It Had to Be You: How Do You Stay True to Yourself While In Love?

Review: It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

Sometimes, I am just in the mood to watch a good rom-com movie. When I was asked to be a part of the Blog Tour for Georgia Clark’s novel, It Had to Be You, I read the synopsis and that’s what it sounded like it would be: a decent rom-com. I did not expect to fall in love with all of the characters the way that I did. This is one of my favorite books of the year! Thank you to Atria Books for having me on the Blog Tour and sending this ARC of It Had to Be You, available everywhere this Tuesday, May 4th!

“For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.”

It Had to Be You, Georgia Clark (Atria Books)

I get a bit nervous when I see that books follow a large number of main characters because sometimes, I find it difficult to keep track of everyone’s stories and have a tough time connecting with each character. But Georgia Clark mastered the art of writing ten main characters. I can’t believe how much I loved them all and how easy it was to keep up with everyone. They all felt like real people with their own flaws but still so loveable. I also appreciate how diverse the cast is and how real the book feels. I would love to see this book put to the big screen some day! If you’re looking for an uplifting, yet still real love story, this is the one, you guys!

I definitely need to look into Georgia Clark’s other books because I absolutely love her writing style. It contained so much depth but was still so easy to read. It was really a page-turner of a novel, the entire way through. You will not be able to put this one down!

Click HERE to pre-order It Had to Be You from Marcus Books in Oakland, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday May 4th!

To Love and to Loathe: Is a Casual Romance Possible in Regency-Era England?

Review: To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

By now, the Netflix sensation that is Bridgerton has taken the world by storm. I am included in this; I binged the entire season in a weekend. The works of Julia Quinn brought to life by Shonda Rhimes and her team made me fall in love with regency-era romance. To be fair, I’m bound to love anything that comes out of Shondaland (die-hard Grey’s fan here, remember?). And while I anxiously await the arrival of the first three books in Julia Quinn’s series (The Duke & I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, and An Offer from a Gentleman) in my Once Upon a Book Club Special Edition Bridgerton Box, there is another author that I have quickly become a fan of. Last year, I read and reviewed To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters (read my review here) and now, the amazing Martha Waters is BACK with a spin-off of the original novel! To Love and to Loathe will be available everywhere this Tuesday, April 6th, published by Atria Books!

While To Have and to Hoax centered on the marriage of Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley and their shenanigans, Martha Waters’ newest spin-off To Love and to Loathe follows the antics of Lady Diana Templeton and Jeremy, the Marquess of Willingham. Diana, one of Violet’s best friends, is recently widowed but has re-entered society after her period of mourning. She has a long history of bickering and bantering with Jeremy, which is no secret to the society they live in. Jeremy’s reputation is well known throughout the ton, and Diana decides to make a bet: Jeremy must be married within a year or he owes her one hundred pounds. But Jeremy later proposes another idea: to engage in a “friends with benefits” arrangement, temporarily. He has received less than stellar reviews from other romantic liaisons. So, his big idea is to enlist the help of Diana to help him improve his skills, so to speak. But can this relationship stay strictly casual?

              I really loved the first novel, To Have and to Hoax, but I love this one even more. To Love and to Loathe was much faster paced and I love the banter between Diana and Jeremy. Diana’s independence is so admirable and I related to her a lot throughout the novel. This is also the first regency-era novel I have ever read that discussed a same sex couple, so that was nice to see. While they were not the main focus of the novel, it was nice to see some more representation.

              After reading To Love and to Loathe, I really hope that there is a third novel in this series centered on Emily’s story. Emily is the best friend of Violet and Diana and I really hope to see how her story unfolds. We got to see more of her personality come out in this book. After reading the first two books, I’m now a Martha Waters fan! I love her comedic writing style. I did not expect to love historical romances as much as I do! If you love regency-era romances like Bridgerton or even contemporary romance novels, I think you are going to love this one! Thank you to my dear friends at Atria Books for having me along for the Blog Tour!

Click HERE to pre-order To Love and to Loathe from Marcus Books in Oakland, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday April 6th!

No Pain, No Gaines: Who is in Your “Network”?

