weekly wrap-up 3/5

• Yesterday Matt and I went to see Logan, the latest (and last nooo) Wolverine movie and man, nearly 3 hours of Hugh Jackman in various states of shirtlessness. I mean, I guess it was okay. (haaaa jk it was actually fantastic ♥)

• The entire winter it’s been so ridiculously warm (like, record-breaking temperatures warm), but OF COURSE the day my company set to start up Food Truck Friday again, it plummeted into the 20s. Wow. Thanks, Mother Nature. Here’s to hoping next Friday gets its act together!

• Even though my GoodReads goal says I’m ahead of schedule, I feel like I haven’t been doing ANY reading lately. Totally blaming the new job of that and am really hoping to finally get into my groove soon to where I don’t fall asleep the second I walk in the door ugh. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commute: Stephen King’s A Good Marriage, Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men have all been recent reads. I never had to read Of Mice and Men in school (of ANY of Steinbeck’s work shockingly – the only other one I read was East of Eden which I picked up on my own and is one of my most absolute favorite books) and so sort of went in blind though I kind of knew something devastating was going to happen and when it did I was a mess. Of Puppy Deaths and Cruel, Horrible Men is a more appropriate title. A Good Marriage was just that: good, but then again, it’s King. I’m almost always guaranteed a fun, creepy, entertaining read when it comes to him! Surprisingly, it was The Birds that I enjoyed the least. I love full cast productions, but wasn’t at all prepared for how short it was: LESS THAN A HOUR! The moment it ended I honestly thought I missed something or a part of the audiobook didn’t download correctly. I do want to revisit this one, but in print. My current audio is The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This massive, 800-page saga starts at the very beginning and is SO detailed. While I’m loving the audio (42% done!) I think I would have such a hard time reading this one in print – the Russian names, the overload of facts, it’s all much easier to listen to.

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? My February mini review round-up was a mixed bag: Wintersong was one of my most anticipated novels of the year and it turned out to be a huge dud. I normally stay away from self-pubbed and indie authors, but There’s Something About Cornwall was excellent and I’m craving more of Daisy James’ work! The Good Daughter, sadly, wasn’t. Though the initial chapters were great and sucked me in, it quickly spiraled out of control and I knew from the start what the big reveal would be. Skip this one.

My February 2017 recap didn’t have much as far as reviews went, but non-book posts ruled the blog last month.

I shared four books that I recently added to my TBR list. A mix of old and upcoming, Middle Grade, mystery, contemporary. I want it all.

This week’s the saturday six featured Dr. Seuss, a vegan recipe, penguins, an old Hollywood feud, and more!


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
My dear, dear friend Ellice grabbed this one for me at ALA and I am SO excited to dive in! England has just entered WWII and with all the men gone, the women of Chilbury band together to keep their church choir (and spirits) going – despite the Vicar’s wishes. This is an epistolary novel told through journal entries and letters and it has my name written all over it! Thank you, Ellice ♥!!

The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
It’s the summer of ’92 and the gypsy moths have invaded Avalon Island. That summer the daughter of the island’s most prominent family returns home to move into the grandest estate – with her African-American husband and bi-racial children and the islanders have VERY different opinions about their arrival. There’s young love, outsiders, a troubled boy, revenge, this book seems to have it all and it’s been featured on pretty much every single BOOKS OF 2017 YOU NEED TO READ list! Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

the saturday six.

• It was Dr. Seuss’ birthday earlier this week! He had the best quotes.

• UM YES PLEASE. Carrot zucchini squares with cashew maple frosting!!!

• This sounds awesome: a five-year project photographing the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel has recently been completed and compiled into a 3-volume book. Unfortunately, anyone who wants to see Michelangelo’s work up close will need to shell out some serious cash: $12,700!

• Matt and I are huge nature documentary nerds. BBC recently posted photos of all 17 species of penguins and I am in geek heaven.

• If penguins made my inner nature nerd happy, this makes the history buff AND book lover in me sing: the oldest letterpress type foundry in the US is still making fonts the way they did in 1915: with red hot metal. If you’re in San Francisco you can actually tour the building!

Feud premieres tomorrow and I am SO insanely excited! Before you watch the Bette Davis/Joan Crawford series, however, here are 11 of their movies you should check out!

recently added.

I know I’m not the only one with a terrifyingly out of control TBR pile, right?? Today I’m sharing a few novels – new and old – that have recently caught my eye!

The Lost Girls by Heather Young
In the summer of 1935 a six-year-old girl goes missing from her family’s lake house. Though her disappearance sends the town into a panicked frenzy, any efforts to locate her are fruitless. Her mother is a shell of her former self, vigilant in her watch over the woods, falsely believing her daughter will return home. The girl’s two older sisters are also left behind to pick up the pieces of their broken lives, each girl carrying her own guilt.

