Showing posts with label Adult Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adult Fiction. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Blog Tour: The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston


 
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Dead Romantics
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
 
Goodreads says, "Sometimes, the worst day of your life happens, and you have to figure out how to live after it. So Clementine forms a plan to keep her heart safe: stay busy, work hard, find someone decent to love, and try to remember to chase the moon. The last one is silly and obviously metaphorical, but her aunt always told her that you needed at least one big dream to keep going. And for the last year, that plan has gone off without a hitch. Mostly. The love part is hard because she doesn’t want to get too close to anyone—she isn’t sure her heart can take it. And then she finds a strange man standing in the kitchen of her late aunt’s apartment. A man with kind eyes and a Southern drawl and a taste for lemon pies. The kind of man that, before it all, she would’ve fallen head-over-heels for. And she might again. Except, he exists in the past. Seven years ago, to be exact. And she, quite literally, lives seven years in his future. Her aunt always said the apartment was a pinch in time, a place where moments blended together like watercolors. And Clementine knows that if she lets her heart fall, she’ll be doomed. After all, love is never a matter of time—but a matter of timing."

 

 

Clementine inherits a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East Side from her kooky aunt, whom she loved to travel the world with. Clementine is dealing with some major grief after the death of her aunt, not to mention remembering all the strange stories she told about her "magical" apartment that bends time. She used to think it was all her aunt's strange stories, but when she wakes up to find aspiring chef, Iwan, in her apartment she is starting to realize her aunt was right. Iwan is living seven years in Clementine's past and she is living seven years in his future. In the same apartment! Clementine is also dealing with some bumps in the road regarding her life as well as her job, and Iwan is the greatest escape. His lemon dies, his southern accent, and his warm heart all make her gravitate toward him. The more time she spends with him, the more she starts to see things differently about her life and question what she really wants. How could they actually have a real relationship though? Her aunt warned her to never fall in love within the walls of her apartment and that is exactly what is happening. Ashley Poston's The Seven Year Slip is a delightful romance filled with magical realism.

Clementine is a wonderful character in The Seven Year Slip. She works as a book publicist for a small publisher in New York City, so that aspect of the story was interesting. She is at a crossroads at work though, not to mention dealing with the death of her beloved aunt. Then throw in Iwan, you have a lot of drama that Clementine must face. Clementine and Iwan's love story, due to the magical elements, is very unpredictable and in that case, I enjoyed that aspect of the story as I wasn't sure what would happen. How could they make this work in real life?

The threads of magic in The Seven Year Slip are perfect. Even though it seems really far-fetched, Poston made it believable for me. While it didn't pack the emotional punch of her previous novel, The Dead Romantics, I still enjoyed the ride and was rooting for Clementine. If you love a romance with a strong side of magical realism, look no further. This book will transport you and that makes it the perfect beach read for the summer.

Are you a fan of Ashley Poston? Do you plan to read
The Seven Year Slip this summer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Book Review: The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand


 
Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: 6/13/2023
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Golden Girl,  The Hotel Nantucket,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says, "Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into a heated argument one snowy morning, he leaves for the airport and is killed in a car accident. The cracks in Hollis’s perfect life—her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline—grow deeper. So when Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”—one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife—she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket. But the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie. The husband of Hollis’s childhood friend Tatum arranges for Hollis’s first love, Jack Finigan, to spend time with them, stirring up old feelings. Meanwhile, Tatum is forced to play nice with abrasive and elitist Dru-Ann, Hollis’s best friend from UNC Chapel Hill. Dru-Ann’s career as a prominent Chicago sports agent is on the line after her comments about a client’s mental health issues are misconstrued online. Brooke, Hollis’s friend from their thirties, has just discovered that her husband is having an inappropriate relationship with a woman at work. Again! And then there’s Gigi, a stranger to everyone (including Hollis) who reached out to Hollis through her blog. Gigi embodies an unusual grace and, as it happens, has many secrets. The Five-Star Weekend is a surprising and captivating story about friendship, love, and self-discovery set on Nantucket. It will be a weekend like no other."
 