Review: No Pain, No Gaines by Chip Gaines

I can’t be the only one that has found themselves watching hours of HGTV on a weekend, absolutely enthralled by home improvement and design shows! And if you’re like me, you have to have stumbled upon the power couple that is Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame! Their signature Texas farmhouse style is everywhere, and has even become a home goods line in Target! I am also a huge fan of Joanna’s cookbook Magnolia Table. The three-cheese quiche is a huge hit every single time I’ve made it for friends and family. Well, now Chip and Joanna Gaines are embarking on a new journey of launching their very own television network called Magnolia Network!

Chip Gaines has learned a lot along the way of their business journey. In his newest non-fiction book No Pain, No Gaines he teaches all about how to build a network. And no, not as in our own television network, but a network of people that can support us in all aspects of our lives. As he says in the book, it’s a book about building a network, not networking in the traditional sense. Over the course of the book, he discusses how important is to be in the company of people who will life you up. He takes us through so many lessons that he’s learned over the course of his life that can be applicable to both business and relationships.

Listening to the audiobook was great because it made his story even more impactful. I was able to hear it in his own voice. He even had members of his family and “network” read stories throughout. I highly recommend the audio for this one! I’m always a fan of listening to the audio for non-fiction titles. I learned so much about Chip’s background. I also loved hearing all the construction metaphors! Although he works in residential construction and I work in commercial/industrial construction, I was able to relate to a lot of what he discussed!

This was a quick read/listen that held so much valuable advice and amazing stories from Chip’s life! It is not your traditional personal development/business book. While the lessons can definitely be applied to business, I think anyone will enjoy this!

Click HERE to purchase the audiobook of No Pain, No Gaines and click HERE to purchase the hard copy from Marcus Books in Oakland, CA! It’s available everywhere now!

The Memory Collectors: What Memories and Emotions Do Objects Hold?

Review: The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

Today is my stop on this blog tour! This Tuesday, March 16th, The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville will be released from my sweet friends at Atria Books. Upon initially reading through the synopsis, this sounded like it would be a heartwarming story about objects that bring up strong memories. I was not expecting the thriller-like element or how dark this story would be at times. This novel was filled to the brim with surprises and twists. Once I started, I could not put this one down!

The Memory Collectors follows the story Ev, who has the incredible ability to feel the emotions that are attached to objects. She finds treasures that hold memories and sells them at the Night Market in Vancouver’s Chinatown to earn a living. Little does she know that there is someone else in town with the same ability. Harriet hoards objects containing memories (good, bad, or otherwise) in her apartment making her neighbors sick from the oversaturation of emotion in that one place. One day, Harriet stumbles upon Ev and can tell that she has the same ability. She sets out to convince Ev to help her to curate a special museum that can help heal people by walking through spaces filled with specific emotions. But Ev has a dark past including a trauma that she has yet to deal with that threatens her present-day life.

This novel was not at all what I expected it to be! I thought it would be sweet and heartwarming, and it was at times. But it had a darkness that I did not anticipate and was so much more interesting than I thought it would be. I really connected to Ev’s PTSD and her tendency to push down her trauma so that she could just push forward. I know that many of us that have PTSD tend to do this. I also loved seeing how Ev and Harriet each viewed their gift differently. One saw their gift as a curse but used it to make a living, while the other viewed it as a beautiful ability to help people. But both characters had difficult pasts.

The character development was so strong in this novel. It was incredible to see Ev and Harriet’s journeys develop over the course of the book. I read this so quickly because once I started, I did not want to put it down. Ev’s past was slowly exposed, layer by layer, and I found myself trying to piece things together to understand what happened. Every time a new detail was revealed, it completely changed my mind about what I thought happened to her. The author used just the right amount of flashbacks and did not overuse the device at all. The Memory Collectors is Kim Neville’s first novel and I hope that it will not be her last because I truly loved immersing myself in her writing.

Click HERE to pre-order The Memory Collectors from Marcus Books in Oakland, CA! It will be available everywhere on Tuesday March 16, 2021!

Ordinarily Extraordinary: Finding Wonder in the Everyday

Review: Ordinarily Extraordinary by Patrick P. Long

At some point or another, most of us have experienced an incredibly difficult time in our lives. Whether you have lost a loved one, struggled for independence, or have even suffered a trauma, we have all gone through tough periods. I have tried to be very open about my own traumas because I truly believe that discussing them can be healing for both myself and for anyone who may hear or read about it. Another person who has done that is Patrick P. Long. In his heartfelt book, Ordinarily Extraordinary, Patrick takes us through a heartbreaking journey that is somehow filled with hope, light, and love.

