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#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS MAY & JUNE 2023 SELECTIONS

Kelly Fredericks (left) & Katie Augustine (Right) in Dallas, Texas

May 3, 2023


Happy Wednesday, Book Friends!

Katie @basicbsguide and I are here to announce the #๐ƒ๐„๐€๐‘๐๐€๐’๐ˆ๐‚๐๐”๐ƒ๐ƒ๐˜๐‘๐„๐€๐ƒ๐’ ๐ฉ๐ข๐œ๐ค๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐Œ๐€๐˜ & ๐‰๐”๐๐„. โฃ
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But first, I am so excited to share that after five years of being internet friends and over two years of Co-Hosting our online book club, we are ๐Ž๐…๐…๐ˆ๐‚๐ˆ๐€๐‹๐‹๐˜ ๐ˆ๐‘๐‹ ๐…๐‘๐ˆ๐„๐๐ƒ๐’! Thatโ€™s right! Last week we had a gorgeous lunch in Dallas, TX, and got to know one another on a whole new level! I am grateful for our friendship and canโ€™t wait to spend more time together IRL in the future! โค๏ธโค๏ธโฃ
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๐Œ๐€๐˜โ€™๐ฌ ๐๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐’๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง is ๐˜š๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜—๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ by Caroline Frost. This book came out last February and has been on my TBR ever since. โฃ

~ ๐˜š๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐Ÿท๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿถ-๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿถ๐˜ด ๐˜›๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ข๐˜ด, ๐˜ข ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ข ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ-๐˜ช๐˜ฏ-๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ’๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Š๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ด ๐˜š๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ.โฃ
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๐‰๐ฎ๐ง๐žโ€™๐ฌ ๐๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐’๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง is ๐˜๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜‰๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด by Colleen Hoover. I am excited that we found a Hoover book that we both havenโ€™t read yet. This book came out in August 2020, and I am pumped to read it finally.โฃ

~ ๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ, ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ’๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ง๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜จ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ด ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ๐˜ด.โฃ
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This is an online book club held on Instagram. Please DM me @dearmrhemingway or comment below to join. We will be reading at our own pace throughout the months with an EPIC Instagramโฃ chat for each book at the end! โฃ
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xoxo,โฃ
Katie & Kelly โฃ

Click on the book pick to purchase!
Click on the book pic to purchase!

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

March Highlights 2023

April 6, 2023

Happy Thursday, Sweet Friends!

April Showers Bring May Flowers…but first, let’s talk about my March reading life. Four debut novels, tons of audiobooks, a favorite author, and some backlist beauties paired with a cozy cup of tea filled all my bookworm needs. Here are some of the books I read and where I landed with each of them.

Whether you read one or 21 books this March, I hope you feel delighted with all the words you consumed!

xoxo,

Kelly

George’s debut novel, Maame, absolutely stole my heart, and the audio version was fantastic. Maddie is a character that I want to hug through the pages of the book. This delayed coming-of-age story lived up to the hype and gave me all the feels.

SYNOPSIS:

“It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who suffers from advanced-stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare, and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts” She finds a flatshare, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family and the perils–and rewards–of putting her heart on the line.”

Here is the deal, Appiah’s debut novel will land differently with each readerโ€”heavy themes relating to motherhood, marriage, and expectations in life are deeply explored. She did an exemplary job exposing the darker side of parenting by not sugarcoating Efe or Sam’s emotional journey. Be prepared to have profound conversations about this story.

SYNOPSIS:

“On a Spring afternoon in London, Sam hops the stairs of his flat two at a time. There’s ยฃ1,300 missing from his and his wife, Efe’s, shared bank account, and his calls are going straight to voicemail. When he finally reaches someone, he learns Efe is nearly 5,000 miles away as their toddler looks around and asks, “Where’s Mummy?” When Efe and Sam met as teens headed for university, it seemed everyone knew they were meant to be. Efe, newly arrived in the UK from Ghana and sinking under the weight of her parent’s expectations, found comfort in the focused and idealistic Sam. He was stable, working toward a law career, and had an unwavering vision for their future. A vision Efe, now a decade later, finds slightly insufferable. From the outside, they’re the picture-perfect couple everyone imagined, but there are cracks in the frame. When Efe and Sam are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, they find themselves on opposing sides. Fatherhood is everything he has dreamed of, but Efe feels stuck in a nightmare. And when a new revelation emerges, they are forced to confront just how radically different they want their lives to be. Already swallowed by the demands of motherhood and feeling the dreams she had slipping away once again, Efe disappears.”

Hello, filthy rich people. Bea is on a mission to marry for MONEY and have it all. Being a con artist is in her blood, so lying and scheming is as simple as an obnoxious air kiss with people you despise. I LOVED this debut. It was juicy and entertaining and the perfect distraction from the busyness of life.

SYNOPSIS:

“Like any enterprising woman, Bea knows what she’s worth and is determined to get all she deserves–it just so happens that what she deserves is to marry rich. Filthy rich. After years of forced instruction by her mother in the art of swindling men, a now-solo Bea wants nothing more than to close and lock the door on their sordid partnership so she can disappear safely into old-money domesticity, sealing the final phase of her escape. When Bea chooses her ultimate target in the fully loaded, thoroughly dull, and blue-blooded Collin Case, she’s ready to deploy all of her tricks one last time. The challenge isn’t getting the ring but rather the approval of Collin’s family and everyone else in their 1 percent tax bracket, particularly his childhood best friend, Gale Wallace-Leicester. Going toe-to-toe with Gale isn’t a threat to an expert like Bea, but what begins as an amusing cat-and-mouse game quickly develops into a dangerous pursuit of the grisly truth. Finding herself at a literal life-and-death crossroads with everything on the line, Bea must finally decide who she really wants to be. Like mother, like daughter?”

