REVIEW: SHIPPED by ANGIE HOCKMAN

To read the book synopsis, click the following links to redirect to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.


This was such a sweet, fun ride! I am glad I read this one with my #ReadingForSanity book club and I will absolutely read more from Angie Hockman.

4 things I liked:
❤️I enjoyed our main characters journey with her career. It was inspiring and fun to read!
❤️Our supporting characters were lovable and had depth without overshadowing the story.
❤️The Galapagos Islands setting had me ready to travel.
❤️Graeme = swoon.

1 thing I didn’t love:
👎🏻I felt like our MC held off a little too long to communicate her issues with Graeme, but I suppose that was there to create more tension!

Overall, a solid debut from Angie Hockman and I cannot wait to read what comes next!

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my links to Amazon or Bookshop.org – they provide me with a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: THE DISAPPEARING ACT by CATHERINE STEADMAN

To read the book synopsis, click the following links to either Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

First things first: I am not a huge thriller reader these days. I used to read them all the time, but got kinda burned out or something. But when this one showed up for free in the mail thanks to the publisher, I decided to give it a shot. Sadly, it fell flat for me.

Here’s what I DID like about the book:
1. The premise of it all was so fun – I loved the idea of an up and coming actress being trolled by someone!
2. The LA setting – I love feeling like I am surrounded by palm trees when I am reading, and this one nailed that.

Here’s where it was a miss for me:
1. The main character herself did not work for me. Her decisions were painful to read. Overall, I found her frustrating and whiny. But if this was what Steadman was trying to create, then that’s great – she nailed it.
2. The pacing – the buildup to everything was SLOW. I mean, for the longest time, we were on the SAME day. Our MC spent pages and pages pacing in and out of the same building and getting nothing done. I expect a thriller to be fast/page turning (regardless of if I’m enjoying it) and this one just didn’t do that for me. Some people may like a slow burn, but this story was slow as molasses.
3. The twist was not…twisty. It was just like, “Seriously?”

Overall, I felt like the idea of the book was good, but it was just poorly executed. ⭐️ ⭐️ from me.

If slow burn thrillers are for you and you want to give this one a try, you can pick it up on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Content warnings:
Rape
Murder
Brief mention of car crash

REVIEW: WE CAN’T KEEP MEETING LIKE THIS by RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON

Click the following links to Goodreads or The StoryGraph to read the synopsis of the book.

Rachel Lynn Solomon knocked it out of the park again with this one! This is the third book I have read by her and none of them have been rated below 4 stars. She does a great job discerning between YA and adult, and I appreciate that about her. If you want a good love story with all the steam, reach for The Ex Talk, but if you want something sweet, go for one of her YA books.

Here are four things I loved about this novel:
1. The diverse cast. Solomon has no shortage of different backgrounds, religions, or lifestyles in any of her books.
2. The mental health representation. As someone who struggled with depression, it’s always nice to see yourself in a character and to feel understood.
3. The reappearance of two characters from Today, Tomorrow, Tonight was brilliant! It was nice to catch up with them and see how they are doing.
4. This book touches quite a bit on the MC’s parents separating and how that effected her. I thought this was such a brilliant thing to have represented in a YA novel since so many kids/teens go through this.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book…I can’t share, because it’s a pretty serious spoiler. But it wasn’t anything major! and I still loved the reading experience overall. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me!

Content warnings:
Mental illness
Suicidal thoughts
Divorce/separation
Mild sexual content

Pick this one up on Amazon or via Bookshop.org and enjoy the ride!

7 QUICK READS FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

Something about a holiday weekend makes me want to squeeze in a whole book in a few days – and Memorial Day is extra special and fun as we kick off summer! Summer reading is my favorite for some reason. Maybe it evokes feelings of “school’s out for summer” or something?

I compiled a list of some books that will get you ready to ring in sweet summertime – quick reads (under 300 pages) in a variety of genres. Something for everyone!

