Wednesday, June 19, 2019

WWW Wednesday: June 19

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The Three W's are:

What did you just finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you'll read next?



Recently Finished
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This one was a 3 star for me. I loved the writing style and the characters but I wasn't excited about the story. The Mother in law was OK for me as well--I've been in  a bit of a slump lately and perhaps I wasn't in the right mood for this one.
Currently Reading
 42046112
 I absolutely loved Dark Matter, so I've been super excited for this one!  JUST started it yesterday. Hoping it pulls me out of my little reading slump.  I'm such a psychology nerd that I think I will love this one! The first few pages have been great!!!

Up Next
 
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My yoga teacher read The Dragonfly Sea and absolutely loved it, so I immediately put a hold in at the library for it! Picking it up today. 

I also have quite the stack of books that I'm going to be reading soon but not sure what order yet. I'm super excited about all of them:

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Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first? 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

TLC Book Tours: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot (Review)

cover of The Summer of Sunshine and MargotAbout The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HQN; Original edition (June 11, 2019)
The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!
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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes &Noble

I'm always excited for a new Susan Mallery release! I love her writing style, and her characters are always so fun.  The Summer of Sunshine and Margot was a delightful story about two sisters going through changes in their lives and hoping to find love. Though I enjoyed both sisters' stories, I connected with Sunshine the most. I was so proud of her for making positive changes in her life like going back to school and being a fantastic nanny and friend to Declan's little boy, Connor (Connor was also a delight!).  I also enjoyed Margot's journey, and appreciated her ability to change perspectives and look at things from her client's point of view. I loved the sisterly bond Sunshine and Margot had. So many great life lessons all wrapped up into this great summer read--with lots of romance, of course!

I devoured this book in just a few days--it would be a perfect long weekend or vacation read. This one is definitely worth adding to your summer reading list!!

About Susan Mallery

#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.

Connect with Susan


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Follow the full tour here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Summer Book Picks


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Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. I've usually done Top Ten Tuesday but wanted to switch things up!

This Week's Question: Summer Picks for 2019

Friends....I think my reading theme for this summer is...SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME!!! Seriously, can I just have the entire summer off to read?? For real, give me ALL THE BOOKS. In no particular order, the books I am e excited about:

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What are you excited about reading this summer?

Monday, June 10, 2019

TLC Book Tours: The Woman in the White Kimono (and a GIVEAWAY!)

About The Woman in the White Kimono

Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (May 28, 2019)
Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.
America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

I flew through this absolutely beautiful book! I was hooked literally from the first page, and finished the book in less than 48 hours. The story was told in two different time frames--late 1950's Japan and the present day America and Japan. I loved both story lines and their wonderful characters--Naoko and Tori. While it was clear from the beginning how the two stories intertwined, I couldn't stop reading to see how the story would unfold. The author's writing was beautiful, and the stories flowed well. This is Ana Johns' debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

About Ana Johns

ANA JOHNS worked over twenty years in the creative arts field, as both a creative director and business owner, before turning her hand to fiction. Born and raised in metro Detroit, she now resides in Indianapolis with her family. The Woman in the White Kimono is her first novel.

Connect with Ana


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


 

Follow the full tour!

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review: From Scratch

42202117From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
By Tembi Locke
352 pages
Published April 30, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Library

From Goodreads:

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.


 
I loved everything about this book. Tembi is a beautiful writer--her book made me feel like I could sit down with her and have coffee and talk for hours. The book made me smile and made me cry--the story of Saro's cancer is heartbreaking. Tembi beautifully describes their life together, and writes honestly about her grief. I haven't lost a spouse, but have experienced the loss of a parent, and related to Tembi's feelings, thoughts, anxieties, and behaviors throughout this book. Of course, this book cemented my desire to visit Italy--her descriptions of the food throughout this book were amazing! You will definitely want all the pasta while reading this book. What I love about Italian and Sicilian culture is how their lives center around food. This book also increased my desire to learn Italian!

One of the aspects of this book that I loved the most was her relationship with her mother in law, whom she referred to as Nonna (Italian for grandmother).  When she and Saro first were together and even when they were married, their relationship with her and Saro's father was rough.   While they did reconcile while Saro was still alive, it amazed me how close Tembi became with Nonna after Saro's death. Given their rocky relationship at first, I'm sure it was so difficult and overwhelming for her to connect with them without Saro. The love that Nonna showed Tembi and Zoela was inspiring as well.

