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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

Click on the book pic to purchase.

First up is The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVED this book.  Bola’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:

“Michael Kabongo is a British-Congolese teacher living in London on the cusp of two identities. On paper, he seems to have it all: He’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, he’s been struggling with the overwhelming sense that he can’t address the injustices he sees raging before him—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 father’s violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’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 “land of the free,” where he imagines everything will be better, easier—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.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Next up is Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr. Run, don’t walk to grab yourself a copy of this literary gem.  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. Barr’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.  The combination of unparalleled research weaved into modern-day fiction was THE creme de la creme for me.  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.  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.  Woman on Fire was an absolute pleasure to read. 

Lisa Barr’s stunning creation is the true work of art here and SHE is… 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 unusual—and very secret—assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engel’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 Dan’s help to find it. But Jules doesn’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 family’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, Ellis’s grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux’s clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and he’ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Last but never ever least is The Prynne Viper by Bianca Marais. Marais, author of Hum if You Don’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.  Don’t let the length of this story fool you though.  Marais’ magnificent storytelling, the full cast of narrators, and an extremely pleasing ending all neatly fit into a unique two-hour listen. Marais’ 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:

“In 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 Prynne’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 who’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 “viable person” – is in their hands.

But this Prynne Viper is unlike Naomi’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.”

Crocodile Rock

The Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Scandalized Eighteenth-Century London by Catherine Ostler (Atria Books)

February 22, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Today I am wishing a VERY Happy Pub Day to The Duchess Countess by Catherine Ostler!!!  To say I was a happy camper reading this book would be an understatement.  Give me anything related to a scandal, royal courts, and an adventurous woman during any century prior to cell phones or electronics and I am in heaven.  This magnetic biography was my first introduction to  Elizabeth Chudleigh and certainly won’t be my last. Let me share with you why I am officially obsessed with this beguiling woman from the Georgian era. 

How I have never heard of Elizabeth Chudleigh until now is beyond me. While America was on the brink of Independence in 1776, the British papers were not filled with reports of this monumental change, but instead were dripping in stories of Chudleigh’s trial at Westminster where she was found guilty of bigamy. Ostler shares this piece of history with her readers then takes us through Chudleigh’s life beginning with her humble start. It is not long before she reveals her secret marriage to Augustus Hervey followed by her time at court as maid of honor to the Princess of Wales and her second marriage to Evelyn Pierrepont, the 2nd Duke of Kingston.  Osler’s book is chock-full of facts, intricacies, and then some piecing together Chudleigh’s two marriages and the dispute of their validity.  Her unabridged biography takes readers on Chudleigh’s never-ending escapades in England, France, and even Russia leaving no stone unturned. She brilliantly highlights why Chudleigh’s life was so controversial and who was impacted by her endeavors.

Ostler’s book has become my new obsession. Meeting Elizabeth Chudleigh for the first time has left me with a hankering to analyze and discuss her two marriages, her inheritance, and every element in-between. I am still in awe over her trial and the spectacle it was. It is crazy that it cost just as much or even more than a queen’s coronation and that it was an actual ticketed event that women and men alike dressed to the nines to attend. Osler’s book began very fact-driven but quickly read more like historical fiction than biography.  I was swept away by the Georgian era and the exquisite details of all the hierarchies, fashion, and laws of the lands.   Chudleigh’s ability to fight for a place in society and re-invent herself after every fall was astonishing. There was so much transgression, so much hearsay that deciphering what was true and what was false kept me on the edge of my seat. I predict my own ceaseless adventure going down the Elizabeth Chudleigh rabbit hole.

I love how Ostler brought to life this truly forgotten woman from eighteenth-century London. Her work is well researched and truly was a delight to read. This is the perfect cup of tea for all the  Georgian era and Regency era fans out there like me. Not only am I looking forward to Bridgerton Season two coming out,  but I am now officially dreaming about Elizabeth Chudleigh coming to a big screen…a historical fiction mini-series is what I so desire. Maybe Ostler can help make that happen!!!!

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. If you like this time period, guess what??? The Regency era overlaps with it and had some fabulous cocktails to boot. Check out this book for some delicious concoctions!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS MARCH SELECTION

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel (Atria Books)

February 21, 2022

Dear Fabulous Readers,

The moment you have all been waiting for 🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁 𝐓𝐡𝐞 #𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐛𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐲𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 is 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘴 by Amy Poeppel  🎶🎶🎶⁣.

