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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 🤷‍♀️! 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 🤷‍♀️). 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 today’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 Bublitz’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!

Bublitz’s book is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time. The gist of the story seems simple —Ruby, a thirty-six-year-old woman, discovers a young woman’s murdered body in a New York City park while out for a jog. Here is the truth— 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 Sebold’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 woman’s gruesome body all that will define them? How can one snapshot of what they were wearing or what they didn’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 woman’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 Alice’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 Alice’s voice that I can’t shake, and to get a glimpse into her world before her death and on the threshold of finding a sliver of happiness… Dented my soul.  

I can’t babble enough about how much I loved this book! Bublitz shined a bright light on an unfortunate and timeless tale of women’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!

Click on the book Pic to purchase!

xoxo,

Kelly

*Book links provided in today’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 😂😂. If you are looking for a great book on minimizing all the garbage in your life…check out LOVE PEOPLE USE THINGS.

Click on the pic to get it!

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 😂. 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 🥲.

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 😂. 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 today’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 Weiner’s “Summer Books.” 𝘉𝘪𝘨 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 and 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 kept me company on the beach the past few years here in coastal Maine. AND this year, I happily devoured Weiner’s latest, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦  with my toes nestled deep into the warm sand. ⁣Today 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, 𝐈 𝐚𝐦 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝗪𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐫’𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐩𝐞!⁣

Click on the book pic to purchase!

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 doesn’t create tension, raise questions, and reveal past and present family secrets?⁣

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. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 is told from multiple points of view, including one “unusual” voice that ties all of the individual storylines together. This book is one for your beach bag!

Synopsis:

“When 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, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’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. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’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.”

Click on the book pic to purchase!

So, about 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳…Absolutely 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 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘚𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 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 topics…And let’s face it, the Cape Cod atmosphere is ALWAYS on point!

Synopsis:

“Daisy Shoemaker can’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 she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’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 Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’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?”

Click on the book pic to purchase!

Weiner’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 combined…who would have thought that this combo of genres would work so well?  Guess what…it absolutely did. Throw in an ocean breeze and a warm Cape Cod summer night, and I am a delighted reader.  Once again, Weiner’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 hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—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 everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’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 friend’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

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!

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