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weekly wrap-up 6/3

• When I began typing this post, I realized my May recap somehow didn’t go live yesterday like it was supposed to, so that’s how my Sunday is going so far! Really though, the pups and I were up before 6 and out the door for a nice walk. Fingers crossed they’ll both take long naps!

• We spent Memorial Day back in my hometown and took a ride over to a animal park! I hadn’t been there in years and kind of went overboard with the pictures on my IG stories #notsorry.

• Have you heard of Sips by? It’s a personalized tea subscription box and while I definitely prefer coffee to tea, I won’t say no to a cup. Even better is I scored a box for just $10. I’m not sure when I’ll received my box, but be sure to check back for a review.

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? My May 2018 recap was meant to post yesterday, but instead went up just before this one today. whoops.

FOR REVIEW
Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds
YES to everything about this book. Thank you, William Morrow!

California Summer by Anita Hughes
After learning of her husband’s affair, a Hollywood producer leaves LA to start over. There are two recipes at the end of this one: one for guac, the other for fish tacos, and I am VERY intrigued. Though I don’t know much about this book, it sounds like such a beachy, summer read! Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!

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May 2018 recap


WHAT I…DID

• What a month! Our neighborhood hardware store/garden center (the same place where I met Matt 7 years ago!!) was holding a cutest pet contest and Matt entered Nacho. We were neck and neck with another pet but in the end lost to someone who didn’t play fair so. Speaking of Nacho, May saw the one-year anniversary of the day we brought him home!

• My family always celebrates Mother’s Day by during the Race for the Cure. It’s something I look forward to every year, though this year was a bit rainy. Still, there’s nothing like Mother’s Day brunch! haha, probably not the best time to experiment with new recipes, but my avocado hummus was a huge hit!

Royal wedding, anyone?? You better believe I was up at 4:30 in the morning!

• No lie, the highlight of my month was just a few days ago when I was driving home from work and pulled over to help a turtle cross the road.

• We celebrated Memorial Day back in my hometown with a trip to a fantastic animal park. I shared tons of photos on my IG stories! It’s been years since I had been there and we always a great time.

• I read 12 books in May, 2 on audio (Stephen King’s Stationary Bike and Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral), 10 print/e-books. Both The Hidden Side and What Would Dolly Do? were among my favorites read last month, but May ended on such a high note: Sheila Simonson’s Lady Elizabeth’s Comet. This historical romance was first released in 1985 and I savored every page. Elizabeth is 28 and happily unwed, thank you very much. She has no time for men and her life’s mission is to find a comet. Yes, yes, and yes. The banter is hilarious and witty, the characters – from the main to the minor – are all excellent. I was devastated to see it end.

WHAT I…REVIEWED

TOTAL BRAVERY BY PIPER J. DRAKE was my introduction to the True Heroes series and I can’t wait to go back for more! Raul is the newest Search and Protect recruit and he has one doozy of a first day. A panicked call from his friend’s sister soon has him in the midst of an international kidnapping ring. And there are puppies.

THE HIDDEN SIDE BY HEIDI CHIAVAROLI was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 after falling heads over heels for her phenomenal debut last year. This new book proves she’s not a one hit wonder: I’m STILL thinking about these characters. The Hidden Side bounces between New York in 1776 and the present day, as one woman learns her husband was a spy while another woman deals with the repercussions of her son’s horrific act. A diary links these two storylines and I truly can’t say enough about this one. So good.

THE BOY FROM TOMORROW BY CAMILLE DEANGELIS was a quiet surprise. I went in expecting a fun, time travelly Middle Grade romp and instead found myself faced with an incredibly mature, heartfelt novel. Josie and Alec live in the same house, but a century apart. They learn they’re able to communicate and as their friendship blossomed, so did the unasked questions: obviously Josie is not around in Alec’s present. Does she want to know how she passed away? Does she want to know what became of her life, her sister’s? There’s also a surprising abuse subplot that I wasn’t expecting and the ending was so bittersweet.

AFTERMATH BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG was the second of two school shooting novels I read in May and wow. Three years ago Skye’s brother Luka was shot. Not by another student, however, but by the police. Luka was one of a group of shooters and that day changed Skye’s life forever. Back home against her will, Skye’s one again in the same town, the same community as those who were there or lost someone That Day. While I really don’t want school shootings to become a trend in fiction, this one was an incredible readable, engaging novel and I adore Kelley SO much.

MAY’S MINI REVIEW ROUND-UP highlighted six books. Rhode Montijo’s adorable Middle Grade series, Gumazing Gum Girl follows Gabby Gomez and her love of bubblegum. When one particularly massive bubble leaves her covered in gum, Gabby discovers she has some pretty awesome powers. Super cute and yay for the bits of Spanish thrown in! Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris’s My Lady’s Choosing sounded like a blast: a historical romance choose your own adventure novel. Sadly, I only read through one story, but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome (instead of landing the Scottish captain, I decided to venture off on my own and become a spy). Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang broke my heart – and not in a good way. I featured this in my list of May releases I couldn’t wait to read and was totally letdown. Lastly, Lauren Marino’s What Would Dolly Do? was an absolute delight. Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton??