 
Hollis Shaw has it all at first glance. She lives in beautiful Wellesley and has a gorgeous vacation home on Nantucket. Her husband is a doctor, her college-age daughter is an aspiring filmmaker, and Hollis is the face behind the wildly popular website Hungry with Hollis complete with a community of food lovers. But peel back the layers of perfection and you can see the cracks that are starting to form. Things with Hollis and her husband are on the rocks, her daughter is angry most of the time, and her family resents her for spending so much time on the internet with her "followers." When her husband decides to not attend their annual Christmas party and go to a work conference instead, Hollis is upset. They have words before he leaves and en route to the airport, he gets into a car crash and dies. Now Hollis's daughter, Caroline, is even more angry and things will never be the same for Hollis. She leaves Wellesley behind for Nantucket, which is her hometown, and comes up with the brilliant idea to boost her mood--host a "five-star" weekend featuring four of her best friends from the various stages of life. There's Tatum, her childhood best friend, and Dru-Ann, her college bestie. Then there's Brooke, her friend from when the children were little, and lastly, Gigi, her internet friend whom she has never met from Hungry with Hollis. She will combine them for a weekend of fun at her house on Nantucket. What could possibly go wrong? Elin Hilderbrand's The Five-Star Weekend is a story about female friendships, the ups and downs of life, and figuring it all out.

I must be honest that I had a hard time connecting with Hollis in
The Five-Star Weekend. I am not sure if it's because she was older than me, but I really couldn't connect with her like I usually do with Hilderbrand's protagonists. Nonetheless, I was rooting for her to find some happiness during her weekend with her friends; however, we know that is much more complicated than it appears at first glance. Getting together girlfriends from various stages of a person's life is a recipe for disaster, especially as personalities collide. Tatum, the Nantucket native, hasn't talked to Hollis in years and is dealing with her own very heavy medical issues. Brooke is facing another disaster with her husband and Dru-Ann, a very successful sports agent, is being canceled on social media. Then there's the mystery around Gigi. Who is she really? Throw in Caroline, as Hollis has paid her to film the weekend, and you've got yourself a houseful of drama. Plus, Hollis's first love, Jack, is back in town. Cue major drama between the fancy food, the tequila, color-coordinating dinners, and nights out at the Chicken Box.

One thing that Hilderbrand does so well in The Five-Star Weekend is to bring Nantucket to life. Readers can expect that from her by now. The fancy dinners, the Nantucket restaurants, the details surrounding the island, the descriptions of mouth watering food, the cold Sancerre.....you name it. The details are all there and every foodie will be dreaming of a delicious meal by the time they finish the novel. Also, Hilderbrand tackles some tough topics very well --- cancel culture, a possible cancer diagnosis, infidelity, sexual harassment, and more, but somehow keeps the book well-balanced, which is why her beach reads work so well. They have substance, but it isn't too overbearing and dark for summertime.

While
The Five-Star Weekend wasn't my favorite of Hilderbrand's novels, it is still a fantastic beach read that I know will be in many beach bags this summer. Have you picked up a copy of The Five-Star Weekend yet? Is it on your TBR list? What's your favorite of Hilderbrand's novels? Let me know in the comments below.


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Blog Tour: The Little Italian Hotel


Doesn't a vacation in Italy sound perfect right about now? I'll read any book set in Italy, especially when the character is on a whirlwind vacation, so I've had my eye on The Little Italian Hotel by Phaedra Patrick, which comes out today. 

Thanks to Park Row Books, I am sharing an excerpt from the novel. I think this heartwarming book will have you not only dreaming of a vacation in Italy, strolling through the piazzas and checking out the gorgeous sights with a cappuccino in hand, but it will tug on your heartstrings, too.


Learn More About the Book:

 
The Little Italian Hotel by Phaedra Patrick 
Pub. Date: June 6, 2023 
 

Book Summary: "Ginny Splinter, acclaimed radio host and advice expert, prides herself on knowing what’s best for others. So she’s sure her husband, Adrian, will love the special trip to Italy she’s planned for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. But when Ginny presents the gift to Adrian, he surprises her with his own very different plan—a divorce.  
Beside herself with heartache, Ginny impulsively invites four heartbroken listeners to join her in Italy instead while live on air. From hiking the hills of Bologna to riding a gondola in Venice to sharing stories around the dining table of the little Italian hotel, Ginny and her newfound company embark on a vacation of healing. 
However, when Adrian starts to rethink their relationship, Ginny must decide whether to commit to her marriage or start afresh, alone. And an unexpected stranger may hold the key to a very different future… Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment—even if it means leaving the past behind."

