Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Goodbye to Clocks Ticking by Joseph Monninger

The book is being released by Steerforth on March 14, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: An uplifting journey of truly seeing and appreciating what makes life worth living in the year following a terminal diagnosis

For fans of Ann Patchett’s These Precious Days and Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking

Goodbye to Clocks Ticking is an unforgettable book that tells the story of a singular year of challenges, insights, and peculiar gifts. It is also a sort of postcard from a place many of us will one day visit.

After thirty-two years of teaching, Joe Monninger, an avid outdoorsman in robust health, was looking forward to a long retirement with the love of his life in a cabin beside a New England estuary. Three days after his last class, however, he’s diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, even though he has not smoked for more than 30 years. It was May, and he might be dead by early fall.

Soon Joe learned, however, that he was a genetic match for treatment with a drug that could not cure his cancer, but could prolong his life. With this temporary reprieve, he sets out to live life to the fullest and to write about the year of grace that follows, from his cancer treatments to his innermost thoughts.

Goodbye to Clocks Ticking is a work of wisdom and insight. Joe Monninger’s aubade to the world that he knew and loved offers a page-turning, suspenseful story to relish and to celebrate, to share and to discuss, to ponder and to learn from.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

The book is being released by Sourcebooks Landmark on March 7, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: For fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, a stunning debut following Clytemnestra, the most notorious villainess of the ancient world and the events that forged her into the legendary queen.

As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best…

You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.

But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.

Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods' hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.

If power isn't given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

A blazing novel set in the world of Ancient Greece for fans of Jennifer Saint and Natalie Haynes, this is a thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of an unforgettable Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who wronged her.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

When you want a feel good, happily ever after kind of read, you can't do better than to pick up a sweet and charming, small, British village set Christmas rom-com. And that is exactly what Jenny Bayliss delivers in The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

Kate, a thirty something year old successful fabric designer and artist has moved back to the small village where she grew up. She's thoroughly happy living in her childhood home, close to her delightful father, and baking delicious sounding treats for her old friend Matt's coffee shop. But she wouldn't be against meeting the right man. So she allows her best friend Laura to convince her that signing up for an online dating agency's Twelve Dates of Christmas package will be fun. Each date is a different type of seasonally appropriate experience with a different guy. As anyone who has heard or experienced online dating might guess, some of the dates are disastrous. Some are friendly. Some are fun. Some are hilariously awful. And some are downright odd.

It's really no surprise who Kate ends up with in the end but the getting there is the draw of the story. Each chapter of the book takes on one date and Kate's day or days leading up to it. There is quite a bit of back story about her friendship with Laura and Matt, her relationship with her parents, her lovely father and her self-absorbed mother, and very detailed descriptions of the things that inspire her artwork. Bayliss has drawn the village of Blexford and its residents as incredibly appealing. There's a lot more to the story than just dating flops and even though the ending is predictable, it's a comfortable and satisfying predictable. Perhaps best read in the lead up to Christmas, this is overall a cute story.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Review: Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

Donuts. Yum! A hot actor and a bakery store owner. Swoon! Cooking lessons, a reality baking show, living with grief, and learning to embrace the changes in life, both good and bad. Ahhhh! Jackie Lau's sweet contemporary rom-com, Donut Fall in Love, has a taste of all of these.

Ryan Kwok is an actor who is taking a break after his latest movie, a romance, isn't performing as expected at the box office. He's moved home to Toronto and is grieving the recent loss of his mother, to whom he was incredibly close. He has a more strained relationship with his father, who has started trolling him on Twitter for all of the shirtless pictures Ryan has posted. Lindsay McLeod is a baker who makes absolutely delectable sounding donuts. Her best friend has just gotten married and left on her honeymoon, Lindsay's new roommate is not unfriendly exactly but definitely standoffish, and her mother brought a man she's just had a date with to Lindsay's bakery, a man who looks very much like Lindsay's late father. She's having a rather bad day when Ryan runs into her, literally, ruining two newly finished, full trays of her donut of the day, making her mood and her day even worse. Not the best first impression. Cut to Ryan's agent getting him a gig on a celebrity baking show, the one Ryan used to watch with his mom. In an effort to have a good showing, he hires Lindsay to teach him to bake. Things in the kitchen heat up a lot.

Both Ryan and Lindsay are nice characters and their relationship grows quickly from friendship to more. Neither of them have a lot of confidence in their ability to maintain a relationship though and that provides some of the tension here. Ryan is also worried about how his fame, and especially a decidedly mediocre movie, impacts other Asian American actors. Add to this his very fresh and real grief over the loss of his mother and he is carrying quite a heavy load. Lindsay appears to have her life together but, in fact, she's fairly lonely and having trouble with all of the life changes she has around her happening at once. Their insecurities in the relationship feel real and honest, especially for one where one partner is famous and famously attractive and the other is a regular person. Grief and the necessity of moving forward is well handled. The attraction between the Ryan and Lindsay is palpable and sex scenes are pretty steamy. And as for the donuts, well, prepare for your mouth to water a lot. The book is sweet and cute and a perfect read heading into Valentine's Day.

