Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Magic Sea Turtle


Beach read lovers, I've got a new picture book for the little ocean lovers in your life. I love all things sea related, so I am happy to share with you all The Magic Sea Turtle by Kathleen Welton. I love that the picture book focuses on ocean life while also sharing the important message of dreaming big. 

Also, don't miss the giveaway which includes a chance to adopt a sea turtle! Ever since my family visited The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys, I've really loved supporting these beautiful creatures.


Learn More About the Book:



 

The Magic Sea Turtle

Written by Kathleen Welton

Illustrated by Chau Pham

Ages 3+ | 32 Pages

Publisher: Bookfox Press | ISBN-13: 978-1960157515

 

Publisher’s Book Summary: Once upon a time, Myrtle chased her dreams–dreams of being a queen with a crown that sparkled like the moon. One day, she tumbles down, down, down into the sea. Max helps rescue her and a magic carpet flies her to a place even more amazing than her sandcastle dreams and she discovers an entire ocean of possibilities! There are dolphins who welcome her and a friendly otter with the biggest smile. They can teach her to swim and enjoy the day. Another magical glow surrounds Myrtle when she decides to stay and wishes to be a sea turtle like Max.

And guess what? Myrtle’s fall may have been unexpected, but thanks to a touch of magic, it leads her to a place where her wishes come true. Myrtle becomes a queen AND a magic sea turtle too, ready for incredible adventures! Myrtle the Turtle learns that being a queen means having the best friends ever. And with her sparkly crown and a heart full of joy, she is the happiest queen the whole ocean has ever seen!

 

You can purchase your own copy of The Magic Sea Turtle at Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and Amazon. Also, you can learn more about Kathleen Welton by visiting her website.



The Giveaway:


I've partnered with Kathleen Welton to host a fantastic giveaway to celebrate the publication of The Magic Sea Turtle. Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Magic Sea Turtle, a plushy of Myrtle, and a Baby Turtle Adoption from seeturtles.org. Good luck!  

 

The Magic Sea Turtle: Book Giveaway

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mini Reviews: New Releases


I'm sure most beach read lovers out there have had their eye on Christina Lauren's latest novel; how could you not with such a tropical cover like that? It did not disappoint! I'm also sharing my thoughts on a debut novel that is perfect for fans of baseball.


The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren
Pages: 352 
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: May 14, 2024
Publisher: Gallery
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Unhoneymooners,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "Christina Lauren, returns with a delicious new romance between the buttoned-up heir of a grocery chain and his free-spirited artist ex as they fake their relationship in order to receive a massive inheritance. Anna Green thought she was marrying Liam “West” Weston for access to subsidized family housing while at UCLA. She also thought she’d signed divorce papers when the graduation caps were tossed, and they both went on their merry ways.
Three years later, Anna is a starving artist living paycheck to paycheck while West is a Stanford professor. He may be one of four heirs to the Weston Foods conglomerate, but he has little interest in working for the heartless corporation his family built from the ground up. He is interested, however, in his one-hundred-million-dollar inheritance. There’s just one catch.

Due to an antiquated clause in his grandfather’s will, Liam won’t see a penny until he’s been happily married for five years. Just when Liam thinks he’s in the home stretch, pressure mounts from his family to see this mysterious spouse, and he has no choice but to turn to the one person he’s afraid to introduce to his one-percenter parents—his unpolished, not-so-ex-wife.

But in the presence of his family, Liam’s fears quickly shift from whether the feisty, foul-mouthed, paint-splattered Anna can play the part to whether the toxic world of wealth will corrupt someone as pure of heart as his surprisingly grounded and loyal wife. Liam will have to ask himself if the price tag on his flimsy cover story is worth losing true love that sprouted from a lie."
 