 

You can purchase your own copy of The Little Italian Hotel at Harper Collins, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. You can learn more about Phaedra Patrick by visiting her website and connecting with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  



An Excerpt From the Novel:



Mountains


“Hi, it’s Ginny Splinter, I’m listening. Tell me your worries…”

It was something she said so many times a day on her Just Ask Ginny radio show it had become second nature, like sprinkling sunflower seeds on her muesli or kissing her husband, Adrian, on the cheek before he left for work each morning.
Ginny arrived early at the Talk Heart FM studio that day to pass a financial planning article to a security guard who’d confided to her he was struggling to pay his rent. She stopped to chat to the young receptionist whose boyfriend wouldn’t commit to anything more serious between them.
“You shouldn’t rely on him for your own self-esteem. Never forget you’re a prize worth winning,” Ginny told her with a kind smile. “Come talk to me anytime.”
The receptionist wiped a tear from her eye. “Do you really mean that?”
“A promise is a promise. Stay strong, sweetheart.”

Ginny walked away with a glow in her chest, touched when others trusted her with their personal issues. She wasn’t one to toot her own horn, but when her friends wept into their chardonnay, she was the one they turned to for good advice and packets of tissues. Where others saw paths littered with broken glass, she chose to picture the sun rising over the mountains. It was probably why thousands of folk from Greenham, Ginny’s leafy northwest England hometown, tuned in to her daily advice show.

Throughout her fifteen years on the air, there wasn’t a problem Ginny hadn’t tried to fix, whether it was loneliness, retirement worries, body dysmorphia, noisy neighbors or bullying at work. She offered solutions for the lost loves, secret loves and the never-been-in-loves. Empathy was her superpower.

Other people’s issues made her appreciate her happy marriage all the more. Her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was just around the corner and she couldn’t wait to celebrate it in style. Whenever Ginny thought about the surprise holiday she’d booked for her and Adrian, in Italy, she couldn’t help smiling. Next month, in June, they were going to be staying in a gorgeous little village, Vigornuovo in Bologna, for three whole weeks. It would also be the perfect opportunity to renew their wedding vows, to reaffirm their love and commitment to each other and to have some fun, too.

The thought of spending quality time alone with her husband made a rush of warmth flood her skin. Ginny couldn’t wait to wander the side streets of Venice at dusk and admire Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. More than anything, she wanted to reignite the spark in her marriage. She and Adrian had been so busy recently that they were like cars speeding along a motorway in opposite directions. It made her feel uncharacteristically listless, especially now that their daughter, twenty-four-year-old Phoebe, had left home to move in with her fiancé, Pete, and was busy arranging her own wedding.
Ginny usually advised fellow empty nesters to keep busy by taking up a new hobby, perhaps home baking or walking a neighbor’s dog, but she was struggling to practice what she preached. Her hormones had felt out of balance for some time and sticking HRT patches to her backside, to banish her hot flashes, hadn’t proved to be the wonder cure she’d hoped for.

Last week, she’d had a worrying urge to rip open her blouse on the high street and flash her lacy bra to passersby. “See, I’m here, still desirable, not invisible!” she’d wanted to shout. But really, she wanted her husband to make her feel that way. The Italian holiday was going to be the perfect solution.

When she stepped into the elevator at work, Ginny was faced with a new life-sized poster of herself. She had an auburn high ponytail with a trademark curl at the end, and was wearing a pastel blue skirt suit with animal print heels. Her face had been airbrushed, removing every wrinkle, and she’d been given a golden halo and wings.
Ginny Splinter, Advice Angel, said the tagline.

Ginny pursed her lips. She didn’t like that her lines had been erased. She’d earned them over forty-nine years of life experience, like gathering stamps in a passport.
 
In the office, she waved at her latest producer, Tam. There was a conveyor belt of young graduates keen to join Talk Heart FM, using it as a training ground before migrating to bigger and better roles elsewhere. Tam was the latest recruit. She buzzed with ideas and her oversized black-rimmed glasses screamed ambition. 
Tam propelled her chair across the office at great speed while sitting in it. “Gin, babe,” she said, tapping a pen against her teeth. “Thought we’d shake things up today and take some live calls, if you’re up for it?”
Ginny sat down at her desk and frowned. “Are you sure that’s sensible? We’ve got time to run through the show and handpick a few problems. It gives me time to digest them and give my best advice.”
 