Please note that the following links are affiliate links that provide me a small commission at no cost to you. I would really appreciate if you would shop with them!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Genre: Science fiction
Page count: 193

Now adapted to screen, this book is beloved by many and has over 1.5 MILLION ratings on Goodreads! Described on The StoryGraph as lighthearted, funny, and adventurous, this one should have the pages turning quickly – and there’s even a sequel that is equally short! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Genre: Young adult contemporary, LGBTQ romance
Page count: 272

Is the Demi Lovato song stuck in your head now, too? Okay, good, not just me. The StoryGraph says that this one is lighthearted and fast-paced, too! Nothing like reading a fun love story by the pool, and hopefully this one hits the mark! Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Genre: Historical fiction
Page count: 288

This debut has such high praises that it was chosen for Read With Jenna’s book club! This one will take you to Barbados, and also comes with a whole slew of content warnings – be sure to check The StoryGraph for that. You can purchase on both Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Adult contemporary fiction
Page count: 280

I will never stop recommending this book. I wanted to hug it, I wanted to cry, I wanted to read it over again as soon as I finished it. It can be purchased on both Amazon and Bookshop.org.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
Genre: Essays, non fiction
Page count: 208

With essays told in a conversational format, Wang describes her life before, during, and after her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Eye opening, thought provoking, and informative, this book had me glued from start to finish. You can purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven
Genre: Fiction, horror
Page count: 272

DON’T SKIM PAST THIS ONE JUST BECAUSE IT IS CLASSIFIED AS HORROR! I mean, maybe it IS a little scary, but it’s so fascinating. A fictional tale about a bunch of teens trapped in a theme park after a hurricane, this tense, fast paced story had me sneaking in reading time as much as I could in the 30 hours it took me to listen to it. I highly recommend the audio if you can get your hands on it, (currently available on Amazon but backordered on Bookshop.org), but this one will have you engrossed poolside all weekend long. Print copy available to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Genre: Romance
Page count: 283

If you are looking for a fun fake relationship romance, this is the one! Be transported to Key West and watch Sara and Luis fall in love while pretending to not be in love. This is a relatively low steam/closed room romance, so keep that in mind! It can be purchased via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

That’s a wrap on this list, folks! I tried to pick a variety of genres so there’s a little something for everyone. Let me know what you will be reading in the comments!

10 DEBUTS FROM THE FIRST HALF OF 2021 YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS

There’s something about a debut author that makes me extra curious. The publishing industry seems to be a tough place to navigate, so to see someone who finally made their way through and got their book on shelves – that’s HUGE and I want to support them as best as possible. Every year, a debut author becomes a new favorite of mine, and this year has been no different . Here’s a list of some of the most buzzed about debut books of 2021.

Please note that the following links are affiliate links that give me a small commission at no cost to you!

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
Pub day: Out now!
Genre: Cozy mystery
Page count: 336

Great news on this one, too – it’s the first in a new series! Listed on The StoryGraph as funny and lighthearted, this story should keep you engaged from start to finish. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org!

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
Pub day: Out now!
Genre: Contemporary romance
Page count: 352

Written by a molecular toxicologist, this story will transfer you to the beach and touch your heart. Described on The StoryGraph as emotional and slow paced, this sounds like it’s a good one to read when you are ready to have your heart ripped out. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org and enjoy your reading vacation to the beach!

Shipped by Angie Hockman
Pub date: Out now!
Genre: Contemporary romance
Page count: 336

This cover gives me all the vacation vibes and I am HERE. FOR. IT! This sounds like one you will want to read when you need a good laugh. It features my favorite enemies to lovers trope and is described as lighthearted and slow paced. Order on Amazon and Bookshop.org now!

Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
Pub date:
Out now!
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Page count: 432

Read about a life changing summer on the along the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. Emotional and reflective, this story is filled with joy and all the feels. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Pub date: Out now!
Genre: Historical fiction, fantasy
Page count: 301

A strong woman secretly distributing poison? Sounds fascinating, right? This one should have you on the edge of your sweat throughout. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The Push by Ashley Audrain
Pub date: Out now!
Genre: Suspense, domestic thriller
Page count: 307

I could not stop reading this book – read my review here – and while it’s not for everyone, I loved every second. Purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic
Pub date: Out now!
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Page count: 352

Chock full of content warnings (be sure the check The StoryGraph for a complete list), this story is haunting and heartbreaking all in one. I will be thinking about it for a long, long time. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson
Pub date: Out now!
Genre: Young adult rom com
Page count: 384

This squeaky clean story makes for a fun, lighthearted read when you just want to feel all the fuzzies. We read this one in my online book club and most everyone enjoyed it! Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

The Layover by Lacie Waldon
Pub date: June 15, 2021
Genre: Contemporary romance
Page count: 320

If this book is half as funny as Lacie’s Instagram is, then it’s sure to be a hit! A laugh out loud enemies to lovers story, this should be the perfect read for when you need a pick me up. Preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.org!

