The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street by Cory Putnam Oakes

The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street by Cory Putnam Oakes
Pub. Date: August 18, 2020
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Amulet Books!)
Summary: Twelve-year-old Willow Ivan’s family has run the Hotel Ivan for four hundred years. Through thick and thin, they’ve held on tight to their title as the Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street. That is, until the Hauntery—a corporate chain of haunted hotels—moves in down the street. As the Ivan’s business fades, so do their ghostly staff. And Willow begins to worry that The Ivan’s days are numbered.

Then Willow meets Evie, a Hauntery ghost who’s forced to play the part of a Spooky Little Girl even though she longs to be a Terrifying Phantasm. So when Willow offers her a job at The Ivan, Evie accepts—but she doesn’t tell Willow that she’s still working for The Ivan’s competition, for fear of losing her new job and friend.

Together, the girls come up with a plan to save The Ivan. But with The Ivan ghosts already fading and Evie’s secret threatening to come out, will it be too late?
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

For four hundred years the Hotel Ivan has been ranked the Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street. Unfortunately, a new hotel moves in, the Hauntery, a nation-wide chain of haunted hotels…and each one consistently receives 5-star ratings. How long can a tiny, family-run operation last against a corporate giant?

As if hotel woes weren’t enough for Willow to worry about, she’s left to pick up the pieces after her mom’s sudden death six months ago. Her father fell into a deep depression, leaving Willow to run the hotel nearly on her own. Bills have been going unpaid, deliveries weren’t being made, and – worst of all – some of the staff have begun fading, eventually they’ll leave this world for the next.

Evie’s family have recently been hired at the Hauntery. Much to Evie’s chagrin, she and her cousin are tasked to be the Spooky Little Girls, decked out in pigtails and frilly dresses, beckoning patrons to come play. What Evie would much rather do is be a frightening Phantasm – and she suddenly gets her shot after a chance encounter with Willow leads to a job. What Willow doesn’t know, however, is that Evie also works for the competition…and Evie is in no rush to confess.

The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street was an absolute delight from the very first page. Willow’s world is one where ghosts are not only a part of everyday life, they’re big business. The ghosts on the Hotel Ivan’s staff have been there decades – some have been around for centuries, unlike the Hauntery who runs their chain with laser precision. They have handbooks and uniforms, roles each character needs to play, and going off-script results in a swift termination. They’re the corporate bigwigs gunning for the small mom-and-pop inn, but the Hotel Ivan isn’t going down without a fight.

On the surface The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street sounds like a fun, light-hearted read – and it certainly is! But it also has a few surprises up its sleeve. Topics like mental health and depression are addressed as Willow’s dad all but becomes a shell of his former self with the death of Willow’s mom. He does zero parenting, lets the staff run the hotel, skips out of the therapy appointments Willow sets. There’s also an issue I’ve never seen come up before: truancy. When Willow’s mother died, Willow took it upon herself to keep the business running, and that meant school was no longer part of the equation. And her father’s despair is so great, he doesn’t even notice. Willow doesn’t allow herself to deal with her own grief – twelve-years-old and running a business.

I was also completely and pleasantly caught off guard by a pair of hotel ghosts: Leo and Alford, a married couple. And Leo has a drag persona, Leonata. So fun and just part of the story, rather than an Important Talking Point.

The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street is a total delight from the start: a David and Goliath story with ghosts. There’s witty wordplay, an LGBT ghost couple, and fun callbacks to horror tropes. It’s also a story with a hidden depth and tackles heavy topics like depression and grief. I tore through this one in no time and look forward to what the author does next!

Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey
Pub. Date: July 7, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, she’s pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that’s about to premiere in theaters across America…and happens to be inspired by Chloe and Nick Velez, Chloe’s cute but no-nonsense boss.

