ll all be looking at me. They’ll be waiting for me to do something wrong, or speculating if I’m already carrying the heir. You cannot imagine how much interest there is in my ability to bear an heir.”
 “Well, of course!” Caroline said cheerfully. “You’ll have to be a broodmare, darling, but after you’ve given them what they want, you may live in conjugal bliss for the rest of your days surrounded by wealth and privilege and many, many servants.” 
“They won’t all be looking at you, Eliza. At least half the room will be looking at your handsome husband,” Hollis had said with a wink. 
Caroline was once again jolted back into the present when the archbishop lifted a heavy jeweled chalice above the heads of Eliza and Prince Sebastian. Surely that meant they were nearly done? Prince Sebastian took Eliza’s hand, and they turned away from the archbishop, facing the guests with ridiculously happy grins on their faces. They were married! 
Hollis turned, too, and even from where Caroline sat, she could see Hollis’s dark blue eyes shining with tears of joy. The guests rose to their feet as the prince and his bride began their procession away from the altar. Rose petals rained down on the couple and their guests from above. The little flower girls fluttered around behind Eliza like butterflies, flanking her train as they followed the couple down the aisle. Prince Leopold offered his arm to Hollis, and she beamed up at him. Caroline felt left out. Hollis and Eliza were near and dear to her heart, the closest thing to sisters she’d ever had, and she longed to be with them now. 
Eliza and Prince Sebastian floated past Caroline and Beck without any acknowledgment of them. That was to be expected—the two of them looked absolutely besotted. They were so enthralled with each other, in fact, that Caroline fretted they’d walk into any one of the marble columns that lined their path. 
Oh, but she was envious, filled to the very brim with envy. In England, she rarely gave marriage any thought except on those occasions Beck complained she ought to settle on someone, anyone, and relieve him of his duty. But he didn’t really mind his duty, his protestations notwithstanding. Caroline rather suspected he liked having her underfoot. So she flitted from one party to the next, happy to enjoy the attentions of the many gentlemen who crossed her path, happy with her freedom to do as she pleased. 
But looking at Eliza, Caroline realized that she did indeed want one day to be in love with a man who would be as devoted to her as Prince Sebastian was to his bride. She wanted to feel everything Eliza was feeling, to understand just how that sort of love changed a person. 
Prince Leopold and Hollis passed by Caroline and Beck. Hollis’s face was streaked with happy tears. Prince Leopold happened to look to the guests as they passed, a polite smile on his face. His gaze locked on Caroline’s—well, not locked, really, as much as it skimmed over her—but nevertheless, she smiled broadly. She began to lift a hand but was suddenly jostled with an elbow to her ribs. She jerked a wide-eyed gaze to her brother. 
“Stop gawking,” he whispered. “You’ll snap your neck, craning it like that.”
 Caroline haughtily touched a curl at her neck.
 Beck turned his attention to the procession. The king and queen were passing them now. Beck leaned toward her and whispered, “He’s a prince, Caro, and you are just an English girl. You’re indulging in fairy tales again. I can see it plainly on your face.”
 Just an English girl? She very much would have liked to kick Beck like she used to do when she was just a wee English girl. “Better to dream in fairy tales than not dream at all.”
 Beck rolled his eyes. He stood dispassionately as the archbishop and his altar boys followed the king and queen. 
Just an English girl, indeed.


Julia London is a NYT, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award of excellence in romantic fiction, and the recipient of RT Bookclub's Best Historical Novel.

SOCIAL LINKS:
 www.instagram.com/julia_f_london

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