Her mind flicked back to a live call during which a woman had set fire to her husband’s clothes after discovering his affair. Fortunately, he’d not been wearing them at the time. Afterward, Ginny had fielded lots of calls from concerned listeners and had to assure them everything was okay. Since then, all her producers preferred to pre-record conversations.
Tam drummed her fingers on the table. “Come on, Gin. Today’s lead news story is about a herd of sheep escaping into Greenham town center.” She fanned a yawn with her hand. “You must be bored of the same old format, too. We don’t want Just Ask Ginny to become the missionary position of advice shows.”
 
Ginny narrowed her eyes. She knew her audience well. “Playing some great music, reading out listeners’ letters and giving them advice on air, plus a few pre-recorded interviews is a proven formula,” she said. “And the new poster makes me look like someone off Love Island.” 
Tam slow-blinked and tapped her teeth again. “Hmm…” she said, looking Ginny up and down critically. “Not sure about that.” 
Ginny was increasingly aware she was now twice the age of her colleagues. It felt unbelievable, laughable even, that she and Adrian would both turn fifty later that year. She always told callers that age was just a number, but she was finding the milestone confusing. One minute, she treated herself to a new pair of sparkly stilettoes, and the next she found herself reading reviews for thermal nightdresses. She bought pretty lingerie and vitamins to improve her energy levels. She was far from being old, but her youth sometimes seemed like a distant memory. 
“I’ve made my decision.” Tam pointed her pen at Ginny’s chest like a pistol. “Let’s go for the live calls.” 
Ginny tried not to growl. 
A few minutes later, she went live on air, playing songs by Ed Sheeran, Adele and Coldplay, slotting in a couple of her own choices by Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Strokes. 
Many of the callers seeking advice used a pseudonym and sometimes even affected a fake voice. Ginny nervously gnawed the inside of her cheek as she took a live call from Confused of Greenham. The woman didn’t know whether to enter a third marriage with a kind, generous man she didn’t love, or to pursue a fling with a younger pizza delivery guy. 
“Picture yourself five years from now,” Ginny said. “You’re lying on your sofa, wrapped in a blanket with a dose of the flu. A hand gently sweeps the hair off your clammy forehead. You open your eyes and see someone holding out a cup of hot tea and some aspirin for you. Is it your fiancé or the pizza guy?” 
“My fiancé, I suppose,” Confused said. 
“Then there’s your answer. You can get pizza anytime from any place. Care and understanding are more difficult to come by.” 
Ginny wrapped up the call and Tam’s weary voice came through her headphones. “Try making the next call sexier, Gin,” she said. “We don’t want listeners nodding off.” 
“I’m here to help, not titillate,” Ginny said through gritted teeth. She ran a hand down her ponytail and picked up a call from the next person on the line. “Hello, it’s Ginny Splinter, I’m listening. Tell me your worries.” 
The woman’s voice sounded shaky. “Oh, hello. It’s Miss…Peach.”

“Well, hi there, Miss Peach. Thanks for joining me today,” Ginny said. “Is there anything you’d like to share?”
 
The caller’s words stuttered out. “I only stayed with my husband for the sake of our child. You make a promise and then you’re stuck with it, for life. I wish I’d got out while I had the chance… I’ve wasted so much precious time and now I don’t know what to do.” 
A familiar ache of compassion rose in Ginny’s chest. It was something she welcomed but had also learned to control, so other people’s problems didn’t affect her too deeply. “I’m sorry to hear that,” she soothed. “It sounds like you’ve been through a tough time. There’s nothing you can do to change the past, but you can take control of your future.” 
“What if it’s too late for that?” 
“It’s never too late to move on. Focus on yourself and consider what you really want from life—” 
“And what if I don’t know?” Miss Peach snapped. “What if I’ve forgotten how to think about me?” 
Ginny hmm’d and delivered a sympathetic pause while considering what advice to give her caller. People often just needed a gentle push in the right direction. “Why not make a list of all the things you enjoy, perhaps a walk in the country or a trip to the cinema. Try to get to know yourself again and—” 
“As if that will work,” Miss Peach interrupted, her tone growing more brittle. “And what do you know anyway? You think you’re little Ms. Perfect, don’t you?” 
Ginny’s scalp prickled and her mouth dried. Her uneasy sensation made the room tilt a little. She waved a hand, trying to get Tam’s attention through the glass partition, but the producer was busy scrolling on her phone. “This call is about you, not me,” she told Miss Peach. “Please don’t let your regrets eat you up.” 
“I’ve seen photos of you and your husband in a magazine. Adrian, isn’t it? You think you have such a marvelous life together.” 
Ginny’s heartbeat began to thump ominously in her ears. A few thousand people would be listening in to this conversation. Oh, god, she hoped Adrian or Phoebe weren’t tuning in. Organizing a wedding was stressful enough for her daughter without this. Ginny drew a finger across her neck, indicating to Tam she was thinking of cutting the caller off.
Her producer didn’t notice.
 