Burn it all Down by Nicolas DiDomizio
Pub date: May 25, 2021
Genre: Fiction, LGBTQ
Page count: 320

A story of two friends inadvertently committing crimes and fleeing the state, this one is sure to entertain and warm your heart. Purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

10 LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER RELEASES I HAVE PREORDERED

The humidity level is cranking up in Kentucky, and while I know the dog days of summer are ahead, I look forward to doing some great summer reading in 2021. While reading backlist books is my jam a lot of the time, I have quite a few summer releases I am super stoked for this year that I have preordered (or plan to preorder very soon), so I thought I would share that list with you!

Please not that the Amazon and Bookshop.org links below are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no cost to you. If you choose to purchase via other websites, I recommend using WeThrift.com to find discount codes to save yourself some money!

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by EMILY HENRY

Pub date: May 11, 2021
Genre: Adult romance
Also by this author: Beach Read

I had the pleasure of reading this one prior to its release via Netgalley and it was such a refreshing, fun story! I enjoyed it so much and think you will too. Click the following links to read the synopsis or to preorder via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU by SARAH DASS

Pub date: May 11, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance/retelling
Also by this author: none, this is her debut 🎉

Sarah Dass “works as an office administrator by day and writes stories about the Caribbean by night”. This story is based on her childhood in a seaside hotel and I need this virtual vacation! Preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.

LAST CHANCE BOOKS by KELSEY RODKEY

Pub date: May 18, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: none, this is her debut 🎉

Y’all know I am a sucker for a YA romance and ANYTHING set near/in a bookstore. Cannot wait for what should be a super sweet story to come out! Preorder now on Amazon or Bookshop.

HANG THE MOON by ALEXANDRIA BELLEFLEUR

Pub date: May 25, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: Written in the Stars

Bellefleur’s debut Written in the Stars captured the hearts of so many readers with a queer love story with the lovable grumpy and sunshine trope. Hang the Moon is the follow up to it, focusing on a different character, but likely having guest appearances from the two characters we fell in love with in her first book. Preorder on Bookshop or Amazon!

WE CAN’T KEEP MEETING LIKE THIS by RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Also by this author: Today Tonight Tomorrow, The Ex Talk

Rachel Lynn Solomon knows how to give me the warm and fuzzies and I am sure this book will be no different! Click the following links to read the synopsis or to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop!

MALIBU RISING by TAYLOR JENKINS REID

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Also by this author: Daisy Jones and the Six, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

TJR is back with another story that is bound to sweep you away! Set in 1983, this story about “one unforgettable night in the life of a family” will be at the top of many readers’ wishlists. Click the following links to read the synopsis and to preorder on Amazon and Bookshop.org.

SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS by SUZANNE PARK

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Also by this author: Loathe at First Sight

The synopsis of this one totally gripped me and also..there’s a chicken on the cover. For some reason this cracked me up. Click the following links to preorder via Amazon or Bookshop!

THE BOX IN THE WOODS by MAUREEN JOHNSON

Pub date: June 15, 2021
Genre: YA Mystery
Also by this author: Truly Devious series, 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Maureen Johnson is BACK with another mystery that will surely have us flipping pages so dang fast! If you haven’t read the first 3 in the series, be sure to snag the box set (Amazon has it for $17.99, Bookshop is currently sold out). You can preorder The Box in the woods from both Amazon and Bookshop now!

BLACKOUT by DHONIELLE CLAYTON, TIFFANY D JACKSON, NIC STONE, ANGIE THOMAS, ASHLEY WOODFOLK, AND NICOLA YOON

Pub date: June 22, 2021
Genre: YA Short Stories
Also by these authors: The Hate U Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Dear Martin

Six fabulous, award winning, bestselling authors come together to bring us love, humor, and heartwarming stories. This is not a collaboration you want to miss! Preorder on Amazon and Bookshop today.