 

Anna Green married Liam Weston years ago as an arrangement to qualify for the much coveted campus housing in college. After an amicable arrangement, they part ways at graduation and don't see each other for years; that is until Liam shows up on Anna's doorstepApparently, they never really divorced and he needs her help again. Liam is the heir to a major successful grocery store chain and needs to stay married for five years to obtain his inheritance. This is where Anna comes in. He needs her to pretend to be married to him and attend his sister's wedding; in turn, Anna will get a cut of the money, which she desperately needs and Liam will get his inheritance if all goes well. So, off Anna and Liam go to a private island for a family wedding and although Liam's family is pretty horrible, Anna has come to realize that he isn't. Christina Lauren's The Paradise Problem is a steamy rom-com with everything readers could want in a beach read: a tropical setting, an opposites attract romance, family drama, and a lot of witty banter.

The Paradise Problem had me laughing out loud at times. It reminded me of one of my favorite rom-coms from the 90s. Anna is a delightful character, but also very quirky; you can't help but love her. Liam is her polar opposite, so I really enjoyed how their romance unfolded. Fans of the fake marriage trope will especially enjoy this one. Also, I liked the private island setting of The Paradise Problem as this only added to the beach read appeal. Fans of romance can't go wrong with Christina Lauren's novelsThe Paradise Problem will make for great vacation reading this summer.





Welcome Home, Caroline Kline by Courtney Preiss
Pages: 368
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 16, 2024
Publisher: G.P. Putnam
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "A young woman's reluctant return to her Jersey Shore hometown gives her the second chance she didn’t know she needed.

In New York City, newly single Caroline Kline is stumbling her way through the recent implosion of her life. After a surprise breakup leaves her with no job, no apartment, and no backup plan, she’s unsure what to do next. That is, until her father, Leo, injures himself in a bad fall and asks her to move home to the Jersey Shore suburb she was always desperate to escape. But Leo doesn’t want his daughter to be his caretaker; he needs her to replace him as third baseman in his local men’s softball league. This isn’t just any season, he claims. This is the year they have a real shot at the World Series, the pride and joy of Glen Brook, New Jersey.

Caroline agrees to move home, concerned that Leo is hiding a more serious health condition than he’s willing to admit. As the first female player in a league full of old-school men, she’s up against more than a few challenges. And when a night gone wrong lands her in the path of her hometown crush—and first love—Caroline struggles to reconcile the life she thought she’d have with the life she might actually want."

Caroline Kline has escaped her small Jersey shore hometown for the big city, except things aren't going as planned. She is struggling in all areas of her life and things only get worse when she gets a call that her dad, Leo, has fallen and is injured. He requests she come home to help him out while he recovers. Caroline really doesn't want to return home to all her old problems and the people she'd rather avoid, but she wants to be there for her dad. Turns out, her dad wants more than a caretaker. Caroline, who used to be a softball star, would be the perfect replacement on his men's softball team. She could take his spot on the team as he is convinced that the team is going to go all the way to the Men's Softball World Series. Being that Caroline's prospects in New York City aren't great at this time, she sticks around to help out and even play on her dad's team, which isn't very welcoming to her in the least. Welcome Home, Caroline Kline by Courtney Preiss is a charming debut novel that had me laughing out loud. Fans of baseball as well as family dramas will especially appreciate this one.

To be honest, Caroline isn't a very likable character in Welcome Home, Caroline Kline. She is struggling, makes poor choices, is pretty insecure, and is a self-saboteur. She is dealing with a lot of demons and needs to get it together. Where better to do that than back at home, right? Wrong. She is forced to confront issues she has run away from, her divorced parents, her old crush, her raging temper and even the sexist behavior of the men's softball team. As time passes, Caroline does evolve and grows as a person, which helps her to confront some of her issues. I really enjoy baseball, so I loved all the details of the softball games and the team's dreams of attending the World Series. This was a cute debut novel with a lot of steamier moments than I anticipated; nonetheless, a solid summer read with a Jersey Shore setting and all the baseball details.  


So, are you a fan of Christina Lauren? Will you be adding any of these books to your summer TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Mini Reviews: The Bottom of the Beach Bag


I've been trying to read more books on my shelf this year and that applies to beach reads, too. Sometimes there's a pile of books left over from the summer or at the bottom of your beach bag, right? Well, I hope to put a dent in that pile this year starting with these two.