“Shouldn’t you address your own problems before you lecture other people?” Miss Peach continued. “Do you even know what your husband gets up to at work? How well do you really know him?” 
Ginny hesitated and rubbed the double lines between her eyebrows. Of course she knew Adrian, from the way the moles on his back formed a diamond shape, to how he liked his toast served warm, not hot, and with butter spread right to the edges. He didn’t like the bedroom to be stuffy so he slept with the window ajar, even if it meant Ginny had to wear socks in bed during winter. He thought Porsches were works of art but would feel like a cliché owning one. He could be grumpy until his morning coffee kicked in and he enjoyed a nice glass of Rioja most evenings. He loved dogs, hated cats, liked dark chocolate but never white and sang Oasis songs while he shaved. 
Nevertheless, something icy seemed to slither down her spine. “Miss Peach, what do you mean by—?” Ginny started. 
“Ask him,” Miss Peach said. 
“Ask him what?” 
But there was a click and the line went dead.

 

Excerpted from The Little Italian Hotel. Copyright © 2023 by Phaedra Patrick. Published by Park Row Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

 
 
What do you all think? Will you be adding The Little Italian Hotel to your summer TBR list? I can't wait to read it and be transported to Italy. 


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.

 

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 18, 2023

Book Review: All the Days of Summer by Nancy Thayer



Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says, "Heather Willette has a good life in Concord, Massachusetts--complete with a husband who runs his own business and a son to take up his mantle one day. But now that her marriage has fizzled out and Ross, her only child, is graduating from college and getting serious with his girlfriend, Heather wonders if that life is the one she really wants. Ready to seek out her own happiness and discover herself again, Heather decides to leave her husband and rent a cottage on Nantucket. And her plan is going perfectly--until Ross announces he's moving to Nantucket to work at his girlfriend's family's construction business instead of going back home to work with his own father, like he'd promised. Worst of all for Heather, this means having to get along with her. Kailee Essex is thrilled that Ross is willing to move to her hometown. She has big hopes for their happily ever after, especially now that her parents are finally showing interest in her career. She's less thrilled, however, about his mother living nearby. Kailee has clashed with Heather since the day they met. But anything is possible in the summer sun and sea breezes of Nantucket--even reconciliation. And when change comes sooner than either Heather or Kailee expect, they must learn to overcome their differences to fight for the future they want. With All the Days of Summer, beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer delivers a moving novel that explores the complexity of family and the unexpected ways fate can guide you forward."

 

Heather Willette has spent the majority of her life working at her family's hardware store in Concord, Massachusetts, raising her son, Ross, and going through the motions in her less than stellar marriage. After Ross graduates from college, she realizes that her marriage is truly over and she decides to do something for herself for once. She rents a cottage on Nantucket for the summer during her divorce. All of her plans fall into place until Ross announces that he isn't moving home for the summer to help his dad at the hardware store, but instead will be moving to Nantucket with his girlfriend, Kailee, and working at Kailee's family's construction business. Cue the drama. This was especially problematic, because Heather didn't know that Ross would be on the island and she didn't want to seem like she was stalking her son. To complicate matters further, Heather has never really hit it off with Kailee and it is clear that Kailee doesn't really want Heather interfering in the slightest. Whether they are ready for it or not, changes are coming for both Heather, Ross, and Kailee this summer on Nantucket and there's a second chance in store for Heather, too, in All the Days of Summer by Nancy Thayer. It's the Hallmark movies of beach reads that begs to be read on vacation.