WHAT I…BLOGGED

APRIL 2018 RECAP

MAY RELEASES I NEED TO GET MY HANDS ON!

CINNAMON-PECAN COFFEE CAKE

CURRENTLY..

WEEKLY WRAP-UP
5/6
5/20
5/27

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weekly wrap-up 5/27

• Can every weekend be a three-day weekend? Yesterday was Cars & Coffee – I shared a few photos to my IG stories, but Matt wasn’t feeling well so we left pretty early. Apart from that, it’s been a nonstop blur of cookouts – even when I took my car to the dealership for an oil change yesterday, there was someone firing up the grill!

• I’m not a huge shopper and haven’t treated myself to anything new for a few months, but there are some incredible sales going on this weekend and I miiight have bought a few things! Have you found any amazing sales??

• Earlier this week was the anniversary of the day we brought Nacho home and :( :( where did my little puppy go???

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong was the second of two school shooting books I’ve recently read and while I hope this doesn’t become a Thing, I really enjoyed both of them. I’ll pretty much read anything Kelley writes at this point.

I also shared May’s mini reviews for the books I read this month but never got around to discussing. There’s a Dolly Parton advice book (loved), undead girls, a fun Middle Grade comic series, and more!

FOR REVIEW
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Much like Kelley Armstrong, I will read ANYTHING Diane Chamberlain writes. Although this won’t be released until October, I have a feeling I’ll be reading it will before then. This one has been shelved on GoodReads as time travel so I am VERY curious – it’s 1970 and Caroline’s world is shattered when she learns her unborn baby girl has a heart defect and there’s nothing the doctors can do. Her brother-in-law, however, feels otherwise. Although Hunter appeared seemingly out of nowhere a few years ago, no friends and family to speak out, he was welcomed with open arms into the family and now his news will upend every belief Caroline has ever had. Um yes, there is no way I’ll be waiting until October to read this. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

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May’s mini review round-up

Aaahhh, how is next week JUNE already?? You know what that means: time to round up those mini reviews!

Gumazing Gum Girl series by Rhode Montijo: Chews Your Destiny Gum Luck Popped Star
An instagrammer I follow always finds the best kids books and the second she posted these (along with how excited she and her daughter were for the latest, I raced to my library’s site and put in requests. Gabby Gomez loves gum. Think Violet Beauregarde levels of gum obsession. Her dentist father, however, isn’t too thrilled and after more than a few sticky situations, her mother finally bans all gum. WELL. One day on the way to school, Gabby decides to sneak her last piece…and gets completely covered in it. The disaster is a blessing in disguise though: she is now Gum Girl, the hottest new superhero!

Between the tiny bits of Spanish thrown in and the minimalist art style (there aren’t many colors – mostly pink with the occasional purple or green), I was instantly sold. These books read extremely quickly and, while they’re all part of a larger story, each one is its own tale (AND the following book provides a nice, brief recap on what happened in the previous novel).

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
A YA historical romance choose-your-own-adventure book. UM YES PLEASE. I think I liked this one in theory more than the actual novel. I only went through one story, if that says anything, and while I was curious about the other outcomes, I wasn’t so curious as to start over again from the beginning. Still, this was fun while it lasted and my romance (I was on the path to wind up with a Scottish captain), ended with a surprise: I went off traveling the world as a spy. A huge thank you to Quirk Books for a review copy!

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Undead Girl Gang was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, definitely one of my most anticipated of May. I LOVED Lily’s debut, enjoyed-but-wasn’t-totally-in-love-with her second novel, and couldn’t wait to get my grabby hands on her third. When Mila’s best friend dies, the third death in a week, it’s instantly assumed Riley was in a bizarre suicide pact with the other two girls. Mila knows better though, and insists Riley was murdered. How will she prove it? Obviously by using Riley’s Wiccan know how to bring her back from the dead! …what Mila doesn’t count on, however, is that the spell would also bring back the other two girls. Three undead girls brought back for one week to solve their murders…and they have no memories of their final moments.

This sounds awesome, right? I hate to say it, but I’m in the minority here. I wanted so badly to love this one, but I never completely connected with Mila. Her constantly comments were meant to be witty and sarcastic, but they came across as obnoxious to me. Still, I was able to look past that, because 3 undead girls solving murder, but then the Big Reveal happened and I was totally turned off and hugely letdown. That said, I tore through 3/4 of the book in an evening and stayed up way too late to finish (mostly because I didn’t want to have to pick it up again in the morning, but whatever). So disappointed, but I’m still looking forward to whatever Lily does next. Cautiously, but looking forward all the same.

