Friday, June 2, 2023

Book Review: Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 6, 2023
Publisher: G.P. Putnam
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Nora Goes Off Script
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Beach Rules:  Do take long walks on the sand. Do put an umbrella in every cocktail. Do NOT run into your first love. Sam's life is on track. She has the perfect doctor fiance, Jack (his strict routines are a good thing, really), a great job in Manhattan (unless they fire her), and is about to tour a wedding venue near her family's Long Island beach house. Everything should go to plan, yet the minute she arrives, Sam senses something is off. Wyatt is here. Her Wyatt. But there's no reason for a thirty-year-old engaged woman to feel panicked around the guy who broke her heart when she was seventeen. Right?Yet being back at this beach, hearing notes from Wyatt's guitar float across the night air from next door as if no time has passed--Sam's memories come flooding back: the feel of Wyatt's skin on hers, their nights in the treehouse, and the truth behind their split. Sam remembers who she used to be, and as Wyatt reenters her life their connection is as undeniable as it always was. She will have to make a choice."



Sam has it all figured out. She is engaged to Jack, a doctor, and they live in an organized apartment in Manhattan filled with muted grays and minimalist decor. It's in major contrast to her life at her family's beach house in Long Island, which is filled with artwork, driftwood, shell collections, and bright colors. Sam plans to take her buttoned-up fiance to Long Island to look at a possible wedding venue.  Returning here is difficult for Sam as not only is it the polar opposite of her life in New York, but it's also a side of herself that she hasn't shown Jack. It's the messy, carefree, sand between her toes side. It's also the spot of most major heartbreak- her childhood sweetheart Wyatt broke her heart at 17 and she hasn't seen him since. Wyatt and Sam were very close since childhood as he lived next door to her beach house, so this was more than your average breakup. She needed some major therapy just to get over him, so the thought of being near Wyatt this weekend is testing her quite a bit. Wyatt is in town for a music festival, as he is a singer/songwriter and surprisingly, her family is still very social with him. Cue the awkwardness! The more time Sam spends at the beach, the more she starts questioning her relationship with Jack, what she wants out of life, and how she lives her life in New York. Also, could she still have feelings for Wyatt this many years later? Annabel Monaghan's Same Time Next Summer is beach read perfection. Highly recommend!

I really enjoyed Sam from the start of
Same Time Next Summer and I adored her carefree life at the beach house. Monaghan nails the then/now narrative technique and shares with us what life was like as a teen at the beach house and the evolution of her relationship with Wyatt. I thought she did this brilliantly! I could see where the story was taking us, but Monaghan did the second-chance romance trope very well. She made it work seamlessly and it felt authentic. I was smitten!

Which leads me to Wyatt. I really adored him in
Same Time Next Summer. He is a complex character and I appreciated his backstory. I would have liked more of him, but the chapters we do get from his point of view were well done. His struggles felt very real and his difficulty to find his niche also felt very relatable. I was rooting for him and don't even get me started with his Florida surfer boy guitar-playing vibe. Swoon!

Monaghan depicts life at a family beach house so well in Same Time Next Summer. I felt like I was there at the beach with Sam, swimming in the ocean, feeling the breeze, climbing up to the treehouse, running through the dunes, and eating dinner on the patio. I adored it!
Same Time Next Summer has absolutely everything I love in a beach read and it is going down as one of my favorite books of the year. A grand slam of a summer book and one that should be in everyone's beach bag this summer! Fans of Every Summer After will want to pick up a copy of this book immediately! 

Are you a fan of Annabel Monaghan? Will you read
Same Time Next Summer when it comes out next week? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Mini Reviews: Summer Indulgence Edition

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in some books that you normally might not read, whether they be out of your comfort zone or a new-to-you genre, summer is the time to try it out. For me, that is anything that is recommended for fans of Colleen Hoover as those type of books tend to be hit or miss for me. However, they can be the perfect type of novels to bring on vacation and read with a margarita in hand. 