As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can’t see him as anything but Reason #2: The Scruffy-Bearded Hunk Who’s Always There When You Need Him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn’t so sure her own story will end in a Happily Ever After.
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Picking up where Waiting for Tom Hanks left off, Not Like the Movies plunges readers back into small-town Ohio. This time, however, instead of following rom-com-obsessed Annie, the sequel tells the story of Annie’s best friend Chloe. Unlike her bestie however, Chloe is most definitely not obsessed with love stories or big grand gestures and is absolutely, positively, 100% not involved with her boss, Nick. Unfortunately for Chloe, Annie has followed her screenwriter dreams and her source of inspo? Chloe and Nick…or, rather, Zoe and Rick.

As the movie premiere draws closer, Buzzfeed and other pop culture-y sites churn out listicles stating why Rick is the ultimate dreamboat and bearded boyfriend the world needs, rumor mills start spreading stories of a star-crossed, coffee-scented romance, journalists begin flooding Chloe’s inbox with interview requests. As if being hounded by the press wasn’t bad enough, Chloe has more personal matters at hand: her dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s is worsening by the day and her flighty twin brother has suddenly reappeared back in town. Annie might be convinced there’s a Happily Ever After for everyone, but Chloe isn’t holding her breath.

Waiting for Tom Hanks was one of my top reads of 2019, one of the six books out of the 200 I read that earned that coveted 5-star rating. (Okay, so maybe the eight references to Frasier helped, but still!) It was super cute and fun with all the ’90s movie tropes a girl could want. So naturally when the follow-up was announced it went straight to my TBR list.

If Waiting for Tom Hanks was the girl-meets-celebrity-and-they-fall-madly-in-love story, Not Like the Movies takes more of a girl-and-boy-fight-against-love approach. Everyone, from the customers at the coffee shop to their closest friends are all but shouting at Chloe and Nick to get together, that it’s obvious they’re in love and meant to be. Chloe, though? She doesn’t do ‘meant to be.’ Marriage is not in her future. While she might secretly admit she’s attracted to Nick, she barely has time for herself let alone a committed relationship with feelings. And if that means she’s stuck with casual hook-ups at Mikey Danger’s pizza box-littered place, well then so be it.

When Chloe isn’t resisting her feelings for Nick, she’s facing family issues. A large part of the novel is spent at her dad’s care facility and these scenes were hard. Moments where he was convinced a nurse stole his watch only for it to later be found at the back of the fridge were tough, but the scenes were he had a stretch of clarity were heartbreaking. He knew what was happening and that inner struggle was so hard to read. Chloe’s brother didn’t make those scenes any easier; he shows back up with his boyfriend and expects everything to be hunky dory. Chloe was the one taking care of their dad, footing the medical bills when she could no longer keep him at home. The one time she does ask for help, for a night off, he falls asleep and their dad ends up in the hospital. This entire plot was hard to swallow and I could have easily done without it.

While Not Like the Movies is lacking in ’90s rom-coms, it does have desserts. Holy cow does it have desserts. And cheesy ’80s bops. And classic sitcoms. I would absolutely hang out with Chloe at her place and watch Welcome Back, Kotter while demolishing an array of scones and pie all day long.

Not Like the Movies is sure to please readers of Waiting for Tom Hanks who have been itching for more. Favorite characters from the first book return for the sequel and it has that same quirky charm. Since finishing I have been jamming out to all the ’80s pop playlists and if the temperature wasn’t currently hovering in the mid-90s, I would be baking up a storm.

quarantine life: what I’m watching on youtube!


If you’re anything like me, you’re quickly running out of things to watch – though let’s be real, is there such a thing as too many Office rewatches? Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ve come across everyone and their uncle posting their Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/Disney+ recs.

Today I’m sharing something a little different: youtube recommendations. Yep, youtube. No longer just for music and cat videos. I have six channels for you today that I’ve been loving!


Probably the most well-known out of my recs, Binging with Babish is the massively popular channel from Andrew Rea where he recreates dishes from movies and television shows.

