Saturday, May 22, 2021

Love for Beginners by Jill Shalvis


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis continues her Wildstone series with the moving story of a young woman who has to start her life—and her love life—over again.

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma, she learns that her fiancĂ© and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive, she decides to start over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer.

Desperate for a new start, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care because he can’t find senior care. On top of that, she and Ali bring the term “frenemies” to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another.

In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for her Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to learn that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.

My Thoughts

Love for Beginners is a great title for this book. The main characters are named Emma and Simon and while the two of them are not exactly new to love, they may as well be. Simon uses his family and work responsibilities as a way to keep from getting close to anyone. Emma is recovering from surviving an accident and waking up from a coma, which means that it's been quite some time since she's experienced love, or even been on a date.

Interspersed through this romance story are different storylines. Simon's main confidante is his cousin Allison, who is going through a breakup herself. She and her boyfriend Ryan ended things because she just couldn't seem to fit in, with everything else going on in his life. Ryan is a people person and has lots of friends and family and events to go to. Meanwhile, Allison has trouble interacting with people, thanks to how she grew up.

In typical Jill Shalvis fashion, this book was filled with humorous situations and hilarious side characters. I loved Simon's Dad. Dale is a firecracker and never failed to have a funny viewpoint about his son or his niece's love problems.

I also enjoyed the dog characters in this book. Since waking up from her coma, Emma has been the owner of Hog, and adorable St. Bernard who serves as her emotional support dog. Allison also has a dog named Killer (who is actually a small, small Yorkie) who she shares with her ex, Ryan.

The relationships in this book made me happy. I loved how Simon and Emma slowly fell for each other, and worked through their issues together. It made my heart happy as Allison worked to become more friendly and open, so that she could show Ryan that she was ready for a second change.

But what I REALLY loved was the female friendship between Emma and Allison.

The two were enemies in high school and thanks to Simon, they find themselves in each other's lives again. Neither of them is in the market for a new friend, but thanks to certain situations, they find themselves being stuck together a lot more than they would like.

I thought their friendship/rivalry was so funny and it really made me happy how they learned to love each other and were really there for each other in the end.

Overall, this was a story that warmed my heart in more ways than one.

Thank you to Netgalley for this eArc in exchange for an honest review. Jill Shalvis is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors and this latest installment in her Wildstone series did not disappoint.

Love For Beginners comes out on June 8, 2021

xo Marian

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Mini Book Haul from Goodwill | I Spent $8.40

 Hello friends! I wanted to pop in today to share my latest book haul with you. Last Sunday on Mother's Day my Mom and I drove across town to go to a home decor store, but it was closed so we wound up at the Goodwill next door.

We had fun looking at all of the different things throughout the store, but of course I wound up in the book section. I wound up finding quite a few reads that were interesting to me! Here's the video that I filmed, sharing what books I picked up in my latest used book haul.

And in case you're interested in any of these books, here are some links to what I found.

  1. Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas
  2. Huckleberry Lake by Catherine Anderson
  3. The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr
  4. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
  5. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
  6. There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
  7. Commencement by J Courtney Sullivan
  8. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
I was so excited to find the Netflix version fo To All The Boys I've Loved Before, because I love this series so much. And to be honest, I think the Netflix series is just as good as the books.

Agree? Disagree?

Let me know in the comments section below. The only other book to movie version that I think is great is the Holes movie, starring Shia Labeouff. Haha.

xo Marian

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Blog Tour | People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry


From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations. 

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

About the Author

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites.

Author Photo by Devyn Glista St. Blanc Studios

My Thoughts

People We Meet On Vacation was the perfect book for me to read right now, because I am stressed and cold and I could really use a vacation. Who's with me?

I liked the story right off the bat because of how it is told. Part of the story takes place in the past and explains how Poppy and Alex met, as well as how their friendship developed over the years as they take their annual vacation every time Summer rolls around.

The other part is in the present. There was a rift between the two friends when they were in Croatia (two years ago) and they've barely spoken to each other since. Poppy thinks that if they reunite for another vacation, they'll be able to work things out and get back to their normal friendship.

But what exactly happened in Croatia? And why has their friendship been pretty much nonexistent since?

I loved reading about Poppy and Alex's past trips. Whether they're in Colorado or California, or a country halfway across the world, the two of them have an awesome time and memorable adventures. They have the kind of trips that I dream of going on, where they do whatever they want to do and meet interesting people and make memories.

Part of what made this story so enjoyable is the writing! Emily Henry has a great way of writing dialogue and the jokes between Poppy and Alex flowed so well. I loved their conversations and it especially made me smile when they first started texting again after their long dry spell. It was sweet reading about the two of them feeling each other out and trying to figure out what was what, or if the other one was mad.

Poppy and Alex's trip in current day (Palm Springs for a couple of days before his brother's wedding) made me cringe so bad. I could practically feel the heat as they suffered through their terrible stay at a man named Nikolai's apartment building (lol). But the thing about Alex and Poppy is that they really are true friends. Because while they had a few small fights (who wouldn't in such miserable, hot weather?) they never gave up an each other.