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Prize Women by Caroline Lea

The book is being released by Harper Perennial on February 14, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: The critically acclaimed author of The Glass Woman and The Metal Heart reimagines the shocking story of one of the most controversial contests in history, the Great Stork Derby, in which a millionaire’s death spawns a furious competition for his inheritance.

Toronto, 1926. Knowing that he will die without an heir, childless millionaire Charles Millar leaves behind a controversial will: the recipient of his fortune will be decided in a contest that will become a media sensation and be known as the Great Stork Derby. His money will go to the winner: the woman who bears the most children in the ten years after his death. It is a bequest that will have dramatic consequences for the lives of two women—allies and close friends.

Lily di Marco is young, pregnant, and terrified of her alcoholic, violent husband. When her town is damaged by an earthquake, she flees to Toronto, arriving, by chance, on the doorstep of the glamourous Mae Thebault.

While Mae presents an elegant, confident face to the world, she secretly struggles with her own tortured past and a present consumed with the never-ending burdens of motherhood. Lily enters her life at a breaking point, and soon a fierce friendship blossoms between the women. That is until the Great Depression and the contest, with its alluring prize, threatens to tear their friendship—and their lives—apart.

Prize Women is an evocative and engrossing novel of motherhood, survival, and the heartbreaking decisions we make to protect the ones we love—even when it hurts those we care for most.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Review: Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

I am a sucker for a pithy title. I personally don't think of serial killers very often (I'm a coward) but my youngest child once admitted that he worried that a serial killer would come after him. His older sister, always sympathetic, asked him why it had to be a serial killer and reminded him that a plain old murderer would be enough because "they only have to kill you." It's a sentiment that I think that Phoebe Walsh, in Alicia Thompson's contemporary romance, Love in the Time of Serial Killers might appreciate.

Phoebe is trying to finish up her dissertation on true crime books and the way that they reflect the time and sensibilities of the era in which they were written. while she works on the final chapters, she is also trying to clean out her recently deceased father's house so it's ready to be put on the market. She has many conflicting feelings about his death, the house, and all of the baggage from her young life before and after her parents' divorce. Her younger brother, a sweet and goofy gamer, who stayed with their father while Phoebe went with their mother after the divorce, is supposed to be helping her but he's also distracted by finding the perfect way to propose to his long time girlfriend so Phoebe is going to do much of the work by herself. With all of this going on, is it any wonder that Phoebe is tired and suspicious when good looking Sam, the next door neighbor, materializes to help her unload her car when she first arrives. She's fairly certain he's a serial killer. Ok, only partly certain. Ok, not at all certain but maybe and who could blame her really, given what she knows about people and Sam in particular. Actually, Sam turns out to be a genuinely nice guy but will Phoebe be able to let down her guard for him?

Phoebe is over the top paranoid in the beginning of the story. Unfortunately, the fact that the novel is told in the first person from her point of view does not help this look quirky and charming. In fact, it's rather annoying. She's abrasive and prickly and rude, all of which is written off as plain old awkward instead of as what it actually is. Sam is a gentle, kind human being and there's no reason for him to be interested in Phoebe aside from the fact that the reader is told that he finds her intriguing. There are fun pop culture references scattered through the book and the strain of a hard and hurtful family background comes through very well. Clearly Phoebe needs to learn to trust and depend on others around her, despite all she knows about the worst of humanity from reading so much true crime. There are some fun scenes in the book and teases of more interesting side stories but the main plot just didn't get to the quirky and heartwarming it appears to have been aiming for. An interesting premise, overall it didn't quite deliver.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Atomic Family by Ceira Horton McElroy

The book is being released by Blair on February 28, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: A South Carolina family endures one life-shattering day in 1961 in a town that lies in the shadow of a nuclear bomb plant.

It's November 1, 1961, in a small town in South Carolina, and nuclear war is coming. Ten-year-old Wilson Porter believes this with every fiber of his being. He prowls his neighborhood for Communists and studies fallout pamphlets and the habits of his father, a scientist at the nuclear plant in town.

Meanwhile, his mother Nellie covertly joins an anti-nuclear movement led by angry housewives--and his father, Dean, must decide what to do with the damning secrets he's uncovered at the nuclear plant. When tragedy strikes, the Porter family must learn to confront their fears--of the world and of each other.

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