He’s done everything from chocolate pudding inspired by Rugrats to the Krabby Supreme to Eggs Florentine from my favorite show ever, Frasier. Honestly, half the fun is just seeing what he takes on next, his picks are so varied and cover practically every genre!

While I can’t see myself ever tackling any of the recipes on my own (and he recently released a cookbook of the first 100 recipes), new videos are a highlight of my week.

LATEST VIDEO: Cold Cure from Kenan & Kel


Gourmet Makes is a series from Bon Appetit where Claire, a pastry chef, attempts to recreate a candy or junk food. She gets SUPER technical, y’all. One of the first things she does is breaks out a rule and takes measurements to get the dimensions right.

She’s covered Twinkies, Bagel Bites, Twizzlers, Lucky Charms, Hot Pockets, seriously the list goes on. These episodes are around 30 minutes each and I love to both watch this and leave it play for background noise.

Bon Appetit’s channel in general is so fun – they have another series called Reverse Engineering where a chef is blindfolded and is given a dish to taste, touch, smell – but he can’t look at it. He then has a few days to try and replicate it.

LATEST VIDEO: Girl Scout Cookies


I mentioned these two channels last month, but I’m going to mention them again! I know the bookstagram world is currently loving the Harry Potter room videos and, yeah, they’re okay, but they’re not my favorite. Instead, I gravitate toward videos from The Guild of Ambience and New Bliss. These videos range from one hour to three or four, perfect for putting on in the background and sinking into a good book!

New Bliss tends to lean more toward rain and thunder (they have three library videos: Ancient Library, Royal Library, and Old Library Sounds) and feature fun places like an Apothecary and and Cozy Attic.

The Guild of Ambience is definitely more fantasy-based and some of their videos include a medieval tavern, a pirate ship, and a swamp.

LATEST VIDEOS: Haunted House (The Guild of Ambience) + Forest Sounds at Night (New Bliss)


Piggybacking off the ASMR videos, Baumgartner Restoration is equal parts relaxing AND fascinating. Julian Baumgartner is a second generation fine art restorer and his videos are nothing short of mind-blowing.

In his videos, Julian shares his craft with viewers, explaining the hows and whys of what he does and giving little history tidbits regarding the tears and blemishes he comes across that past restorers have done. I’ve let videos play as I fall asleep but mostly I just love to watch, I find it so interesting!

His videos have definitely changed over the past two years, going from quickie 5-minute videos to his current 40-minute in-depth processes. Every single time I’m in awe of the final piece.

LATEST VIDEO: Art Conversation; Live Retouching (This is a nearly 3-hour long live stream he did where he answered fan questions while retouching a painting.)


Nerd alert. It should come as NO secret that I love documentaries. I love to watch them and love to leave them on in the background – I’ve even gotten Matt hooked on them (though he says they’re his favorite thing to put on to fall asleep to ha)!

Timeline has a wealth of history documentaries from the fall of the Maya to Jane Austen to Richard III and a look inside Charles Dickens’ kitchen. I especially love the Time Team episodes (and that show alone should get its own spot on this list)! Really, this channel is just incredibly soothing to have in the background when I am focused on something else (work, reading) but don’t want to be in a totally quiet room. It doesn’t hurt that I’m always finding my attention wandering back to whatever is on the screen.

LATEST VIDEO: The Tide Turns for the Allies


my latest stack of bookmail

WATCHING I know bookstagram is obsessing over these Harry Potter ASMR rooms and, yeah, they’re okay, but I’ve found myself reaching for videos from New Bliss (a train journey! an ancient library!) and The Guild of Ambience (haunted forest! potion shop!). This weekend was especially nice: Matt was doing his own thing with his gaming buddies so it was just me curled up with the pups. I put a few videos on for background noise and spent hours deep inside a good book.

LISTENING TO I really ought to update my podcast series from last year – since then I’ve added SEVERAL to my rotation. At the moment though, I’ve got an audiobook going: The Mental Floss History of the World. Light and fun, perfect for days at work!