And I think that is the sign of a real, true friend.

I also made a short video discussing People We Meet On Vacation for my Youtube Channel. You can watch it here if you would like. Please consider subscribing for more bookish & life content.

Thank you to Netgalley for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I was lucky enough to also receive a copy in the mail as part of my Book of the Month package. I feel very grateful for that because I know this is a book that I will want to read again.

xo Marian

P.S. Poppy and Alex have quite a few issues with their Palm Spring vacation. What is your worst vacation memory? I think mine is when my family went to Disney World when I was a kid and it poured all day. We still had fun, but we had to run around the park in these yellow mickey mouse ponchos all day! Haha.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Bookish Gifts for Mom | Mother's Day 2021

Mother's Day is coming up! Hip hip hooray! I myself am not a mother yet (Being a dog mom doesn't count lol) so this is the day that I celebrate my own mother!

Hopefully she doesn't look at my blog because otherwise my gift for her might be spoiled. I got her a Barnes & Noble gift card because she recently retired from her job (about two weeks ago) and now she has so much more time for all the things she loves like knitting, weaving, and reading.

If you're not sure what to get your Mom this year I've come up with a few bookish ideas that are not genre specific, so they might work for your Mom as well. As long as she likes books.

As a kid, I never would have tried to pick out a book for my Mom. All I knew about her reading tastes was that she liked murder mysteries and she liked stories that were set in England, or written by English authors.

So here are some non-genre specific ideas for Moms. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments section. In my opinion, the more ideas, the merrier!

1. A nice bookcase for her overflowing library

All book lovers know that while it's important to have books, it's also important to have a beautiful way to display them. I personally have 2 bookcases and a book cart in my house, and I'm always having fun rearranging and sorting my books. Right now I have them sorted by color.

2. An eReader so that she can take her books wherever she goes

I adore my kindle because I can take my entire library with me no matter where I go! When I went on my recent camping trip I took it along and I liked how I had so many different reading options. If you're Mom is an avid reader and likes to travel, you might consider getting her an eReader for Mother's Day.

My favorite is the amazon kindle but there are other options, like an iPad mini or the Kobo. It's completely up to you!

My Mom really likes her iPad because it has so much versatility. She can read AND watch all her shows. What's better than that?

3. A gift card to a local bookstore (or online retailer)

Gift cards are a great gift because then your Mom gets to choose her own books! I got my Mom a gift card to Barnes & Noble because she's going to be flying out to visit my brother next month and she'll need some fresh reading material for the plane.

If you have indie bookstores in your area, buying a gift card can really help them out right now since not a lot of people are shopping due to the pandemic. Hopefully that will change soon since vaccinations are becoming more available.

4. A Subscription to Book of the Month

If you're not familiar with Book of the Month, it's a monthly subscription box for readers. Every month they come up with a small selection of books that they think most people will enjoy and as a member, you get to pick one book and they'll ship it to you for free!

It's really nice because if you don't like any of the books that month, you can skip that month and they won't charge you. That way you can wait until the next month and pick out a book you'll really enjoy.

It's also neat because all of the books are hardcover. They look really pretty on your bookshelves. Not that looks matter, but to a true bookworm, it kind of does. Lol

Click here to Sign Up

5. Kindle Unlimited Subscription

The way I think of Kindle Unlimited is that it's kind of like Netflix, but for books. As long as you're a KU member you can read the books in the Kindle Unlimited program for free. This is especially helpful if you're a voracious reader because you totally get your money's worth for your monthly subscription fee.

There are also some books that allow you to listen to the audiobook for free. I took advantage of that last year when I listened to Mindy Kaling's collection of essays that she released through Amazon.

Click here to sign up

6. Books

I saved the best for last. Books are always appreciated by book lovers, right? Some of my most memorable gifts are books. Like the Christmas my Mom got me Looking for Alaska by John Green or the Christmas by Nany gave me Ready or Not by Meg Cabot.

I have so many books that I associate with wonderful memories.

So make sure to check out your local bookstores. Make sure to visit online retailers like Amazon or ThriftBooks.  And who knows what you'll find if you check out eBay or a secondhand store? There are gems out there just waiting to be found.

xo Marian

I'm Home! (Camping & Reading Update)

Hello friends! I'm back from camping and it was a lovely couple of days. I didn't wind up reading during the trip (There were too many people to talk to, so I didn't have a lot of down time) but I did start reading People We Meet on Vacation on Wednesday night and I am in love with it!

While my boyfriend was finishing up his chores and mowing the grass, I sat inside and I read. It's a wonderful story and I love Emily Henry's writing style. I'm hoping to finish it within the next couple of days and then post my review on the release date.

I had a great time in Virginia so I thought I'd show you a couple of photos from our trip. There were about 20 of us spread out throughout a couple of different camp sites, but ours was the main hangout spot. I think it was because our site had a nice deck, and a great fire pit for everyone to sit around in the evenings.

On Friday a small group of us went hiking with the dogs. Then in the afternoon my boyfriend and I checked out the fishing pond. Unfortunately, he didn't catch anything and I got a pretty bad sunburn! That is very typical of me though. I always forget that just because it's cool out doesn't mean the sun can't get you.