Another debut filled with grandiose living and the ins and out of being rich. Pineapple Street was delightful to listen to on audio. If you are in the mood to bop around inside someone’s head a meander around their life in gorgeous Brooklynโ€”this one is for you.

SYNOPSIS:

“A deliciously funny, sharply observed debut of family, love, and class, this zeitgeisty novel follows three women in one wealthy Brooklyn clan Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected old-money Stockton family, followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood but giving up far too much in the process; Sasha, a middle-class New England girl, has married into the Brooklyn Heights family, and finds herself cast as the arriviste outsider; and Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t have, and must decide what kind of person she wants to be.”

None Shall Sleep was our #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS March selection. I am calling this Silence of the Lambs “light”โ€”perfect for the YA reader in your life. I enjoyed this one on audio!

SYNOPSIS:

“In 1982, two teenagers–serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell–are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case–a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers–things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.”

Laura Cathcart Robbinsโ€™ memoir, ๐˜š๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฉ: ๐˜”๐˜บ ๐˜“๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ, is her unimaginable story of addiction and journey to sobriety. Page by page, she details what her daily struggles with Ambien and alcohol looked like back in the day. This book BLEW MY MIND! Incredible on audio!

SYNOPSIS

“After years of hiding her addiction from everyone–from stockpiling pills in her Louboutins to elaborately scheduling withdrawals between PTA meetings, baby showers, and tennis matches–Laura Cathcart Robbins settles into a complicated purgatory. She learns the hard way that privilege doesn’t protect you from pain. Facing divorce, the possibility of a grueling custody battle, and internalized racism, Robbins wonders just how much more she can take. Now, with courage and candid openness, she reveals how she managed to begin the long journey towards sobriety and unexpectedly finding new love. Robbins harrowingly illustrates taking down the wall she built around herself brick by brick and what it means to be Black in a startingly white world.”

Alexis and Logan stole my heart. They both truly came into their own as their stories unfolded. Their fake dating, political dilemmas, and personal baggage make them so much more than a hot politician running for governor and a small-town school librarian. EEEEKKKK…LOVED THIS! Out May 9th!

SYNOPSIS:

“As a shy school librarian, Alexis Stone is comfortable keeping out of the spotlight. But when she’s dumped for being too meek–in bed!–she decides she needs to change. And what better way to kick-start her new, more adventurous life than with her first one-night stand? Enter Logan, the gorgeous, foul-mouthed stranger she meets at a hotel bar. Audacious and filterless, Logan is Alexis’s opposite–and boy, do opposites attract! Just as she’s about to fulfill her hookup wish, the hotel catches fire in a freak lightning storm. In their rush to escape, Logan is discovered carrying her into the street, where people are waiting with cameras. Cameras Logan promptly–and shockingly–flees. Alexis is bewildered until suddenly, pictures of her and Logan escaping the fire are all over the internet. Turns out Logan is none other than Logan Arthur, the hotshot candidate challenging the Texas governor’s seat. The salacious scandal is poised to sink his career–and jeopardize Alexis’s job–until a solution is proposed: he and Alexis could pretend to be in a relationship until election day…in two months. What could possibly go wrong?”

WOW! Charlotte Perkins Gilman was the original feminist. If the history of mental health pertaining to women fascinates youโ€”this is a must-read. The intense imagery blew me away, and Gilman captured her protagonist spiraling into “madness” with an eerieness that I just can’t shake. Freaking brilliant!

SYNOPSIS:

“The Yellow Wallpaper is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the nineteenth century toward women’s physical and mental health. The story also has been classified as Gothic fiction and horror fiction. The story is written as a collection of first-person journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband has confined her to the upstairs bedroom of a house that he has rented for the summer. She is forbidden from working and has to hide her journal entries from him so that she can recuperate from what he calls a “temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency,” a diagnosis common to women in that period. 

Her husband controls her access to the rest of the house. In the end, she imagines that there are women creeping around behind the patterns of the wallpaper and comes to believe that she is one of them. She locks herself in the room, now the only place where she feels safe, refusing to leave when the summer rental is up.”

This story was wonderful. I loved Jimenezโ€™s leading characters, Alexis and Daniel. They had plenty of chemistry, lots of steam, and developed backstories that added to their โ€œrelationship.โ€ Jimenez always manages to write great love stories that have an extra layer of drama and difficult subject matters. This time around, she brought attention to domestic abuse. She did a fantastic job incorporating a heavy topic in a gentle and sensitive manner. The cherry on top was not only a happy ending but a baby goat in PJs! Another winner from this auto-buy author of mine!

SYNOPSIS:

“After a wild bet, a gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddling with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come–the complete opposite of sophisticated city girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable. While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And with every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people. Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him, either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?”

I threw in some personal development this month. Dr. Hyman has been around for quite some time now and he is the guru on clean and wholesome eating. Despite it being very repetitive, I took away some new tips and ideas for my own health and wellness.