LOVING Stitchfix recently came out with a new feature Shop My Looks, a constantly refreshing page showing different outfits (including purses, shoes, scarves, dresses, tops, pants, and blazers) based on items you’ve bought. I. Am. Obsessed. I’ve already bought a few things, have saved a TON to pinterest, and am always visiting and revisiting the page to see what new goodies await!

LOOKING FORWARD TO Two good friends and I recently formed a book club using Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge as our guide. Our first pick Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (a book published the decade you were born) was a massive dud – and a DNF for all of us. Wednesday we’re getting together and I have a feeling this one will go MUCH better: we’re discussing Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone (a debut). Have you read it??

READING I just finished two: You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe, a biography on George Washington; and The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown, a Middle Grade novel featuring ghosts and the segregated South.

EATING I recently made a big batch of Making Thyme for Health’s Best Ever Quinoa Chili. I wouldn’t say it was the best ever, but definitely tasty and made enough for a week’s worth of lunches. I’m also back on the Misfits Market train – I’m set up for Tuesday deliveries to coincide with one of the days I work from home instead of the office and am looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s box brings. They recently added a new marketplace feature where you can choose add-ons (soup mixes, veggies, fruits) and I impulse-added mushrooms called hen of the woods.

WEARING I’ve been living in my Amazon slippers that are featured in pretty much every single photo on Instagram.

ENJOYING The weather! It reached the mid 50s today and that plus the sun made for a gorgeous day. Last year a group of coworkers and I put a daily walk on our calendars for whoever was in the office and wasn’t too busy. Obviously once winter arrived those walks stopped, but a few of us did some loops around the grounds today and it put me in such a springtime mood!!

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli
Pub. Date: February 5, 2019
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a good cover. And, friends, The Matchmaker’s List has a GREAT one. Contemporary romance seems tailor-made for illustrated covers and this one is no exception – before I even knew what the book was about I was intrigued.

Raina Anand has just turned 29 and is in dire need of a husband. Not that Raina feels that way, but her beloved Nani and the rest of their community can’t comprehend the thought of a woman still unwed and coming up on 30. Personally Raina’s holding out for Dev – the one who got away (and completely crushed her heart while he was at it, thank you very much) – but she loves her Nani something fierce and agrees to go on a few dates.

With each date it’s clear Raina is no closer to finding a husband. As the bad dates get even worse, and the community aunties sound the alarm, Raina tells a little lie. Just one tiny lie, hoping it will be enough to give her a moment to breathe, not realizing her problems have only just begun.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this one. For the most part, The Matchmaker’s List isn’t a bad read, it was light-hearted and easy enough that I read it during one snowy afternoon. Unfortunately, if it hadn’t been for that snowy afternoon that kept me cooped up inside, I doubt I would have finished in one sitting.

Simply put, The Matchmaker’s List bored me. Even as I type this, my mind is wandering. Thoughts keep cropping up: dinner, work tomorrow, the stack of books piled next to me – would my time have been better spent with one of them instead? Raina listens to her co-worker’s woes, Raina listens to her bestie’s wedding woes, Raina goes on dates and complains about the men (though she does have a point, they’re all awful, even her much pined-after Dev as well as the man she eventually ends up with).

But what really took me out of the story was Raina’s lie. In order to have Nani take a step back with her list of eligible men, Raina decides to go along with the assumption that she’s gay. There’s a scene where her younger cousin comes out to her because she was so brave and courageous for coming out herself in their Indian community. There aren’t any consequences of Raina’s actions until the very end and the majority of the characters – included a gay co-worker – just accept her story without any repercussions. I felt sorry for her grandmother, believing Raina to be gay, Nani went out of her way to research Canada’s laws regarding gay marriage and adoption and on more than one occasion stood up for her granddaughter even when it meant ostracizing herself from their tight-knit community.