I enjoyed the character of Heather from the start of All the Days of Summer. I was desperate for her to get out of her marriage, because it was obvious her husband didn't care. While I questioned her finances and the logistics of leaving her life and moving to Nantucket ($$!!) of all places for the summer, I went with it. I mean it is a beach read, so let's not read into it too much. While there, Heather has a second chance at happiness. She walks the beach, helps out in the town, gets involved with a church, starts seeing someone, spends evenings with a good book, and even picks up a part-time job. It seemed everything was falling into place for her (a little too easy if you ask me), but I was rooting for her. However, her interactions with her future daughter-in-law were cringe worthy. Both of them are at fault for this, but this brings me to Kailee.

I did not care for Kailee from the start in All the Days of Summer. She was manipulative, boring, whiny, insecure, and downright rude. I mean the only reason why she even has a job at the successful Nantucket construction company is because she is an Essex, which is Nantucket royalty. Cue my eye roll. She is the very definition of nepotism and I didn't like how she roped Ross into working with her family for the summer. I questioned whether she even really cared for him at all or just liked controlling him. Needless to say, she was annoying pretty much the entire story, but towards the end she does redeem herself slightly.

My favorite aspect of the novel was the Nantucket setting. Thayer lives there and knows Nantucket well, so it was really brought to life. The restaurants, the beaches, the untouched parts of nature, and the downtown atmosphere were all well done. It made me want to plan a trip immediately and I was dreaming of my own Nantucket cottage vacation. My only issue with All the Days of Summer was the dialogue. I felt like Thayer had a difficult time capturing the dialogue of recent college graduates. The banter between Ross and Kailee did not feel authentic; in fact, I can guarantee people don't talk like that in their twenties. It felt like my grandmother wrote the dialogue. 

Nonetheless, All the Days of Summer was a solid beach read about second chances and, ultimately, it was a feel-good read by the end. Fans of Thayer's light beach reads will definitely want to throw this one in their beach bag this summer. So, are you a  fan of Thayer? Is this novel on your TBR list?       


 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Book Review: Happy Place by Emily Henry


Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: April 25, 2023  
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: Beach Read,
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t. They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends. Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most. Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?"

 

Wyn and Harriet have always been a part of an amazing friend group since college. This group takes a vacation to their "happy place" every summer: a cottage in Maine. Except they find out that this year will be the last year there as the cottage is up for sale, so they are determined to make this the best summer yet. Major problem though. Wyn and Harriet have been together for years, but they broke up six months ago and haven't told their friends, because they know it will devastate them. They can't tell them now as it will for sure ruin the vacation. So, things get awkward when Wyn and Harriet have to share a room and pretend for the entire week that they are still together. As Harriet spends more time this week with Wyn, she realizes she still has strong feelings for him. Plus, there's more issues in the friend group and things are inevitably changing for them all. Emily Henry's Happy Place is one of my favorite books of the year. It's snappy and witty dialogue had me laughing out loud and the plot was swoon-worthy, not to mention the perfect location of the cottage in Maine. A stellar beach read!

I really liked Harriet from the start in Happy Place. I think Henry creates such a realistic character in Harriet. She is a surgical resident and is constantly stressed, so she is really looking forward to her vacation in Maine, but is shocked to see Wyn there. This obviously complicates things and brings her romantic feelings for him to the surface. She tries to so hard to make things perfect for her friends as this is there last summer there and managing everyone's emotions takes a toll on her. Plus, there's the underlying issue of does she really want to be a doctor? Is this what she wants for her life or is this what her parents want for her? Does she want to be with Wyn? I couldn't help but wonder what happened to their relationship? I was hoping they could get a second chance at love.

Then there's Wyn. He is perfect. He is flawed, don't get me wrong, but he is a perfectly developed character that I was rooting for. I adored Henry's portrayal of their relationship and how it evolved in Happy Place. The then/now narrative really worked in giving us the full picture slowly. Wyn is such a complex character; he feels such a strong responsibility to his family and is dealing with a lot. Just like in Meet Me at the Lake, Henry tackles mental health issues that many people face and can relate to.

The best part of Happy Place was Henry's depiction of coastal Maine and the vacation. The restaurants, the cold white wine, the lobster, the quaint shops, and rowdy bars were so much fun and reminded me of my lazy days at the beach with friends. Combine all this with a wonderful romance and you've got yourself a winner of a beach read. I have to say that this is my favorite of Henry's novels to date. 

Have you read Happy Place? Are you a fan of Emily Henry? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 
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