Book Review – To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

Over the past few years, Jill Mansell has become one of my go to authors.  Whenever I’m in need of a new book and I don’t have one in mind, I search the Kindle store for one of hers and I’ve never been disappointed.  To the Moon and Back is the fifth novel I’ve read by Jill Mansell, and like all of her others, I was thoroughly entertained with her witty humor and storytelling.

What would you do if the love of your life was tragically killed?  Could you pick up the pieces and move on?  Unfortunately, Ellie Kendall finds herself in that situation when her husband dies in a car accident.  A year after his death, she realizes she needs to move out of their flat which had suddenly become rundown by low income tenants and find a new job with colleagues who won’t look at her as though she’s about to break at the drop of a hat.

With her move across town, Ellie finds a new friend in her new neighbor, Roo – who is true to form to all of Mansell’s supporting characters.  She’s a former pop star diva, once mistress turned do-gooder to pay for her sins.  Her new job?  It’s perfect.  She lands a job as an assistant to Zach McLaren – a successful entrepreneur.  Like all of Mansell’s novels, there’s twists and turns along the way and nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems to Ellie.  As she heals and starts to move on with her life, she faces opportunities that force her to decide if she’s really ready to jump back into the dating pool.

Whether it’s your first or fifth Jill Mansell book, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s perfect for a warm summer day by the pool or a perfect one to save for those early, chilly fall nights at home.

If you’d like to receive book reviews like this by email, sign-up here for my weekly newsletter!

Source for image above is Amazon

Book Reviews – Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

As you can probably guess by now, Emily Giffin is one of my favorite authors.  So this week I have two more of her books to share with you!  Baby Proof  and Love the One You’re With are Ms. Giffin’s third and fourth novels.  Like Something Borrowed and Something Blue, she takes on tough life situations with an interesting perspective.  I hope my reviews do them justice and you give them a try!

Baby Proof

Growing up, most girls dream of becoming a mom one day, but not Claudia.  It was never in her plan. Now, as a successful book editor, she couldn’t be happier to have found her husband Ben, who shares her “no kids for me” philosophy…that is, until his biological clock starts ticking.  She loves Ben, but a baby was never part of Claudia’s life plan so she moves out and ultimately agrees to a divorce.

Claudia begins to live the single life again living with her college roommate and starts a steamy love affair with her colleague, Richard.  However, when she suspects Ben has found a new, young love interest to perhaps bear his children, Claudia begins to doubt her decision.

Like all of Giffin’s novels, Baby Proof tackles tough life decisions, and drives home the point that some decisions don’t have a right and wrong.  “There are trade-offs and sacrifices” in life, and there comes a point when you have to realize nothing is perfect.  We can have the best laid plans for our life, but sometimes, we have to change our plans.

As I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book given the subject matter, but like always, Giffin intertwines a few subplots with her strong character development to make Baby Proof a page turner until the very end.

Love the One You’re With

When I hear the phrase “love the one you’re with,” I automatically think settling. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the plot of this book, but once again, Ms. Giffin didn’t disappoint me. In fact, Love the One You’re With is one of my favorite Emily Giffin books!

Not long after her wedding, Ellen has a chance encounter with a past love, Leo, and afterward, she’s left wondering whether her life with her husband Andy is truly what she wants or if it’s what she has decided to settle for. When Ellen and Andy move from New York City to the suburbs of Atlanta for Andy’s career, her internal battle intensifies with resentment. As Ellen’s marriage begins to fall apart, she’s forced to choose between the life she has with Andy and the life she thought she lost long ago with Leo.

What I loved most about this book even more so than the other three books I read by Emily Giffin, was how real it was. Whether or not you’ve been in the same situation as Ellen or not, I think most readers will be able to identify with her internal battle. We all know what’s “right,” but sometimes we can’t help but wonder what if. The what if may not be better and we know that, but yet we still wonder. As Ms. Giffin so poignantly says “it’s simply human nature to have an occasional, fleeting interest in someone whom you once loved.” But is pure human curiosity enough to take a leap of faith?