What Would Dolly Do? by Lauren Marino
Oh, what a sweet little book! What Would Dolly Do: How to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World is a quasi-advice guide based on countless interviews/biographies/article/songs/comments from and about Dolly Parton. I took nearly a week to read this tiny 250-odd page book, I wanted to savor each and every page. The book is broken up into various sections, from work ethic to health and exercise (Dolly didn’t get her famous figure overnight!) to love, and I was hooked.

I’ll admit that, while I’m a huge country fan, I only knew the highlights of Dolly’s story. What Would Dolly Do? delves into her childhood, where she came from and how she became the Dolly Parton we know today. Despite her millions of dollars and larger than life status, she couldn’t be more down to earth and the book explores her extensive philanthropic works, the charities she has founded/is involved with, even how she practically single-handedly rebuilt her hometown after a devastating wildfire. Dolly Parton is truly a gem in her own right and I delighted in reading this one! A HUGE thank you to Grand Central Publishing for a finished copy!

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Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong

Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong
Pub. Date: May 22, 2018
Source: Finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, Crown Books for Young Readers!)
Summary: Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there’s no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn’t a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don’t heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend–Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can’t resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Sadly, school shootings have becoming an increasingly popular topic. Just last week, one of my favorite authors came out with a new book, one that follows a mother and daughter after their son/brother kills several classmates (including the girl’s boyfriend). It’s interesting – it seems like the recent wave of school shooting novels focus on someone close to the shooter, follow through the eyes of a relative rather than the shooter. The same is true for Kelley Armstrong’s latest, a novel that was certainly hard to read (and what book, fiction or nonfic, on the subject wouldn’t be??).

Three years ago Skye’s world was forever shifted. Her brother Luka was shot during a school shooting…not by a student, but by police. Luka was one of the shooters that day and his actions have haunted Skye ever since. A new school didn’t do much in the way of helping to hide her past and now, three years later, she back home. Back among students who were there that day, students who lost siblings and friends. The looks, the insults are nothing compared to the pain of seeing Jesse again, however. Once best friends, Skye instantly cut off all contact after the shooting: Jesse’s brother was one of the victims. With Skye’s return comes whispers and notes suggesting a new version of That Day. Could Luka have truly been innocent?

Kelley Armstrong is a one-sitting author for me, especially with her recent releases. Missing, her first non-paranormal contemporary thriller, had me glued to the page and while I adore her Cainsville series, I’m SO excited to see where her new style goes. Enter Aftermath.

Let’s be honest, how many books can I really read about children killing their classmates? Turns out, two in a row. I pride myself in being a reader that can read all kinds of horrific tales and not bat an eye (unless it involves an animal’s death, then it’s a hard no). School shootings, however, are on an entirely different level, but both books I recently read, The Hidden Side and Aftermath, approached the topic head-on and became wonderful character explorations of what happens to the family members of those directly involved.

Of course there’s romance, but it appropriately takes a backseat here, and that’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve said before that I would read a phone book if Kelley Armstrong were to ever write one and that still holds true. She was able to take an extremely sensitive, emotional, and timely subject and create a book I truly couldn’t look away from. I became invested in this story, the mystery of what went on That Day, and Aftermath opened my eyes to something I shamefully never gave thought to: how the family of the shooter feels and what they go through. With Luka gone, Skye became the target of all the hurt and rage and my heart went out to her. While I wish school shootings aren’t about to become the next big thing in YA (I honestly don’t know how many more I can read), Aftermath was another fast-paced, highly engaging novel from an author I’ve come to love. Rest assured I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next book!

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weekly wrap-up 5/20

• This week’s wrap-up is a two week edition! Last Sunday was Mother’s Day – always a blast with our family! – and, honestly, I just didn’t feel like typing up a post super late.

• I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but every Mother’s Day my family does the Race for the Cure. We get together with the in-laws and all the men stay behind to get brunch ready/watch any babies while the ladies all head out! It’s always so much fun, even though this year was so rainy. I absolutely love the race itself, but there’s something so magical about the end. The finish line is at Phipps Conservatory which is hands down one of the most beautiful buildings ever. &, naturally, the brunch afterward is always something to look forward to! I made avocado hummus (for the first time!) and it was a hit :)

• Who else woke up before dawn to watch the wedding??? Matt had fallen asleep on the couch while the pups and I had all gone up to bed – okay, let’s be honest, there is NOTHING like having a King size bed all to yourself, am I right? WELL. I woke up just before 4:30 and watched BBC’s coverage. I guess neither dog is a fan of the royal family because they both took off downstairs ha. They must have woken him up because he came upstairs, took one look at what I was watching, and immediately began making fun of me. #noregrets It was gorgeous and obvs Idris was first in line to walk into the church.

