Juliet’s School of Possibilities | Laura Vanderkam | Penguin Group Portfolio| Book Review

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“A charming, life-changing fable that will help you rethink your whole approach to time, priorities, and possibilities.

Riley Jenkins is in trouble. An ambitious, hardworking consultant in her late twenties, she’s used to a lifetime of nearly perfect evaluations – until she gets a terrible performance review from her boss. How is that possible when Riley does everything her clients want – including answering emails 24/7 – faster than they expect it?

That’s precisely the problem: she’s spread too thin. Despite her insane hours and attention to detail, Riley can’t produce the thoughtful work her clients expect. Now she’s been given thirty days to close a major deal, or she’s out. Meanwhile, her personal life is also on the edge of disaster, with her boyfriend and close friends losing patience with her chronic unavailability.

The last thing Riley wants, at a stressful time like this, is to attend a women’s leadership retreat with some of her colleagues. But she can’t get out of her commitment: a weekend in New Jersey at some silly-sounding place called Juliet’s School of Possibilities.

Yet before long, Riley is surprised to find herself intrigued by Juliet, the lifestyle maven who hosts the conference. How does a single mother of two run a successful business while acting as if she has all the time in the world? The answer may lie in one of Juliet’s Zen-like comments: “Expectations are infinite. Time is finite. You are always choosing. Choose well.”

By the end of this story, you’ll join Riley in rethinking the balance between your present and your future, between the things you have to do and the things you want to do. Like Riley, you can free yourself from feeling overwhelmed and pursue your highest possibilities.”


I have been looking forward to Juliet’s School of Possibilities since I first heard Laura Vanderkam mention it on the Best of Both Worlds Podcast last year. I love Vanderkam’s books about time management and this is her first novella. She incorporates her knowledge and expertise into a short fable about a woman named Riley who is spread too thin. ⁣⁣⁣
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In a society where “busy” reigns supreme, Vanderkam’s books are a wonderful reminder about how we get to choose how we spend our time and energy and this book is such a fun spin-off. We meet Juliet who shares wisdom and helps Riley rethink this balance. “Expectations are infinite. Time is infinite. You are always choosing. Choose well.”

A big thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Portfolio for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

2019 Beach Reads | Upcoming Book Releases

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Are there any authors that just scream summer to you? I always associate summer beginning with the release of Elin Hilderbrand’s books because they come out in mid-June. I know it feels far away but it will be here before we know it. I try not to wish away the seasons and we have plenty of winter weather left here in Vermont but I do get excited about all the summer book releases!

It is also currently the time of year where parents are figuring out their summer childcare plans and we are too. We do a mix of the summer swim team, a part-time babysitter and trading the kids on and off with each other so we can both get our work obligations completed. That means it is a bit of a whirlwind but it also means there is some time sitting by the pool with the kids. I love beach books for this because my attention to details can’t be that great since it is often very interrupted reading but they are still super engaging and enjoyable! Here is my list of summer books that I am looking forward to in 2019…

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Releasing June 18th, 2019

“Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changed, in New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a summer job on Martha’s Vineyard. Only-son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother and her worried mother, each of them hiding a troubling secret. As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country.

In her first historical novel, rich with the details of an era that shaped both a nation and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again earns her title as queen of the summer novel.”


The Friend We Keep by Jane Green

Releasing June 4th, 2019

“The Friends We Keep is the heartwarming and unforgettable new novel from Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Sunshine Sisters and The Beach House.

Evvie, Maggie, and Topher have known one another since college. Their friendship was something they swore would last forever. Now years have passed, the friends have drifted apart, and they never found the lives they wanted—the lives they dreamed of when they were young and everything seemed possible.

Evvie starved herself to become a supermodel but derailed her career by sleeping with a married man.

Maggie married Ben, the boy she fell in love with in college, never imagining the heartbreak his drinking would cause.

Topher became a successful actor, but the shame of a childhood secret shut him off from real intimacy.

By their thirtieth reunion, these old friends have lost touch with one another and with the people they dreamed of becoming. Together again, they have a second chance at happiness . . . until a dark secret is revealed that changes everything.

The Friends We Keep is about how despite disappointments we’ve had or mistakes we’ve made, it’s never too late to find a place to call home.”


The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe

Releasing June 11th, 2019

“From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life. 

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.”


Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Releasing August 6th, 2019

“From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?”


Mrs. Everything by Jane Green

Releasing June 11th, 2019

“From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.”


What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Releasing October 8th, 2019

“Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a plane crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.”


 

 

A Stranger On The Beach | Michele Campbell | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

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“From the bestselling author of It’s Always the Husband comes a novel about a love triangle that begins on a fateful night…

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aidan, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aidan for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

A Stranger on the Beach is Strangers on a Train meets Fatal Attraction in Michele Campbell’s edge-of your-seat story of passion and intrigue.”


A Stranger on the Beach is my second Michele Campbell book. If you are looking for a domestic/psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end, this is it! This novel is written from multiple points of views, each sharing their own narratives of what ‘happened’. Campbell is able to build suspense while the twists keep coming and I didn’t know who to trust as I progressed through the pages.

This was one of those books where I just needed to know what happened. This book is dark and manipulative and I didn’t care for any of the characters, which I think was Campbell’s intention. There are many issues that are covered, including marriage, infidelity, class, money, greed, fraud, betrayal and more. If you are looking for a dark mystery that will keep you on your toes, I think you will really enjoy this newest book by Michele Campbell. A big thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this e-book. All opinions are my own.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | Gallery Books | Book Review

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“Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.”