Love isn’t straightforward. “Things are seldom as neat and tidy as that starry-eyed anecdote” shared with family and friends. Love isn’t a constant fairy tale painted with romance day in and day out; it’s a “choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what the obstacles or temptations stand in the way.” Ms. Giffin illustrates this so well with her innate ability to characterize raw human emotion as she tempts her heroine and poses the age old ethical question: do you stray or do you love the one you’re with?

I hope you enjoy both of these books as much as I did!  Load them on your Kindle and head to the beach or the pool for an afternoon of some great reading!  If you’d like book reviews like this email directly to you each week, sign-up here for my weekly book review newsletter!

Book Review – Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

I’ve been a fan of Barbara Delinsky for several years. Looking for Peyton Place and Lake News are two of my favorite books, and Sweet Salt Air ranks right up there with them!

While they haven’t seen each other in 10 years, Nicole invites Charlotte back to her family’s home on Quinnipeague – an island off the coast of Maine – to help write a cookbook on the cuisine unique to the island. Throughout the summer, they reconnect but are forced to face secrets from the past and realities that threaten to change their lives. I was drawn into the story from the beginning. Ms. Delinsky’s attention to detail and character development feed the plot seamlessly!

After reading Sweet Salt Air, I was ready to book a trip to Maine.  I wanted to walk along the rocky beaches and taste some of the amazing food that’s part of Nicole and Charlotte’s cookbook.

Sweet Salt Air on Amazon

Sweet Salt Air is a perfect beach read!  Just be prepared to be hungry after reading about all of the delicious Maine cuisine!

If you’d like book reviews like this sent directly to your inbox each week, click here to sign-up for my weekly newsletter!

 

Source for image above is Amazon.

Book Review – Something Blue by Emily Giffin

After reading and loving Emily Giffin’s first novel, Something Borrowed, so much, I was anxious to read the sequel, Something Blue, which highlights the flip side. Again, Ms. Giffin didn’t disappoint me. Something Blue is a must read after Something Borrowed.

Darcy Rhone has sailed through life by using her good looks and smooth charm. Rules? She didn’t play by them. And karma? She never worried about it. However, her seemingly perfect life gets flipped up-side-down when she learns her “plain Jane,” good girl best friend, Rachel, has had an affair and fallen in love with her fiancé. To add to her predicament, she finds herself pregnant and alone.

For the first time, Darcy is struck with the harsh reality that her life has become. While she doesn’t fully grasp that her lack of sincerity and 30 years of not playing by the rules has led her to her current situation, Darcy decides to start fresh and flees from her luxurious New York City apartment to London, where she bunks with her childhood friend, Ethan, in his one bedroom flat. When Darcy first arrives in London, she’s still very much the superficial Darcy. However, as her pregnancy progresses, Darcy’s outlook on life, love, and what truly matters transforms as well.

One of the things I love most about Emily Giffin’s writing is her ability to characterize the characters of her books so well in addition to highlighting tough life decisions. I made a similar comment in my review of Something Borrowed, but I think it’s worth repeating. Ms. Giffin makes a subtle case throughout the story that life decisions aren’t always black and white. There is a lot of gray area, and sometimes you just have to live life to realize that truth and learn from it.

 

Something Blue on Amazon

Something Blue was most definitely the other half of Something Borrowed. I was happy to gain more insight into Darcy’s point of view, but more importantly, I enjoyed how Ms. Giffin tied up the loose ends of Rachel and Darcy’s saga. If you haven’t already, place Emily Giffin’s second novel on your summer reading list so you can find out exactly what is Darcy’s “something blue!”

 

If you’d like book reviews like this sent directly to your inbox, sign-up here for my weekly book review newsletter.

 

Source for image above is Amazon.

Happy Olympic Day!

I love the Olympics! There’s just something special about watching athletes from around the world represent their countries with pride. The grit and determination is inspiring. 

We may not all be Olympians, but we can honor the Olympic spirit. We can all push ourselves to our own limits. We can push ourselves to be the best we can be with each step we take. 

So on Olympic Day, we got up before the sun and ran a 5k to start the day. 


