Monday, January 30, 2023

REVIEW: The Maid by Nita Prose


One of my colleagues recently read The Maid and suggested it as a fun read, so I took her up on it and tried it. The Maid featured a young woman named Molly, who loves her job as a made, has a hard time with social cues, and finds herself accused of a murder she did not commit. The novel follows Molly over the course of several days (and at the end, fast forwards to give us all the follow up answers) and the more you know her, the more you are rooting for her. She's a kind soul who only wants to do a good job and the right thing. While she's definitely quirky and there were times I was perplexed by some conflicting personality traits, I still found her story to be entertaining and an easy one to read. So, if you're looking for a quick, fun, whodunit The Maid is a good one to pick up. 



#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • “A heartwarming mystery with a lovable oddball at its center” (Real Simple), this cozy whodunit introduces a one-of-a-kind heroine who will steal your heart.
“The reader comes to understand Molly’s worldview, and to sympathize with her longing to be accepted—a quest that gives The Maid real emotional heft.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Think Clue. Think page-turner.”—Glamour

The Washington Post, The Guardian, Glamour, Elle, PopSugar, Newsweek, Mental Floss, She Reads, Kirkus Reviews

In development as a major motion picture produced by and starring Florence Pugh

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Monday, January 23, 2023

REVIEW: Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn


I really enjoyed Georgie and Levi's story--it's the quintessential opposite attracts and it definitely attracted me. She's a creative and a dreamer--she kind of floats rather than walks through the world--and while she may appear to be flighty and unconcerned about what happens next, she' really not. She's a little lost and looking for that something that will launch her on her next thing. 

Meanwhile, Levi is precise and orderly and maybe even a little of a control freak. He doesn't color outside of the lines (anymore) and isn't a fan of surprises...and really of anything. He comes off as a grump. Really he's just been burned so badly, when it comes to love and trust, that he doesn't love and he doesn't really trust. He guards his heart..and everything fiercely. 

So when Levi and Georgie inadvertently have to share a space for a little while, it would seem that disaster would be imminent but crisis is averted when they get to know each other better and can see that neither of them is there to judge the other. As Georgie goes on a quest to find herself, Levi decides to help and inevitably they fall in love. Of course it's not that simple; it never is--there are misunderstandings and hurtful words and hurt feelings--but the ultimate ending really is a happily ever after. 


Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.  

But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.  

Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back. 

Honest and deeply emotional, 
Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away . . .

Monday, January 16, 2023

REVIEW: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid


I've yet to meet a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I don't love and Carrie Soto is Back continues that trend. Carrie Soto is this badass tennis legend, made great by her hard work and talent, and by the training and attention to detail of her father/coach. This novel starts us off with her record being overtaken and her decision to make a comeback. It then plunges us into her past and into the making of her into a tennis phenom at the loving hands of her father, Javier. Their relationship is filled with love and opinion and adoration, even in the middle of some of their toughest moments. I truly loved her father--he wasn't perfect but the way Reid writes him, the love he feels for his daughter is all over every page. While he's largely responsible for making her into the intensely focused, stubborn, take no prisoners player she becomes, he's also kind and sees her trajectory, but also sees the bigger picture. He tries, in Carrie's adulthood, to encourage her to see beyond the moment, beyond tennis, but it is a hard ask for her and the vulnerable way it makes her feel, makes it difficult for her to see what he sees. She's created a shield between herself and the world out of necessity and it's difficult for her to live without it, except when it comes to her father. She loves and adores him; wants to please him and make him proud. As noted before, their relationship was not always easy, the deep love and respect they had for each other made me love them. 

While the love story of Carrie and tennis/her career, and the familial love between a father and a daughter, are a huge part of this novel, the addition of Bowe elevates everything. Their tension on and off the court, their friendship, and eventual love softens the edges a little. It humanizes Carrie even more than her comeback struggles and I think I just like that she finds someone who challenges her. 

I enjoyed everything about this novel and I'm truly not doing it justice by not writing about the attention to detail--pertaining to the game of tennis and sexism Carrie has to ignore, just to name two things--but I know that others who are smarter will give that the attention it's due. All I know is that I'm sad that I can't read it for the first time and I'm envious of all of you who can. 


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.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

REVIEW: The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish



The Holiday Trap continues my love affair with Roan Parrish books. Every time I pick one up I wonder why it's been so long since I've read her, which then sets off a search for anything of hers I haven't read to read, subsequently catching up with all of her novels and then the process begins again when I pick up her next new things.

In The Holiday Trap Truman and Greta both need to escape their current living situations and through a mutual friend, they swap households for a month. Truman ends up on a small island town in Maine and Greta ends up in New Orleans. Through accidental meetings both find new friends and romance and as their time is coming to a close in their swapped cities, they both must decide what to do next. I really enjoyed both narratives because even though they had different inciting incidents, they both had some similar anxieties as well. It was fun to see Greta get to know my old stomping grounds (Nola) and see it through her eyes and it was interesting to explore a small town that I knew nothing about. Both places offered fresh new faces to Greta and Truman as well as much needed perspective. 

I loved getting to know them all --the main characters, the secondary characters, and the towns as characters. This is definitely a great Christmas time read but honestly, it could be read any time and be just as enjoyable. And now, of course, I'm waiting for the next Roan Parrish new release.  



For fans of Alexandria Bellefleur and Casey McQuiston comes a charming, hilarious, and heartwarming LGBTQIA+ romcom about two separate couples finding love over the holidays from acclaimed author Roan Parrish!