Sixty years later, the last remaining sister is alone and dying. Knowing her time is coming to an end, she puts pen to paper and captures every heartbreaking moment of the summer that changed her family – before she dies, she leaves the story with her grandniece who, in turn, becomes obsessed with discovering the truth behind the girl’s disappearance all those years ago.

Yeah, does this have my name all over it or what??

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
The summer of 1988, the Gulf of Mexico. Two extraordinary things happen to 12-year-old Maeve Donnelly: she gets kissed by the boy of her dreams and she’s the victim of a shark attack. Nearly twenty years later Maeve is now a marine biologist who travels the world and has become known as something of a shark whisperer.

Though she’s surprisingly comfortable in the water, on land it’s a different story. When she returns to the Florida coast – and her childhood home – she receives horrible news: an illegal shark-finning operation is all but at their doorstep and hundreds of sharks are dying. As she fights to protect her beloved animals, she also wrestles her own demons: her brother is about to make it big as a novelist…using her own love life as its backdrop.

Ann Kidd Taylor is the daughter of Sue Monk Kidd and I loved her most recent novel, The Invention of Wings! I don’t believe I’ve ever read a novel where the main character survived a shark attack – and then went on to fight to protect them! Definitely interested in this one!

Lemons by Melissa Savage
When Lemonade Liberty Witt’s mother passes away, she suddenly finds herself living with a grandfather she’s never met in Willow Creek, California – the Bigfoot Capital of the World. Lem can’t possibly see anything good coming from her new home – until she meets Tobin. Eleven-year-old Tobin Sky is the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, INC and Willow Creek’s only Bigfoot detective! That summer he asks Lem to be his assistant and as they go off on epic adventures to finally get a photo of Bigfoot, Lem realizes maybe there is some good to be found after all.

Oh, Middle Grade. The death of a parent, a new life in a strange place, Bigfoot. This book sounds excellent!

Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings
Toronto, the winter of 1895. When the body of a servant girl is discovered naked and frozen in a deserted alley, Detective William Murdoch is tasked with uncovering what happened to the girl. When a connection is made to one of society’s most influential families, Murdoch realizes there was more to this seemingly simple girl than she let on.

Back in January I mentioned how obsessed I am with Murdoch Mysteries, a ridiculously fun tv show. The show is actually based on Jennings’ novels and I would love to really get inside Murdoch’s head!

February 2017 recap!


WHAT I…DID

• I’m thrilled to say the new job is going great! There were some frustrating bumps initially – programs I was supposed to have access to/clearance for wouldn’t let me in, but things are ten times better now! THAT SAID, I’m still getting used to my new routine. It’s interesting: I was talking about it with my mom and mentioned how, a month later, I still come home exhausted (seriously, if I’m up past 9pm it’s a miracle). In my previous job my role was far more physically demanding and I was shocked at how I’m more worn out now than I ever was before. She said something that never crossed my mind. While my old job required more from me physically, this new one is far more mentally taxing. And it’s true!

• February is birthday central in my family: my niece turned 8, my sister turned 19, and my pup turned 3 ♥!

• My friends and I instituted board game night and, yeah, it’s pretty much the best.

• Pittsburgh has been seeing recording-breaking temperatures and Bay & I took full advantage!

WHAT I…REVIEWED

I LIKED MY LIFE BY ABBY FABIASCHI was a total surprise. A seemingly happy mother commits suicide and her daughter and husband are left to pick up the pieces…but Maddy isn’t quite ready to move on just yet. What could have been a devastatingly heartbreaking novel turned out to be shockingly uplifting and I laughed far more than I ever expected to while reading a novel about grief and moving on! Plus Maddy is one of the three narrators (the other two are her teenage daughter Eve and her husband Brady) and even in death she was super sassy and hilarious. And she had a fantastic taste in music.

I SEE YOU BY CLARE MACKINTOSH featured a premise that could easily happen in real life: a woman goes about her day, not realizing her routine has been carefully noted…until it’s too late. When Zoe sees her photo in the paper accompanying an online dating ad she initially writes it off as a prank played by a friend. Then she begins to notice a pattern as more women begin appearing in the ads, women who end up becoming victims of violent crimes. While this one didn’t bring anything new to the genre I thought it was a ton of fun and highly entertaining!

