Update and Another Book Review

We’ve been busy around here. Besides a few house projects, I bought a bunch of used furniture and painted it for…P’s new apartment! We got her moved in about 3 weeks ago.

(Seems very apropos right now, right?)

Because we’ve been so busy around here, I haven’t been reading much. BUT! I just finished The Resemblance by Lauren Nossett, and !!!

I was quite intrigued by this one when I read the description…

On a chilly November morning at the University of Georgia, a fraternity brother steps off a busy crosswalk and is struck dead by an oncoming car. More than a dozen witnesses all agree on two things: the driver looked identical to the victim, and he was smiling.

Detective Marlitt Kaplan is first on the scene. An Athens native and the daughter of a UGA professor, she knows all its shameful histories, from the skull discovered under the foundations of Baldwin Hall to the hushed-up murder-suicide in Waddel. But in the course of investigating this hit-and-run, she will uncover more chilling secrets as she explores the sprawling, interconnected Greek system that entertains and delights the university’s most elite and connected students.

The lines between Marlitt’s police work and her own past increasingly blur as Marlitt seeks to bring to justice an institution that took something precious from her many years ago. When threats against her escalate, and some long-buried secrets threaten to come to the surface, she can’t help questioning whether the corruption in Athens has run off campus and into the force and how far these brotherhoods will go to protect their own.

The Resemblance did not disappoint. I was captivated from the first page. It’s fast paced (but not too fast), and the mystery of who killed the fraternity brother in a hit and run continued to evolve throughout the story. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, there was a twist, and then another and another.

The main character, Marlitt, is likable and sympathetic…although there’s another mystery concerning her lurking beneath the surface. The fraternity brothers, university president, and police chief are complicated characters; both intriguing and, at times, villainous.

I found the setting, Athens and the University of Georgia, fascinating as well. Lauren Nossett has written a riveting and compelling mystery and I highly recommend it. 5 stars!

Thank you NetGalley & FlatIron Books for the ARC. Look for The Resemblance November 8, 2022.

One of the Girls (book review)

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip, to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails – because each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens – and that one of them doesn’t leave the island alive.

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke. The first chapter reveals that someone dies on the hen weekend to Greece, and you’re left wondering who it is throughout the rest of the book – and trying to figure it out. Each chapter is from a different character’s point of view, which I’m not usually a fan of, but in this case it works (at least for me.) Every character has a secret, and they’re slowly exposed throughout the book…which makes the mystery of who dies even more mystifying.

I was intrigued and enthralled throughout the book. It’s an easy read, with a satisfying conclusion.

Five stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for the ARC. Look for One of the Girls June 28, 2022.

Spells for Forgetting (book review)

Description

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings. But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

I received an advance reader copy of Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young and wow! I LOVED this book! Definitely 5 stars.

The writing is evocative and eloquent, the characters are interesting, and the setting, Saiorse Island, is mysterious and intriguing. I found myself completely engrossed in August and Emery’s stories, both current and past. They overlapped gracefully and seamlessly, smoothly describing the tragedy of Saiorse.

I loved, loved, loved this and am so grateful for NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read this before the publication date of September 27, 2022. Special thanks to Adrienne Young for writing such a fabulous book.

Built to Last (book review)

I received an advance reader copy of Built to Last by Erin Hahn…and really enjoyed it!

The Description:

Shelby Springfield has spent the last ten years trying to overcome her past, sanding it away like she does the rough spots on the vintage furniture finds she makes over. But as a former child star, it’s hard to forget a mediocre pop career, a meltdown widely documented by the paparazzi, and a huge public break with her former co-star Lyle Jessup. It’s also hard to forget her other co-star and childhood sweetheart, Cameron Riggs — the one who got away.

Anytime Shelby has called, Cameron has come running… And then he runs right off again to chase stories around the world by making documentaries, too scared to admit what he really wants. But when Lyle stirs the pot, getting the two back in the spotlight with a home renovation show, Cameron can’t help but come on board.

There’s something in it for everyone — almost. Cameron wants to come home and set down some roots. Shelby wants to prove to the world she’s not the messy party girl anymore. And Lyle wants to twist the screws on his two childhood friends who had more chemistry than he could dream of with anyone. Sparks and sawdust fly as Shelby and Cameron film the pilot for “Homemade” and battle Lyle’s shenanigans at every turn.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this! It’s a fun, easy read. I love how both of the former child stars have moved on and found new careers. They’ve matured, but both still care for each other. When they reconnect through an HGTV-like renovation show, the sparks are still there, but they focus on their friendship first.