There were other baffling moments in the book, like the constant flashbacks. Some were just a few years in the past (at the beginning of Raina and Dev’s relationship) while others were during Raina’s childhood. These were clearly meant to garner sympathy for Raina – for both her heartbreak and her absent mother – but I honestly didn’t care. By then I was reading just to get to the end and be done with the book.

The Matchmaker’s List had the potential to be a really fun romcom. Unfortunately, a poorly-handled rumor and horrifically unlikable characters made this one a chore to read. There was nothing romantic nor comedic about this book – Raina’s lie was appalling, the men were awful, even the guy she’s been in love with for years came across as a scumbag. Sadly, this was not the book for me.

where I’ve been.

After a blogging break in September, The Pretty Good Gatsby is back in action! Earlier in the week I kicked things off with a gushing, rambly review of Kelly Bowen’s Last Night with the Earl, the second novel in her Devils of Dover series, and my final read in September. After a seriously lackluster summer, this one was an absolute joy!

But before we can get to the exciting posts and reviews I have planned for October, let’s do a recap of September! So what have I been up to this past month?

I TURNED 30 By far the highlight of the month. Unfortunately, I spent the day at a funeral. My bonus grandfather passed away a few days prior, so the day itself wasn’t exactly the celebration we had in mind, but birthdays can be celebrated any time. So while I wish the circumstances would have been different, when we all got together, the party was lovely.

I CHOPPED OFF MY HAIR As much as I’m obsessed with long hair, I absolutely love it super short. Every Fall I chop it off, letting it grow out again throughout the year, and by the time Fall rolls around once more I’m sick of it and ready for it to be gone ha. I shared a quick pic on IG: chin-length is my go-to. My ultimate hair dream is to one day be brave enough to do a pixie. About five years ago when partially shaved heads were super trendy, I went for it, so you’d think a pixie wouldn’t be a big deal!

I BASICALLY LIVED AT MY LIBRARY After a seemingly never-ending string of awful, disappointing, or just plain blah ARCs, I decided to put review copies on the back burner for a bit. And honestly? It was awesome. September started with an ARC of And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, a bizarre Moby Dick retelling told from the perspective of a whale pod. This book sealed the deal and the next 10 books I read were all library grabs. Definitely the highlight was Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, a time-travel romance. I furthered my Dilbert obsession (and still have several collections checked out that I’m eager to dive into) and played catch-up with Harrow County, a fun graphic novel series that put me in a Fall mood…despite the VERY Summer temperatures lol. I’ve shared my love of nonfic before and had a fun time with Of All the Gin Joints, a trip through old Hollywood. Lastly, I dipped back into ARCs with Last Night with the Earl to close out the month and what a way to finish!

What’s been going on in YOUR life??

weekly wrap-up 7/29

• Remember the cheddar jalapeno bread I drooled over a few weeks ago? Yesterday Matt and I stopped by for more – it’s so good! He also got us croissants and I was initially hesitant but wow. They were phenomenal and not at all greasy and gross like the croissants I’ve had in the past!

• I just finished reading a nonfic, Love From Boy, a collection of letter Roald Dahl wrote to his mother. The letters span about 40 or so years, from when he was 9 and just off to boarding school throughout adulthood. His mother had kept over 600 of them! A sweet, quick read, and now I’m in that dreaded limbo between books! What are you reading??

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Rosie Walsh’s fantastic debut, Ghosted, completely captivated me. A couple fall madly in love over the course of a week, then he vanishes. No phone calls, no texts, he doesn’t even reply to her facebook messages. Though Sarah’s friends think she needs to forget about Eddie and move on, she’s absolutely convinced there’s a reason. There was a twist in this one I wasn’t expecting at all! I also shared what’s making me happy this week!

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
This magical realism novel has been getting a fair bit of buzz this summer! Compared to One Day and Me Before You, this book explores that age-old question of if you could invite anyone – living or dead – to dinner, who would you pick? It’s Sabrina’s thirtieth birthday and as she arrives, she sees not just her friends, but people from her past…and a very perturbed Audrey Hepburn who does NOT appreciate waiting an hour for the birthday girl! I am so so so looking forward to this one! Thank you, Flatiron Books!