This book was the May pick for Reese Witherspoon's book club--and easily her best pick of 2019 so far. I'm so thankful to be following along with this book club, otherwise I may not have read this beautiful book!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

WWW Wednesday: June 5

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The Three W's are:

What did you just finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you'll read next?

Recently Finished
 
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I loved all three of these books!! My review of The Friends We Keep was on the blog yesterday, my review of From Scratch will be posted tomorrow, and my review of The Woman in the White Kimono will be posted Monday!


Currently Reading

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Excited to read the latest Susan Mallery for TLC Book Tours! My review will be on the blog next Wednesday, June 12. I'm also listening to Commonwealth on audio from the library and enjoying it so far. Also working my way through books I haven't read from one of my favorite authors, fellow Oregonian Cathy Lamb. Julia's Chocolates is one of her earliest releases and is delightful so far---full of classic Cathy Lamb laugh out loud humor. Her books always make me feel good!
 
Up Next
 
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I've enjoyed the Honeymoon Harbor series, so looking forward to reading the latest from JoAnn Ross. Also looking forward to reading the June Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick!
 
What are you reading this week? Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Book Review: The Friends We Keep

42359080The Friends We Keep
By Jane Green
384 pages
Published June 4, 2019 by Berkley Books

Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley to facilitate my review. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

About the Book:


Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted--the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.

Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.

Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.

Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.

By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness . . . until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.


The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we've had or mistakes we've made, it's never too late to find a place to call home.

I've been a fan of Jane Green since my own college days, back when my roommate introduced me to her books! Her newest release is always a must read for me. I'm happy to say The Friends We Keep is one of my all time favorites of hers! I absolutely loved this wonderful story of lifelong friendship. I particularly loved that the trio of friends included 2 females and one male--I loved each of them--Evvie, Maggie and Topher. This book beautifully illustrates the bond of best friends--how you can pick up right where you left off despite time or distance between you.

Typically, Jane Green's books focus on romance, which of course I love, but it was so refreshing to see the focus on friendship here. Of course there is romance and relationship issues in this book, but the heart of this story is true, lasting friendship. If you're looking for a feel good read that will make your heart happy, this is the one for you.  A perfect weekend read you won't be able to put down!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Review: Unsheltered

Unsheltered
38236861By Barbara Kingsolver
464 pages, 
Published October 16, 2018 by Harper
Source: Library (aduiobook version)

About the book:

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred—whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit.


 
In the past, I haven't been a Kingsolver fan. I read The Poisonwood Bible a long time ago and didn't love it, but looking back, I think I read it too young to fully absorb and appreciate it. I picked up Unsheltered because I saw so many positive reviews, and decided to listen on audio--read by Barbara Kingsolver herself. I'm SO glad I did! This book was absolutely brilliant. Her writing is so eloquent. There were times I would skip back just to hear the beautiful sentences again.

The book starts with Willa in the present day portion of the story, and then each chapter witches back and forth between Willa's family and the same town in the 1880's. At first I was worried this would be one of those books where I wasn't into one perspective but I was completely wrong--I absolutely loved Mary Treat's character (based off a real person!) and the story of the early days of their community of Vineland. I loved how the same themes were woven together throughout both time frames. I loved how real and relateable this story was, and how most Americans could relate to many of the feelings and challenges of these amazing characters.  I loved everything about this book, and have regretted not reading more of her work in the past--I look forward to reading more of her books and so happy I chose to listen to this fantastic novel! It's a long one--16 hours on audio--but worth every minute!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

TLC Book Tours: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot (excerpt)

cover of The Summer of Sunshine and MargotAbout The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HQN; Original edition (June 11, 2019)
The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!
Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 Excerpt 