• A while ago I joked with a coworker about how I have so many cat-print clothes that I was tempted to wear nothing but cat clothes all week and see if anyone notices.

• Do you follow me on instagram? Yesterday I posted some photos to my stories about a new leash Matt bought: it’s one of those ones where you can walk two dogs at once. Hoo boy. It was an experience. (I also posted an ADORABLE picture of Nacho after we came home!)

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? I shared a recipe for a crazy simple cinnamon-pecan coffee cake. Yum!!

I shared a new edition of currently.

Piper J. Drake is a new-to-me author, but after devouring Total Bravery, I know I’m going to be back for more!

I couldn’t wait for Heidi Chiavaroli’s latest after falling hard for her debut. I’m thrilled to say The Hidden Side is just as excellent with it’s Culper spy ring, a radio host, and the diary that connects the two stories. SO good.

And, finally, The Boy From Tomorrow, Camille DeAngelis’s Middle Grade novel about two children who manage to communicate to each other a century apart. I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

FOR REVIEW
What Would Dolly Do? by Lauren Marino
I mean, do I need to say anything here?? Thank you, Grand Central!

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable
You’re probably all sick of seeing me talk about this one – and the book isn’t even out yet! This week I received a beautiful finished copy. This one follows a maid working for the Kennedys, an affair with JFK, and a rumored baby! Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

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The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis

The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis
Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Amberjack Publishing!)
Summary: Josie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but they’ve never laid eyes on each other. They are twelve years old but a hundred years apart.

The children meet through a handpainted spirit board—Josie in 1915, Alec in 2015—and form a friendship across the century that separates them. But a chain of events leave Josie and her little sister Cass trapped in the house and afraid for their safety, and Alec must find out what’s going to happen to them. Can he help them change their future when it’s already past?
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

444 Sparrow Street is home to three children: Josie, her little sister Cass, and Alec. Only, Alec moves into the house 100 years after the sisters. In an attempt to make friends, Alec invites a few boys over to play with a recently discovered spirit board…and actually manages to make contact with the girls (who, funnily enough, believe him to be the spirit).

Told in a past/present narrative, The Boy From Tomorrow explores the friendship that sparks between Josie and Alec. I’ll admit I went into this one expecting a lighthearted, fun fantasy-esque tale about two 12-year-olds who connect through time – and was completely caught off guard. Sweet, yes. Fun, yes. But there are also some seriously heavy topics explored within these pages that I was not prepared for! The girls’ mother is a famous (or, rather, infamous) psychic. Just as many people write her off as crazy and a con artist as though who pay a pretty penny for one last conversation with a loved one. Once the clients have gone home, however, their mother lashes out physically and doles out horrific punishments. At one point 6-year-old Cass is locked inside a dark closet for an entire day. In other scene she’s forced to eat a dessert meant for an 8-person dinner party (and then proceeds to be in deeper trouble after she’s sick). Listening to their stories, Alec actually researches abuse laws from that time and helps the girls concoct a plan to get away.

Death, naturally, is also a prominent theme. There’s a small cemetery in town that’s no longer being used by 2015 (Alec’s present). A few headstones bear the Clifford name – could one of them belong to Josie or Cass? Alec is just one click away from uncovering the truth…but do they really want to know? This question comes up a lot in The Boy From Tomorrow and I really enjoyed seeing how maturely these children handled it! Of course there’s that instinctual curiosity, but there’s also a very real, underlying fear: what if the headstone does belong to one of the girls? Do they really want to know when they died? How they died? Would knowing the circumstances alter their lives and somehow change their future?

I don’t have much to say on the minor characters, but there are several and they were all wonderful. Especially Mrs. Gubbins.

Toward the end of the novel there’s a time skip and suddenly the girls are teens, the adults with children of their own. Despite the years, they never forgot their friend Alec – while he himself was still decades from being born. While I delighted in learning what became of Josie and Cass, I preferred seeing them as children and watching their interactions with Alec play out.

Going into The Boy From Tomorrow, I expected a cute, lighthearted romp through time. What I got was so much more. Heavy topics like abuse and death frequent these pages, providing a balance to the wonder and whimsy of the magical/fantastical elements. Getting to know Josie, Cass, and Alec – and then watching all three grow up – made the ending all the more bittersweet. I’m positive this book will find just as many adult readers as it will children, and I’m so glad I read it. It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realized I had come across Camille DeAngelis before: she’s the author of Bones & All, a 2015 novel I had been curious about. I also hadn’t known she wrote a few adult novels! That said, it seems The Boy From Tomorrow is already her highest-rated and I’ll be curious to see if she sticks with Middle Grade for her next novel. If it’s anything like this one, I have a feeling I’ll be reading it!