I was so excited to start this newest book, The Unhoneymooners, by the talented duo Christina Lauren. I wouldn’t call myself a huge lover of the romance genre but their books are so much more than that. They have the Rom-Com feeling but they have imperfect characters and not everything always goes as planned which I think makes these books so much more powerful and enjoyable.

The Unhoneymooners was another wonderful addition to their growing collection. I enjoyed the laugh out loud wedding drama and the tumultuous rollercoaster rider of a relationship between Ethan and Olive. It has plenty of emotions and misunderstandings as well as some steamy moments which you can always count on with these authors.

I also loved learning more about Olive’s tight-knit Mexican family. You could see how her close relationship with her twin sister Ami, caused her to second guess herself and ultimately have to decide what was more important, keeping her happy or the truth.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane | Scriber Books | Book Review

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“A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two NYPD rookies assigned to the same Bronx precinct in 1973. They aren’t close friends on the job but end up living next door to each other outside the city. What goes on behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the stunning events to come.

Ask Again, Yes by award-winning author Mary Beth Keane, is a beautifully moving exploration of the friendship and love that blossoms between Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s son, Peter, who are born six months apart. In the spring of Kate and Peter’s eighth-grade year a violent event divides the neighbors, the Stanhopes are forced to move away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact.

But Kate and Peter find a way back to each other, and their relationship is tested by the echoes from their past. Ask Again, Yes reveals how the events of childhood look different when reexamined from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.”


Ask Again, Yes was my first book by Mary Beth Keane. It was a wonderful introduction to her amazing writing and storytelling abilities. This book would best be described as a family sage and is told over multiple decades. Two families meet and their lives will never be the same. Many themes are introduced as Gleeson presents the lives of the Stanhope and Gleeson families and how they both intersect and collide over the years.

This was not an easy book to read and it may be triggering for some as there are many painful issues that are part of this powerful story. Friendship, loss, marriage, mental illness, alcoholism are all strong themes of this book and are exposed as the lives of these two families unfold. The past and how it affects how we move forward today, forgiveness and what makes a family were strong themes of this novel. The most powerful part of this book was the writing itself which was just amazingly done and very thought-provoking. Her character development was spot on and I felt immersed in the lives in these families while reading. I look forward to reading more of Keane’s work in the future.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Scribner Books for providing me with a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together by Belinda Luscombe | Book Review

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“A smart and concise guide to staying together that draws on scientific findings, expert advice, and years in the marital trenches to explain why marriage is better for your health, your finances, your kids, and your happiness

Like you, probably, Belinda Luscombe would rather have had her eyes put out than read a book about marriage; they all seemed full of advice that was obvious, useless, or bad. Plus they were boring. But after covering the relationship beat for Time magazine for ten years, she realized there was a surprisingly upbeat and little-known story to tell about the benefits of staying together for the long haul. Casting a witty, candid, and probing eye on the latest behavioral science, Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions, how they’ve changed from the marriages of our parents’ era, and what those changes mean for the happiness of this most intimate and important of our relationships.

A guide to staying together that combines the latest scientific data, personal stories, and expert advice, arguing that marriage is better for your health, your finances, and your happiness, by an award-winning Time journalist.

Surveying the latest behavioral science and folding it into her witty, engaging, and candid knack for storytelling, Belinda Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions. This book examines the six major fault lines that can fracture a marriage, also known as Luscombe’s F-words: familiarity, fighting, family, finances, fooling around, and finding help. She presents facts, debunks myths, and provides an entertaining mix of data, anecdotes, and wisdom from a wide range of approaches to married life, as well as experts and therapists of the wedding, marriage, and divorce industries. Marriageology gives the reader something to think about and maybe try, whether the marriage in question is on the brink of collapse or just needs a bit of maintenance on the foundations.”


Marriageology was such a fascinating read on marriage and long term relationships. Luscombe’s writing was approachable with the perfect mix of scientific research, personal stories, and advice. I found myself nodding along so many times with her anecdotes regarding her own marriage history. She shares a wonderful perspective that is relatable yet also hopeful. Her ability to share the hardships of some of the biggest stumbling blocks of marriage was super accessible.

She points out the 6 major “fault lines” that can fracture a marriage and how to navigate them personally and as a couple. Like many non-fiction books, certain chapters stood out to me more and I especially connected with the commentary and research she shared in the parenting section, it was spot on. I also am so happy she talked about how helpful therapy can be, and not just at times of serious distress but also as a regular practice.

I learned so much from this book and I highly recommend it for anyone that is navigating a long term relationship. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne | Book Review

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The new novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies , a seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame.

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…


Wow! This was my second John Boyne book and following The Hearts Invisible Furies, I had high expectations. This book was totally different and the storytelling was just truly impressive. This story follows Maurice Swift and his rise to fame as an “author”. Maurice is introduced as a handsome young man who wants nothing more than to be a famous and celebrated writer.

“I think Maurice is whatever he needs to be, whenever he needs to be it. He’s an operator, that’s for sure.”
― John Boyne, A Ladder to the Sky

Maurice is actually not a likable guy and he does “whatever it takes” to get the story. But this book keeps you hooked through its dark humor and that this story brought to life through the people that guided (and assisted) Maurice along his way.

This story was truly unique and kept me on my toes. The middle lagged for me a bit but the ending was satisfying and I enjoyed when the tables were turned. A big thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book, all opinions are my own.