RISE TO THE SUN by LEAH JOHNSON

Pub date: July 6, 2021
Genre: YA LGBTQ Romance
Also by these authors: You Should See Me in a Crown

Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown was such a delight in the train wreck that was 2020, so I cannot wait to see what she’s cooled up with her newest release! Preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.

This is absolutely not a comprehensive list of ALL the books I am excited for, but I tried to keep it as brief as possible! Hope you found something you are excited for, too! Let me know in the comments if you did.

BABY GOT BACKLIST: 10 BACKLIST BOOKS I LOVED

Buying brand new books takes a major hit on the wallet, right? I feel that in my SOUL. One of the ways I manage not going broke thanks to my reading habit (truly a challenge at times) is reading books published prior to the current year (aka backlist books). These books have often already gone to paperback and usually don’t have crazy long library wait times. So next time you need to take a break from buying all the new releases, here’s a list of some backlist books by genre that I highly recommend!

Please note that the following links are affiliate links that provide me a small commission at no cost to you. It would mean a lot to me if you purchased through them!

This book was my first by Christina Lauren and remains my favorite by this incredible author duo! This closed door rom-com had me chuckling out loud and flipping pages with impressive speed, if I do say so myself. I even read it when I was newly pregnant and super distracted and it still held my attention! Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Contemporary Fiction: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I will never stop singing my praises for this book. Its dry wit/humor coupled with an epic love story set in a bookshop is the TRIFECTA of a perfect book for me. 5 gajillion stars from me and I push it into the hands of nearly everyone I know. Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

This intricately woven story of a young Black boy who “meets” the ghost of another Black boy that was killed years before will open up SO much conversation between middle grade readers and their parents. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Contemporary Fiction With a Pinch of Magical Realism: The Humans by Matt Haig

Matt Haig is one of my favorite authors of all time, and this book was the one that made me fall in love with him. Don’t immediately discount it because there’s an alien in it, folks. I promise this one will open your eyes to the beauty of humanity in a whole new way. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Contemporary Romance: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Jenny Han crafted the perfect high school romance between Lara Jean and Peter K and nobody can convince me otherwise. I’m going to warn you – you may want to go ahead and buy the box set because once you finish the first, you won’t want to wait the shipping time for book two. To buy the first book, click the following links to get it from Amazon (sold out on Bookshop.org at the time of this post). If you want to go all in and get the boxed set, it’s here on Amazon and here on Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Contemporary: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Nobody can stomp on my heart quite like Nic Stone, and this book is the one that sold me on her work. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Historical Fiction: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Get ready to be swept away into Alaska in the 1970’s. This is one of the most atmospheric, heart breaking tales I’ve ever read, and I truly wish I could read it again for the first time. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Historical Fiction: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

,

This queer historical rom com warmed my ice cold heart. I have never loved a character quite the same way I love Monte and nobody can tell me that he isn’t the most likable jerk in the book world! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Memoir: Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This chilling and eye opening memoir gives an infuriating look at the inner workings of a nationally publicized sexual assault case. I loved the audio and hearing Chanel read her story. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

True Crime: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Maybe don’t read this one in dim lighting during a thunderstorm, but this one gave Ann Rule’s side of what it was like to be friends with Ted Bundy before, during, and after his rise to fame for all the worst reasons. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

REVIEW: ISLAND AFFAIR by PRISCILLA OLIVERAS

Click the following links to read the book synopsis Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

Well this was just a breath of fresh sea salted air! This was my first book by Priscilla Oliveras and I loved the listening experience of the audiobook.

Here’s 4 things I loved about this book:

1) The atmospheric writing – I felt the Florida heat, smelled the salty air, and could visualize the island in the best way!
2) Our male lead, Luis, was just. so. dreamy. He was kind, considerate, thoughtful and gentle – a rarity in romance characters (at least of the ones I’ve read).
3) The family drama tied into the romance story effortlessly. This book is a romance, yes, but the romance ONLY happens because of family drama. It is intriguing, tense, and believable and fun all at once.
4) The portrayal of consent between the main characters. I’m the first to admit that I prefer closed door romance, and while this one was more of a “cracked door” romance, I loved how Oliveras did not leave out any details as the characters discussed where their relationship was going – both emotionally and physically.