The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: 28 Summers, Golden Girl,  
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor. And rumor has it...

...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;

...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely than necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it."
 

Eddie and Grace (Fast Eddie if you are an avid reader of Hilderbrand's novels) live an idyllic life on the beautiful island of Nantucket. They have a gorgeous home, thanks to Eddie's once thriving real estate business and beautiful grounds, thanks to Grace's touch as well as her landscaper, Benton. Their twin daughters, Allegra and Hope, are your typical superficial teens, but everything is going smoothly for their family. Their good friends, Madeline and Trevor, have invested in Eddie's latest real estate development and their families are as thick as thieves. Madeline is struggling to write her next novel though and is desperate for inspiration. When she finds out that Grace has started an affair, this becomes the topic of her next novel, which sends the entire island into a tailspin when someone reads an excerpt. Madeline's family is struggling financially right now and would love the money back from Eddie's real estate plans, so as you can see, things start to get sticky on the island; plus, add in some juicy gossip and readers have got themselves a major summer storm. Elin Hilderbrand's The Rumor isn't my favorite of her summer novels, but it's a pleasant way to pass an afternoon getting caught up on all the island drama.

So, here's the thing. The Rumor's characters are all pretty despicable and unlikable; however, Hilderbrand actually makes me care about them...somehow. It was similar to watching some major drama go down. You know it's going to be bad, but you have to see how it will end. Grace's affair is not smart, but it created some major flipping of the pages from me because I wanted to see how she was going to get out of this. Same with Madeline as we all know she shouldn't have used her friend's affair as the topic of her book, but she was in too deep. Hilderbrand has encouraged her readers to read The Rumor before Swan Song, which comes out this summer. I am sure many of these characters will make appearances in her next novel and I am glad I read it, but it wasn't my favorite of Hilderbrands and I  probably wouldn't have carved out the time to read it otherwise.



My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 6, 2023
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "Escape to the South Carolina Lowcountry, where family bonds and hidden secrets run deep.
In this gripping tale of self-discovery, Victoria Benton Frank introduces us to Maggie, a South Carolina transplant in New York City struggling to find her place in the world. When she receives a phone call from her troubled sister, Violet, Maggie must return to her hometown of Sullivan's Island, where she uncovers shocking secrets about her family's past.

Upon her arrival, Maggie is confronted with a disarrayed situation at The Magic Lantern, the cherished restaurant owned and operated by generations of women in her family. As she rediscovers the roots she left behind, she unexpectedly finds herself drawn to a charismatic farmer. But amidst her sister's impending breakup and their beloved matriarch, Gran, lying comatose due to a car accident caused by Maggie's troubled mother, Lily, the road to true love won't be easy.

When three generations of South Carolina women—the steadfast Gran, the troubled Lily, the impulsive Violet, and the determined Maggie, come together, anything becomes possible. Immerse yourself in the stunning depictions of marsh grasses and dunes, as this novel transports you to a world brimming with cherished family traditions and unforeseen twists of fate."
 

Magnolia is a chef in New York City and her life isn't exactly going as planned. She isn't where she wants to be career-wise, so when she gets the dreaded call that her beloved grandmother, Rose, was in a car accident, she returns home to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. For generations, her family has owned a restaurant on the island, The Magic Lantern. Without her grandmother there to run it, it has been struggling as it fell into Magnolia's mother's hands. Magnolia's mother, Lily, is an alcoholic and her boyfriend's influence doesn't help either. To make matters worse, Magnolia's sister, Violet, is unexpectedly pregnant by her boyfriend, so this complicates things for the family even more. Magnolia didn't plan on staying at Sullivan's Island as she left a boyfriend behind in New York, but her family needs her here in more ways than one. My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank, daughter of Dorothea Benton Frank, is a light beach read, but Frank tries too hard to fill her mother's shoes in this summertime novel.