Greta Russakoff loves her tight-knit family and tiny Maine hometown, but they can't seem to understand what it's like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. When an act of familial meddling goes way too far, she realizes just how desperately she needs space to figure out who she is.

Truman Belvedere's heart is crushed when he learns that his boyfriend has a secret life including a husband and daughter. Reeling, all he wants is a place to lick his wounds far, far away from Louisiana.

Enter a mutual friend with a life-altering idea: swap homes for the holidays. For one perfect month, Greta and Truman will have a chance to experience a whole new world...and maybe fall in love with the partner of their dreams. But all holidays must come to an end, and eventually these two transplants will have to decide whether the love (and found family) they each discovered so far from home is worth fighting for.

Monday, January 9, 2023

REVIEW: The Duke Gets Even by Joanna Shupe


 I've been DYING for Nellie's story since the first time I 'met' her and The Duke Gets Even did not disappoint. I finally got the story behind her sneers at Duke Lockwood and it's a good one. Their first meeting set the stage for the lust. longing, denial, and love affair to come. I truly loved getting to know both of these characters better. Nellie was just as fiery and fierce as I'd hoped and Lockwood was as genteel and masterful as I suspected. And while both of them somewhat lived up to how they'd been characterized in the past by others, they were both more complex and tender than the outside world would ever know. Nellie missed her mother terribly, loved her father with everything she had, and skewered those who blindly followed, but as her friends know, her heart and kindness knew no bounds for those she cared about. The same goes for Lockwood--his sense of responsibility and obligation tied him to the role he was in but he refused to go along for the sake of going along. While he may have appeared to be more socially acceptable, he really just did what he wanted in a way that didn't create as many waves as Nellie did. 

I adored these two together, seeing the previous couples, and getting an insider's view of who Nellie and Lockwood were, what they were about, and how they ended up together. I inhaled this novel in a matter of hours because I just loved their story so much. And while I was sad to see it end, I am hoping against hope that Finn gets his own book *fingers crossed*. 

Go get The Duke Gets Even--you'll have zero regrets. 


A rebellious heiress.
A duke in dire straits.
An anonymous midnight tryst.

To escape the shackles of marriage, Nellie Young purposely ruined her reputation a long time ago. Now she dedicates herself to hedonistic pleasures only, like kissing a handsome stranger in the ocean under the moonlight...

To save his estate, the proper Duke of Lockwood must marry the perfect bride—wealthy, with an unblemished reputation. While in New York he's the perfect gentleman, and no one knows he's suppressing his darkest desires. The last thing he needs is another scandal.

Except Nellie sees through Lockwood's charade, straight to the real man underneath. This uptight duke is far more than he lets on, and she can't resist him. Their secret affair turns scorching, far more than either expected. And when his beautiful rebel finds an unconventional cause, Lockwood has to decide if he's willing to sacrifice everything to keep her.

Monday, January 2, 2023

REVIEWS: The Friend Zone & The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez



Somewhere I saw a post about The Friend Zone and was intrigued so I put it on my Libby borrow list and last week it finally became available. I had high hopes going into it, even without knowing much about it, because so many people seemed to love this series. In this first book in the series, Kristen and Josh bump into each other, accidentally, and minutes later find that they're going to be thrown together for the next few months as they're in the wedding party of their best friends. What starts out as a friendship in which they're both attracted to each other but don't act on it for various reasons, turns in to an intense love affair that features a lot of emotional push and pulling, mostly pushing on Kristen's part and pulling on Josh's. She's trying her hardest to put an end date on their relationship, even as she's falling deeply in love with him, and he's trying everything he can to get her to see why the only end date should be ...never. 

Josh was so easy to adore. He was persistent and respectful, adoring and kind, and so very understanding. He tried so hard to abide by her rules, even when he wanted to break every single one of them. He was pretty much a dream man. Kristen was harder to take sometimes, even when I understood all of her reasons and rationales. I got that she was trying to protect him, but really was only trying to protect herself and I found myself wanted to shake her a zillion times. Luckily she had people in her life  who did what I couldn't and finally they got their HEA. I realize, after reading some reviews, that some people really REALLY didn't like the ending and I understand, but if you read the afterward, I found the explanation satisfying and appreciated what she did and why she did it. 


Kristen Peterson doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.


The second book in this series, The Happy Ever After Playlist, was actually the first one written and after reading the explanation for why it's the second one released, I totally get it--you will too. Anyway, as much as I enjoyed the give and take of Kristen and Josh, I loved the story of Sloan and Jason. I don't know why I was such a sucker for these two, but I could not get enough. I loved that there wasn't too much resistance to their initial attraction. I loved that they clicked quickly and didn't try too hard to deny it--it just felt right and good, all of it. He was so good for her when she needed it and she reciprocated when he needed her support and encouragement. They both seemed really attuned to each other's needs and knew just what the other needed and when. As creatives, they seemed like such a great pairing, so when things turned bad, it was sooooo bad. I hated that it had to happen (even as knew that it would have to) because I liked them both so much. Kudos to Abby Jimenez, though, because she found a way to break their hearts and put them back together again in a way that made them even better than before. (Though, I wish we had a little more story between the last chapter and the epilogue). Out of the two books I've read in this series, this one made me less frustrated and anxious--it was a little softer and gentler with my heart (until it wasn't) and I really loved the story of Sloan and Jason (and also loved seeing Kristen and Josh again). 


Artist Sloan Monroe just can't seem to get her life on track. But one trouble-making pup who randomly jumps into her car with a "take me home" look in his eyes is about to change everything. With Tucker by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker's owner reaches out. He's a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan's not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can't deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There's no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

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