Katie @basicbsguide and I are so excited to lighten up the reading vibe in March with a book that PEOPLE MAGAZINE calls, “𝐀 𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫-𝐢𝐧-𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞.”⁣

I love that we have been focusing on backlist reads in our group. Lord knows we all have stacks and lists of books that we hope to get to one day. Backlist reads have so many benefits. For one, it gives us the opportunity to check books off our never-ending TBRs. They also have been out a while and are easier to get your hands on. They tend to be more accessible at your local library, they are less expensive to buy if they are out in paperback, and you are more apt to find a deal on them via e-readers and audio options. Not too shabby! ⁣

If you would like to join our fabulous group this March you do need to be on INSTAGRAM. Please reach out to me there @dearmrhemingway. As always, this is a read at your own pace situation with a spectacular chat at the end of the month via a private Instagram chat. Date TBA!⁣

Check out the SYNOPSIS:

“Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling breaks up with her over email, her twin twenty-somethings arrive unexpectedly, and her elderly father announces he’s getting married. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.”

Look forward to chatting about this book with you!

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase!

#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS

January 10, 2021

Dear Book Lovers!

Hello, all of my gorgeous book friends! I am here to formally share my online buddy read I host with my friend Katie @basicbsguide from Texas. Katie and I met online years ago through our love of reading. We co-hosted our first buddy read group discussion on My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell in May 2020. Our turnout was incredible with readers joining us from many different states, time zones, and countries. The book chat we had via an Instagram private group chat was one of the most phenomenal literary conversations I have ever had. The success of this chat led to us creating more consistent “Buddy Read” opportunities each month with fantastic readers. We mashed our handles together and before you know it, #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS was born.

We are kicking off the New Year with some old-school Taylor Jenkins Reid and taking on her 2014 novel, 𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘐 𝘋𝘰.  If you are looking for a low-key and friendly buddy read of this book with readers from all over the globe I urge you to join in the fun. You need an Instagram account (private or public) to participate.

If you are interested…..

  1. Please DM me at @dearmrhemingway and I will get you set up in this month’s group
  2. Read at your own pace
  3. Join in the private chat via Instagram on January 26th 8 pm EST
  4. You are not obligated to follow anyone in the group
  5. Private accounts are definitely welcome and will remain private
  6. If you miss the chat for some reason, you can always go back and read everyone’s comments
  7. New chat groups are made for each new book so you only need to particapte in books that interest you.

Synopsis:

“When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.⁣

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?”⁣

Happy Reading and we look forward to chatting books with everyone!

Kelly & Katie

Click on the pic to purchase this book!

One Letter, Three Books

January 4, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway, 

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a brand new year.  Clean slate, endless possibilities, and of course…new books.  Today I am sharing one book that came out in September 2021 and two that were published TODAY! Three books for the price of one letter to you is not too shabby.  Let’s see what I’ve got, shall we!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

“Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.”


Indiebound

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan is officially out today and has been named Book of the Week by PEOPLE magazine and Read With Jenna’s January pick.  This dystopian tale explores strong themes relating to motherhood, parenting, race, gender, and then some. It is unsettling and a wee bit anxiety-provoking, so if you are a parent, your need to hug your children will be powerful. Because my feelings on this book are truly all over the place,   I believe this to be an excellent selection to discuss and process with other readers.  Whether you love it or hate it, Chan’s book is most definitely…SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT! 

Click on the book pic to purchase!

“Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging. 

When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.

Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?”

Indiebound

Another book that is out TODAY is No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib.  This fictional story revolves around U.S. President Trump’s real-life Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (AKA… “Muslim Ban”) in 2017.  This story takes a deep dive into the repercussions of this order.  Zgheib’s writing is stunning, and her prose triggers a feeling of longing that lingers with you after the last page is turned. Her main characters Sama and Hadi alternate perspectives throughout the story offering the most intimate look at families divided by borders and the fearfulness and risks they endure all for the chance at freedom and a safe place to call home.  This gorgeous book weighs in around 300 pages, so not only is it an eye-opening read but a quick one too. I can not recommend this book enough!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

“This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think… “

Goodreads


My last recommendation is The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. It is a tricky book to summarize, so do not put all of your stock in the synopsis above.  Ward’s book is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle, a complete “mind f*ck” if you will.  My brain entered an inescapable nightmare that not only broke my heart but tampered with my soul.  My head was spinning with equal parts terror and fascination, as I frantically turned the pages.  The Last House on Needless Street is storytelling at its finest but please be forewarned, its heaviness is difficult to shake. Trigger warnings are abundant including child abuse, child abduction, mental illness, trauma, serial killers, and a whole lot in-between.  Ward ends her book with a note to the reader that I felt was very helpful in understanding the ins and outs of the story.  It is a must-read AFTER you have read the book.  It contains major spoilers, so no cheating! 