SYNOPSIS:

“The key to losing weight and keeping it off is maintaining low insulin levels. Based on Dr. Hyman’s groundbreaking Blood Sugar Solution program, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet presents strategies for reducing insulin levels and producing fast and sustained weight loss. Dr. Hyman explains how to: activate your natural ability to burn fat — especially belly fat; reduce inflammation; reprogram your metabolism; shut off your fat-storing genes; de-bug your digestive system; create effortless appetite control; and soothe the stress to shed the pounds. With practical tools designed to achieve optimum wellness, including meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists, as well as step-by-step, easy-to-follow advice on green living, supplements, medication, exercise, and more, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet is the fastest way to lose weight, prevent disease, and feel your best.”

*I received some of today’s books as advance reader copies from the author/publishers in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I donโ€™t like itโ€ฆI donโ€™t share it! 

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Stash: My Life in Hiding

Stash: My Life in Hiding by Laura Cathcart Robbins (Atria Books)

March 29, 2023

Dear Memoir Lovers,

I have got one hell of a book for you. Be prepared to feel all the feels with this one. Laura Cathcart Robbins’ memoir, Stash: My Life in Hiding, is her unimaginable story of addiction and journey to sobriety.  Page by page, she details her daily struggles with Ambien and alcohol.  I love how there is some distance between when Robbins’ addiction was in full swing and when her memoir was published. I truly enjoy following her on social media and seeing how joyful her life is now.

A huge thank you to the publisher for the gifted finished copy and to CAREBLACKAGE for all the gorgeous self-care products that not only amplify Black voices but highlight Black-owned brands.  

Robbinโ€™s daily life was an exhausting, infinite loop of chasing the โ€œhighโ€ secretly. The lengths she went to stay high, all while crafting new ways to conceal her addiction, BLEW MY MIND. She gives us the ultimate peek into what it looks like to top off liquor bottles with water, hide Ambien in her designer shoes, and function as a wife, mother, and active member of society while under a dark stationary cloud of Ambien.  I must add that Robbins took copious amounts of notes on the whereabouts of all her hidden pills, how much she drank, which liquor bottles were diluted with water and how much, and then some because she could not rely on her drug-fueled mind to recall this stuff in a time of need.  Her maternal need to share custody of her kids with their father and keep taking pills was a brutal battle consumed with guilt and paranoia that broke my heart.  Her anguish DOMINATED the pages, and it felt like she was being forced to solve a puzzle without any solution. 


I did a combination of reading and listening to Stash.  Listening to a memoir read by the author brings their story to life in the most authentic way and is always a win for me. Reading the physical copy allows me to highlight and take notes, which is very important. However, no matter how you devour this book (and believe meโ€ฆyou will devour it quickly), Robbins’ writing is profoundโ€” exposing her innermost thoughts with evocative imagery. She deep dives into a murky sea of survival with significant vulnerability. By sharing her story and trek to sobriety, she shines the light on race, privilege, and motherhood in the eyes of addiction. I can not urge you enough to read this memoir.

xoxo,

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase!

*I received an advance reader of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I donโ€™t like itโ€ฆI donโ€™t share it! 

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

2023 NEW THRILLERS

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz (Atria Books) & What Lies In The Woods by Kate Alice Marshall (Flatiron Books)

Dear Gorgeous Readers,

Today I am here to share two thrillers for 2023. What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall is OUT NOW, and The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz comes out February 21st. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books, and I am hopeful that these suspenseful reads will keep you entertained this month and keep the winter blues away.

Happy Reading!

xoxo,

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase!

I adored the premise of Julia Bartzโ€™s debut novel. Famous author Roza Vallo is holding a month-long writing retreat for five selected writers at her uber-private estate. One writer will leave the retreat with a finished novel and a publishing deal of a lifetime. The story is narrated by Alex, one of the selected writers, and let me tell youโ€ฆthis is one action-packed retreat. โฃ
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Bartzโ€™s pages cleverly unveil ALL the high stakes, ALL the batty drama, and ALL the wild mind games you could imagine. Her writing oozes tension and mystique, and I loved every minute of it. The mansionโ€™s atmosphere is bounteous in detail and brimming with gothic vibes. There was an incredible feeling of containmentโ€“like the walls were closing in on me and the urgency to beat the clock, make the daily word count, and not get yourself killed made the pages turn without hesitation. Every character is layered with goodness and always kept me guessing. There was also a โ€œstoryโ€ within the story that gave THE WRITING RETREAT a wicked cool touch. If you are wondering what it takes to get your book published at this retreatโ€ฆ.you are in store for quite the adventure. โฃ
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Put this book on your February TBR and make it happen! Itโ€™s a fun one! โฃ

Click on the book pic to purchase!

I enjoyed this light thriller. ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜“๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ž๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ๐˜ด started slow but quickly began to move and shake (which is what I like). Once I got all the characters in order, I settled into my listening experience nicely. I love a thriller with a childhood backstory that creeps its way back in to present day. Marshall did a fantastic job bringing me between two distinct timelines with ease. Her book was an easy breezy read that I happily listened to. I am a massive fan of the audiobook narrator, Karissa Vacker @karissavacker, who 100% brought the characters and story to life.โฃ
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Grab yourself a copy or an audiobook credit for this new release!โฃ

Synopsis:

“Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars. For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods–no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.”

*I received an advance reader copy of both books mentioned in today’s post from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I donโ€™t like itโ€ฆI donโ€™t share it!

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Top 5 Reads of 2022

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This was such a THINKER and 1000% book club material. I LOVED the unique exploration of women impacted by a serial killer on death row. A character analysis at ITS FINEST! Definitely going to be a future reread! โฃ

SYNOPSIS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

“Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated and understood. 

