#BookRec: Elin Hilderbrand’s The Identicals

Hiya, readers! It’s been a while since my last post – and there’s a good reason for that! I’ve been on vacation – RadioMan and I skipped town for a cruise to celebration our anniversary. We didn’t even take bebe along – she got time with The Grandma’s (my mom came to town and RadioMan’s mom lives in our town), who spoiled her rotten. It was a lovely vacation: we cruised to Labadee, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Kitts. Beautiful, beautiful islands, amazing people, and really, really good food.

Oh, and books! I caught up on reading over the 9 days we were away. I read a Kristan Higgins book that’s been on my TBR for quite a while, an Elin Hilderbrand book, Caitlin Crews was in there, too. And don’t worry – lots of sun was also had! I’ll put up a couple more book recommendations later on, for today’s post, Elin Hilderbrand is up!

The Identicals is a women’s fiction book, focused on estranged twins. What I love about Elin is her voice. She writes (primarily) about Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and other islands around the Cape, and her voice brings those islands to life. I can almost smell the ocean breeze, can feel the sting of the hot sand on my feet, and this book was not a disappointment.

I have to admit, I was rooting more for Harper throughout the book. Mostly because Tabitha was…a little too blam-ey for my liking. I don’t mean she was a bad character (she was really interesting), but she didn’t own any of her choices. Instead, she blamed others (mostly Harper) for the things she didn’t/couldn’t do or was afraid to do. Because of that, she’s in a toxic relationship with both their mother and Tabitha’s daughter..and most of all herself. 

The same can (almost) be said about Harper. She is her own worst enemy, like her sister, not because she blames other people but because she takes too much blame on to herself. Unlike Tabitha, though, Harper owns her choices and decisions…and, yes, they’re usually the wrong choices. Still, she’s a fun heroine to root for. 

If you’re looking for a fun vacation/summer read, consider picking this one up. And if you do, I hope you love it!

Holiday Book Rec: Johanna Lindsey’s The Present

This month’s book rec: Johanna Lindsey’s The Present

Hey, everyone! It’s time for another book recommendation and since I’m in full-on holiday mode – I mean, our tree isn’t up but most of the presents are bought! – it’s going to be a holiday book. 

I love a holiday romance. Contemporary, historical, suspense, paranormal. You name it,  if there is a holiday theme – and maybe a little bit of redemption and definitely a lot of heart – I’m going to pick it up. I have a lot of holiday favorites from childhood books like Jingle to fictionalized-biographies like The Real Story of Santa Claus. 

This recommendation is one of those favorites. A book I pick up just about every year. It’s Johanna Lindsey’s The Present, and is part of her Mallory series. The book tells the story of the family’s great-grandfather, who married a gypsy (maybe), and as the story develops, long-held secrets from the current generations are told. Assumptions are reconsidered and (just maybe) minds are opened to other possibilities. 

What I love about this book is what I love about all Lindsey books: there is a lot of heart, the family dynamics are incredibly realistic, and the love story is just…swoon-worthy. It’s easy to see the people in the story, to feel the cold of a British winter a couple of hundred years ago, and to wonder just how the family will come together in the face of this new obstacle. It’s family saga at its best. If you’re looking for a fun, rompy, holiday read that will take you back in time this is definitely a book to check out. 

What about you? Do you have a favorite holiday read (or re-read)? Share below!

#AmReading: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Time for another book recommendation, and this time it’s one I’m sure y’all have heard of because a movie-based-on-the-book just came out. I watched the Netflix adaptation of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (henceforce simply called Guernsey in this blog) and adored it in a different way than I loved the book. I picked up the book on a whim when I caught it in the bargain bin at our local Books-a-Million. I’ve heard from people that they didn’t like the letter-and-telegram format, but that is what I really loved about the book.

I thought this format was really interesting. The movie did a good job of showing us what happened before Juliet came to the island/during the war, and digging into the depths of the islanders. But it was so…heartwrenching to read the letters of those characters. It was a kind of glimpse into what actual people might have felt during that time. For me, the letters made the book a bit more personal.  

Which leads me to a few quotes, that have made it from the book into my commonplace book (a book of quotes and lyrics and other things that I love). Here are a handful.

“The first rule of snooping is to come at it sideways.”

“I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.” <– who can’t relate to that? I adore RadioMan, but some of my favorite times with him aren’t when we’re debating and talking but when we’re just *being* together.  

“We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.” 

“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ” 

“I am a grown woman– mostly– and I can guzzle champagne with whomever I choose.” 

“I never met a man half so true as a dog. Treat a dog right, and he’ll treat you right. He’ll keep you company, be your friend, and never ask you no questions. Cats is different, but I never held that against ’em.”

“Sorrow has rushed over the world like the waters of the Deluge, and it will take time to recede. But already, there are small islands of – hope? Happiness? Something like them, at any rate.” 

And, perhaps, my very favorite –> “Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done, to have advanced true friends?” 

Guernsey is charming and thoughtful, and though it deals with both war and the aftermath of war where it could become heavy and hard, it instead is uplifting, although at points devastating. I think, maybe, the devastation is the point. Because war is awful, both for those fighting in battle, those waiting at home, and especially those whose homes and towns are occupied by forces on either side of the fight.

Have you read Guernsey? What did you think of the book? 

#AmReading: Still Writing

During my yearly reading challenge last year, I rediscovered my love of the memoir. I’ve been a fan of autobiographies for a long time, but I’d gotten away from memoirs because they seemed too preachy or too vague or too…something. But, I’d set a reading goal for the year and I was in a bit of a rut and so I decided to step outside my reading comfort zone to pick up a book I’d heard writers buzzing about for a few months. 

I’m so glad I picked up this book! Part memoir, part writing guide, part advice, Shapiro’s book helped me get a better handle on where I was both professionally and personally. 2017 was a big year of change for our family – the line I wrote for at Harlequin closed, my husband changed jobs, a magazine I’d written for for several years cut way back on freelancers…there was a lot of upheaval and had left me wondering what the heck I was doing with my life. When I picked up Still Writing I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ended up laughing a little and crying a little and being really inspired to take control of the things I can control: the writing. Publishers will come and go, and so will editors and publicists and cover artists. What I can control is the writing. I can sit my butt in the chair every day and write the words. And the next day, I can write again. By controlling the writing, or at least putting myself in the chair to write, I’m doing my part in this crazy roller coaster ride of publishing.

If you’re looking for an inspirational read – whether your in a creative field or not – I think you’ll find something to enjoy about Still Writing…What are you reading right now? Feel free to share in the comments!