So get out there today. Honor the Olympic spirit. Whether it’s a long run, a pick-up game of basketball, or even a walk to the corner, get out there and give it all you have. 

Book Review – And One Last Thing… by Molly Harper

A few years ago, I was looking for a book to read over a snowy weekend.  I was looking for an author I hadn’t read anything by.  I found And One Last Thing by Molly Harper. It was funny, light-hearted at times, and above all else entertaining. I love a book with a certain element of “fluff,” and this fit the bill perfectly!

From the first page, you’re thrust into the heart of the story when 30 year old Lacey Terwilliger mistakenly receives a bouquet of flowers from her husband that was intended for his mistress. Suddenly, the life she knew comes crashing down as she deals with the realization that her husband has been having an affair with his assistant. Lacey’s pain, rage, and embarrassment are characterized so well. In her fit of anger, she sends a mass email detailing her husband’s affair to his clients, friends, and family. As the email goes viral and becomes an Internet sensation, she escapes to her grandmother’s lakefront cabin to avoid the media frenzy and the craziness of the divorce.

While it’s a predictable theme in most chick lit books, she went to the cabin seeking solitude, but that’s when she meets Monroe, her sexy, new neighbor. However, it’s not as cut and dry as boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Monroe has a rule to keep his distance from divorced women, and that suits Lacey just fine. However, in time they develop a friendship that eventually leads to intimacy, and in the end, Lacey ultimately has to decide if she can take a chance and love again.

As the reader, you’re in Lacey’s head for the entire book. You know what she’s thinking and why she’s doing what she’s doing, no matter how crazy it may be. (Skinning dipping in the middle of the night? You’ll know why! And you’ll laugh through the ordeal, which involves Monroe thinking she is committing suicide!) And that mass email is so carefully written as the typical wronged wife. However, as crazy as Lacey is at times, I found myself cheering and laughing as she said “one last thing.”

If you’d like book reviews like this emailed to you directly every Thursday morning, click here to sign-up for my weekly book review newsletter!

The Meet Cute of Julia and Drew

About two years ago, I wrote a post about how the meet cute of Julia and Drew came to be. However, this past weekend, I went for a long run and went past the park and gazebo, which were the inspiration for the scene. (Check out the picture below!) So I thought I’d revisit it and give you a little sneak peek of the scene too!

“The late August humidity was oppressive. The air felt heavy. It was like a snowsuit clung to my legs with every stride. As I reached the bike path surrounding the park, the sun disappeared behind clouds rolling in from the west. The shade was a welcome change and helped take my mind off of the heat so I could enjoy the peacefulness of the park.

I felt the built up tension from work gradually disappear as I hit my stride. I was about halfway around the loop when I felt a large drop of rain hit my forehead. I closed my eyes for a moment and hoped that I imagined it. As three more large drops hit my face and arms, I knew it wasn’t my imagination so I quickened my pace in an effort to beat the worst of the storm. I was over a mile away from my house so as the rumble of thunder got louder, I realized it would be a losing battle. Within seconds, I was in the middle of a complete downpour. Multiple lightning strikes illuminated the darkened sky so I sprinted towards the gazebo in the center of the park.

When Luke and I were young, my dad would take us down to the park after dinner most summer nights. Bill Merina was, and still is, a kid at heart. The three of us created our own version of tag, and the gazebo was home base. I was so young when we played that I don’t remember all the rules, but we ran around and up and down the steps of that gazebo more times than anyone could count. Back then, it was new with fresh varnish to keep it safe from the elements. Now, it looked worn and weather beaten, but it was the perfect place to ride out the storm.

When I reached the small wooden structure, I noticed another runner had taken shelter as well. His back was turned to the entrance as he looked out over the park to watch the storm. I took my cell phone out of my pocket to call my mom, but I had no service. “Damn it!” I cursed. With my outburst, I noticed the other runner turned. “Sorry.” I quickly apologized as I held my cell phone up in the air in every direction possible trying to find some sort of signal. “Of all times not to have a signal.” I mumbled under my breath. “Julia?” The man said. I froze for a second. I knew that voice. It had been a while; heck, it had been a decade, but I knew that voice.”

