• With the holiday week(end) coming up, do you have any reading plans? Finally digging into that 600-page monster you’ve been putting off? Decided now’s the time to sink into that trilogy you haven’t found time for?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
This week’s currently featured a sports show (!!) I binged, some gushing over my StitchFix stylist, dressing up to get groceries, and more.
When a romance gone wrong lands reporter Dakota Jones in the pages of the tabloids, her rising star crashes and burns. Instead of getting the weekend anchor job she’d been promised, she’s promptly shown the door. Which leaves her one option: return home to lick her wounds, eat lemon meringue pie, and plot her comeback while actively avoiding the man who once broke her heart.
Dexter Roberts made a huge mistake when he walked away from Dakota, and he’s regretted it ever since. So when Dakota returns to Holly Grove Island to regroup and decide what’s next, Dex can’t pass up the opportunity to win back the love of his life. Now he just needs to convince Dakota to give him a second chance.
Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.
Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is. The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.
In early 1853, experienced California Trail guide Virginia Reeve is summoned to Boston by a mysterious benefactor who offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead a party of 12 women into the wild, hazardous Arctic to search for the lost Franklin Expedition. It’s an extraordinary request, but the party is made up of extraordinary women. Each brings her own strengths and skills to the expedition- and her own unsettling secrets.
A year and a half later, back in Boston, Virginia is on trial when not all of the women return. Told in alternating timelines that follow both the sensational murder trial in Boston and the dangerous, deadly progress of the women’s expedition into the frozen North, this heart-pounding story will hold readers rapt as a chorus of voices answer the trial’s all-consuming question: what happened out there on the ice?
Ambitious, sly, and lethally intelligent, Gideon Hawthorne has spent his life clawing his way up from the gutter. For the last ten years, he’s acted as the Duke of Windemere’s fixer, performing the most dangerous tasks without question. Now Gideon’s ready to quit the duke’s service and work solely for himself. But Windermere wants Gideon to complete one last task, and his reward is impossible to resist: Messalina Greycourt’s hand in marriage.
Witty, vivacious Messalina Greycourt has her pick of suitors. When Windermere summons Messalina to inform his niece that she must marry Mr. Hawthorne, she is appalled. But she’s surprised when Gideon offers her a compromise: as long as she plays the complacent wife, he promises to leave her alone until she asks for his touch. Since Messalina is confident that she’ll never ask Gideon for anything, she readily agrees. However, the more time she spends with Gideon, the harder it is to stay away.
The day after Burning Lake’s notorious, debauched Halloween celebration, Detective Natalie Lockhart uncovers a heartbreaking scene—a young woman, dead and lying in a dumpster. There’s no clue to who she is, save for a mystifying tattoo on her arm, and a callus underneath her chin. She’s not from around here. No one knows who she is.
As Natalie retraces the young woman’s steps leading up to her death, she uncovers a deeper, darker horror—a string of murders and disappearances, seemingly unconnected, that may have ties to each other—and explain the abrupt disappearance of her best friend years ago.
As she digs deeper within the mind of the hunter, Natalie finds a darkness she could never have imagined. And as she draws closer to the truth, the killer is weaving a trap for her that may prove inescapable.
Kirby Regan isn’t opposed living on the edge. After all, she just quit her career in Washington, D.C, so she could move back to Wyoming and buy her family’s ranch. But hiking the Tetons after dark during a snowstorm goes beyond being adventurous, especially when Kirby’s boss warns her that an escaped convict is at large. Sheltering in a cave seems the safest option to ride out the blizzard-until Kirby realizes it’s already occupied . . . by a ruggedly handsome cowboy.
Like the mustangs he treats, veterinarian and rancher Casey Merrick prefers to live wild and free, which is why a relationship is not in the cards for him. He doesn’t mind sharing his space with a gorgeous stranger, as long as they can both keep their distance-a task that begins to seem impossible as the attraction between them heats up. But before they can worry about the spark smoldering between them, Casey must find a way to protect Kirby from nature’s most ruthless conditions . . . and a convicted killer on the loose.
In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.
The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story.
