Friday, April 19, 2019

Blog Break

I am taking a blog break to celebrate Easter with my family and to also prepare for my 8th Annual Summer Kickoff Feature.  Can you believe it has been 8 years? I am excited to share with you guys some of the best books of the summer!   

If you celebrate the upcoming holiday, I hope you enjoy it and if you want to connect during my blog break, you can find me on Instagram.  Thanks for visiting and I'll be back soon!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Audio Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co. 
Source: Personal Copy 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says,"Bernadette Fox has vanished.  When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces--which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter's love for her mother."

At first glance, Bernadette may appear to be your run of the mill mother, but she isn't and hides many secrets from those around her. For starters, she was an architectural genius in Los Angeles before some unfortunate things happened to her professionally.  Now she is a homebody with a ton of phobias and emotional issues.  Her husband is equally smart and works at Microsoft.  After years of fertility issues, they had Bee, who is also very bright and goes to a private school in Seattle. Bernadette despise the other nosy mothers at Bee's school and has never really acclimated to Seattle life.  Bee did well in school and in turn, the family plans on taking an extravagant trip to Antarctica to celebrate. Bernadette hates going out in public let alone a trip to Antarctica, so this throws her for a major loop.  To top it off, Bernadette is being blamed for a disaster that occurred at the school's fundraiser, so after these series of unfortunate events, she decides to up and leave.  With Bernadette gone, Bee tries to piece together the mysteries surrounding her mother and figure out where on Earth did she go?  Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is an entertaining audio book that had me laughing out loud while also feeling empathy towards Bernadette.

I loved the character of Bernadette in Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I am not sure what this says about me, but I adored her. I thought she was whip-smart and super funny, especially when it came to  her interactions with the other parents at Bee's school.  Although Bernadette has her "mental" issues, I could appreciate her struggle of being a mother and not always living up to everyone's expectations.    The fact that she hired a personal assistant via the internet is pretty hilarious in its own right.  On the other hand, her husband, Elgie, was a huge pain in the butt. I was wondering why she even married him.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is told through a series of emails, public records, letters, etc, which makes it a very fun audio book.  I think the narrator, Kathleen Wilhoite, did a fantastic job capturing the various different characters and she was a pleasure to listen to.

If you enjoy quirky tales with a huge side of wit, check out Where'd You Go, Bernadette.  I am so glad I did before the movie comes out this summer. Did you read or listen to this book? Let me know your thoughts! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: One Night at the Lake

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

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase
Pub. Date: June 18, 2019

Goodreads says, "A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness in the tradition of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet.  Leah Tessaro has been waiting for this moment for a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple has been together for four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. And Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June Kang, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.   Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancĂ©, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend, Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her sense of foreboding.  Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is a gripping novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: What exactly happened to Leah on that hot summer night?"

If you like your beach reads a little more serious and with a side of a mystery, then this one sounds perfect!  What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

 Pages: 432
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Starry Eyes
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.  Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.  In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.  To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel."
Birdie has lived a very sheltered life on Bainbridge Island, outside of Seattle. Not only was she homeschooled, but she was raised by her grandparents after her mother's untimely death.  Recently, her grandmother has passed away, so that leaves just her and her grandfather and the occasional visit from Aunt Mona, her mother's best friend.  Also, Birdie loves to visit the Moonlight Diner and while there she meets and has a romantic encounter with a guy named Daniel.  She flees after their hookup thinking she never will see him again. Until she does.  Birdie, who took a summer job at a historic hotel in Seattle, is working with her one-time hookup, Daniel. Cue the awkward music, especially since Birdie literally ran off after their romantic night.  Birdie is also a mystery book aficionado and Daniel knows this, so he suggest they try to crack the case of famous (yet elusive) Raymond Drake, a bestselling author who is known to stay at their hotel, but keeps his identity a secret.  Will Birdie and Daniel crack this case and in turn, will Daniel break down the walls surrounding Birdie's heart? Jenn Bennett writes quirky, yet adorable, characters better than most YA author out there and in Serious Moonlight she doesn't disappoint.

Birdie is the sort of character that you root for, but you know she is painfully awkward.  Her obsession with mysteries is so endearing though. She often "investigates" people in her own life and loves solving puzzling situations in Serious Moonlight.  Her emotional issues, such as with abandonment, the death of her mother, etc, are all handled realistically and very well. There's no stigma to any of it and Bennett really keeps the romance in Serious Moonlight very sex-positive, which I appreciate. We need more of that in YA literature.  Birdie also has a health issue that is handled very well and I think young adults can appreciate this as well as relate to such a nuanced and complex character.

Her relationship with Daniel is oh-so-adorable in Serious Moonlight. Daniel isn't the too cool jock plays football; he is your regular next door neighbor type of guy with a strong nerdy streak. I just adored him and his interest in magic.  I thought his family life and what his Japanese-American parents also went through was handled very well and I appreciated Bennett addressing such serious issues as internment camps.  It all added to Daniel's complexity, which makes him a much more well-rounded and appealing character.