              Ordinarily Extraordinary: Love and Anger, Life and Death, Hope and Inspiration takes us through the series of events leading up to the loss of Patrick’s wife, Melanie. Melanie and Patrick have four children. After some early medical issues, Melanie is diagnosed with breast cancer. While the book begins with one particular medical incident, Patrick takes us through Melanie’s journey and battle for her own health and life. While telling stories of Melanie’s life and marriage, Patrick teaches us countless lessons that he learned for himself. This book was about love, hope, death, grief, and inspiration.

              I was nervous to read this book about a mother’s medical issues after losing my own mother three years ago. Though her death was sudden and I didn’t experience the medical journey that Melanie’s family did, I related to so much of their story. Hearing about trips to the hospital, I felt the same fear that I experienced. Even through all the fear and trauma in their family’s story, Patrick’s gratitude for Melanie shown through. He took an experience that would have absolutely broken most people and saw the small pieces of beauty in it. He spoke so lovingly, yet realistically of his wife. I too felt I like I knew Melanie well after reading this. Ordinarily Extraordinary is an absolutely extraordinary tribute to Melanie and the life that she lived. We all have so many lessons to learn from her.

Click HERE to order Ordinarily Extraordinary from Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA!

The Love Proof: How Do We Experience Memories?

Review: The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

Today is my stop on this blog tour! This Tuesday, February 9th, The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry will be released from my good friends at Atria Books. As soon as I read the synopsis for this new novel, I was hooked. I will admit that I was slightly intimidated when I saw that physics plays a large role. Years ago, I took all of one physics class in college and it was astronomy. Even THAT was challenging for me! But this book was such a joy to read. I finished it so quickly and got absolutely absorbed into the lives of the two main characters. This is not your typical love story, and I’m so glad that it was one of my first reads of this new year!

              Set on the campus of Yale University, we meet our two central characters: Sophie Jones and Jake Kristopher. Sophie, a physics prodigy, catches the eye of Jake upon their arrival to campus their freshman year.              Although Sophie is intent on pursuing her love of physics while asking the big questions about the nature of time, she finds herself absolutely, head over heels, in love with Jake. Their connection is so strong that it brings up even bigger questions of life and the universe from her. Their love for one another is all consuming. A major change in her life forces her to rethink her path and the innerworkings of the universe, time, and love.

              Some of the major themes of this novel are time, memory, and how we experience them. I was nervous that I would have a hard time understanding the physics elements in this book but it was written in the most relatable way. I learned a lot but I related so heavily to the themes that Sophie grappled with. The story humanized a prodigy and made her feel like someone I know. On a surface level, I love books that are set on university campuses. Maybe it’s the book lover in me, or just nostalgia for the campus of my own alma mater, but I love reading about stories based in academia.

              This book was not what I expected it to be, and I fell in love with the characters so quickly. It is not your typical romance novel, but I think romance readers will still love it. It had the feel of a classic novel set in modern day times, while spanning several decades. The story and themes that The Love Proof discusses were timeless and are things that we all grapple with at some point or another. You will definitely want to pick this one up!

Click HERE to pre-order The Love Proof from Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA! It will be available on Tuesday February 9, 2021!

Single and Forced to Mingle: Living the Single Life

Review: Single and Forced to Mingle by Rachel Croce

As of May of 2020, I’ve been back to living the single life. I’ve discussed it briefly here on the blog, but over the first weekend in May, my relationship of two years ended abruptly with the decision being made for me by my ex. As you can imagine, it has been an emotionally tumultuous experience, so I have been hesitant to write about it much. But now that it’s been about eight months, I finally feel ready to write about the topic. Recently, I learned about a soon to be released book by Melissa Croce, called Single and Forced to Mingle: A Guide for (Nearly) Any Socially Awkward Situation. Talk about incredible timing! Thank you to Atria Books for reaching out to me about this release! Single and Forced to Mingle will be available on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

              As many of us know, being single can be amazing, but it presents some particular challenges in a world that is constantly pushing us to be in a relationship. Broken up into nine parts, Melissa Croce takes us through various situations that are bound to come up in our lives. She hilariously talks her reader through each of them with witty advice, while simultaneously helping them to feel less alone. A few favorite topics/sections of mine include: “If Classical Literary Heroines Were Modern-Day Millennial Women”, “Cocktails Every Single Person Should Know”, and “Patron Saints of Single People, Both Real & Fictional”. Along with funny advice and commentary, Croce includes fun quizzes, ideas, and even a little M.A.S.H., for those of us that remember!