Enjoy all the books you can ever imagine this new year!

Your Biggest Fan!

Kelly


P.S. Are you hungry? If so, be sure to check out some of my most recent cookbook recommendations RIGHT HERE!

***I received an advance reader copy of The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan and
No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

Nutcrackers & Handsprings: Books About the Cutthroat World of Ballet and Gymnastics

Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina by Georgina Pazcoguin (Henry Holt & Company)
The Turnout by Megan Abbott (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Happiest Girl in the World: A Novel by Alena Dillon (William Morrow)
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (Atria Books)

September 21, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Like so many young girls, I wanted to be a famous ballerina AND an Olympic gymnast.  I was little, so both professions seemed like reasonable career goals even though I could barely touch my toes. Images of me gracefully dancing across the stage in a white nightgown clutching a wooden nutcracker or sticking a round-off back handspring on a balance beam filled my wandering mind.  I, of course, only saw what was directly in front of me.  Beauty, elegance, strength, and perfection were what graced the stage and gym mats for all the dreamers like me who dared to dream.  Little did I know what the making of an elite athlete indeed looked like.  Today I am sharing four books that capture the fierce passion and wild side of ballet and gymnastics.  Scandal, abuse, injuries, eating disorders, and love fill the pages of today’s reads.   The lineup is dripping in all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we love to read about.   And GUESS WHAT?  Legwarmers and leotards are entirely optional.   You can be captivated by these stories from the comfort of your living room couch wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt.  How great is that!!!! 

Point shoes and tutus, anyone??? I LOVED Georgina Pazcoguin’s memoir, Swan Dive. Pazcoguin was the first Asian American soloist in the New York City Ballet.  Her story from leaving her small town in Pennsylvania at age 16 to train in New York City was mind-boggling.  Pazcoguin’s memoir is a backstage pass into the making of a true ballerina.  She is brutally honest with the highs and lows of the profession.  From bloody toes to dancing with injuries to the abuse and racism she experienced, Pazcoquin’s story of dancing in the ballet to performing in the Broadway musical CATS is exceptionally enchanting.  I could not put it down.

While we are still in the mood for tortured ballerinas and scandal galore, let’s move on to a work of fiction that takes place against the provocative backdrop of a ballet school and its yearly performance of The Nutcracker.  The Turnout by Megan Abbott is one heck of a page-turner.  Sisters Maria and Dara Durant run their family’s ballet school.  Things unravel when they hire a contractor to rebuild part of their studio that recently caught fire.  All I can say is that this man is more significant than he lets on. Nutcracker drama, family secrets, irresistible sexual encounters, razor blades in point shoes, and even a dead body fill the pages of this “un-put-downable” book.  I officially know what a “turnout” is and OUCH! The Nutcracker will never be the same again!

All you gymnastic fans out there will love Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein.  Avery’s Olympic dreams come to an end after an injury occurs during her Olympic trials.  To make matters worse, she is newly single and moving back to her hometown in Massachusetts.  In comes Ryan, Avery’s childhood acquaintance, and Olympic gold medalist.  When Ryan discovers that Avery is back home, he eagerly asks her to take the job as his assistant coach to Hallie, an up-and-coming gymnast.   As these two former gymnasts train the next Olympic star, sparks begin to fly on and off the mat.  Picture twists and turns, switch leaps and layouts, and maybe just maybe, some steamy fooling around on a sticky pile of mats.  Head Over Heels has it all…the love of gymnastics, the tension, the hot topics, and most of all, the romance.  Can you say perfect 10!