Though war rages across mainland Europe and London is strafed by German aircraft, the little village of Pipley in Hertfordshire bustles along much as it always has. Adrift since her best friend, George, joined the Royal Air Force, twenty-two-year-old Olive Bright fills her days by helping at her father’s veterinary practice and tending to her beloved racing pigeons. Desperate to do her bit, Olive hopes that the National Pigeon Service will enlist Bright Lofts’ expertise, and use their highly trained birds to deliver critical, coded messages for His Majesty’s Forces.
The strangers who arrive in Pipley are not from the NPS. Instead, Jameson Aldridge and his associate are tied to a covert British intelligence organization known as Baker Street. If Olive wants her pigeons to help the war effort, she must do so in complete secrecy. Tired of living vicariously through the characters of her beloved Agatha Christie novels, Olive readily agrees. But in the midst of her subterfuge, the village of Pipley is dealing with another mystery. Local busybody Miss Husselbee is found dead outside Olive’s pigeon loft. Is the murder tied to Olive’s new assignment? Or did Miss Husselbee finally succeed in ferreting out a secret shameful enough to kill for? With the gruff, handsome Jameson as an unlikely ally, Olive intends to find out–but homing in on a murderer can be a deadly business…
Between work stress, stress over Matt’s upcoming surgery, and 2020 in general, I’ve found myself reaching for old favorites and easy, comfort reads. I’m a big fan of my Libby app and earlier this week I was scrolling through titles when one caught my eye, a book I hadn’t read in, gosh, 25 years?
Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School is a book I’m POSITIVE readers the world over are familiar with. This was an elementary school staple along with its sequel, Wayside School is Falling Down. Imagine my surprise when I learned that, not only is there a third book but also two spin-offs (both math and brainteaser books) AND a fourth book that was just released in March of this year WHAT.
You better believe I pounced on the first two – aka the two I most definitely have read – and am eyeing up the others. For readers who somehow never stepped inside the world of Wayside School or, like me, haven’t visited in decades, Wayside School was meant to be a one story building with 30 classrooms. Due to a mix-up (the builder said he was very sorry), Wayside School is instead a 30-story building with one classroom per floor. In a second mix-up (and the builder said he was very sorry for this one as well), the 19th floor was missed altogether; the stairs (Wayside unfortunately doesn’t have an elevator) go from the 18th floor straight to the 20th. Miss Zarves teaches on the 19th floor, but as the 19th floor does not exist, neither does Miss Zarves or her classroom.
Each book is made up of 30 chapters, each one featuring a different student or teacher (or Miss Mush, the lunch lady whose specialty is the mushroom surprise). I’ll admit that I forgot about the majority of these books apart from the missing floor and there was a student who, once all his smelly raincoats were removed, was actually a dead rat. Rediscovering these characters, from Mrs. Gorf (the original teacher who’s able to turn children into apples) to Todd (a horrifically unlucky boy who somehow manages to get into enough trouble every single day that he’s always sent home early on the Kindergarten bus) to the three Erics (Eric Bacon, Eric Fry, and Eric Ovens) was such a blast.
It’s easy to see hints of Roald Dahl within these pages and that along with a hefty dose of nostalgia added to my trip down memory lane. I do think Wayside is definitely a kids series – meaning that an adult new to these books is better off looking for a fun read elsewhere. You know I love me some kids lit, but there were times when the books were a bit too heavy-handed with the children’s humor that it just didn’t work for me. Still, I was thrilled to spend an afternoon with this school again and am VERY curious to see how Sachar’s 2020 novel holds up!
READING: In yesterday’s weekly wrap-up I mentioned a nonfic about Lincoln that I had just grabbed from the library. I’m still fairly early on – about 80 pages – but I’m very curious and literally had to force myself to set the book down to type up this post! I’ve also been dipping into the book pictured above: We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper, a true crime about an unsolved murder that occurred at Harvard in 1969.
WATCHING: A recent episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour was dedicated to a new Apple+ show, Ted Lasso. I honestly didn’t realize it was about a fiction television show at first and almost didn’t listen to the episode. What did I care about a football coach-turned-UK soccer coach? I am NOT a sports person. …so imagine my surprise when, not only did I put on the first episode out of curiosity, but then binged the entire season. SO good and I can’t wait for more!
LISTENING TO: I’ve racked up an embarrassing backlog of Stuff You Missed in History Class episodes that I’ve been trying to tackle, but this weekend I’ve been on a Hamilton soundtrack kick.
