Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
Pub. Date: July 9, 2019

Goodreads says, "Some bury their secrets close to home. Others scatter them to the wind and hope they land somewhere far away.  Judith Kratt inherited all the Kratt family had to offer—the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder no one talks about. She knows it's high time to make an inventory of her household and its valuables, but she finds that cataloging the family belongings—as well as their misfortunes—won't contain her family's secrets, not when her wayward sister suddenly returns, determined to expose skeletons the Kratts had hoped to take to their graves.  Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together the influence of her family on their small South Carolina cotton town, learning that the devastating effects of dark family secrets can last a lifetime and beyond."

I love a good historical mystery in the summertime, especially if it's set in the South. Doesn't this one sound delicious? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Pages: 291
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2, 2019
Source: Publisher for review
Publisher: St. Martin's
Other Books by Author: On the Island
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people's behavior confusing, she'd rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.  Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game--and his heart--to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.  Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She's living the life she wanted as a librarian. He's a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins."

Annika is a bright young woman; however, she falls on the Autism spectrum, so she has some difficulty in her life relating to people, picking up on social cues, etc.  She has spent most of her life trying to avoid her triggers and mimic socially adept people so she can fit in as she truly is high-functioning.  Once she heads off to college, her world opens up for her.  Thankfully, she ends up with Janice, who is pretty much the best roommate ever.  She is so caring; she takes Annika under her wing and helps her with her wardrobe, her social situations, and more. She is a godsend.  Annika joins the chess club as she is an avid player and in turn meets Jonathan.  No one has ever noticed Annika despite her outward beauty as most people are turned off by her quirks. Not Jonathan though.  He loves Annika just the way she is. Swoon.  They dated for quite sometime, but at first readers aren't privy to what went wrong.  Fast forward ten years later, Annika runs into Jonathan at the grocery store of all places and there's still something there between them.  Can they push aside the past and whatever event turned them away from each other? The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves is such a swoon-worthy romance. I was hooked from the beginning and was so sad to say goodbye to these characters.  This book is one of my favorites of the year! 

Annika, as I mentioned previously, is on the Autism spectrum, but is high-functioning. She graduated college, has a job, is able to live on her own, and even has dated a few guys.  Graves captured someone who is autistic brilliantly.  She was able to highlight some of her quirks and issues while also showcasing how fantastic people can be on the spectrum, especially when it comes to their honesty and their passions. I love that Graves wrote Annika as an autistic woman and I would love to see more of this in adult as well as young adult fiction as it helps people to understand and relate.

Jonathan was also a great character in The Girl He Used to Know. He embraces Annika for who she truly is, quirks and all.  He appreciates every aspect of her and I adored their relationship.  At times, it broke my heart to see how hard it was for Annika to fit in in some of Jonathan's social situations, such as a dinner party or work event, but he handles it so well for the both of them.  What can I say? Their romance is beautiful!

There's a lot more that goes on in The Girl He Used to Know; it's not just a simple romance. Disaster strikes and things get very complicated, but I know readers will be rooting for Annika and Jonathan just like I was.  The Girl He Used to Know is a phenomenal read that would be perfect for fans of contemporary fiction. I couldn't think of a better book to read on vacation this summer, especially if you love characters that tug your heartstrings.  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (97)

Book Review: Cape May by Chip Cheek 
Can't Wait Wednesday: Montauk by Nicola Harrison 
Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

This week I'll be sharing some AMAZING beach reads. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves was absolutely fantastic. I can't wait to share my thoughts on it!  The Unhoneymooners was the absolute perfect beach read with a gorgeous Hawaiian setting and the dialogue had me laughing out loud.   I'll also be sharing some of my favorite "back list" beach reads to kick off Memorial Day Weekend.


Realm by Alexandrea Weis - Thanks to Vesuvian Books
A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer - Thanks to Ballantine and Library Thing Early Reviewers


The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis - Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark
Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel - Thanks to Blink YA 


The Monster Catchers by George Brewington - Thanks to Henry Holt
Once a Liar by A.F. Brady - Thanks to Park Row 

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Review: Cape May by Chip Cheek

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 30, 2019
Publisher: Celadon Books
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.  Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.  The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences.  Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage."

Henry is a young country boy from Georgia and he just married his high school sweet heart, Effie.  They are on their honeymoon in Cape May, New Jersey and the year is 1957.  They are not only exploring their sexuality as newlyweds, but they are also expanding their horizons as this isn't rural Georgia anymore.  In fact, Cape May is pretty much abandoned for the season except for a group of sophisticated city dwellers from up North.  They have money, they throw lavish dinner parties, they drink, they go boating, they drink more.... rinse and repeat.  When Henry and Effie fall into their clutches, it alters their marriage irrevocably.  Cape May by Chip Cheek is an erotic story filled with despicable characters and horrible situations--very much so that I was unable to put down the book.

At first, I really thought Henry and Effie were cute in Cape May. Adorable, really. But then I realized how naive they actually are.  When they meet up with Clara, Max, and Alma who are also in Cape May during the off season that is where things go awry.  It was like watching two baby rabbits fall into the clutches of a vulture.  Clara, Max and Alma are worldly, experienced, and live life by their own rules.  When Henry and Effie try to assimilate into their world, things don't go well as one could easily predict.  So, this is where I thought the story would take on this Great Gatsby vibe with partying and different psychologically thrilling details, but I was wrong.  