My Magnolia Summer follows the typical formula of a woman returning home to a town that she left years ago and facing family; plus, all the problems that come with it. My Magnolia Summer, at its core, is a story of sisterhood and family, but ultimately, it fell flat to me due to hokey dialogue, uneven pacing, and surface level characters. There were some tender moments between family members, but overall, it wasn't enough. I did enjoy the details surrounding The Magic Lantern and I was rooting for Magnolia to turn the restaurant around for her much-loved grandmother. Overall, I felt like My Magnolia Summer never reached its full potential, but fans of Victoria's late mother, Dorothea, may like returning to beloved Sullivan's Island.

 
 
So, have you read The Rumor or My Magnolia Summer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 
 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Blog Tour: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner


 

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in Natalie Jenner's blog tour for her new historical novel, Every Time We Say Goodbye. I am very much looking forward to reading this one as I am a huge fan of Jenner's The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. Every Time We Say Goodbye follows Vivien Lowry (readers will remember her from Bloomsbury Girls!) and her story continues in 1950s London as well as Rome.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, I am sharing a official excerpt from the novel today. Historical fiction fans won't want to miss this one!

 

 

Learn More About the Book:

 

Goodreads says, "The bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls returns with a brilliant novel of love and art, of grief and memory, of confronting the past and facing the future.

In 1955, Vivien Lowry is facing the greatest challenge of her life. Her latest play, the only female-authored play on the London stage that season, has opened in the West End to rapturous applause from the audience. The reviewers, however, are not as impressed as the playgoers and their savage notices not only shut down the play but ruin Lowry's last chance for a dramatic career. With her future in London not looking bright, at the suggestion of her friend, Peggy Guggenheim, Vivien takes a job in as a script doctor on a major film shooting in Rome’s Cinecitta Studios. There she finds a vibrant movie making scene filled with rising stars, acclaimed directors, and famous actors in a country that is torn between its past and its potentially bright future, between the liberation of the post-war cinema and the restrictions of the Catholic Church that permeates the very soul of Italy.

As Vivien tries to forge a new future for herself, she also must face the long-buried truth of the recent World War and the mystery of what really happened to her deceased fiancé. Every Time We Say Goodbye is a brilliant exploration of trauma and tragedy, hope and renewal, filled with dazzling characters both real and imaginary, from the incomparable author who charmed the world with her novels The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls.

 

You can purchase your own copy of Every Time We Say Goodbye at Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million and Amazon. Also, you can learn more about Natalie Jenner by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

 

An Excerpt From the Novel: 

 
Excerpt from Every Time We Say Goodbye, by Natalie Jenner


Everything in life was a matter of pacing.

Lassiter had noticed the woman, or thought he had noticed her (could he be slipping?), a couple of times now. The first had been on a mild February day as he sneaked out of a private meeting at Cinecittà. She had rounded the corner of the studio on a peacock-blue bicycle, the front wicker basket holding a stack of paper weighted down by a pair of tangled high heels. Her bare feet were pedaling fast, and immediately he assumed she was one of the script girls. Or—better yet—an actress, with her wavy raven-black hair and stylish manner.

The second time had been at Peggy Guggenheim’s Carnival party on Mardi Gras a few weeks back. They were both been in costume, which must have slowed him down—by the time he made the connection, she was gone.

He had not seen her at the studio since. He had certainly not expected to find her here, wandering the Via Sacra alone. He liked to cut through the Forum as he slipped home from Anita’s apartments, long before the photographers were up. At dawn, the cats had the run of the place and it made him feel positively feral. In his early fifties, he still showed the American athleticism of his lost youth, strolling the sampietrini of Rome’s battered postwar streets with the nimbleness of a man half his age.

When he saw her standing there in her white knotted men’s shirt and bright peasant skirt, pensively taking bites of a maritozzo still in its café wrapper, he wondered if now was the time to say something. In a movie it would have been the perfect moment: minute nineteen out of ninety and the third encounter between the leads.

Then, as with so much in the movie industry, it was taken out of his hands. She turned back to the blue bicycle leaning against a two-thousand-year-old cracked column, finally noticed him, and walked on past. If she recognized him, she gave no sign of it.

“Mi scusi—”

She wheeled around at his words, wiped a bit of cream from the corner of her lips, and gave a smile that bordered on a smirk. “Don’t strain yourself. I’m a foreigner, too.”