Through a kaleidoscope of women–a mother, a sister, a homicide detective–we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake. 

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Executionpresents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.”

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Every star in the sky goes to Hubert Bird. And I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE. My heart was a blubbering mess reading this tender story on aging, family, and loneliness! โฃ

SYNOPSIS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

“In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship, and fulfillment. But it’s a lie. In reality, Hubert’s days are all the same, dragging on without him seeing a single soul. Until he receives some good news–good news that, in one way, turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again into a world he has long since turned his back on. The news that his daughter is coming for a visit. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. 
Along the way, Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship, and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . . Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows, will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?”

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Everything this author writes is GOLD! I loved EVERY SECOND of her dark psychological thriller with a disturbing cult as a backdrop. BANANAS in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY! โฃYou can read a detailed review from me right here.

SYNOPSIS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

“While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death–delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader–she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive and the predators more dangerous than ever.

Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend’s life, she’s pulled into a dark, seductive world where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay’s obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it–both inside the cult and outside of it–is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?”

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I am here to share that it is 100% possible not to want a 671-page book to EVER END. To say I savored every word in Backmanโ€™s final book of his Bear Town trilogy is an absolute UNDERSTATEMENT!  #Benjiforeverโฃ

SYNOPSIS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

“Over the course of two weeks, everything in Beartown will change. Maya Andersson and Benji Ovich, two young people who left in search of a life far from the forest town, come home and joyfully reunite with their closest childhood friends. There is a new sense of optimism and purpose in the town, embodied in the impressive new ice rink that has been built down by the lake. Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The destruction caused by a ferocious late-summer storm reignites the old rivalry between Beartown and the neighboring town of Hed, a rivalry which has always been fought through their ice hockey teams. Maya’s parents, Peter and Kira, are caught up in an investigation of the hockey club’s murky finances, and Amat–once the star of the Beartown team–has lost his way after an injury and a failed attempt to get drafted into the NHL. Simmering tensions between the two towns turn into acts of intimidation and then violence. All the while, a fourteen-year-old boy grows increasingly alienated from this hockey-obsessed community and is determined to take revenge on the people he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death. He has a pistol and a plan that will leave Beartown with a loss that is almost more than it can stand.”

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This story tapped into how tragic, messy, and beautiful life can be. Shapiroโ€™s writing is raw and introspective, and I loved feeling ALL THE FEELS while devouring this family drama. โฃ

SYNOPSIS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Signal Fires opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken. On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive–a young couple expecting a baby boy–it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans’ brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, now retired and struggling with his wife’s decline, past events come hurtling back in ways no one could ever have foreseen.”

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

DEAR FRIDAY~11/18/22

November 18, 2022

Dear Friday!

Whooooo hoooo, you are here. However, I can’t say I am heading into a calm and relaxing weekend. Nope…not even close. While I hope to squeeze in some reading time and hopefully a few long walks, my focus will be grocery shopping and Thanksgiving meal planning. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite, and I am fired up in the best possible way to cook and entertain this holiday! Bring on the pumpkin pie. Bring on the homemade gravy. I CAN”T WAIT!

In addition to Thanksgiving, next week also brings THE 5TH ANNUAL DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY HOLIDAY BOOKS & PAIRINGS. This year I am doing it a little differently from years past. I will have a MINIMALIST GUIDE and a super cool ONE-CLICK guide. Be on the lookout for these handy dandy shopping guides for the book lovers this holiday season.

In the meantime, enjoy all this week’s fabulousness!

xoxo,

Kelly

SHHH…CAN’T YOU SEE I’M READING

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I am chipping away at Caroline Kepnes’ YOU series this year. I am very disciplined with these books, reading each before watching the corresponding NETFLIX season. THIS IS SO HARD TO DO! I say this not because the books are bad. Kepnes’ writing is freaking fabulous, in my opinion. I simply love a binge-able show, and so far, NETFLIX has delivered. I love Hidden Bodies, which is the second book. There are three published books in this particular series, and a fourth is coming in 2023. I am pretty pumped that the publishers sent me an advance reader copy, and my goal is to finish all four books before the new year PLUS watch all the shows! Be sure to check out what I had to say about YOU…book one on GOODREADS RIGHT HERE. Stay tuned for my thoughts on book two very soon!

I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I’M WEARING HEADPHONES

Have I ever mentioned my friend Dara Levan to you? Dara is a gorgeous writer and a beautiful soul I met in the ZIBBY MAG writing community. Though we have never met in person…YET, we have had a few morning coffees over zoom and lots of fun online conversations. Dara has an incredible podcast called EVERY SOUL HAS ITS STORY, which is an absolute gift to its listeners. I LOVED the recent episode with author Rea Frey. They talked all things books and writing, balancing life, social media, and my favorite…walking barefoot!!!! Be sure to give this episode a listen RIGHT HERE!

I WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING

Still no songs, people ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ! This week, I have been finishing my famous Holiday Books & Pairings Guide. This year I am shaking things up with two smaller guides that are perfect for anyone suffering from DECISION FATIGUE! Can anyone relate????? While you are patiently waiting, be sure to check out all my past Holiday Guides!

DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY HOLIDAY BOOKS & PAIRINGS 2018

DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY HOLIDAY BOOKS & PAIRINGS 2019

DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY HOLIDAY BOOKS & PAIRINGS 2020

DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY HOLIDAY BOOKS & PAIRINGS 2021

NETFLIX & CHILL

OH MY GOD…THE ENGLISH is something pretty amazing to watch. My husband read an article in the NEW YORK TIMES about this series on AMAZON PRIME and convinced me to watch it with him. I’ll admit that at first, I wasn’t that interested. Frontier life, cowboys and Indians, blah, blah, blah. If I wanted to watch a story from the late 1800s, I would tune into LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Seeing that Emily Blunt was the leading lady sealed the deal for me. Goodbye, Emily from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, and hello, Cornelia Locke. Staking claims, ancestral homelands, revenge, and so much more happen in this gorgeously shot western mini-series. The characters are raw, the landscape is stunning, and the stakes are life or death. This show hit me in all the emotional places, and I can’t stop thinking about it. There are six episodes, so the commitment is super light. Episodes one and two flowed pretty well. Episodes three and four were a bit confusing because the show packs in A LOT (a tad too much). Episodes five and six tied everything together, leaving me with a wicked sad hole in my heart. I HIGHLY recommend checking THE ENGLISH out RIGHT HERE. We also found it very helpful to watch with English subtitles. Some accents are thick, and reading the captions helped a ton! I would seriously ride horses with Chaske Spencer ANYDAY! You will see why!

WHAT THE HELL AM I MAKING THESE PEOPLE FOR DINNER AGAIN?

Even though I am gearing up to make the BEST TURKEY of the year next week, I haven’t forgotten about the good old roasted chicken. Now that I am knee-deep into Fall with Winter getting ready to knock down my door, my roast chicken game is STRONGER THAN EVER! This week I roasted two whole chickens stuffed with a sweet Italian sausage and apple mixture that elevated this meal to a new level. I am a massive fan of the food blog, CHASING THE SEASONS. Nikki Marie’s recipes are classy, elegant, and easy to make. Check out her roast chicken with sausage and apples RIGHT HERE! I can assure you that this meal came out phenomenally. I served it with crusty bread and a ginormous green salad! Nikki was also a guest writer on DEAR MR. HEMINGWAY. Check out what she had to say to the big guy RIGHT HERE!

MY BODY’S A TEMPLE…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!

OK. So this is the workout I have been following most recently. I’ve shared in the past that I am a big fan of BEACH BODY home workouts. 6:45 is AWESOME. Tons of weight lifting, but more importantly, lots of mobility work. The program is six days a week, 45 minutes long, and lasts twelve weeks. I AM OBSESSED! I feel like I am getting stronger and even a bit more flexible. I will also add that I do not work for BEACH BODY and never plan to. I am just sharing what workouts I enjoy with anyone interested.

FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE

I am so excited about my new Christmas tree. I have always wanted more than one tree for the Holidays, and I finally made it happen this year. Our main Christmas Tree is a freshly cut beast from a local Maine tree farm that brings me all the holiday feels. This second one is a “fake” tree, and I love it with all my heart just the same. It is decorated with picture frame ornaments containing a snapshot of my kids on their birthdays. My boys pose each year on their birthday with their cake or special dessert, and I happily frame it in a monogrammed ornament with their name and the year. As of right now, there are 43 picture frames on the tree. My goal is to do this until everyone turns 18 (maybe even longer ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ). My next plan is to frame a small picture of my hubby and me as a tree topper. How fun is that? Seeing my babies on it through the years, I can not express how full my heart is.

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Try A Little Tenderness

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz (Atria Books)

November 2, 2022

Happy Hump Day, Book Family!

Today I am sending a big shout-out to ATRIA BOOKS for sending me an ARC of Jacqueline Bublitzโ€™s debut novel Before You Knew My Name. FIVE STAR READ all the way, and guess what????? It just came out, so be sure to grab yourself a copy after you read my rave!

Bublitzโ€™s book is one of the best debut novels Iโ€™ve read in a long time. The gist of the story seems simple โ€”Ruby, a thirty-six-year-old woman, discovers a young womanโ€™s murdered body in a New York City park while out for a jog. Here is the truthโ€” this is not just another story about a murder. Instead, it is a poignant tale that takes an extraordinary gaze into the fragility of life, death, and HOW and IF we remember those who have left us to a brutal hand. This story is unique because it is narrated beyond the grave. You heard me correctly. Alice Lee is telling the story from above. The first thing this book reminded me of was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Because I read Seboldโ€™s book over 15 years ago, I will not even attempt to make comparisons. I am only mentioning it because it was a five-star read for me and narrated by a dead girl, which is an unusual way to tell a story.  

Before You Knew My Name gave me head-to-toe chills while breaking my heart one small crack at a time. This book is a THINKER. Bublitz plunges into what it means to be human through the eyes of a young, murdered woman. Are the remains of a womanโ€™s gruesome body all that will define them? How can one snapshot of what they were wearing or what they didnโ€™t tell us what kind of person they were? Is that it? Can one heinous swoop of life erase all that came before? What happens when no one claims a nameless body? How does one thrive after a brush with a ruthless crime? Why do women have to change THEIR behavior to remain safe in this world?

To say I highlighted the bejesus out of this book is an understatement. Bublitz explored the powerful connection between the living and the dead by melding together two womanโ€™s stories. To write from the perspective of a spirit or a ghost, if you will, gave her prose an eerie touch and, quite frankly, left me speechless in the best possible way. I realize this may sound a bit over the top, but Aliceโ€™s voice offered me an intense feeling of floating above the pages. As I consumed this book, it was like I was a bird looking down into the dark shadows of the story. There is an ache to Aliceโ€™s voice that I canโ€™t shake, and to get a glimpse into her world before her death and on the threshold of finding a sliver of happinessโ€ฆ Dented my soul.  