If I rewind 8 years, there was a hot and humid, August evening when I decided to squeeze in a quick run before thunderstorms swept through. I knew I’d be cutting it close with the dark storm clouds off to the West, but I was certain I had at least 25 minutes for a quick run. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side that day. I was about a mile away from my house when the sky opened up and I had to make a very quick dash to find cover.

I’ll be honest. That night I didn’t think too fondly of the run. My sneakers were completely water logged, and I had had to peel off my soaking wet clothes as soon as I came in the front door as my husband tossed me a towel from upstairs. However, the next day, as I thought about how convenient it would have been to have been near a structure of any kind along the bike path, the premise of Julia and Drew’s meet cute came to me. What if two runners – more specifically, two former classmates – found the same place to take cover during a storm?

From there, the idea for The Other Side of Later took off in my head. I thought about the gazebo by the park I spent many summer nights as a kid. I felt like I caught lightning in a bottle. My mind was in overdrive. I couldn’t type fast enough. Idea after idea flowed onto the screen. That being said, there were rewrites on top of rewrites. Some ideas from the early drafts never panned out. But the circumstances of how Julia and Drew reconnect? That never changed. I knew a summer thunderstorm was the perfect way to start their story.

Check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon.

Book Reviews – Author Spotlight… Jenny Hale

I’m so excited to share not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books with you that are perfect for long, summer days at the beach…or pool or wherever you like to relax!  One of my favorite, but somewhat unexpected parts of becoming an author is the connections I’ve made with other authors.  The wonders of social networking!

Not only did I discover another author, whose books I thoroughly enjoy, but we’ve also chatted here and there via Twitter over the past year.  Jenny Hale is such a talented writer, and today, I’m happy to share her four summer themed books with all of you!

Image credit: @jhaleauthor

A Barefoot Summer

The small town of White Stone, Virginia situated on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay is the perfect setting for a sweet story about first love with a second chance.  The people of White Stone welcome Libby home with open arms, but Pete, the man whose heart she broke when she escaped the small town for New York, keeps her at arms length.  As Libby spends the summer in her home town, she begins to question whether she made the right decision by leaving all those years ago.

I was dreaming about the summer breeze off the bay, sand beneath my feet, and delicious seafood for days after reading this book.  I’m always a fan of rekindled romance, and A Barefoot Summer is the perfect light-hearted summer love story. Plus, Pete is seriously swoon-worthy!

A Barefoot Summer on Amazon

Summer by the Sea

Summer by the Sea provides another terrific summer setting in the Outer Banks.  I felt like I was on a two week vacation as the story follows Faith and her sister with a sweet, heartwarming story about family and relationships. There’s forgiveness between sisters and blossoming love.  Such a great light and easy read!

Summer by the Sea on Amazon

Summer at Oyster Bay

Sometimes, leaving home is just what you need because when you return, you realize what matters most.  For Emily returning home to Oyster Bay is exactly what she needs after living a fast-paced city life for several years.  She develops an easy rapport with Charles Peterson, the new owner of the Water Edge’s Inn.  Just like A Barefoot Summer, the Chesapeake Bay area makes for the perfect setting as Emily shows Charles everything Oyster Bay has to offer.  However, when she learns Charles’s plans involve destroying the area she loves so much, Emily questions whether she’ll lose her home and Charles all at once.

Summer at Oyster Bay was the third book I read by Jenny Hale, and needless to say, I’m a big fan of her books. She has such a way of creating dynamic relationships between characters. But the best part is that the focus isn’t solely on romantic relationships, but also on ones between family members and friends, which makes all of her characters so relatable.

Summer at Oyster Bay on Amazon

The Summer House

The Summer House is Jenny Hale’s most recent book.  It’s literally hot off the press as it was released just last Friday.  Despite a busy weekend, I made sure I got a chance to read it so that I could share her newest novel with you today too.