The main characters were very likable, engaging and believable, as were most of the supporting characters (with the exception of the sleazy Lyle). It’s well written, without grammatical errors or typos with an intriguing story.

Sometimes you just need a light, pleasant read and Built to Last fits the bill perfectly. Built to Last will be published October 18, 2022.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC.

5 stars.

Star Bright by Susannah Nix (book review)

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Description

She’s an A-list Hollywood starlet. He’s a gossip reporter. Sleeping with the enemy has never been sweeter…

Kimberleigh Cress didn’t get to be one of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood without learning how to protect herself. Rule number one? Don’t show weakness. Ever. Especially not in front of the press.

So when a sleazy tabloid reporter comes upon her during a vulnerable moment, the last thing she expects is kindness.

Sexy, charming, and surprisingly thoughtful, Spencer Devlin isn’t at all who Kimberleigh thought he was. After their fateful encounter, she can’t seem to stay away from him—even though she knows she should.

Spencer never expected to share an unlikely connection with the spoiled starlet who hates his guts. With the face of a goddess and an attitude to match, Kimberleigh Cress is one ice queen he’d love to melt.

Now that she’s gotten under his skin, he’ll do anything to keep her in his life. Or will he?

This book was…just okay. The premise is great and after initial bad impressions of the main characters, they do redeem themselves somewhat. I just found it very difficult to get into the story. The romance felt rushed and not realistic at all. Kimberleigh and Spencer went from hating each other to suddenly jumping into bed and then having a secret relationship. And it simply didn’t work for me.

I really wanted to like this. I realize that it’s supposed to be a novella, but perhaps if the author had tried to fill in some of the many gaps and flesh out the characters and plot line a bit more it would have made more sense. As is, it has potential…but it left me feeling empty.

3 stars.

As always, thanks to NetGalley and Haver Street Press for the ARC. Star Bright will be published April 19, 2022.

Five Stars for The Housemaid

Description:

“Welcome to the family,” Nina Winchester says as I shake her elegant, manicured hand. I smile politely, gazing around the marble hallway. Working here is my last chance to start fresh. I can pretend to be whoever I like. But I’ll soon learn that the Winchesters’ secrets are far more dangerous than my own…

Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.

I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.

I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.

But I reassure myself: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.

They don’t know what I’m capable of…

I was so excited to read this ARC of The Housemaid by Freida McFadden and wow! It did not disappoint! I read (devoured) this book in one day…super good, full of surprises, lots of suspense, and twists and turns.

I don’t know what else I can say about this book that’s not in the description (without giving anything away 😅) except to say, look for The Housemaid when it’s released April 26th. Add this to your summer reading list. Five fabulous stars!

The Homewreckers (book review)

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

I love Mary Kay Andrews and I thoroughly enjoyed her latest, The Homewreckers.

Hattie Kavanaugh is a young widow who restores (and flips) historical homes in Savannah, GA along with her best friend and her father-in-law. Hattie is offered an opportunity to participate in a house renovation show called “The Homewreckers” with famous designer Trae. As the house renovations proceed, a mystery is exposed.

This was a really fun book that had it all – mystery, romance, intrigue, and humor. If you’re looking for a summer read, The Homewreckers could be the book you’re looking for.

The Homewreckers will be released May 3!

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC.

TWO! (Book Reviews)

I received an advance reader copy of The Last Princess by Shelley Wilson. (Thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for the copy)

Description

Northumbria, 866 AD

Edith still has much to learn about the art of ruling a kingdom, but when her family is murdered, she’s faced with the challenge of staying alive. 

As a young woman in Anglo-Saxon England, Edith finds it hard to be heard above the Eldermen who are ripping the kingdom to pieces, but nothing can prepare her for the arrival of the pirates and the Vikings. Torn from her homeland and sold into slavery, she’s determined to survive at any cost. 

Finding allies in the unexpected and enemies closer to home, Edith clings to her dream of returning home one day to reclaim her throne and to exact revenge on those who harmed her family.