My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

Pages: 368
Pub. Date: May 17, 2022
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Three lifelong friends plus a dangerous, sexy new stranger in town add up to a scorching summer of manipulation, obsession, and murder, from the acclaimed author of The Hunting Wives. A woman in the forest thinks she’s going to die. I know he’s coming back for me. Jen Hansen, Kittie Spears, and Cynthia Nichols have been friends since childhood. They are now approaching forty and their lives have changed, but their insular East Texas town has not. They stay sane by drinking wine in the afternoons, dishing about other women in the neighborhood, and bonding over the heartache of their own encroaching middle age and raising ungrateful teens. Then Will Harding comes to town, moving into one of the neighborhood’s grandest homes. Mysterious and charming, he seems like the answer to each woman’s prayers. He’s a source of fascination for Jen, Kittie, and Cynthia, but none of them are ready for the way Will disrupts their lives. As Will grows closer with each of the women, their fascination twists into obsession, threatening their friendships and their families. When he abruptly pulls away, each woman scrambles to discover the source of his affection. But what they’ll uncover is far more sinister and deadly than any of them could have ever imagined."


Jen Hansen moves back home with her teenage son after a nasty divorce. She hopes to start over in her hometown in Texas and it will be great to have the support of her best friends Kittie and Cynthia. They love to spend the evenings sipping wine on each other's patios and discussing the latest gossip. A recent hot topic is the new neighbor Will Harding. He is good-looking, single, and has caught the eye of Jen. Of course, her best friends support Jen and want her to put herself out there with Will; what better way to get over her cheating ex-husband? Except things aren't as they seem at all. As Kittie and Cynthia get closer to Will (under the guise that they want to get Jen with him) they start to have feelings for him, too. Before we know it, all three women are obsessed with him and things get dangerous in more ways than one. May Cobb's My Summer Darlings is a juicy beach read of a novel that is part thriller, romance, and mystery. While it is absurdly far-fetched at times, I needed to know how this novel was going to end for these highly dysfunctional women.

You know when you read a novel and you hate all the characters? Like not one character has redeeming qualities? That was
My Summer Darlings for me. It was a train wreck. If Desperate Housewives had a love child with a soap opera, it would be this novel. The catty behavior was next level from full-grown women who are all pining for this guy. I didn't buy it. I mean who is he? Even if he was Henry Cavill's look-alike brother, I still don't buy it. So, if you can suspend your disbelief and just go along for this crazy ride, then you'll enjoy My Summer Darlings, which was probably the most absurd beach read/summer thriller I've read in years.


Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Pages: 560
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: January 12, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride. Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order. Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of. There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life. At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger."



Naomi has left her fiance at the altar and is en route to Knockemout, Virginia, where her hot mess of a twin sister, Tina, has gotten herself into trouble, again. She goes to her sister's rescue, but instead is played by her, again. Tina steals her car, and her money, and leaves behind her eleven-year-old daughter. So, it appears Naomi is stuck in Virginia without a car, job, or house, and now has to take care of her niece whom she didn't even know she had. Enter Knox. Everyone knows him around town. He likes to be alone and is often in a grumpy mood, but deep down is a good guy. He can't possibly leave Naomi and her niece on the streets, so he decides to help her out even though he and Naomi are opposites and get along like water and oil. Slowly, Naomi gets acclimated to Knockemout and helps her niece. Even though Knox feels something for Naomi, he can't possibly get involved with such a high-maintenance woman, except trouble seems to follow her. Plus, Naomi can't stop thinking about Knox, the local hot guy barber who seems to be everywhere. Lucy Score's romance, Things We Never Got Over, has a lot of buzz surrounding it and I can see why. It's a compulsively readable romance that's perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover.