I canโ€™t babble enough about how much I loved this book! Bublitz shined a bright light on an unfortunate and timeless tale of womenโ€™s safety in what can often be a cruel world. She draws attention to the nameless people swiftly taken from this life and those impacted by their inhumane departure. She looks deeply into the existence of memories and the human need to be loved.  She introduced me to Alice, Ruby, and Noah…Characters whose stories will linger in my mind for a long time.  

I will stop my rambling now. Run and get this book! The End!

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xoxo,

Kelly

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

DEAR FRIDAY~10/14/22

October 14, 2022

Dear Friday!

You are here again, and I am not mad about it. Monday holidays always throw me off and completely mess with my head. I basically had no clue what the date was or what day it was ALL WEEK. It all worked out because I began tackling my house. My goal for the next full year is to GET RID OF STUFF and to be more mindful of what we purchase and bring into our home moving forward. If it does not serve my family or me… it’s gone. I do not want to stare at odds and ends around the house. I do not want closets overflowing with all of our “things.” I do not want a basement bursting at the seams with crap we threw down there to avoid dealing with. I do not want my digital life to be so abundant that it needs to be stored in some imaginary cloud that I don’t know how to access. I want to feel lighter. I want my head to be clear. I want to be organized. I want an uncluttered life. This will take a lot of time, but I am determined! I also have three teenage boys, so please pray for me ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. If you are looking for a great book on minimizing all the garbage in your life…check out LOVE PEOPLE USE THINGS.

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Ok…on with all the good stuff from the week!

Have a wonderful weekend!

xoxo,

Kelly

SHHH…CAN’T YOU SEE I’M READING

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I am in the middle of reading The Chain by Adrian McKinty for the #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS October book. It is a super fast read with short chapters to gobble up. So far, the pacing is quick, and the storyline is holding my interest. Fingers crossed, it continues in this direction. If you are on Instagram, CLICK HERE for more information on how to join our online discussion this month. I am also FINALLY reading Zibby Owens’ memoir, Bookends. I am a big fan of Zibby, her passion for great books and authors, and all her contributions to the literary world. I also enjoy writing for her publication…ZIBBY MAG (formerly MOMS DON’T HAVE TIME TO) and being a part of the ZIBBY MAG writing community. Read my funny piece about “getting it on” in the middle of the day…RIGHT HERE!

I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I’M WEARING HEADPHONES

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

I am currently reading/listening to the final book in the Beartown Trilogy. Backman is hands down…one of my favorite authors. I received an advanced copy of The Winners last spring, and guess what? I couldn’t read it. I stared at it every day but did not want to read it because reading it would be the end, and I could not face the end of this story. I am sure the publishers were thrilled with this ๐Ÿ˜‚. Anyway, I am s-l-o-w-l-y alternating between listening and physically reading this book. I am savoring EVERY moment, EVERY character, and EVERY sentence ๐Ÿฅฒ.

On an entirely different note, I listened to a fantastic episode from Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love Podcast titled THE MOST EMPOWERING THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX & YOUR BODY WITH EMILY NAGOSKI. I highly recommend this episode, but listen with headphones on ๐Ÿ˜‚. It’s empowering, educational, truthful, eye-opening, and just plain fun! I am now interested in checking out Emily Nagoski’s best-selling book, Come As You Are. I mean, why not make sure we are doing everything and anything to have the most incredible sex ever. I’ll keep you posted.

NETFLIX & CHILL

So last week, I shared that I listen to Caroline Kepnes’ book, YOU. I just finished binge-watching season one of the NETFLIX version, and it did not disappoint. It followed the book mostly, with a few changes here and there. I am a big fan of Penn Badgley (Hello Dan from Gossip Girl). I am not allowing myself to watch the next season until I read the second book, Hidden Bodies. However, from what I gathered, you could probably just cut to the chase and watch the series and call it good if you do not feel like reading the books. There are only so many hours in a day.

Another show I must recommend that I caught up on this summer is PHYSICAL on AppleTV. One of my besties recommended this, and I’ve been hooked. In my opinion, this show is underrated and needs more attention because it is the absolute bomb! The 80s vibe is out of this world, and the characters are entirely nuts, 100% unreliable, and will drive you CRAZY! Despite their awfulness, though, you will fall in love with them. The show tackles eating disorders, sexual abuse, and so much more with the 80s mindset and diet culture front and center. If you are sensitive to this subject matter, then take a pass. If not, have at it. It’s a hoot! There are two seasons, and the episodes are under 30 minutes. For this one, you will probably want to dust off your old exercise videos, High-Top Reeboks, and VCRs!

WHAT THE HELL AM I MAKING THESE PEOPLE FOR DINNER TONIGHT?

Today I am sharing a SLAM-DUNK RECIPE. It’s another dump-all-the-ingredients-in-the-crockpot situation and is a real crowd-pleaser. So this Instant Pot Short Rib Black Bean Chili can be made in an instant pot or a crockpot. I did the ladder, and it rocked! The short ribs give this chili a little “something-something” that separates it from your run-of-the-mill ground beef versions. At the end of the cook cycle, the short ribs shred effortlessly with the back of a fork. Chef’s Kiss! I highly recommend this for game day or busy week nights!

I WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING

I am sorry to say that I am still not writing any songs. However, I am waiting to hear back on a few more pieces I submitted for publication while writing many other fun things. In the meantime, I loved this piece by Fridrik Backman in the New York Times. And if you need a bit more Backman in your life, check out what I had to say about one of his leading ladies RIGHT HERE!

MY BODY’S A TEMPLE…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

My body IS a temple, and I lifted weights this week to honor it four times. I will say that lifting weights makes me feel fantastic, and I enjoy doing it. Right now, I have a membership with BEACHBODY. There are tons of workout programs to choose from that are either single workouts or specific programs that last for a particular duration (i.e., 6 wks/5 days a week, etc.). I love the variety of programs, recipes, and nutritional plans they have and highly recommend this if you want to work out at home. They also have accountability coaches and private social media communities for inspiration and support if that’s your jam. This currently seems to work for me, so I am just going with it. I am severely lacking in the cardio arena, so that is my mission for next week. I must add that I do not work for BEACHBODY or am an affiliate for them. I’m just a happy customer sharing.

FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE

Friday I’m in love. Yes, I named this blurb after The Cure’s song. They are, after all, my favorite band ever! So what am I in love with this week? TEA! That’s right, good old fashion hot tea to sip on during the day because it is getting COLD here in Maine. One fun fact about me is that I am a collector of teas. I am a sucker for a new flavor, gorgeous packaging, and if it comes in a quaint tin can…I’m buying it! I own more tea than I can drink, and I love it! My latest find is CARMEL APPLE by The Republic of Tea. It is caffeine free and tastes like a cozy fall day in a mug. If I feel wild, I add a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to elevate my tea-drinking experience. Can you say DELICIOUS? I sometimes find seasonal flavors like this one at TARGET or WHOLE FOODS. It is hit or miss. If your stores do not sell this flavor, you can always grab it RIGHT HERE!

*Book links provided in todayโ€™s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Cape Cod Summers With Jennifer Weiner

July 25, 2022

Dear Summertime Loving Readers,

I am 100% in love with all of Jennifer Weinerโ€™s โ€œSummer Books.โ€ ๐˜‰๐˜ช๐˜จ ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ and ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ kept me company on the beach the past few years here in coastal Maine. AND this year, I happily devoured Weinerโ€™s latest, ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜—๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฆ  with my toes nestled deep into the warm sand. โฃToday I am happily sharing all three of her summer books with you, hoping you will enjoy them on a warm sunny day. At the end of the day, ๐ˆ ๐š๐ฆ ๐š ๐ฆ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐š๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐—ช๐ž๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ซโ€™๐ฌ ๐›๐ž๐š๐ฎ๐ญ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ก๐š๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ, ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐จ๐ซ๐ž, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐š ๐ ๐จ๐จ๐ ๐จ๐ฅ๐ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ซ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐‚๐š๐ฉ๐ž!โฃ

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Jennifer Weiner wowed me again with another family drama. In her latest creation, a wedding is in the works for Ruby on the shores of Cape Cod, bringing her family together for this special day. What is a joyous wedding if it doesnโ€™t create tension, raise questions, and reveal past and present family secrets?โฃ

Weiner made me feel like I was vacationing in a small town on Cape Cod. I could hear the ocean waves, feel the mist of the sea air, and smell the hydrangea bushes in full bloom. Using her ideal backdrop, Weiner plopped me in the middle of a unique family drama. Secret pasts, blended families, and new discoveries keep this story floating without a cloud in the sky. ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜—๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฆ is told from multiple points of view, including one โ€œunusualโ€ voice that ties all of the individual storylines together. This book is one for your beach bag!

Synopsis:

โ€œWhen her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarahโ€™s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the familyโ€™s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarahโ€™s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he isโ€”questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarahโ€™s husband, Eli, whoโ€™s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.โ€

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So, about ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณโ€ฆAbsolutely phenomenal! I love how Weiner took on a complex subject matter with dignity and grace. The fallout from experiencing trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, and Weiner highlights the struggles of surviving sexual assault with an unexpected twist. This book did have a heavy subject matter, but Weiner’s beautiful writing made it easy to digest. The characters in ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜š๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ felt natural, and I was invested in their stories 100%. Weiner knows how to write female characters better than anyone and constantly hits on relevant topicsโ€ฆAnd letโ€™s face it, the Cape Cod atmosphere is ALWAYS on point!

Synopsis:

“Daisy Shoemaker canโ€™t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows sheโ€™s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, sheโ€™s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisyโ€™s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisyโ€™s making dinner, Dianaโ€™s making plans to reorganize corporations. Dianaโ€™s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisyโ€™s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?”

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Weinerโ€™s Big Summer did not disappoint. I enjoyed how her coming-of-age drama managed to capture contemporary themes of body shaming, social media, self-love, and forgiveness. Weiner blended these issues into her story in a way that allows readers to empathize with the different characters in the book and relate to them on a personal level.  I was pleasantly surprised halfway through her book when she switched gears and threw a mysterious twist into the mix.  A chick-lit and mystery combinedโ€ฆwho would have thought that this combo of genres would work so well?  Guess whatโ€ฆit absolutely did. Throw in an ocean breeze and a warm Cape Cod summer night, and I am a delighted reader.  Once again, Weinerโ€™s book had me glued to my couch, completely enthralled.  I hope you have the same experience.  

Synopsis:

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasnโ€™t spoken one word to Drue in all this timeโ€”she doesnโ€™t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social mediaโ€”so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everythingโ€”except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphneโ€™s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. Sheโ€™s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friendโ€™s siren song.