Alec glanced at the papers on his desk. They were arranged in neat piles, which Margot appreciated. How could anyone find anything on a messy desk? Her boss, a man whose desk was al- ways covered with folders and notes and half-eaten sandwiches, was forever sending her articles on how messy desks were a sign of creativity and intelligence, but Margot would not be swayed in her opinion. Disorder was just plain wrong.
“You know who my mother is?” Alec asked, his voice more resigned than curious.
Margot filed away the tone to review later. The dynamic between mother and son could be significant to her work.
“I do. Bianca Wray was born in 1960. Her father died when she was an infant and she was raised by her mother until she was twelve.” Margot frowned. “Why she was put in foster care isn’t clear, but that’s where she ended up.”
She f lashed Alec a smile. “She was literally discovered while drinking a milk shake with her girlfriends, propagating the myth that in Los Angeles anyone, at any moment, is just one lucky break away from being famous.”
“You’ve discovered my deepest wish in life,” Alec said drily.
“Mine, too,” Margot said, allowing her mouth to curve slightly at the corners. “After a career in modeling, your mother turned to acting. She preferred quirky roles to the obvious ingenue parts that would have helped her have a more successful career. She had one son—you—when she was twenty-four. She and your father, a Swiss banker, never married, but you were close to both your parents.”
As she spoke, she sensed tension in Alec’s shoulders as if he were uncomfortable with her reciting the facts of his personal life. He might not be her client, but he was her client’s son and therefore of note, she thought, but didn’t bother explaining her- self. Her methods were excellent and if he couldn’t see that, then this was not the job for her.
“Bianca is a free spirit, and despite facing her sixtieth birth- day, is still considered a beauty. She acts in the occasional project. From what I could see, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern in why she chooses the roles she does. She enjoys remodeling homes and has made a lot of money f lipping upscale houses. She gives generously to charity and has had many lovers in her life, but has never married. She is currently dating a man named Wesley Goswick-Chance. Mr. Goswick-Chance is the youngest son of an English earl. His parents divorced when he was an infant and he grew up in both England and the small European country of Cardigania. He is currently their senior attachĂ© to the United States. He is stationed at the consulate here in Los Angeles.”
There was a lot more she could have mentioned about Alec’s mother. There was the time Bianca had been presenting at the Academy Awards and had dropped her dress on national tele- vision. Or her sex tapes that, back in the 1990s, had been quite the scandal, although they were fairly tame by today’s standards. Bianca was a colorful protestor, a woman who slept with kings, movie stars, artists and, according to some gossip that was never confirmed, had once had a torrid affair with the wife of the world’s largest yacht builder. While Margot would never admit it to anyone, she was equally intrigued and terrified by the idea of working with Bianca.
“That was very thorough,” Alec said with a sigh. “And thank you for not mentioning all the salacious bits I’m sure your research uncovered.”
Margot nodded. “Of course.”
He looked at her. His eyes were very nice—dark, with thick lashes. She could see traces of his mother in his appearance— the eyes she’d admired, the curve of his mouth.
“My mother has recently accepted a proposal of marriage,” Alec said, his voice stiff. “From Wesley. He’s a nice enough man and he makes her happy, so I have no objection to the union.” Margot waited quietly, not showing her surprise. How un- expected that, after sixty years and countless lovers, Bianca had
finally gotten engaged.
Alec’s gaze was steady. “If Wesley were a shipping magnate or a movie star, there wouldn’t be an issue. But he is a diplomat and as such, he moves in the kind of circles that will not be very accepting of my mother’s somewhat, ah, eccentric ways.”
“She wants to learn how to fit in.”
“Yes. To be clear, hiring you was her idea, not mine. I’m not pushing her into anything. She’s worried that her impulsive behavior will be a problem for Wesley and she claims she loves him enough to want to change for him.”
“What do you think?” Margot asked.
Alec hesitated, his gaze shifting from hers. “I believe most people are who they are. Asking Bianca to be a staid, polite and unobtrusive person is like asking the sun to shine less brightly. Ambitious, but unlikely.”
She’d wondered if he would say it was wrong for Wesley to not accept his fiancĂ©e as she was. Interesting that Alec had gone in a different direction. “You’re saying she can’t change.”
“I’m saying it’s improbable.” He returned his attention to her and leaned forward. “My mother is funny, charming and generous to a fault. I’m confident you will enjoy her company but if you take this job thinking you’re going to succeed, I’m concerned you’ll be very disappointed.”
Margot smiled. “You’re warning me off?”
“I’m suggesting you consider the possibility of failure.”
“Which only makes me want to take the job more, Alec, if for no other reason than to prove myself.”
“Not my intent, but I can see how it would happen.”

About Susan Mallery

#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.

Connect with Susan


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Follow the full tour here! Look for my review post on June 12th!