FEBRUARY’S MINI REVIEW ROUND-UP highlighted one of my most anticipated novels of 2017 that turned out to be a MAJOR dud (the Labyrinth-inspired Wintersong), a really fun and fluffy contemporary romance about a food photographer and her disastrous assignment following a total diva-esque chef along the Cornish coast (There’s Something About Cornwall), and a mystery that started out well but fizzled out and actually made me forget all about it a mere two weeks after reading (The Good Daughter). Note: in my review of The Good Daughter, I mentioned several other novels (and linked to my reviews) that were FAR better and highly recommended! Read those books instead!

WHAT I…BLOGGED

JANUARY 2017 RECAP

(ANOTHER) 4 BACKLIST BUMPS FOR RECENT READS

THE SATURDAY SIX.
2/4
2/11
2/18
2/25

WEEKLY WRAP-UPs
2/5
2/12
2/19
2/26

February’s mini review round-up!

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Pub. Date: February 7, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Thomas Dunne!)
Summary: All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling

When I first heard about this Labyrinth/Persephone retelling I immediately began pestering the publicist for a copy. Eventually she relented and I was SO ecstatic. Wintersong was one of my most anticipated books of 2017…and it ended up being a massive disappointment.

Although I’m a big fan of the setting – 18th century Bavaria – there was so little character development, that I never got a feel for who these characters were. Leisl is plain and ugly. Her sister is gorgeous and charming. The Goblin King has pointy teeth and is tall. …that’s about all I can tell you. Initially Wintersong was a typical fantasy-esque quest (Käthe has been taken by the goblins and Leisl must go save her) and I was totally on board. Halfway through, however, it became more about Leisl’s own journey to find herself and, naturally, she does that by falling in love.

I wanted so much more from this book than what I got, but I’m admittedly in the minority. The ending left me incredibly frustrated and while there’s supposed to be a ‘companion’ book coming out, I’m not quite sure if I’m interested enough to read it.

There’s Something About Cornwall by Daisy James
Pub. Date: March 8, 2017
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, HQDigital!
Summary: Life is far from picture perfect for food photographer, Emilie Roberts. Not only has her slimy ex cheated on her, he’s also stolen her dream assignment to beautiful Venice! Instead, Emilie is heading to the wind-swept Cornish coast…

Emilie doesn’t think it can get any worse – until disaster strikes on the very first day! And there’s only one man to rescue this damsel in distress: extremely hunky surfing instructor, Matt Ashby.

Racing from shoot to shoot in a bright orange vintage camper van, Matt isn’t the conventional knight in shining armour – but can he make all of Emilie’s fairy tale dreams come true?
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Emilie is a food photographer about to land her dream assignment – Venice – only to have her cheating ex pull rank and steal it from her. Now she’s stuck travelling in a bright orange camper van up along the Cornish coast with an uber diva chef. As if that isn’t bad enough, disaster strikes, leaving Emilie to deal with Lucinda on her own…until a ridiculously good-looking surfing instructor comes along.

In January I started a new job and getting into the routine has definitely taken its toll. Because of that, I wanted a read that was lighthearted and fluffy, something fun that would entertain me without being heavy. Enter There’s Something About Cornwall. Seriously, one look at that gorgeous cover and I was intrigued – and I’m thrilled to say its insides were even better!

I really don’t have much to say about this one and that’s not a bad thing! It was exactly the kind of book I was looking for with lots of fun moments, a rom-com plot, and a sweet romance. The book even scored bonus points for using the term Poirotesque – y’all know I love me some Agatha Christie! When it comes down to it, There’s Something About Cornwall was one of those ‘right book at the right time’ kind of reads and I enjoyed it to the point where I would love to read more of Daisy James’ work!

The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt
Pub. Date: February 7, 2017
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley Books!)
Summary: What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…
Genre: Mystery

Until Dahlia was 12 she didn’t go to school. Her mother always waved it aside, something about missing paperwork, so it wasn’t until she got older that she began to question why they moved around so much, why she never had a birth certificate or social security card. Unable to go to college or even get a job, Dahlia has spent the past 15 years working odd jobs, cleaning houses and hotels – earning cash under the table with as few questions as possible. Now she’s determined to find out exactly what was going on in her childhood and heads home, only to discover the answers won’t come as easily as she had hoped.

I’ll be honest, this one has received more than its fair share of bad reviews, but it certainly sounded like a book I would enjoy and I happily went into it. For the first few chapters I was completely caught up in the story – alternating between decades and told through the eyes of four women. That abruptly came to an end, however, and two weeks after finishing the book I actually forgot all about it. It wasn’t until I saw it laying under a pile of papers that I realized oops, I still haven’t reviewed it…that should go to show how little of an impression this one made.

