Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Reading Recap


"When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say "Bah, humbug." The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn't exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate's found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt's neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before--and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures--Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it's least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it's been right under her nose all along. . . ."

I ADORED this book!  The Twelve Dates of Christmas was sweet and had Bridget Jones vibes and while I found myself getting frustrated with the Matt I LOVED Kate.  LOVED!  I listened to it on audible and the reader couldn't have been any better - it was lovely to listen to and I didn't want it to end simply because I loved listening so much.  

If you're in the mood for a sweet and fun Christmas-y read with LOTS of British charm I highly highly recommend.

"Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, the family drama that ensues will change their lives forever.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind."

I'm embarrassed to say how long it took me to read Malibu Rising ;)  Like I started it in July and finished it this month.  It wasn't because it wasn't great - it was more because that's how well I can read in bed after the end of a long day of teaching ;) hahaha  That said, I LOVED the book!  I love any kind of family saga and this wasn't like anything else I'd read before and I REALLY enjoyed it.  I enjoyed each of the sibling characters and the parallels between each of them and their parents.  I found the story to be engaging and dramatic without being over the top and I would most definitely recommend.

"When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture."

Fitness Junkie was lighthearted, fun and kept me laughing the whole listen.  Janey was super endearing and lovable and I found the whole premise super fun to listen to. The overall message was great as well and while I was ready to be a little let down since I loved The Knockoff so much I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it just as much.

Sold by her impoverished mother. Enslaved in an infamous brothel in Pompeii. Determined to fight for her freedom at all costs. . . . Enter into the Wolf Den.

Amara was once the beloved daughter of a doctor in Greece, until her father’s sudden death plunged her mother into destitution. Now Amara is a slave and prostitute in Pompeii’s notorious Wolf Den brothel or lupanar, owned by a cruel and ruthless man. Intelligent and resourceful, she is forced to hide her true self. But her spirit is far from broken. Buoyed by the sisterhood she forges with the brothel’s other women, Amara finds solace in the laughter and hopes they all share. For the streets of the city are alive with opportunity—here, even the lowest-born slave can dream of a new beginning. But everything in Pompeii has a price. How much will Amara’s freedom cost her? The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

I LOVE a historical fiction so when  The Wolf Den was recommended to me on audible it was an easy yes.  Disclaimer: It is literally about prostitute slaves in a brothel... so be prepared to read a story centered around that.  That said, I felt like the author painted the characters in a way that kept their dignity and while there was definitely sex in the books it didn't feel "gratuitous"... it felt appropriate for what the book was. I felt like the book opened my eyes to what life may have been like in that time period and offered a different perspective which is what I love about historical fiction so if you're wanting to read something different and are okay with reading about the goings-ons of a brothel and everything that entails I think you'd really enjoy it.  I found myself empathizing with each of the characters and Amara's strength was remarkable and admirable.

Three couples. Three houses. One home to die for…

Stacey and Felix are the glamorous owners of the stylish, modern Glass House, with its pool and floor-to-ceiling windows. Now they’re downsizing, but Stacey can’t sell to just anyone. She needs the right buyer, who will keep her secrets.

Millie and Tom have always imagined living in the Glass House. Now it’s for sale. With property prices booming, if they can sell quickly, it could be theirs. But are the house and its charming owners all they seem?

Harper and Kyle are moving up in the world. They need a new house, in the right school district, to give their children the start in life they never had. Millie and Tom’s is perfect. It’ll take every penny they have, and more, but it’ll be worth it. Won’t it?

When one of the sales falls through, how far will someone go to get everything they’ve always wanted?

The New House kept me on my toes the whole time which is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for in a thriller.  I kind of figured out parts of it early on but there were definitely details that kept me guessing.  If you're looking for something dark and twisty I'd definitely recommend adding it to your reading list.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

After finishing Malibu Rising I pretty much immediately listened to  Carrie Soto is back.  It wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be but I still enjoyed it SO MUCH!  I thought it was going to play off of Malibu Rising way more than it did (like more of a sequel), but it stood alone from Malibu Rising and I couldn't stop listening.  I know NOTHING about tennis and still found myself following along with the tennis content, but I can see that if you know/play tennis the book would be that much more enjoyable for you.  I found myself rooting for Carrie and Bowe (and Carrie's dad!) and really enjoyed this read as well!

Happy Reading, friends!

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