June 2018 recap


Cars & Coffee is always one of my favorite parts of the month. This bi-weekly event (held in Warrendale, hi local friends, come join us!) features “exotic and performance” cars…basically suped-up sports cars and cars that cost more than my house ha. There are McLarens and Lotuses alongside Subarus and Hondas. Matt takes his car and we always have a good time! I can’t wait to see what July will bring (the next meet-up is this coming Saturday) and I would love to meet new people!

• Usually after Cars & Coffee, Matt and I will go for random drives – one of our favorite things to do. We’ll take randoms turns and back roads, yours truly playing DJ obvs. The photo above is one I took during one of those drives, out of nowhere a family of geese crossed the road in front of us!

• There’s a Loafers Bread Co next to our local Whole Foods and I’ve always been so tempted to stop in (hello, bread). In June we finally went it (in a different location, one close to my work that I had NO idea even existed!! This is going to be bad hahaha). This Panera-esque has delicious sandwiches and soup and, of course, the bread was phenomenal as well! We grabbed a loaf of Struan and totally demolished it in a few days oops.

• Our Netflix binges included Safe (a Harlan Coben-penned British thriller starring Michael C. Hall…yep, Dexter with a British accent) and the second season of GLOW.

• I received my first Sips by box. Before signing up, you complete a profile where you choose your likes and dislikes and tea preferences, then each month you receive a personally curated box specifically for your tastes. So fun!

• June was jam-packed with family time. Not only was it my brother’s birthday and Father’s Day, but summer always seems to have a way of bringing people together. Father’s Day was a blast and I spent the day back in my hometown where I caught frogs with my nieces and my dad, my siblings, my nieces, and I all stood outside to see who would be the first to spot a rainbow after a sudden, five-minute storm.

• The new Jurassic World made me cry and that’s all I’m saying about that!

• When I looked at the books I read in June, I was a little disheartened. But then I realized just how much I did last month and I don’t feel too bad! I read 7 books, all were either print of e-books, no audio this time! Out of the bunch, I enjoyed Save the Date and It Takes Two the most, but Kate Messner’s Breakout was also wonderful and surprisingly thought-provoking!


MURDER AT THE MANSION BY SHEILA CONNOLLY had my name written all over it: this start to a new cozy mystery series featured a Civil War historian, small town charm, a grand old estate, and a dead body discovered on the grounds. Unfortunately, the main character was so awful and nasty she completely ruined any enjoyment I could have had. Kate’s comments about how it was so cute that her best friend’s biggest problems in life were finding her kids’ lost sports equipment while Kate’s job dealt with multi-million dollar deals with global companies was grating. Her high and mighty attitude constantly had her belittling everyone around her and I was glad to see this one come to an end.

SAVE THE DATE BY MORGAN MATSON had my kicking myself for not having read one of her books before! Though this YA was a teensy bit too long (clocks in around 400 pages), I enjoyed every second with the Grant family! The wedding nightmares – a band who can only play Journey covers, a dry cleaner mix-up leaves the groom with a bright purple suit – the sibling dynamic, the coolest job (the mom is the writer of Grant Central Station, a nationally beloved comic strip that’s getting ready to end its 25-year run), it all came together perfectly. I also loved how romance isn’t a big plot point here. There’s the barest of teases of a romance to come for Charlie, but Save the Date focused on family and I was all about that.

IT TAKES TWO BY JENNY HOLIDAY was such a fun read. When I wasn’t reading this book I was counting down the minutes until I could get back to it. The super fun settings, the swoony romance (complete with banter!), the amazing group of women who define friend goals, I fell hard for this book and can’t wait for the next one to come out!