While I can see why
Things We Never Got Over is such a hit for many, for me it was just an average read. I will admit it was hard to put down, but I do feel like it could have used a bit more editing and the dialogue felt really cheesy. Knox was calling Naomi "baby" it felt like right off the bat and that seemed a little much. Also, it's 560 pages! That's a bit long for a contemporary romance. Nonetheless, if you love a good grumpy/sunshine or enemies to lovers trope, this one is done well overall and you'll definitely be flipping the pages this summer regardless of the novel's minor issues.

So, are you a fan of beach reads with extra doses of drama? Are these books on your TBR list or have you read them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Can't Wait Wednesday: Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen

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


Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen by Sarah James

Pub. Date: November 7, 2023




Goodreads says, "Perhaps the best place in 1943 Hollywood to see the stars is the Hollywood Canteen, a club for servicemen staffed exclusively by those in show business. Murder mystery playwright Annie Laurence, new in town after a devastating breakup, definitely hopes to rub elbows with the right stars. Maybe then she can get her movie made. But Hollywood proves to be more than tinsel and glamour. When despised film critic Fiona Farris is found dead in the Canteen kitchen, Annie realizes any one of the Canteen's luminous volunteers could be guilty of the crime. To catch the killer, Annie falls in with Fiona's friends, a bitter and cynical group―each as uniquely unhappy in their life and career as Annie is in hers―that call themselves the Ambassador's Club.Solving a murder in real life, it turns out, is a lot harder than writing one for the stage. And by involving herself in the secrets and lies of the Ambassador's Club, Annie just might have put a target on her own back."


Who wants to think about fall right now? I certainly do not, but all the fall titles are starting to be announced. When I heard about this one, I knew I had to add it to my TBR list. Who doesn't love a good historical fiction + mystery? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 



Friday, May 26, 2023

Mini Reviews: Beach Read Edition


'Tis the season for all the beach reads, right? Here are two delightful new releases for your beach bag this summer. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Islanders
My Rating; 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Amy Trevino, a former aspiring playwright, has stayed close to her Rhode Island hometown while her famous brother, Timothy Fleming, pursued and achieved his Hollywood dreams. Now a high school English teacher and occasional drama director, Amy takes on the production manager role for her brother’s play in an effort to mend rifting family relationships.  Sam, Amy’s daughter, was a Disney child star who continued her pursuit for fame in a Manhattan TikTok house. Now she’s returned home unexpectedly. Her sudden arrival is shrouded in secrets, and Sam refuses to open up to her mother, deciding instead to join her uncle on Block Island for the summer.   Timothy, a successful and well-loved actor, is directing a summer production at a storied Block Island theater—and his famous ex-wife has the lead role. As they work together to ensure the production is a success, Amy, Sam, and Timothy are forced to grapple with their desires for recognition and fortune, stand up for what they believe art and fame actually mean, and discover what they really want out of life. A bighearted and delicious novel about family, ambition, and opportunity,  Summer Stage is the must-read book of the summer. "



Timothy Fleming, a famous actor, returns home to help his ex-wife, Gertie, who is also an actress with her summer production of Much Ado About Nothing. Gertie needed a location for her show and Timothy pulled some strings and got a location at his hometown of Block Island. He even recruits his sister, Amy, as production manager as not only was she once an aspiring playwright, but maybe they will make amends this summer. Then there's Amy's daughter, Sam, a child actress. She returns home unexpectedly this summer. She was once very successful but has suffered a bit as of late due to a social media scandal that she doesn't want her family to know about. As they all work together this summer on the show, both family and backstage drama ensue in Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore.

What better than a summer theater production set on the coastal town of Block Island? Cue all the drama!
Summer Stage was filled with a lot of behind-the-scenes of what goes on during a theater production, but it also a lot of heart in it. It dealt with family issues, old resentments, and moving on from the past. It took a while to get the story going, but once it did, I truly cared about the characters and their summer theater production. While I could have used a bit more "beach" in this novel, it was still a solid read for the summer, especially for fans of family drama.