One thing I did not love about this book:
1) This was incredibly minor and probably only a negative for me as someone who does not speak Spanish, but the Spanish used throughout the book was a little confusing/distracting for me. I do recognize, however, that this was realistic for the characters and absolutely necessary to bring them to life. I just struggled a bit to understand what the author was trying to convey only because I didn’t understand the language!

Overall, this book was a solid 4 star read for me and I look forward to reading the second book this summer!

Content warnings:
Eating disorder
Sexual content
Cancer
Medical content

To purchase Island Affair, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org links. When you purchase this way it provides me with a small commission at no cost to you!

WHAT I’M WISHING FOR FOR MOTHER’S DAY (AND WHAT I’M NOT WISHING FOR)

We are halfway through April, and that means it’s time to start thinking about what to get for the mom(s) in your life! Mother’s Day is May 9 this year in case you didn’t know (someone tell my husband), and it’s creeping up faster than we realize. Whether you are celebrating your mom, a motherly figure in your life, or a grandma (or any variation in between), Mother’s Day is a great day to recognize the women in your life that care for you.

I don’t really do “gift guides” too often because I have a hard time thinking of what other people may want But if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s being a mom and knowing things that most moms would like to have. So, without further ado, here’s a list of 7 things I would be honored to receive on May 9 (or any other day of the year).

*please note that Amazon linked items provide me with a small commission at no cost to you, and I would be humbled if you purchased via these links*

1. Uninterrupted Reading Time

This seems simple and small, but as a mom who loves to read and get’s little time to do it, this feels like luxury. I’m hopeful my husband will tell me to leave and go sit somewhere and read for an hour on Mother’s Day!

2. A Styling Brush

Doing my hair is a form of self care for me, but sometimes I would like to skip a step. If I could dry AND style my hair at the same time, this would be a dream come true!

3. A Trunk Organizer

It seems ridiculous to some, but few things irk me more than the sound of things bouncing around in my trunk as I’m driving around. This would be a great, cheap solution that I honestly my just buy for myself. I may even go crazy and get two.

4. Another Pair of My Favorite Scissors

Any human that has looked for a pair of scissors in a tizzy while kids are screaming that they’re hungry knows how irritating it is when someone TAKES the scissors. I’ve hidden my favorite pair from my family because yes, I’m that petty, but I would love to have a community pair so everyone else can experience the goodness that is this pair of Fiskars. Seriously, they’re that good. I’ve had mine 10 years and they still cut like new.

5. Flowers Planted for Me

Cut flowers are great, but they die quickly. I love when someone plants my annuals for me as a Mother’s Dy gift! My husband and 4 year old will likely do this for me again this year and I look forward to seeing the result.

6. A Programmable Crock Pot

My crock pot works, don’t get me wrong. But a programmable one with a temperature probe only seems like the next logical step at this point, right? Can I level up to this degree of home chef yet?

7. Permission to buy a few books (or just buy them for me!) off my book wishlist.

And don’t shame me for the number of unread books I have in our home. Trust me, I’m well aware, but I have no shelf control.

AND NEXT, THE THINGS I DON’T WANT…

1. To go out to eat.

I know this seems confusing, but as a mama with a 4 year old and a 1 year old, sometimes the pressure that comes with keeping kids quiet and happy in a public restaurant is just not worth the hassle. If you want mom to have that “you don’t have to cook or clean” experience, consider ordering takeout and using disposable dishes (OR do the dishes for her after if you are able to be with her).

2. To make any decisions.

Sometimes I can’t use my brain and emotional energy anymore, and making decisions for everyone else? That’s a lot of emotional energy, whether or not others realize it. So don’t make me choose what I want to eat, just pick something you know I’ll like!

3. To clean up anything.

I don’t expect anyone to deep clean my house for me, but it would be really nice if everyone could put their clothes in the hamper and dishes in the dishwasher. All. Day.

That’s a wrap, folks! I hope this helps you think outside the box to make this years Mother’s Day super special.