The Summer House follows Callie and Olivia, two lifelong best friends, as they renovate and reopen a beautiful beach bed and breakfast called The Beachcomber in the Outer Banks.  Through an interesting course of events, Callie meets Luke Sullivan, a famous heartthrob and heir to his family’s real estate empire.  Just as Callie begins to see Luke isn’t the playboy the media makes him out to be, she and Olivia discover an old journal in The Beachcomber with secrets that could cause heartache for many.  As a hurricane approaches, emotions run high like the tide and relationships are put to the test.

I loved The Summer House!  While I was reading, I kept wishing I could take a trip down to North Carolina, enjoy some of the delicious seafood the characters kept eating, and stay at The Beachcomber!  Plus, I didn’t think it was possible, but Luke is even more swoon-worthy than Pete from A Barefoot Summer! 

The Summer House on Amazon

So whether you’re getting ready for vacation or planning your days at the beach, load up your Kindle with these four fabulous summer reads!  You won’t be disappointed!

If you’d like book reviews like this sent directly to your inbox every Thursday, click here to sign-up!

Summertime at the Jersey Shore

Some of my favorite childhood memories are from summer days at the beach. Squawking seagulls, rolling waves, ice cream men ringing their bells from the bulkhead, and lifeguard whistles comprised the soundtrack of my summers growing up. It may sound rather cliché, but through the craziness of my early 20s, I always found comfort in living – and raising my son – in the same place that held so many good memories for me. Each time I wiggled my toes in the sand, it took me back to a simpler time.


Whenever I read the opening paragraph of Chapter 1 from The Other Side of Later, I get a little pang of nostalgia. The first two sentences aren’t just true for Julia; they’re a direct reflection of my childhood as well. What’s funny is that I wrote The Other Side of Later before I had Baby D so I had no clue I would have a son someday as this opening paragraph came to life on my laptop screen. Now, the last part of the paragraph also rings true for me. I’m so happy I get to raise my son in the same place that holds so many great memories from my childhood.


As the summer goes on, I plan to share other little tidbits about The Other Side of Later and the places that provided me inspiration. I hope you enjoy reading about them, and I hope you’ll check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon.

Book Review – Looking for Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I first read Looking for Peyton Place. It was the summer of 2007. I had just finished reading my latest book on the beach, and my mom had what was Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel in her bag. I had never read (or heard of) Ms. Delinsky before, but it was the middle of a summer afternoon on the beach and I was looking for something to read so I started it.
It turned out to be one of my favorite books, and I’ve actually read it more than once. I was instantly drawn into the story by Ms. Delinsky’s incredible storytelling through excellent character development, attention to detail, and intertwining subplots.


Grace Metalious claimed her controversial novel, Peyton Place, was fiction, but the residents of Middle River, New Hampshire knew differently. It was about them; it was about their town. Over a half century later, the residents were still on edge.

Annie Barnes always related to Grace Metalious. Now a well-known author herself, Annie returns to her hometown of Middle River. Her mother has recently passed away and her sister is suffering from symptoms similar to what her mother had. Annie is looking for answers, but the townspeople are reluctant to talk as they are convinced she’s back to write an exposé about them just like Grace did over 50 years ago. To further complicate the situation, initial hints are pointing towards possible mercury poisoning from the local paper mill, owned by the Meades, one of the wealthiest and therefore, most powerful families in town. However, as Annie continues on her quest for answers she finds an unlikely ally in James Meade, who happens to be looking for answers himself.

As I said before, I loved this book. Ms. Delinsky’s attention to detail and character development is in a class by itself. As Annie drives into Middle River around midnight one summer night, you’re right there in the passenger seat with her, and as she investigates for her cause, you not only meet the townspeople but you actually feel like you know them. The residents’ lives are intertwined through history, and the subplots surrounding the story are so carefully written it’s difficult to put the book down. But what’s most impressive is that the main plot line is not lost in the midst of the characters and details; it’s enhanced. Barbara Delinsky is a storyteller in every sense of the word as she takes you on the tale of looking for Peyton Place.

Looking for Peyton Place on Amazon

 As you head to pool or beach or lake this weekend and you’re looking for a book to read as you relax over the weekend, download Looking for Peyton Place. I think you’ll enjoy it!

If you’d like reviews like this sent directly to your inbox, sign-up for my weekly newsletter!