The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Mystic Summer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth. Her daughter-in-law Cora has her own complicated feelings surrounding Tish’s return as well as doubts about her place within the Darling family. After all, Cora came into the family carrying a secret that her husband promised to keep for her forever. Tish’s sudden return to Riptide may force everything they’ve worked so hard to protect out into the light. Meanwhile, Cora’s eldest daughter, Andi isn’t exactly looking forward to her little sister’s wedding so soon after her own divorce. To make matters worse, her ex has arrived on the Cape with his insufferable new girlfriend. Andi has no idea how she’ll be able to survive this family reunion…until she bumps into an old friend from the past. A friend who may just offer her a second chance. As the three distinct generations of Darling women arrive at Riptide, they have no idea that this summer will forever change them. One old secret, kept with the best of intentions, threatens to not only divide the family, but shatter each member’s sense of who they really are. Can the ties that bind survive, when the history you’ve always been told turns out to be untrue?


Tish Darling is in her 90s now and hasn't returned to her family's beach house, aptly named Riptide, since a tragic accident many years ago. She wants to keep it in the family, so she plans to gift it to her granddaughter at her wedding there this summer. She arrives three weeks early, which sends the family into a tizzy, as Cora, her husband's wife, has never really gotten along with Tish. They are all gathered at Riptide for Sydney's wedding, including her older sister, Andi, and this proves to be a challenging few weeks as she is going through her divorce. Cora is trying to keep things going smoothly for her daughter's wedding, but she can't seem to control everything, including Tish's secret that she plans to unload before the wedding, which will prove that Cora is hiding some secrets of her own. The Darlings is a juicy family drama set in a gorgeous beach house; The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon is the perfect companion to a lazy day at the beach.  

The Darlings focuses on Tish, Cora, and Andi the most and I have to say that I found myself rooting the most for Tish and Andi. Cora's story, while I was sympathetic towards her plight, I found myself getting frustrated with her choices. On the other hand, I appreciated Tish's journey as it tugged on my heartstrings, and McKinnon's use of flashbacks really filled in the gaps regarding what happened at Riptide and how did Tish end up in the place she is at. The huge secret that she held all these years was bursting at the seams and while I am not sure her timing was right, it made for an entertaining story. Lastly, I adore McKinnon's style. There's something about how she describes a beach house and a family coming together that appeals to me; I was smitten! Family drama lovers shouldn't miss
The Darlings this summer.

So, what do you think of these two beach reads? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Mini Reviews: WWII Edition


If you love historical fiction, you won't be let down by these two historical novels that take place during WWII, which is one of my favorite time periods to read about. Both novels involve female spies and/or codebreakers, so it's always interesting when authors highlight strong women from the time period.


The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly
Pages: 528
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 18, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Lilac Girls
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Two former female spies, bound together by their past, risk everything to hunt down an infamous Nazi doctor in the aftermath of World War II—an extraordinary novel inspired by true events from the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls. American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue are thrilled to be working in the French resistance, stealing so many Nazi secrets that they become known as the Golden Doves, renowned across France and hunted by the Gestapo. Their courage will cost them everything. When they are finally arrested and taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with their loved ones, a reclusive Nazi doctor does unspeakable things to Josie’s mother, a celebrated Jewish singer who joined her daughter in Paris when the world seemed bright. And Arlette’s son is stolen from her, never to be seen again. A decade later the Doves fall headlong into a dangerous dual mission: Josie is working for U.S. Army intelligence and accepts an assignment to hunt down the infamous doctor, while a mysterious man tells Arlette he may have found her son. The Golden Doves embark on a quest across Europe and ultimately to French Guiana, discovering a web of terrible secrets, and must put themselves in grave danger to finally secure justice and protect the ones they love. Martha Hall Kelly has garnered acclaim for her stunning combination of empathy and research into the stories of women throughout history and for exploring the terrors of Ravensbrück. With The Golden Doves, she has crafted an unforgettable story about the fates of Nazi fugitives in the wake of World War II—and the unsung females spies who risked it all to bring them to justice."