I love historical fiction! I constantly search for people, places, words I’m unfamiliar with…and really appreciate learning something new. In this instance, I learned about Northumbria, the Viking invasions of England, Bamburgh and Bamburgh Castle, and that era.

I really enjoyed this story. Edith is a likable character; courageous , adventurous, and spirited. The other characters were all fascinating as well – from Jarl Aaric, to the shield maiden and Edith’s duplicitous uncle , Aelle. The book was easy to read, and the story was compelling.

Five stars!

Look for The Last Princess May 24, 2022.

I also received an ARC of It Could Be Anyone by Jaime Lynn Hendricks. While completely different from The Last Princess, I enjoyed it just as much.

Description

To anyone on their flight out of New York, they appear to be five best friends excited for a destination wedding in Miami. No one would guess that each of them has a reason to want the groom dead. 

Trevor Vaughn, the groom in question, wooed his bride-to-be by first becoming close with her friends—which is to say that he learned all of the five’s darkest, most dangerous secrets and blackmailed them into convincing Fiona to say “I do.” The friends were forced to convince a doubting Fiona to go through with the wedding, no matter what, and now the charade is set to continue all the way to the altar.

Trevor has his own reasons for wanting to marry into Fiona’s family, and he’ll stop at nothing to make his plan a reality. But when he dies of an apparent allergic reaction at the wedding, surrounded by such close enemies, the possibility of murder isn’t far behind. And for the authorities investigating the case, anyone present could be a suspect…

It Could Be Anyone was an enjoyable, satisfying read. The characters all had many layers, which Ms. Hendricks peeled away little by little, revealing a bit more with each page…and intriguing me a bit more, little by little, with every page.

I started and finished this in one day – very easy and compelling story!

I’m giving this 4.5 stars, only because of the random grammatical errors. While there were only a few scattered throughout the book, I found them distracting from the excellent story I was consumed with.

Thank you NetGalley and Pendleton Publishers for the ARC. It Could Be Anyone will be released May 10, 2022.

In other news…

I know I’ve been posting a lot of book reviews, and I will be posting more, but wanted to share a bit of what we’ve been doing lately.

Spring break is in full swing here and tourists are everywhere! So, we’ve been staying home a bit more. Seriously, it’s crazy out there.

We had a lovely visit with my mom a couple of weeks ago, and luckily the tourists weren’t too bad while she was here; we were able to eat out (literally, ate outside) a few times without having to wait forever for a table.

Cousins catching up

This week Paige had a fun visit with one of her college friends…

Meanwhile, as we’ve been enjoying the beautiful Florida weather Clay has been tapping trees up in Illinois, and snowshoeing and stuff…

These Silent Woods (book review)

I began These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant yesterday morning. I finished it late last night…well, technically I suppose I finished it very early this morning!

First, the synopsis:

No electricity, no family, no connection to the outside world.

For eight years, Cooper and his young daughter, Finch, have lived in isolation in a remote cabin in the northern Appalachian woods. And that’s exactly the way Cooper wants it, because he’s got a lot to hide. Finch has been raised on the books filling the cabin’s shelves and the beautiful but brutal code of life in the wilderness. But she’s starting to push back against the sheltered life Cooper has created for her—and he’s still haunted by the painful truth of what it took to get them there.

The only people who know they exist are a mysterious local hermit named Scotland, and Cooper’s old friend, Jake, who visits each winter to bring them food and supplies. But this year, Jake doesn’t show up, setting off an irreversible chain of events that reveals just how precarious their situation really is. Suddenly, the boundaries of their safe haven have blurred—and when a stranger wanders into their woods, Finch’s growing obsession with her could put them all in danger. After a shocking disappearance threatens to upend the only life Finch has ever known, Cooper is forced to decide whether to keep hiding—or finally face the sins of his past.

I gave this book (which I found at my local library) 5 stars. I loved it!

Kimi Cunningham Grant has written a mesmerizing novel with a fantastic, lovely storyline and captivating characters. I was engrossed from the first page. I found Cooper and Finch’s life so unusual and also completely fascinating. The author delicately delivered the backstory of Cooper’s past life in such an eloquent way; I could feel his guilt and his resolve to be a good father to Finch. The supporting characters were just as mesmerizing, and the epilogue brought tears to my eyes.

This was one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a while.