LOVING: My latest StitchFix box! After a few months of duds I now have a fantastic stylist who totally got me when she described my style as “academic with Earthly tones.” The box I received on Saturday was a winner: I kept all 5 items!
LOOKING FORWARD TO: hahaha, my December StitchFix box! Really though, I’ve been refreshing my library’s site pretty much every hour for the past two weeks. I have several titles currently in transit, but one is my new book club read and I’m super excited for it!
EATING: Last week I bought a bamboo steamer and made bao buns! WAY easier than I anticipated and they turned out great. A few weeks ago I mentioned I made ‘pulled pork’ mushrooms and I made them again to stuff inside. YUM YUM YUM.
WEARING: Like a lot of other people, I’ve taken every opportunity to dress up and get out of my leggings! Doing a grocery cart pick-up? Time to throw on a cute dress and booties! Grabbing my holds from the library? The perfect change to wear my cute new coat! Last winter I bought an adorable leopard-print midi skirt that I got to wear a whole one time before lockdown and it’s been in a drawer ever since. Until this weekend. I threw it on with one of my favorite sweaters and loved it!
ENJOYING: Gift shopping! Both Matt and my sister have end-of-November birthdays and I’ve been searching the Internet for the perfect gifts! I’ve also been making a big list of holiday ideas for everyone else too..
In this week’s currently post I discussed a fascinating podcast episode, Alton Brown, a delicious pot of chili, and more!
I also shared 6 upcoming titles I’ve recently added to my list. There’s a Misery-inspired thriller by Laura Lippman, a mysterious death in 1865, a Middle Grade that sounds adorable, and three other titles that look fab!
Happy Saturday, friends! It’s officially cold here – a few weeks ago we experienced our first snow of the season, but the following days shot back up to the 70s so it doesn’t count. But mornings now bring frost and this morning was the first time I’ve seen temperatures in the 20s since the beginning of the year. So yes. Cold.
And what’s the best thing to do when the temperature dips? Settle in with good reads. While I have a new stack of library books to keep me going, today I wanted to share 6 upcoming titles I’ve recently added to my list!
Two years into WW2, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest–and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives.
For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.
These four women are giving the competition their all–even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart?
New Hampshire, 1865. Marion Abbott is summoned to Brawders House asylum to collect the body of her sister, Alice. She’d been found dead after falling four stories from a steep-pitched roof. Officially: an accident. Confidentially: suicide. But Marion believes a third option: murder.
Returning to her family home to stay with her brother and his second wife, the recently widowed Marion is expected to quiet her feelings of guilt and grief—to let go of the dead and embrace the living. But that’s not easy in this house full of haunting memories.
Just when the search for the truth seems hopeless, a stranger approaches Marion with chilling words: I saw her fall. Now Marion is more determined than ever to find out what happened that night at Brawders, and why. With no one she can trust, Marion may risk her own life to uncover the secrets buried with Alice in the family plot.
Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again.
Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him..
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.
Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals: 1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!) 2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…) 3) Have the best last summer of high school ever
Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.
But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.
After being injured in a freak accident, novelist Gerry Andersen lies in a hospital bed in his glamorous but sterile apartment, isolated from the busy world he can see through his windows, utterly dependent on two women he barely knows: his young assistant and a night nurse whose competency he questions.
But Gerry is also beginning to question his own competency. As he moves in and out of dreamlike memories and seemingly random appearances of a persistent ex-girlfriend at his bedside, he fears he may be losing his grip on reality, much like his mother who recently passed away from dementia.
Most distressing, he believes he’s being plagued by strange telephone calls, in which a woman claiming to be the titular character of his hit novel Dream Girl swears she will be coming to see him soon. The character is completely fictitious, but no one has ever believed Gerry when he makes that claim. Is he the victim of a cruel prank—or is he actually losing his mind? There is no record of the calls according to the log on his phone. Could there be someone he has wronged? Is someone coming to do him harm as he lies helplessly in bed?
Then comes the morning he wakes up next to a dead body—and realizes his nightmare is just beginning…
For decades, people have been warned about the Cold Creek Highway. Hitchhikers have vanished along it over the years, and women have been known to have their cars break down… and never be seen again. When Hailey McBride decides to run away from an unbearable living situation, she thinks that her outdoor skills will help her disappear into the Cold Creek wilderness, and she counts on people thinking that she was the victim of the killer.
