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Latest Reads

November 9, 2023

Happy Autumn Reading Sweet Friends!

Today, I am sharing three new books to put on your radar. A spicy rom-com, a father gone missing, and an Air B&B host with a snooping problem are all on tap today. Grab those reading glasses and a cozy blanket, and let’s get reading.

Cheers to Fall Reading!

xoxo,

Kelly

The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva (Henry Holt and Co.)

Tess rents out her deceased sister’s room in her house to help make ends meet. She may appear to be the hostess with the mostess, but she truly is not She has a bad habit of snooping through her tenant’s personal belongings. When she begins reading Arran’s (her latest guest) diary, she is intrigued by his entries and discovers shocking similarities between her and this mysterious woman he continues to write about. As Aaran’s diary entries become darker, Tess begins to wonder who this guy is and how long he is planning to stay. Sylva’s book is a twisted tale that weaves in and out of London’s gloomy streets. Her main character, Tess, drove me crazy with her unreliability, but the constant stalking, slow-burn mystery, and questionable villain kept me entertained until the end. Solid debut!

Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley Publishing)

I was a huge fan of Solomon’s The Ex Talk, and her latest was just as tremendous. So when Chandler takes a job ghostwriting a memoir for C-list actor, Finn Walsh, things get very interesting. Think one-night-stand gone wrong, clumsy sex, followed by some very steamy lessons in chemistry. Solomon’s main characters are absolutely worth cheering for. Their relationship is wildly quirky and refreshingly raw. I loved how their vulnerability bled through the pages. Solomon shined her light not only on a lovable Jewish heroine and hero but on the everyday struggles of living with anxiety and OCD. My favorite part of all is that this heartfelt and hilarious story embodies healthy and wicked fun sex in the best possible way! Cheers to Solomon for another winning tale!

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim (Hogarth Books)

Angie Kim’s newest book centers around a biracial Korean-American family who are confronted with the unimaginable. Everything changes when Adam goes missing while hiking with his son, who has disabilities. There is NO WAY this dad would ever abandon Eugene in the woods when he is not only non-verbal but unable to care for himself alone. So what on Earth happened? Kim’s story sucked me in immediately. What follows is a character-driven mystery that slowly builds as you turn each page. Kim’s attention to detail is impeccable. Being a mom myself brought many feelings to the surface during a lot of the scenes. I love how she blended family crises, disabilities, and untethered emotions seamlessly together. As the mystery progresses, Kim brings enormous awareness to the rare genetic disorder called Angelman disorder. As someone who has worked in the field of non-verbal communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders, I found Kim’s writing absolutely fascinating. While this read captured my attention right out of the gate, it did move slowly in the middle. However, the pace gained speed again towards the end, leaving me to ponder the ending.

*Dear Mr. Hemingway, LLC receives a variety of advance reader copies of books from publishers and authors throughout the year in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it! 

*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!

Get Your Read On

June 1, 2023

Hello Book Family!

Happy June! Boy, time is flying by so fast, and summer is FINALLY within our grasp! I am excited to share a handful of books today, perfect for the “spring-into-summer” transition. Rich people misbehaving, friendships and a few funerals, the ultimate small-town gay wedding, and something to really get your heart rate up! Go snag yourself a copy of one of these books and GET YOUR READ ON!

xoxo,

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase!

I love every book Steven Rowley has written. THE CELEBRANTS was no different. Once again, Rowley’s writing is a dreamy concoction of heart and humor with a splash of GenX that, in my opinion, can not be matched. Yes, this extraordinary tale had me blotting my damp eyes on MANY pages, but most importantly, it reminded me to live my life fully and to love my people fiercely. Cheers to Steven, “The Scale of Courtneys,” and ALL the Karen Carpenter songs. 

Publisher’s Synopsis: “It’s been a minute–or five years–since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years, they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living–that their lives mean something to one another if not to themselves. But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact. A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.”

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Oh My Gosh…BIG GAY WEDDING is my first Byron Lane book. I will be fixing this situation ASAP by grabbing A STAR IS BORED. His new novel has it ALL—A swoony male couple, a small town family farm filled with a motley crew of well-loved animals that had me at “Elaine,” and an INCREDIBLE cast of characters that won me over. Lane’s tale follows Barnet and his hope to marry the man of his dreams at his family’s farm. This is an honest tale of a mom holding on to tarnished beliefs (Hello, Catholic Guilt & dead husband). Lane did a phenomenal job capturing the tender yet wobbly relationship between Barnet and Chrissy. Yes, Chrissy grapples with her son being gay, but ultimately, she is a mama who doesn’t want to lose her baby boy to anyone. This is the greatest “romance” and “family” to root for. Lane’s storytelling bubbles over with hope and a profound sense of joy that truly made me smile. And let’s face it…How FABULOUS is a BIG GAY WEDDING?