Alena Dillon’s book, The Happiest Girl in the World is a work of fiction reminiscent of the recent sexual abuse scandals in gymnastics.  Sera and her best friend Lucy are training for the Olympics.  Everything changes for these two when Lucy reports to the authorities that the team doctor sexually abused her during treatment sessions.  Sadly, Sera denies these facts to protect her career and destroys their friendship.  Dillon’s book is overflowing with dusty chalk and intense training but also takes a deep dive into the byproduct of sexual abuse and the ultimate drive for perfection in the cutthroat gymnastics world.  Reading this book felt very timely, especially with the 2021 summer Olympics still in the rearview mirror.  

Now that I have filled your To Be Read pile with pirouettes, flips, and spins, it’s time to get reading!

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. When I was little, my sister and I used to pretend the black lane lines in our community pool were balance beams.  In between swimming around, we would put together gymnastic routines and perform them in the pool, making sure to always stick our landings on the lane lines.  So much fun!

Click on the book pictures below to purchase!

DIG HERE

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (Atria Books) September 7, 2021

August 21, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I am over the moon to share with you one of Fall’s most anticipated and buzziest new books.  This September, Lisa Jewell is back with her latest creation,The Night She Disappeared.   I feel like I write to you often about my love of dark mysteries and thrillers, and this is certainly not the first time I’ve written to you about this lovely author.  I always chuckle to myself with each of these letters because the books I share with you are pretty much the opposite of your writing.   However, even though your genre and style differ from Jewell’s, you both know how to create an atmosphere that brings out the very best in your stories. I believe you would enjoy Jewell’s moody vibes and dreary skies covering the English countryside that serve as the backdrop to her new chilling tale.  I most definitely did and today I am here to tell you why.  

The Night She Disappeared is set in a small English town between 2017-2019…basically right before Covid-19 hit and the whole world shut down.  Again, with mysteries and thrillers my plot summary will be cautious to keep every twist and turn from being spoiled.  One night in 2017, Tullulah and her boyfriend Zach (who is currently living with her at her mother’s house) decide to go out for the night and enjoy an adult evening of dining and hanging with friends.  They leave behind their young son with Tallulah’s mom Kim to mind.  Kim is alarmed when they do not come home that night or even the next morning.  She knows how strong Tallulah’s love is for her son and can’t fathom her disappearing by choice.  Tallulah and Zach are officially declared missing and a search begins.  Fast forward to 2019 and we meet Sophie.  Sophie is a cozy mystery writer who just moved to the area with her boyfriend who is a new educator at the Maypole House.  On her walk one day, she discovers something that opens back up the closed case of missing Tallulah and Zach.  Will this unsolved mystery finally be solved and at what cost?  

My summary may be sparse, but the story is surely not.  I loved how Jewell wrote this book using different timelines and from multiple points of view.  To me this created a well paced mystery that had me waiting with bated breath for 2017 to sync up with 2019. The back and forth between timelines generated the suspense I so desire and because of this, I was immersed in The Night She Disappeared from start to finish.  And let’s face it, short chapters with mini cliffhangers will always KEEP ME READING.  Jewell added a few of my favorite elements to her mysterious tale…the quintessential  private school and the ever so beloved “strange house”  that both hoard secrets and lies galore!  My perfect cup of tea! I loved the history of the Maypole House and all who dwelled there.  I was obsessed with Tallaluh’s temperamental friends and their unsteady yet eager behaviors. I was absolutely delighted with the eeriness of “Dark Place” and the neverending woods that encroached upon its morose existence (you’ll see).  I was entertained observing the characters take on the dangerous work of investigating a threatening affair even though the police and officials were already involved.  I was mesmerized by the darkness that seeped out of this story with each page I turned and tucked under my blanket a little tighter to absorb my chills.  I adored how fired up I was while reading and for the life of me… couldn’t predict the ending. I hoped for this kind of reaction and I am stoked that Lisa Jewell delivered me another fantastic reading experience.  So while I continue to chip away at all of her backlist books, I can say with confidence that I may just be…Her Biggest Fan! This book comes out September 7, 2021!  Be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Peace, Love and Reading…and a few dead bodies!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. If you haven’t read Jewell’s 2020 book, Invisible Girl….Let me convince you to do so.