A Trio of Books Just For You

The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola (Atria Books)

The Prynne Viper by Bianca Marais (Audible Original)

Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr (Harper Perennial)


March 7, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I have three books for you today and they are all so very different from one another. These three works of fiction each have their own unique vibe and I am thrilled to share them with you. I am offering up a man in search of his soul, a courtroom drama set way into the future, and a mystery around some Nazi stolen artwork. I can honestly say that I was swept away by all three of the books below. I was shocked, entertained, made to think, and above all…simply wowed by these three authors. I do believe there is something for everyone in today’s round-up. Happy reading and listening!

Until next time dear friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

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First up is The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVED this book.  Bolaโ€™s writing knocked my socks off, that is for sure.  His main character Michael truly lost his way and my soul literally ached for him.  His journey is beyond profound and left me with a feeling of sadness that was hard to shed.  I was mesmerized by his introspection and oftentimes found myself drifting off into my own world of ruminating and reflecting on life, love, and loneliness.  The connections with the people he met along the way truly highlighted his internal needs and fears and I was in absolute awe of how Bola could take on the heavy themes of suicidal thoughts, race, culture, and family using a poetic tone.  The Selfless Act of Breathing is a raw and powerful read and I highly recommend it.

Synopsis:

โ€œMichael Kabongo is a British-Congolese teacher living in London on the cusp of two identities. On paper, he seems to have it all: Heโ€™s beloved by his students, popular with his coworkers, and the pride and joy of a mother who emigrated from the Congo to the UK in search of a better life. But behind closed doors, heโ€™s been struggling with the overwhelming sense that he canโ€™t address the injustices he sees raging before himโ€”from his relentless efforts to change the lives of his students for the better to his attempts to transcend the violence and brutality that marginalizes young Black men around the world.

Then one day he suffers a devastating loss, and his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his fatherโ€™s violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything heโ€™s worked so hard to achieve. Longing to escape the shadows in his mind and start anew, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical โ€œland of the free,โ€ where he imagines everything will be better, easierโ€”a place where he can become someone new, someone without a past filled with pain.

On this transformative journey, Michael travels everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures, with the intention of living the life of his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out.โ€

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Next up is Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr. Run, donโ€™t walk to grab yourself a copy of this literary gem.ย  The dazzling art world, high-stakes journalism, and the history of Nazi stolen artwork during the Second World War are well framed in this remarkable literary mystery. Barrโ€™s story is teeming with intricate details and a chic background that pairs well with her multi-layered and quite juicy characters that undeniably lit up the pages of this book.ย  The combination of unparalleled research weaved into modern-day fiction was THE creme de la creme for me.ย  Every luscious page I read made me more ravenous for the next because I simply had to know what happened next. I refused to cease my reading adventure until I reached the wicked satisfying ending the Barr so meticulously delivered.ย  At the end of the day, there is nothing better than being immersed in a world where the past meant everything and secrets kept everyone in the game.ย  Woman on Fire was an absolute pleasure to read.ย 

Lisa Barrโ€™s stunning creation is the true work of art here and SHE isโ€ฆ The Ultimate Woman on Fire!

Synopsis:

“After talking her way into a job with Dan Mansfield, the leading investigative reporter in Chicago, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusualโ€”and very secretโ€”assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engelโ€™s most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a beautiful, mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, and has enlisted Danโ€™s help to find it. But Jules doesnโ€™t have much time; the famous designer is dying.

Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector familyโ€™s millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet the passionate and determined Jules has unexpected resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellisโ€™s grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margauxโ€™s clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and heโ€™ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.”

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Last but never ever least is The Prynne Viper by Bianca Marais. Marais, author of Hum if You Donโ€™t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh is back with something 100% fresh.  This time around she is not writing about South Africa, the Apartheid, or the Soweto Uprising.  Instead, she wowed me with a short story offered as an Audible Original. The Prynne Viper is a futuristic tale (yes, you heard me correctly) that left me thinking long and hard about the fate of humanity if left in the hands of some crazy predictive software. I was transfixed by this terrifying world and the idea that mankind could be predetermined by a courtroom jury haunted me for days.  Donโ€™t let the length of this story fool you though.  Maraisโ€™ magnificent storytelling, the full cast of narrators, and an extremely pleasing ending all neatly fit into a unique two-hour listen. Maraisโ€™ ability to switch writing gears by seamlessly transitioning to a completely different genre was wicked impressive and she will forever be an auto-buy author for me.

Synopsis:

โ€œIn a futuristic world where predictive software can map out the lives of every living person and their descendants, Naomi Prynne is on trial. The charge: endangerment by way of a pregnancy.

Thirteen jurors will determine whether Naomi is allowed to carry the pregnancy to term, but the jurors are also all plaintiffs, the software having predicted how Naomi Prynneโ€™s child will affect each of them in life-changing ways. Among them: a history professor who has given up on her own dreams for the sake of the greater good; a student participating in his first-ever trial whoโ€™s about to discover an earth-shattering truth; and a former mathematician, who knows all too well the dark machinations of the state, but is prohibited from speaking out against them. The future of the Prynne Viper – an acronym for โ€œviable personโ€ – is in their hands.

But this Prynne Viper is unlike Naomiโ€™s other pregnancies. This time, Naomi Prynne is carrying a secret, one with the power to alter the future into something incalculable, and therefore, unpredictable.โ€

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