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Two grooms. One mother of a problem. Barnett Durang has a secret. No, not THAT secret. His widowed mother has long known he’s gay. The secret is Barnett is getting married. At his mother’s farm. In their small Louisiana town. She just doesn’t know it yet. It’ll be an intimate affair. Just two hundred or so of the most fabulous folks Barnett is shipping in from the “heathen coasts,” as Mom likes to call them, turning her quiet rescue farm for misfit animals into a most unlikely wedding venue. But there are forces, both within this modern new family and in the town itself, that really don’t want to see this handsome couple march down the aisle. It’ll be the biggest, gayest event in the town’s history if they can pull it off, and after a glitter-filled week, nothing will ever be the same.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

T.J. Newman’s sophomore novel DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Her latest flight tale is Big Screen reading with this BLOCKBUSTER, action-packed story. A plane goes down and sinks into the ocean with passengers still alive. Will they be rescued before they run out of oxygen 😬? High octane page turning GEM! Your adrenaline will be OOC with this one! ⁣

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors–but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside. More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives. Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent–Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife–who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff. There’s not much time. There’s even less air. With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them–against impossible odds.”

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Laura’s book is the ultimate guide to all friendships. She takes a deep dive into all the different kinds of friends we have in our lives and how each one not only has a special place in our hearts but fulfills a role like none other. Whether you have many or a few friends or are searching for more friendships, Laura’s book is for you. It is wonderful on audio as well—read by the author herself.

Publisher’s Synopsis: “You’d love to have a “ride or die” posse like you see on social media, but instead, you have a host of really good . . . acquaintances. After all, trying to find a soul friend in the midst of dirty dishes, deadlines, and, oh, a crazy busy life can be overwhelming. But what if developing great friendships was actually easier than we thought? And what if finding a “soul friend” wasn’t necessarily our highest goal?

In The Life Council, Laura Tremaine–the writer and podcaster behind 10 Things to Tell You–tells us what we’ve been hoping was true all along: making, keeping, and even releasing friends doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it. This fun and practical guide gives you what you need to: 

  • Create your own “life council” with the friends you already have
  • Understand the ten kinds of friends every woman needs–and how to find them
  • Learn how to evaluate your friendship circle for what’s working and what might need to change
  • Navigate tough conversations with friends
  • Get excited again about the possibility of new friendships

The Life Council will give every woman the help she needs to think about friendships in a new way and find true connection, freedom, and joy in her relationships.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

This backlist beauty is a wicked fun tale combining a mom trying to find friends and fit in and rich people behaving badly. Needy and obnoxious characters, a small town setting, and a dead body…so much fun. Easy-peasy read that moves fast and is wildly entertaining. 

Publisher’s Synopsis: “The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder. Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless. Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers. When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.”

*Dear Mr. Hemingway, LLC receives a variety of advance reader copies of books from publishers and authors throughout the year in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it! 

*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!

Listen Up

Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier (Berkley Publishing + Penguin Random House Audio)
In the Shadow of the Mountain:  A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (Henry Holt & Co + Macmillan Audio)

March 24, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Spring is officially in the air, and my reading life feels wonderfully on point.  I constantly switch up genres to keep up with my ever-changing mood, and it’s the #1 reason I hardly ever get bored with my books.  Today I am sharing two books that could not possibly be more different from one another, yet both were captivating in their unique way.  A memoir about healing from trauma while climbing Mount Everest and a work of spectacular fiction that involves dead bodies and over-the-top rich people is what I am talking about today, so listen up.

In the Shadow of the Mountain:  A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado was phenomenal.  I had the pleasure of listening to this book on audio read by the author.  Vasquez-Lavado leads a group of sexual assault survivors on a trek to Mount Everest basecamp as part of their healing process. Her journey was far from over after reaching base camp, though.  She then joined up with another climbing group and took a shot at summitting the highest mountain on Earth.  Vasquez-Lavado shares her story alternating between her traumatic past and her epic climb.  I was moved to tears by the intimate details of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and the fallout from these horrific events.  On the flip side, my heart was pounding out of my chest as she climbed for weeks and weeks in unfathomable conditions. Charged with brutal honesty, rich in unique culture, and filled with hope, Vasquez-Lavado’s memoir is a must-read/listen.

After immersing myself in Vasquez-Lavado’s profound journey, it was refreshing to switch it up with an over-the-top read about bored rich people who lie, scheme, and kill for entertainment.  Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier is dripping in cash AND blood and I loved every second of it. Lyla and Graham are incredibly wealthy and enjoy playing games with people.  I’m not talking monopoly or a spicy pickleball competition, mind you.  Nooooo, I am talking about recruiting innocent self-made successful people to live in the guest house that they can destroy financially and maybe even kill if the spirit moves them. How fun is that??? Brazier’s story is a fast-paced, mannerless tale that had me wildly entertained.  Her writing is striking and razor-sharp. Her cast of characters is a spectacular melody of stunning and loopy all in the same breath and I had no problem gobbling up this juicy delight. I listened to Good Rich People on audio, and I must shout out the fabulous narrators who brought this wicked fun story to life.  Karissa Vacker and Sophie Amoss crushed the narration 100%!!!!

Well, my friend…I hope you enjoy experiencing these two incredible books one way or the other. 

Until next time!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly


P.S. I enjoy listening to my audiobooks via Libro.fm.  My audio purchases support an independent bookstore of my choice, which is something to cheer about.  Please feel free to use my member link to get started.

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

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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