              This was such a fun read! Melissa Croce must be about my age because I related to so much of what she wrote about. One of the real challenges to being newly single is the feeling and fear of being along. Getting through a pandemic can feel like a lonely experience, and let me tell you that going through a break-up DURING a pandemic is a special level of hell. This book reminded me that being single can be a fun period in one’s life. It helped me to laugh at the awkward situations and to be grateful for the freedoms that I have as a single lady. It was a pretty quick read and I LOVED the quizzes she included. I would love to hear her take on online dating/dating apps since that’s about all I can do right now.

              Looking back on the last eight months has helped me to reflect on how much better off I am now without my ex in my life. I really believed in the relationship and continuously pushed to make it work, but relationships cannot work if only one person is willing to do that. I deserve someone that understands what I have been through and comforts rather than criticizes. I deserve someone who is consistent, compassionate, respectful, empathetic, and that takes action. I am now free to find that person, rather than wasting two years on someone that didn’t deserve what I brought to the relationship. Melissa Croce’s new book helped me to find the fun in moving forward in this new chapter of my life.

 Click HERE to pre-order Single and Forced to Mingle from Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA! It will be available on Tuesday January 5, 2021!

The Preserve: Defining Humanity

Review: The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that my absolute favorite genre is dystopian fiction. I am always on the hunt for new dystopian novels to check out, so I was stoked when Atria Books asked me to be a stop on the Blog Tour for Ariel S. Winter’s new book, The Preserve! This book comes out Tuesday November 3, 2020 (Election Day! Have you voted yet??). Thank you to the team at Atria Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Preserve takes place in the near future after a plague has made humans a minority. Technological advances have given rise to robots, complex AIs, that now rule. The robot run government gave the remaining humans designated sections of land to live on called the preserves. But the preserves have just had their first ever murder. Laughton, the chief of police in the SoCar preserve, is leading the case but is caught between complicated systems and jurisdictions while he attempts to find out who killed the victim. Drug-like programs, called sims, have turned up in connection to the victim, further complicating the case. As opposing government agencies collide, Laughton finds that he is not only solving a murder, but is attempting to save the preserve from collapse and invasion of the robot ruled government.

Upon finishing this book, I found that it was not at all what I expected when I picked it up. I am always excited to dive into dystopian novels. I love the slow, well thought out world building that they typically begin with. Along with English, I also majored in sociology in college so I am always fascinated by the social forces that create a world that is so different from the one we know today. Unfortunately, The Preserve did not have the type of world building that I’ve come to love and expect from dystopian fiction.

This book read more as a murder mystery with the presence of AIs than it did a dystopian novel. While it was definitely not my favorite book I’ve read this year, I think fans of crime mysteries will enjoy this. If you love science fiction, you will also enjoy this one. They just are not my cups of tea. However, there were some wonderful themes that emerged through out the story that I really enjoyed. The main character had to grapple with some heavy existential questions about what life is for and what he’s fighting for in this world. If humans are the minority, what does that mean for the future of humanity? I enjoyed grappling with these questions along with the characters.

Click HERE to pre-order The Preserve from Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA! It will be available on Tuesday November 3, 2020

Eventide: Sinister Secrets and Sisterhood

Review: Eventide by Sarah Goodman

It’s that spooky time of year and there’s nothing better than cozying up with an eerie ghost story. I tend not to read a lot of scary books but the story of this one grabbed my attention! Tor Teen was kind enough to send me a copy of Sarah Goodman’s debut novel, Eventide! I’ve been loving YA novels lately and this one sounded perfect for the Halloween season. Just take a look at that gorgeously haunting cover! I expected this to be an interesting story but I did not expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. I wish the story could have gone on for another 300 pages, at least! I connected to the main character so much, and I love layered family mysteries.