Invisible Girl was an absolute clever read! I was instantly invested in all of Jewell’s characters from the very start. I desperately wanted to know EVERYTHING about them. Childhood trauma, family drama, strange neighbors, buried secrets, and a MISSING GIRL… this book had me at HELLO! Throw in some crazy twists and turns and a wicked moody vibe and I crossed the finish line with this book in just shy of two days. It’s fast and crazy and the perfect fall treat.

Click on my poolside reading pic to purchase. I spy my hubby in the hot tub 🥰🥰!
Click on this pic to purchase Invisible Girl!

***I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

DMH~Pages Well Paired Summer 2021 Box

On Sale June 1, 2021 USA Only

May 27, 2021

Dear Readers!

I am thrilled to reveal what will be inside our first DMH~Pages Well Paired box this summer.

Our first box includes a paperback copy of The Other Passenger (Atria Books) by award winning UK author, Louise Candlish.  This book is being published in the United States for the first time on July 20, 2021. Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times best selling author, calls Candlish “the queen of sucker-punch twists”, and I couldn’t agree more.  

The Other Passenger is a slow burn, psychological suspense novel.  Jamie commutes everyday to work via ferry with his buddy Kit.  When Kit goes missing, Jamie becomes a suspect for potential murder given that he was the last person to have seen him. OR WAS HE??? This is a story that is frothing over with lying, cheating and secrets galore.  Candlish’s unreliable characters and subtle twists will keep you guessing every step of the way.  With the Thames river as the backdrop, this noir-like British tale has a wonderful sense of place and a menacing vibe to jam to.  Recline your beach chair and put on your sunnies…The Other Passenger is your next summer read!

The Other Passenger is paired with a custom made, luxury booksleeve by Maine Designer and Seamstress, Joelle Stoecklein, from Aggrojo.  The sleeve measures 11X9 inches and is made from charcoal colored waxed canvas and lined with a flamed colored fabric that is 55% linen and 45% cotton.  Waxed canvas is wicked durable, water resistant (great for the beach and pool), and takes on a weathered/distressed look the more you handle it.   This classy and timeless sleeve looks and feels incredible, and the quality and stitching is over the top fabulous…I am obsessed.  Your book will be safe and sound nestled inside this lavish sleeve.   

*This box will be delivered by July 20, 2021…contingent upon the mail. 

Happy Reading & Happy Shopping!

Kelly

P.S. Boxes go on sale June 1, 2021 at 9am. Be sure to order one before they sell out! I will be sending an email next week as a reminder. If you are looking for discount codes, please visit any of my launch team members below for 10% off.

Kristen

Chase

Lisa

Katie

Laura

Janelle

Charcoal colored waxed canvas with flame colored fabric (55% linen/45% cotton)

Here Comes The Sun

It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark (Atria/Emily Bestler)~May 4, 2021



May 3, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Love is in the air, and it feels like Valentine’s Day… in the beginning of May.  Because of this, I have to share with you the most sprightly and heartwarming book. It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark has all the “feels” and I literally can’t stop smiling.  Love almighty love is the theme here, and Clark delivers a five star tale blending a sprinkle of Modern Love with a dollop of Love Actually.  This twenty-first century romantic comedy is a ray of sunshine and I can’t wait for the world to read it.

Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have been married for decades.  Their New York wedding planning company, In Love in New York is THE place to go for the ultimate wedding experience.  One night, Liv finds out that her husband had a heart attack while away, and died.  Soon after, Liv discovers that not only did her husband/business partner die, but that he left his half of the company to his GIRLFRIEND, Savannah (excellent time for your jaw to drop).  Why on Earth is he trying to bring these two women together after his death? 

Now that you have the backdrop of the story, let me continue with what happens next.  Liv is baffled when Savannah moves to New York to take on her “half “of the wedding business, and so begins their unexpected journey as business owners and women trying to discover love after loss. To enrich this story further, Clark brings in a cast of characters with their own unique love challenges that all link back to Liv, Savannah and In Love In New York. 

It Had To Be You is a must read for anyone looking for love,hope and a happily ever after.  LGBTQ themes, diversity, and romance were lovingly woven together to showcase the power of love. Clark magically melded together an incredible ensemble of characters that offered a different point of view for each new chapter.  The five storylines were distinct in their own quirky way and I was completely obsessed with each and every one of them.  As a woman in my 40’s, I personally relished reading about Clark’s characters my age and even older. It is so refreshing to see more mature women and men in romance books.  This writer truly knows how to tap into the human heart and I look forward to more books written by her.  