And that's what Bennett does so very well. Her characters are deep, fleshed out, and multi-faceted.  They shine like diamonds and jump off the page; they aren't caricatures in the very least. I think Bennett, along with John Green, does this the best when it comes to writing complex, quirky and smart young adults. Also, it should be noted that Bennett wrote a fantastic adult character--Aunt Mona! I adored her and seriously want to hangout with her now.

Even though Serious Moonlight has a mystery in it regarding the famous author at the hotel, it also deals with emotional issues, romance, and even health issues.  I liked that it was so much more than your run of the mill YA romance.

While I didn't like it as much as Starry Eyes, it still was an entertaining read and one that kept me flipping the pages. I was sad to say goodbye to Birdie at the end of Serious Moonlight.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winners (95)

Book Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry 
Can't Wait Wednesday: Sunset Beach
Book Review: The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman

This week I am sharing my thoughts on Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. It wasn't as good as Starry Eyes, but it was still an enjoyable contemporary read.  Bennett writes such adorable quirky characters.  I'm also going to share my thoughts on the book Where'd You Go Bernadette, which was a lot of fun and made for the perfect audio book.  I am so glad I finally had the chance to read it, especially before the movie comes out.  


This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni - Thanks to Penguin Teen
Teeny Weenies: Freestyle Frenzy by David Lubar - Thanks to Starscape

Teeny Weenies: The Intergalactic Petting Zoo by David Lubar - Thanks to Starscape
Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan - Thanks to Blink YA

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman - Thanks to Disney-Hyperion
The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore - Thanks to William Morrow

You, Me and The Sea by Meg Donohue - Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and William Morrow
Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer - Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen - Thanks to Balzar + Bray and Edelweiss

And the winner of an ARC of The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore goes to......... 


Congrats! I hope you enjoy the book!

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.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Book Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Pages: 480
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Pub. Date: March 8, 2019
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating; 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "It's 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She's a shy and talented pianist; he's a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it's immediate and deep—and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.  Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who's played Carnegie Hall, he's a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that's before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who's already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.  Thirty years after these four lovers' fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love."

It's 1917, which means WWI is currently happening in full force.  We meet Hazel, who is normally a homebody, but goes out one night to play the piano at a party.  While there, she meets James, a soldier, whose plans to become an architect are on hold thanks to the Great War.  Their attraction is instantaneous, but what will happen when he is shipped off to war and she remains home in her sleepy little town?  Then there's Colette, whose entire town in Belgium, suffered due to the German invasion.  Her entire family and most of the town was destroyed.  Colette enlists to avenge their deaths and because what else is there to do at this point if she wants to make a difference? Lastly, there's Aubrey, an accomplished African-American musician, who is sent to Europe to help fight along side the African American regiment.   All of the characters' slowly intertwine as the goddess Aphrodite explains stories to Hephaestus and Ares.  Julie Berry's Lovely War is a moving tale of romance, friendship, tragedy, and essentially, the endurance of love. 

I really loved the character of Hazel in Lovely War. She has spent most of her life behind a piano and hasn't truly lived.  James pushes her out of her comfort zone and they form an instant bond.  I loved following along their romance despite the fact that the war complicated things tremendously.  I also really appreciated Berry's depictions of the war and what James and other soldiers had to endure.  Berry truly brought the horrors of war to light and how its grasp continues to keep a strong hold long after a soldier has left the battlefield.  Then there's Colette and Aubrey who were also very interesting characters. Colette's back story truly tugged on my heartstrings and Aubrey was an incredible character as well.  Berry depicted not only sexism during World War I, but also racism and how that impacted the American troops serving overseas.  Berry's characters practically leaped off the page; I loved them all equally and was completely invested in their stories.

I wasn't sure how on earth Berry was going to pull off tying in Greek mythology, especially when it's Aphrodite telling the stories to the other Greek gods. It seemed almost like a plot device, but not only did she make it work, she made it memorable. In fact, I actually started caring about Aphrodite and her drama with Hephaestus, which surprised me!

Lovely War was serious at times as it deals with WWI, but it was hopeful.  It reminded me of not only the importance of love, but also the staying power of love as well as the power of hope. Needless to say, I adore the overall message in Lovely War and I am completely blown away by Berry's ability to tell a tale. She weaved a magnificent one in and I can't wait to read more of her novels in the future. Lovely War is going down as one of my favorite YA books of the year. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: Sunset Beach

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

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews
Pub. Date: May 7, 2019

Goodreads says, "Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.  It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.  With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.  Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews' signature wit, heart, and charm."

Mary Kay Andrews writes such fun beach reads. Would you look at the cover of her latest? *Sigh* It sounds like the perfect book to bring on vacation this summer. What do you guys think? Are you a Mary Kay Andrews fan? If so, which one of her books is your favorite? 

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