Without giving too much away, Henry is seduced by someone (on his honeymoon!) and starts an affair with her. Willingly. And continues it. On his honeymoon.  I repeat. On his honeymoon.  I was appalled. I won't say more, but it's like just the tip of the iceberg here with these two.  Everything that could possibly go wrong on a honeymoon goes wrong in Cape May and it almost became unbelievable at one point.  Then I started disliking all the characters.  To the point where I put down the book, because I don't want my beach reads to stress me out in this manner.  This was just.too.much.  

And the sex. Oh, man. Now I am not a romance novel reader per se and I didn't read 50 Shades of Grey, but I like to think I can deal with an average amount of sex scenes in a novel.  I can also let go of a lot of erotic details if the story is strong.  But this was just too much.  The sex scenes were so overly detailed that it left a bad taste in my mouth and it felt almost smutty.  In fact, there was so much detail that all the sex became ineffective and I became numb to it.

But I will say I somehow became addicted to Cape May in the same way I might watch a reality TV show that is a disaster. I usually don't finish books like this, which is why I rarely review a book that I rate as two or three stars, but I had to know how it would end for these characters.  And once I got to the end, I was disappointed and almost depressed by it.  The overall message of Cape May, for me, was dismal.

Was Cape May well written? I guess. I will admit I was entertained, but I was disappointed because Cape May is one of my favorite places in the world and I was hoping for so much more. The town doesn't shine through the novel in the least bit.  However, there are some outstanding reviews for this novel; in fact, Kirkus gave it a starred review, but ultimately, this book is not for me and one I wouldn't recommend unless novels about drinking, sex, bad decisions, and more drinking are your cup of tea.

Did you read Cape May? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: Montauk

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Montauk by Nicola Harrison
Pub. Date: June 4, 2019

Goodreads says, "Montauk, Long Island, 1938.   For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.   College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.   As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.  Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…"

You guys know I am a sucker for a good historical beach read and this one sound amazing. I love the new cover as well. What do you guys think? Will you be throwing this one in your each bag this summer? 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 9, 2019
Source: Publisher for review
Publisher: Berkley
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.  Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.   The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.  As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart."

In the 1960s, the infamous Fidel Castro took over Cuba leaving Beatriz and her family to flee to South Florida and essentially start over their lives with the possibility of never returning to their homeland.  Beatriz always hoped they would return, but it is looking less and less likely.  Beatriz's back story is very complicated. You see her twin brother was killed, thanks to Fidel, and she seeks revenge.  The CIA has reached out to her as she would be the perfect spy to infiltrate Fidel's inner circle and there isn't a better way for Beatriz to get close to him and then, ultimately, kill him.  Her very close friend, Eduardo, is also helping her accomplish this as he is also an exile and has many connections.  Beatriz's plans get further complicated when she meets a U.S. Senator, Nicholas Preston, who turns her world upside down.  They are instantly attracted to one another despite the obvious issues.  Could she actually have a future with a powerful American who is involved in politics? What about her plans to take back her life and her plans to take down Fidel? When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton is a whirlwind of a beach read filled with espionage, political intrigue, and romance not to mention a gorgeous setting.

I immediately liked Beatriz in When We Left Cuba. She is exactly the type of heroine I enjoy when I read historical novels. She is driven, determined, independent despite the limitations place on women during the time period, she's strong, and beautiful.  She reminded me of a female James Bond, but without all the military training.  She is able to infiltrate high society, rub shoulders with just about anyone, and she holds her own dealing with Cuban-American politics.  What isn't there to enjoy?  While I wish she would let go of her revenge plot at times that is what ultimately drives her story and the hope to return to Cuba one day.

Beatriz's relationship with Nicholas in When We Left Cuba was well done. I really liked it despite the complications and the Jack Kennedy vibe he had going for him.  I won't say too much about it, but their relationship is extremely complicated not to mention a major issue when it comes to her involvement with the CIA.  Despite all this, I found myself still rooting for him.

My only issue with When We Left Cuba is the fact that I didn't read Cleeton's first book, Next Year in Havana. While this is a stand-alone novel, I think I would have benefited from reading Next Year in Havana first as many characters that are present in it are also in When We Left Cuba and their back stories would have been helpful to know.  Nonetheless, this simple issue didn't deter my enjoyment of the novel.

If you love "historical beach reads," you must check out When We Left Cuba, especially if you enjoy the 1960s time period.  It will surely keep you on your toes and who doesn't love a female spy protagonist? Have you read this novel or Cleeton's Next Year in Havana? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (96)

I'm starting my Summer Kickoff Feature this week and I'll be sharing my thoughts on When We Left Cuba as well as Cape May. I really enjoyed When We Left Cuba, but I wish I had read Next Year in Havana first. The setting was fantastic and the time period was equally compelling. On the other hand, I did not enjoy Cape May, which is a disappointment as the setting is very special to me.  More on this to come! 

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner - Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Co.
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand - Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Co.

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings - Thanks to Inkyard Press
Nexus by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings - Thanks to Inkyard Press

The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham - Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks
The Wicked Redhead by Beatriz Williams - Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss
The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy - Thanks to Blink YA


Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen - Thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss
The Rule of Many by Ashley Saunders and Lesley Saunders - Thanks to Skyscape 

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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