There's nothing I love more than sitting around the campfire at night. People telling stories and jokes. There was definitely an increase in laughter as the night went on. Beer will do that to you! Lol Plus the men made very strong mint juleps on the night of The Kentucky Derby. I stuck to my hard seltzers. 

And finally, a few pictures from the cavern tour. A couple of us visited Shenandoah Caverns on Saturday and it was a really neat tour. It was almost an hour long and everyone was wearing masks which was good!

So that was my long weekend! It was a lot of fun and I have to admit that it was hard waking up today. Sigh. But I'll be heading down to Delaware at the end of the month for a beach weekend so at least there's that to look forward to.

What are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments section. I will be finishing up People We Meet On Vacation early this week and then moving on to something else. I still haven't caught up on my Netgalley TBR so maybe I will try to finally finish reading The Boyfriend Project! More soon.

xo Marian

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

I'm in a Reading Slump

Maybe it's because I'm busy. Maybe it's because I have a lot on my mind. But I just haven't felt like reading in the past couple of days. Which is crazy because I have so many good books to read on my physical and digital bookshelves.

But... the brain wants what it wants. And right now I just don't want books.

Luckily, I'm heading out on a camping trip for a few days so I'll have some time in nature to unwind and clear my head. I'm really excited to go hiking and biking and have some beers around the campfire. I'll be taking my kindle (and maybe a paperback or two) in case I feel motivated to read or not.

My boyfriend and I are going with a group of people so I'm not exactly sure what is in store for the long weekend. Feeling very grateful to be fully vaccinated in time for the trip!

When I come back I'll have some new blogs posts ready for next week. I know for sure I'll be sharing some 2021 releases that I'm excited for, as well as some bookish gifts that you can get your Mom for Mother's Day this year.

What are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments.

xo Marian

Thursday, April 22, 2021

February Reading Wrap Up

Well, friends. I was looking through my most recent blog posts and realized that I haven't been staying up to date with my reading wrap ups.


So even though I'm a couple of months late, I wanted to share with you a few details on each of the books that I read in February of 2021. Thanks in advance for not giving me grief about my absurdly late wrap up! Haha.

February Reading Wrap Up
I finished 7 books this month

1. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I felt like this book was different from her others, but I liked it just the same. It's about a mother and daughter who experience tragedy when the father is killed in a car accident.

In a way, this book was slightly hard to read because there was so much hurt and lack of communication between the main characters. But I enjoyed their story because it felt really realistic. It's not all that similar to Colleen's other works, but I think fans of her work will find this book enjoyable.

5 stars

2. You Have A Match by Emma Lord

This is a contemporary YA read about a teenager who realizes that she has a secret sister, thanks to her participating in one of those mail away DNA tests.

I'm not super into YA anymore, but I wanted to give this book a try because I follow the author on twitter and quite enjoy her tweets. It took me a little bit to get into it but it was an enjoyable story. A lot of the book took place at a Summer Camp which is super fun. Makes me nostalgic for my own camp days!

4 stars

3. Cupcakes & Chaos by Lisa Siefert

A fun cozy mystery about a young woman who finds her new boss murdered in the back of their cupcake van. Oh no! This is the first book in Lisa's Frosted Misfortunes series and I quite enjoyed it. The first three books are available on Kindle Unlimited so I'm hoping to read the rest of them soon.

5 stars

4. The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson

The Dog Share was one of my favorite reads of the month because it had a cute dog in it. What can I say? I'm obsessed with dogs.  The main character Suzy was a delight to read about. She's on a journey of self discovery after going through a break up and finds herself having to right a lot of her ex's wrongs.

It's a really heartwarming story and I loved how Scout, the rescue dog, brings everyone in the story together. It felt like the kind of story that would be a good rom com.

5 stars

5. Write, Publish, and Promote your Novel by Amy & Ellie

I was hoping that this book would share personal experiences from the authors, but it really just covers the basics of writing and self publishing. Nothing is talked about in great detail. I did really enjoy chapter 6 which is 50+ promo strategies. I thought that section was filled with some great ideas.

3 stars

6. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal

Such a great story! It's about a woman named Kit who is at work one night (she's an ER doctor) and she sees a news report on TV about a nightclub fire in New Zealand. She sees someone who looks like her sister in the news footage, but that can't be. Her sister died years ago in a terrorist attack on a train.

After discussing the situation with her Mom, she decides to take some time off work to go to New Zealand and try to track down her sister. If it even is her sister. I liked this book because it's told from two different perspectives, so the story unravels little by little.

I also enjoyed reading about the scenery. New Zealand sounds like it would be a cool place to visit!

4 stars

7. Christmas Card Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Peggy Ehrhart

My second cozy mystery of the month! You can read my full review here. My biggest takeaway from this book was that I want to read more of the Hayley Powell series by Lee Hollis. I like Hayley as a main character and the other side characters in her stories are really amusing.

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What did you read in February? Let me know what your favorite book that you read was in the comments section.

xo Marian