In the beginning of the novel Dahlia is out for a run when she comes across a body. I was EXTREMELY excited by this (I love a good mystery) and was shocked when it didn’t go anywhere. This storyline felt tacked on and fizzled out to a shoddy throwaway explanation. After discovering the body Dahlia begins to have visions and seizures. I half expected some sort of supernatural element to be introduced a la The Gates of Evangeline and, again, that just wasn’t the case.

The story builds and builds to what is supposed to be a shocking reveal. Unfortunately I knew from the start what the ‘big twist’ was going to be and was horribly letdown to discover that’s it? I will say though that certain scenes had a feel that brought to mind both Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt and Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy – two novels that are infinitely better.

A word of caution to potential readers: there’s a brutal killing of a puppy and a woman is graphically raped by multiple men and it’s replaying MANY times throughout the novel.

weekly wrap-up 2/26

• On Friday, Pittsburgh’s temperature broke a record! We reached 76 – breaking a record of 70 set back in 1906!!!

• The ridiculously warm weather led to lots of walks (and one happy pup!) …and now today there’s snow. #Pittsburghweather

• If we’re facebook friends you already saw this, but Matt recently surprised me with a new subscription box: Hunt a Killer. It’s no secret I’m obsessed with murder mysteries and one of my dreams is to be a mini Hercule Poirot soooo this is pretty much perfect for me.

MISSED SOMETHING THIS WEEK? My review for Clare Mackintosh’s I See You is horribly vague I know, but I did NOT want to spoil this thriller for anyone! I haven’t read her debut, but now I’m extremely curious – especially since readers who loved I See You said I Let You Go was even better!

I’ve been craving some backlist titles and shared another 4 backlist bumps for recent reads. Historical romance, a romance that crossed time, the disappearance of a boy set against a backdrop of the Cold War, and some YA fantasy!

This week’s the saturday six features a list of the most romantic cities in the world, super exciting news from NASA, bees (of course), discovered WWII letters from a soldier to his boyfriend, and more!


 

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
I received an ARC back in November, and with the release date just a few weeks away, a beautiful hardback arrived at my door! I’m VERY excited about this one: a woman and her daughter flee an abusive home one night. With her ex-husband in jail, Lindsey is able to make a new start with her now-teenage daughter. Lindsey even has been able to get into the world of dating again and has a great boyfriend. Then she receives word her ex-husband has been released and suddenly Lindsey’s world is turned upside down: her boyfriend’s life is threatened, her home is invaded, and she can’t help but feel as though she’s being watched. Her ex swears he’s a changed man, but can she really believe him? OOOOH IT SOUNDS SO GOOD, RIGHT?? Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

Beauty and the Beast by Maria Tatar
This super slim book features a collection of short stories from around the world about animal bride and grooms. I am SO intrigued! Thank you, Penguin!

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I recently flailed over this one when I featured upcoming historical fiction novels I can’t wait to read and when I received an e-mail saying Putnam approved my request on netgalley I was at work and legit shrieked at my desk. #sorrynotsorry. Eve’s debut Black Rabbit Hall way my favorite read of 2016 and one I’m STILL recommending to everyone I come across. I even featured it in a GoodReads Recommends post. After just that one book I would read ANYTHING Eve writes so it doesn’t even matter what the book is about – but it really does sound excellent: four sisters, an English manor, the summer of 1959, and a dark secret they all share. Thank you, G.P. Putnam’s Sons!

Best Intentions by Erika Raskin
Marti is a mother to three children, the daughter of a New york Congressman, and the wife of a famous obstetrician. She seems to have it all, but the truth is she’s bored. She’s tired of playing the role of the perfect stay-at-home mom and decides to volunteer at the hospital where her husband works. As she falls deeper into the world of long hours, tired doctors, and office politics, she seems something she can’t unsee and in doing the right thing, Marti finds herself thrust into the spotlight. UMMMMMMM the blurb mentions Marti becomes a murder trial defendant and it’s like this book was written for me. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!

the saturday six.

• Did you hear the big news?? NASA announced this week that they discovered SEVEN Earth-like planets! Though their sun is much smaller than ours, the conditions on each planet are perfect for water – and potentially life!

• I’m starting to suspect that these posts are subconsciously my way of spreading my love for bees, but seriously: bees can learn how to play soccer.

• I know I’m not the only one who daydreams in the shower or during my commute. This article on mind wandering is surprisingly fascinating!

AMERICAN GODS FINALLY HAS A PREMIERE DATE!!

• I ♥ this: love letters a WWII soldier wrote to his boyfriend.

The world’s most romantic cities – the obvious ones are included, but there were a few that I wouldn’t have guessed!