Former resistance fighter, Josie Anderson, should be starting her life over now that WWII is over, but she finds herself working undercover at Fort Bliss, Texas. She has been offered the job of tracking down Nazi physician, Dr. Snow, who experimented on people at Ravensbruck concentration camp. This is very personal for Josie as Dr. Snow "worked" on Josie's mother. Then there's Arlette, a former resistance fighter who partnered with Josie, who had her son taken from her during the war. She hopes to be reunited and heard that there is an orphanage in French Guiana for children that were separated from their parents during the war. After so many years apart, she gets a tip that her son might be there, but once she arrives at the orphanage, things aren't as they seem and something sinister lurks in the shadows. Martha Hall Kelly's The Golden Doves is another historical home run, but it is very heavy at times, so readers should be in the right frame of mind before they pick it up.

One thing I can count on Kelly for is a well-researched historical novel. I always learn something when I read her novels and they always really move me. Whether I am experiencing anger at the atrocities committed during WWII, extreme sadness for the victims, or both, Kelly always packs an emotional punch. Readers that enjoy stories based on real-life events, as well as female spies, will especially enjoy this one. I know I was personally blown away by learning the details surrounding Operation Paperclip as well as the Catholic involvement in transporting Nazis to South America. My mind was blown! And even though it was tough to read at times, isn't that the point of a good historical novel? I am glad that Kelly took the time to shed light on some details of the war that often get forgotten.

The Codebreaker's Secret by Sara Ackerman
Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 2, 2022
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads says, "A brilliant female codebreaker. An “unbreakable” Japanese naval code. A pilot on a top-secret mission that could change the course of WWII. The Codebreaker's Secret is a dazzling story of love and intrigue set during America’s darkest hour. 1943. As war in the Pacific rages on, Isabel Cooper and her codebreaker colleagues huddle in “the dungeon” at Station HYPO in Pearl Harbor, deciphering secrets plucked from the airwaves in a race to bring down the enemy. Isabel has only one wish: to avenge her brother’s death. But she soon finds life has other plans when she meets his best friend, a hotshot pilot with secrets of his own. 1965. Fledgling journalist Lu Freitas comes home to Hawai'i to cover the grand opening of the glamorous Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Rockefeller's newest and grandest project. When a high-profile guest goes missing, Lu forms an unlikely alliance with an intimidating veteran photographer to unravel the mystery. The two make a shocking discovery that stirs up memories and uncovers an explosive secret from the war days. A secret that only a codebreaker can crack."



It's 1943 and Isabel Cooper has enlisted in the Navy as a codebreaker. She initially enlisted, because her brother died at Pearl Harbor, and since then has been so good at breaking the Japanese naval codes, she is sent to the Big Island to work at the Dungeon, an underground facility, and she is the only woman. While there, she spends her time off learning more about her brother through his best friend, Matteo, hiking the island, exploring the lush landscape, surfing, and attending some parties with friends. The more time she spends with Matteo, a pilot, the more she can't deny her strong feelings for him, even though he has plans of his own. Told in an alternating storyline in 1965, journalist Lu, attends the opening of Mauna Kea Beach Resort to write an article for Sunset magazine. The two storylines slowly connect surrounding the disappearance of two women twenty-two years apart. Sara Ackerman's The Codebreaker's Secret is a wonderful historical novel that brought Hawaii to life and gave readers an inside glimpse into codebreaking during the war in the Pacific.

I really enjoyed the character of Isabel right from the start. I found her storyline to be a little bit more intriguing than Lu's, but once the stories started to intersect more, mainly with the disappearance of two women, I was intrigued. One thing Ackerman does so very well is bring Hawaii to life. I felt like I was there - the atmosphere and imagery were breathtaking at times despite the war raging in the background and the sinister undertones in 1965. It's another hit from Ackerman and I am not sure I'll ever tire of her WWII stories set in Hawaii.

So, are you a fan of WWII novels? Have you read Kelly or Ackerman's novels? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Design by: Designer Blogs