BRING ME BACK BY B.A. PARIS had me a little hesitant at first. Behind Closed Doors was one of my top reads of 2016 (only beaten out by one other book as my favorite read of the year), but her follow-up, The Breakdown, was terrible. Bring Me Back was TINY…to the point where I honestly thought a good chunk of my copy was missing. While I was completely glued to the page and kept reading, the big reveal was absolutely bonkers.







weekly wrap-up 7/1 + giveaway winners!

• Pittsburgh is potentially reaching triple digits today and we’ve got cook-outs, parades, and fireworks lined up! Our house is literally across the street from where the town does fireworks – when we first bought the house they weren’t…of course it wasn’t until after we moved in and adopted pup #1 that the fireworks rolled in. Neither pup is a big fan, but Bay especially hates them. Last year Nacho was only 4 months old, so I’m curious to see how he’ll react this year! Either way, we’ll be celebrating indoors.

• I can get behind this: Lord Farquaad is a style icon.

• SO many sales this weekend! Am I the only one who won’t bat an eye at dropping $$$ but the second that shipping cost appears I’m like um no thank you?? I recently found an adorable shop on IG – major bonus: they’re local! – and they’re currently running a pretty great sale. Then I was hit with a shipping cost that was nearly the full price of one of my items! Yeah that’s a pass.

• Matt & I binged the second season of GLOW yesterday. ♥ So good.

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Jenny Holiday’s It Takes Two is A+ beach read material. Humor, chemistry, a core group of women who seriously define friend goals, this book has it all and when I wasn’t reading, I was counting down the minutes until I could get back to it. The next book in the series comes out in January and once it’s released, you know where to find me!

B.A. Paris is back with her third book, Bring Me Back. Her debut was among my Top Reads of the year (my 2nd favorite book of 2016 actually!), but her follow-up was a massive letdown. I admit I went into this one a bit hesitantly and while the reveal was totally bonkers, I couldn’t stop reading.

GIVEAWAY WINNERS!! It’s time to reveal the winners of my Baby Teeth giveaway! Each lucky lady will receive an ARC! Congratulations to Kimberly M, Robin J, and Ashley S!!

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky
I snagged an e-ARC of this one a few months ago but was thrilled to see a finished copy arrive! I haven’t read anything of hers before, but this one sounds intriguing: Mackenzie took her eyes off the road for only a second, but in that second she lost her daughter and, in the aftermath, her marriage and friends – particularly once the media got wind of her story. Now living in Vermont as Maggie, she hopes to make a new start. She has cats and a dog, new friends, even a successful job, but her newfound privacy quickly shatters when a neighbor boy is accused of hacking a Twitter account. Maggie has done everything possible to lay low and avoid the spotlight…but it seems to have a way of findind her and it’s only a matter of time before her painful past is exposed. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

The Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn
This is the 23rd Daisy Dalrymple novel! I have received several of these over the years – a mega-binge just might be in store! April, 1928. Daisy is visited by her cousins and during their stay in London, the top of the Must See list is the Crystal Palace. Once at the palace, however, a the body of a nanny is discovered. To make matters worse, Daisy’s children’s own nanny has gone missing – and is later found unconscious. Things take an interesting turn when a third nanny is introduced into the mix…and this one just might be a murderer. Fun, fun, fun! Thank you, Minotaur!

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine
While I never fully connected to the characters in last year’s Beyond the Wild River, the book was so atmospheric and the setting unbelievably detailed that I couldn’t help but be excited for Sarah’s follow-up! Women of the Dunes is set on the Scottish coast and weaves together a tale about a ninth century Viking maiden, a Victorian murder, and a present day archaeologist. Yes, yes, and yes. Thank you, Atria!

The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
This one has received a ton of buzz already to the point where I honestly thought it was already released and now it’s coming out in softcover. Nope! Bouncing between 1949 and the present day, this one explores the lives between two women and the Miss Subways beauty contest. Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!

The Clockmaker’s Daughters by Kate Morton
AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Atria!