One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek to attend a memorial for the victims of the highway, but it might as well be one week for the amount of pain that Beth is still dealing with after her sister, Amber, was murdered the previous summer. Beth has quit university, is lying to her parents, and popping pills like Tic Tacs. Maybe this will finally bring her peace.
When she gets a job at a local diner where Amber once worked, she connects with people who knew her sister. Beth wants to find who killed her sister and put her own life back together, but as she gets closer to the truth, she learns that there is more than one person lying in Cold Creek.
READING: A few weeks ago NPR did a story about the I Survived books, and how they’re perfect reads for our current climate. I remember my bookseller days and these books were big sellers – but I had never read one. Right after that story aired, I immediately grabbed several e-books from my library and put in requests for a ton of others. I now have 7 of them under my belt and earlier this afternoon received a notification that my request for an 8th (actually the first in the series, this one about the Titanic – if you saw my post yesterday, I’m inadvertently on a kick!) came in.
WATCHING: Much like last week, any tv I’ve been watching (after having election coverage on 24/7) has been episodes of The Office that I’ve already seen 50 times before.
LISTENING TO: I’m months late, but last night I listened to Reply All’s The Case of the Missing Hit episode. No lie, I have a song like this in my life. It’s one I distinctly remember listening to in the garage with my dad when I was little. I remember the melody, a good portion of the lyrics, and even who I’m 99.9% sure sang it, but no matter how many attempts I make to Google it, I get nothing.
LOVING: Discovering new recipes. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but unless it was a weekend or a work from home day, I never had much time to spend in the kitchen. This year, however, that changed. I’ve been home since March and have really taken to trying new dishes and more elaborate meals than I normally would have.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: Tuesdays are Quarantine Quitchen days! Back when lockdown happened, Alton Brown and his wife Elizabeth started weekly youtube streams from their home and it’s become the highlight of my Tuesdays. Now that the election has finally been called, I’m particularly interested in seeing what they have to say (& what they’ll be cooking to celebrate!)
EATING: Sooo, how I just mentioned that I’ve had all this time to slave over the stove? Last night I made a pot of spaghetti. IN MY DEFENSE I had built a grocery cart for pick-up and there weren’t any available timeslots yesterday. So I grabbed my groceries today and will be breaking out the crockpot tomorrow to make the black bean quinoa chili I mentioned yesterday!
WEARING: Last week I had mentioned we got our first snow of the season. This week it’s been in the 70s. So I’m still rocking my slippers, but my oversize sweaters have given way to tees these past few days. I also ordered this Biden/Harris tee over the weekend and can’t wait for it to come in!
ENJOYING: The Philadelphia/Gritty election memes. I crack up with each one.
• Happy Sunday, y’all! Things have been pretty quiet around here lately, but I’ve got several ideas in the works and can’t wait to get back to it!
• Like many people, this year I became a big fan of baking bread. Since August I’ve been baking a loaf each weekend – it’s become a ritual by now. While I love jalapeno cheddar bread (if you’re a long-time reader you might remember I first posted about it a few years ago when a new farmers market vendor began selling it and have now turned to making my own), I’ve been trying my hand at a few different types and have been making challah these past few weekends. SO tasty!
• Book-wise, I’m currently reading Courtney Summers’ upcoming release, The Project, about a young journalist who wants to save her sister from a cult. I also just finished the audio of Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, a book that was on countless reading lists during my bookseller days. Earlier in the week I was watching a doc about the Titanic and was craving more afterwards. This one was super short – just 5 hours – and I hadn’t realized it was originally published in the ’50s! I knew it wasn’t a recent release, but I didn’t realize it was that old, though I’ll admit I was a bit confused when it was mentioned that so-and-so passengers still frequently communicated. Hahaha, I had a moment where I paused and wondered just how old these people were now! Def makes sense the book is nearly 70 years old.
In Case You Missed It
Currently: I’ve decided these posts will become a Monday staple, an easy way to usher in the week. In this post I discussed my book club (along with one of my favorite Stephen King reads) and some delicious recipes I’ve been making – mushroom ‘pulled pork’ anyone??