Eventide takes us to Wheeler, Arkansas in 1907.  Verity and her younger sister, Lilah, have been sent by train from New York after the death of their mother and their father’s descent into madness. The local schoolteacher adopts Lilah quickly, but Verity is forced to move in with a different family as a farmhand to try to stay close to her sister.  Verity quickly gets the sense things are not normal in Wheeler. Aside from the locals’ superstitions, the woods prove to be an eerie place, especially the old well deep into the forest. Verity has a frightening experience cutting through the woods only to be surrounded by fog and an unbearable chill. And is her mind playing tricks on her, or did she spot a figure in the woods that’s not really there? As she tries to understand the mysteries of this small town, she begins to uncover her own parents’ sinister past connections to Wheeler.

This book was such a surprise to me. I usually stay away from haunting novels but I truly loved this book. It’s such a wonderful YA novel for anyone that loves a mysterious story. It was so festive to read close to Halloween but would be great year-round. There were so many layers to this mystery. At times, it felt like a loving story of sisterhood while other times, it made me feel downright spooked!

One major theme of this novel is that of sisterhood and family. I related a lot to Verity’s character in a few ways. I also have a younger sister. We lost our mom too, although it was when we were in our early twenties. But Verity and I both share the desire to protect our younger sisters from anything we can. When you lose a parent, you cling to your sibling because while others can empathize, no one understands what you’re going through like your sibling can. The themes of family and self-sacrifice really resonated with me. I also loved the mysterious nature of the novel. It felt like I uncovered a new layer to the mystery with every chapter. I was constantly questioning the other characters, which makes for a great, fast-paced read.

I can’t recommend Eventide enough, especially at this time of year: spooky season! With this being Sarah Goodman’s debut novel, I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Click HERE to order Eventide from Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA!

In a Holidaze: Take the Leap of Faith

Review: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

I know that it’s only October, but for me, that is the start of the coziest time of the year. That also means that it’s officially time to bust out all the holiday things that make me happiest. Fall is my favorite season and I love Christmas so much. I try to start getting excited and celebrating as early as I can so that I enjoy the season as much as possible. I knew I wanted to pick up some new Christmas-y books this year to cozy up with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and some candles burning. When I found out that the author duo Christina Lauren had one coming out this year, I knew I had to get my hands on it! Thank you so much to Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster for sending me an advanced review copy!

In a Holidaze is set in a cozy, snowy cabin in Utah. Maelyn Jones’ family along with her parents’ college best friends and their families come together every Christmas to stay at the cabin and celebrate the magical season. This is Mae’s favorite place to be, but this year, things just don’t feel the same. She’s had to move back in with her mom and hates her job. She wakes up the morning after Christmas, filled with regret after drunkenly kissing one of her childhood friends, Theo. But for as long as she can remember, she’s had feelings for Theo’s older brother Andrew. Not only that, but she finds out that their parents want to sell the beloved cabin. She leaves her favorite week of the year behind downright miserable. As her family drives away, she makes a silent plea to the universe: “Please. Show me what will make me happy.” Almost immediately, their car is hit in a horrible accident. She wakes up on a plane on December 20th all over again on her way to Utah. She has to live the week all over again.

I had a feeling I would enjoy this Christmas story, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did! It is the coziest book I’ve read all year. It gave me that warm, magical Christmas feeling that I long for all year long. Like Mae, I love and long for tradition, especially family Christmas traditions. I don’t know if I’ll get that this year but it was so lovely to escape our present-day reality into this beautiful book. I loved the depiction of the love story in this as well.

But my favorite part was the lesson in learning to trust yourself and take chances. This is something I’ve been pondering in my own life. My relationship ended and I immediately had a hard time. But as time has gone on over the last several months, I’ve seen what a blessing it ended up being. I’ve progressed in my career, bought a home, and have started living my life for myself. Sometimes, we need life to give us a bit of a push to trust ourselves and take that leap of faith into the things we’re the most scared of.

I can’t recommend this one enough! A lot of us are looking for fun, festive Christmas books and this one should be at the top of your list this year! I’ve heard so many people rave about Christina Lauren books and now I totally understand why! Please let me know which are you favorites because I definitely need to read more! Thank you again to Gallery Books for sending this my way!

Click HERE to pre-order In a Holidaze from Harriett’s Bookshop in Philidelphia, PA!