Her words, spoken with an impeccable British accent, made the back of his neck tighten. “Actually, I live here.”

“So do I.”

“I mean I have done, for years.”

“I don’t think that’s what makes someone Italian, do you?”

He saw that she was joking with him in that very contrarian, British manner that he had always found tiring, even in a woman as beautiful as her. He also saw that she was not going to make this easy for him.
“I believe we were both at Peggy’s Carnival bash.”

She pitched the now-empty pastry wrapper into the bicycle basket. “I don’t recall being introduced.”

He extended his hand. “John. John Lassiter. Artemis Productions.”
The sun was slowly rising behind him and she shaded her eyes with her right hand to peer more closely at him.

“The warrior goddess,” was all she replied.

“Among other things.” He quickened his pace ahead of her to reach the bicycle and turn it around in his hands, then motioned for her to proceed as he gentlemanly walked the bike. Noticing the script in the basket next to the crumpled pastry wrap, he tried again.  “You’re in Teatro 5, right? Starring in…?”

“Not in. On.” She looked amused by his reaction. “I’m doctoring the script for When All Else Fails.”

“I hear it’s in rough shape.”

“It’s as crumpled as that wrapper.” She laughed wryly. “I appreciate your directness, at least.”

The words at least did not escape him. He had only a few yards left of Via Sacra to make his pitch. “Do you walk through here often?”

She shook her head. “Only for inspiration—and the history, of course. Today is the Ides of March, as you know.”

He did not know. For all his morning-after walks through the Forum, Lassiter was unaware that he had found her standing where Julius Caesar had been cremated following his assassination on that famous date. The producer had huge gaps in his education that he had spent a lifetime hiding through almost any means short of actually opening a book.

“Exactly,” was all he said instead.

They exited onto the pavement alongside the screeching, careening cars of the Via dei Fori Imperiali. She reached for the bicycle handles and he released them slowly, allowing his taut, tanned arms to brush against hers, pleased when she did not step back as quickly as she could have.

“See you at the studio, Mr. Artemis.”

“Lassiter,” he was pained to have to correct her. But she only smiled, and he realized she was teasing him again. “And you are?”
“Lowry. Vivien.” She ascended the bicycle and sped off, but he noticed she looked back at the corner. He had paced it well enough in the end.
Chapter 3, pages 25-28
Excerpt from Every Time We Say Goodbye, by Natalie Jenner © 2024, published by St. Martin’s Press
 
 
 
I can't wait to continue with Viven's story. Will you be adding Every Time We Say Goodbye to your summer TBR list? Let me know what you think in the comments below.  
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Blog Tour and Giveaway: 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me


May is Mental Health Awareness month so it's the perfect time to share this new picture book, 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me. The book focuses on breathing exercises and visualization techniques that kids can incorporate in their lives to combat stress. 

1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me is a wonderful book to include in a classroom library or home library to help children who deal with anxiety and support a calm environment. And did I mention there's an adorable puppy?



Learn More About the Book:

 


1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me

Written by Hillary Harper

Illustrated by Felipe Calv

Ages 3-8 | 38 Pages

Publisher: Cannoli & Co. Books | ISBN-13: 9798988363637

Publisher’s Book Summary: Meet Mack, the pup with emotions as big as his paws! At times, Mack finds himself overwhelmed by his feelings. His stomach is filled with butterflies, his legs grow wobbly, and he feels short of breath. Thankfully, Mack has his trusty sidekick, Gertie, to guide him through the tough times. Together, they explore ways to manage and overcome these powerful emotions.

Through Mack’s journey, children can learn breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and other self-regulation activities that can be practiced in their daily lives.

 
You can purchase your own copy of 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me at Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. You can learn more about Hillary Harper by visiting her website and connecting with her on Instagram.
 
 
 

Enter the Giveaway:

 
 
I've partnered with Hillary Harper to host a giveaway today to celebrate the publication of 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me. Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a signed copy of the book as well as a children's journal companion to the book. Good luck! 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me: Book Giveaway  
 
 
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