It Had To Be You is a treasure that belongs on everyone’s bookshelf.  It is a well needed hug after a long day kind of book and I can’t encourage you enough to read and savor this all inclusive love story.   

Love and Happiness My Friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly


P.S.  Georgia Clark shared her own happily ever after in Brides Magazine.  Check it out Right Here!

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Let’s Get It On

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters (Atria)

“But she has no time for these dangerous thoughts-she had a scheme to enact, a dowager marchioness to thwart, and a marquess to make miserable.  In short, she was busy.  Busy ladies had no time to dwell on kisses.”

April 6, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Do regency romance novels ring a bell? If I remember correctly, this sub genre was brought to your attention by author Lauren Layne when she wrote to you about her favorite comfort read back in February of 2020.  I have to admit, it has been awhile since I have sunk my teeth into one of these juicy romances set in the early nineteenth century, but after Bridgerton took the world by storm on Netflix this past winter, regency romances are back on center stage.  To Love and To Loathe by Martha Waters is out today and its flirty, fresh and everything in between.  An easy-peasy lemon-squeezy read is the best way to kick off spring in my opinion and Water’s latest historical rom-com will have you smiling from ear to ear.

“She did not wish for much in life-a comfortable house, an extensive wardrobe, and a plentiful supply of paint and canvas were all she really asked for.  But the sensation of winning a wager against Willingham?  Yes, she would admit to wanting that rather badly.”

Welcome to high society where the widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are center stage.  These two “friends” turn an argument at a ball into a full on wager.  Diana will turn over one hundred pounds if “playboy” Jeremy marries within the year.  Shortly after, Jeremy brings another proposal to Diana.  He recently received a harsh review of his bedroom skills from his last mistress.  He asks Diana to embark in a brief dalliance with him at his house party at Elderwild, his country estate.  During this affair, Diana can offer him some “constructive” criticism of his intimate most moves, while providing him with a much needed confidence boost. In addition, word will get out that Diana, the independent widow, is open to more interludes herself.  What sounds like a win win situation becomes more complicated as the banter, flirtation and romping intensifies. As Jeremy’s competence in the bedroom becomes oh so promising and Diana’s desire for independence dwindles, the two of them must decide how to proceed when the house party fun comes to an end.

“Jeremy was a man of simple pleasures: a glass of brandy, a hard ride on a horse, a good round of boxing at Gentleman Jackson’s, a tumble with a willing woman.  None of these occupations provided him with expertise that he generally had much cause to call upon, but in that moment, he knew one thing with the utmost certainty:  that moan had not been one of pain, but of pleasure.”

Here is my take.  To Love and To Loathe is an opulent tale that is sparkly and bright.   Who doesn’t love a fiery kiss against a ginormous tree with a gorgeous man who just dismounted his sweaty horse.  Don’t be afraid to raise your hand…mine is way up high. I am talking callous hands cupping your face, a few nibbles on your neck, hair askew, dress ruffled in all the right places, and panting from the sheer thrill of getting caught….you get my drift.   Place this scenario in the early 1800s on a grassy estate with nosy maids lingering around every corner and a few two a.m. booty calls (very classy mind you), and you have the key ingredients to a regency romance. 

Water’s story has a gorgeous atmosphere bubbling over with schemes and desire.  One thing I adored was how forward thinking the women in her book were during this male dominated time.  Waters weaved in contemporary themes of love, relationships and independence in a vivacious way.  Instead of keeping her innermost thoughts and desires stifled out of ear of polite society, her female protagonist expressed them using a paintbrush on canvas and in the bedroom with her “Misteress”, Jeremy.   I absolutely love the evolving relationship between Diana and Jeremy.  Their constant wordplay with one another and coy foreplay left me short of breath. The plot was straightforward, but the main characters’ pasts and individual hankering for intimacy and love kept me not only intrigued, but highly entertained.  To Love and to Loathe is a quick and chucklesome read that is heartfelt and down right a blast.  I hope this book brings you as much joy as it brought me.

Happy reading dear friend.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. To Love and to Loathe is book #2 in The Regency Vows series.  Book one is called To Have and To Hoax.  I did not read the first book in this series, but will happily tell you that book #2 works perfectly well as a stand alone. I of course am running to get the first book posthaste!!!

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