November Releases I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On: New month, new releases on the radar! There’s a true crime about a decades-old murder at Harvard, some post-Halloween moody reads, a retelling I am SUPER excited for, some fluffy rom-coms, and more!
Wendy’s Daughters of the Lake was one of my favorite reads of 2019 – and one of my first reads of the year. It was chilling and lyrical, the perfect read for a snowy January day. The moment I heard about her newest release it immediately headed to my TBR list. Brynn Wilder heads to a tourist town in Lake Superior to spend the summer in a boarding house. Looking for an escape of a devastating loss, Brynn takes comfort in the other boarders…but can’t shake the feeling something isn’t quite right.
After Hannah’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns home to the family’s castle in the mountains, the site of her sister’s disappearance nearly two decades ago. When a human bone is discovered near the estate, Hannah is convinced it’s linked to her sister and desperately launches into an investigation into the last summer she spent there. Unsolved mysteries, creepy castle, family secrets – sign me up!
First, a big thank you to Grand Central for a copy of this one! This nonfic novel digs into a deadly crime that occurred at Harvard in 1969: it was the year the university began merging with Radcliffe – and the year a 23-year-old grad student (and daughter of Radcliffe’s VP) was found bludgeoned to death.
Although this first released in Ireland in May of 2019 it screams 2020: an Irish town sets up a Skype book club with a town in the US. I mean…!! In the very beginning of the year, a few friends and I started a book club and met in person a whopping two times before lockdown. We’ve been virtual ever since so this novel is VERY timely.
An #ownvoices LGBT rom-com featuring a social media astrologer, an uptight actuary, and a fake date for New Year’s Eve. It’s also being pitched as Bridget Jones meets Pride and Prejudice – this one sounds like an absolute blast!
Another fake relationship read! To appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, Chloe hires a fake boyfriend from Rent for Your ‘Rents, a company that specializes in providing fake bfs trained to impress parents. I don’t have much else to say about this one, other than it sounds fun and fluffy.
Clearly November 10 is THE day for new reads! This one caught my eye the moment I first heard about it and I can’t wait to be able to dive in! Set in England in 1965, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. As one of the most notorious newspaper columnists, she strives to inform and educate the women of London on the heinous criminals who stalk the streets. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a nefarious killer, however, Katherine flees to the country…only to witness a murder her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inciting the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong.
READING: Yesterday I decided to get a headstart on a few 2021 releases and began The Project, Courtney Summers’ upcoming novel. Since reading Sadie, I’ve become a massive fan of her books and will read anything she writes! This new one follows a young aspiring journalist as she tries to save her older sister from a cult. So good so far!
WATCHING: I’ve been craving feel-good, comfort shows lately and have been living for Fridays when new GBBO episodes drop! We’ve also been doing an Office marathon for the millionth time, squeezing in all our favorites before the end of the year when it leaves Netflix.
LISTENING TO: All of my favorite podcasts got into the Halloween spirit in October and I will ALWAYS be here for ghosts, hauntings, and things that go bump in the night! These past few days though, I’ve been listening to a few Astonishing Legends shows: Roanoke, Ouija boards, Edgar Cayce.
LOVING: Bookclub chats! If you follow me on Instagram you’re probably familiar with the one I’m in with a few friends. Sadly we’ve been virtual since March, but it’s always such a delight seeing them, even if it’s just through a computer screen. Last week we discussed Stephen King’s Firestarter (not only did this become one of my favorites of his, but it’s shaping up to be one of my Top Reads of 2020!) Saturday night Matt surprised me by suggesting we have a movie night – baby!Drew Barrymore was the cutest.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: Regardless of what happens this week I’ll be grasping for anything worth looking forward to. Time off for the holiday will be major and definitely November’s bookclub chat! (The Poppy War is our November book – I’m the only one who hasn’t already read it.)
EATING: Over the weekend I made two FANTASTIC meals and am happily eating the leftovers for my lunch and dinner the next few days. Mushroom ‘pulled pork’ sandwiches and mushroom kale lasagna roll-ups. YUM!
WEARING: We got our first snow of the season yesterday evening! It’s since melted, but fall is definitely here and I’ve been living in my coziest slippers recently.
ENJOYING: WFH life, though I’m thinking the pups are enjoying it the most!