Review: People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry

This book was pure perfection. Seriously. Everything about it was exactly what I wanted and needed.

I loved Poppy and Alex. I loved their banter. I loved their summer trips. I loved their commitment to who they were and the way they embraced each other’s quirks.

While this was definitely a slow-burn friends to lovers romance, it definitely didn’t feel that way. Henry took us on a long, winding journey of friendship and life while also allowing us to globetrot during a pandemic. All of which made this book a winner for me.

I want—no, I need—more Alex and Poppy.

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

Can I give this book 10,000 stars? I don’t even know how to write a review that even begins to touch the pure magic that lives inside this book.

When I first started reading A.J. Fikry, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. But I quickly warmed up to this curious and cranky man and his bookstore.

Each page provided a surprising plot shift that made me fall more in love with A.J.

Have you read this one?

Review: Little Pieces of Me, Alison Hammer

(thank you to William Morrow for the free copy)

I absolutely LOVED Alison Hammer’s first novel, You and Me and Us. So, I had insanely high expectations for Little Pieces of Me.

And it did not disappoint.

I felt every single emotion on this roller coaster of a book. I felt both anger and sympathy towards Betsy/Elizabeth. My heart broke for Paige as she grieved her father and learned the truth.

I absolutely loved Paige and her story. And Jeff, such a swoony boyfriend.

Adding Alison Hammer to my MUST buy list.

Review: The Memory Collectors, Kim Neville

(thank you @atriabooks for the free book)

This book was so incredibly immersive!

I loved how the entire story was woven together and how the characters developed over the course of the book. I’m not sure I’ve read anything like this book before.

Evelyn and Harriet both carried their secrets and pain while also carrying the strong emotions of others. The bright objects and stains give them a way to hide from their painful histories.

It did take me a bit to get into the story but once I did, I was hooked.

Change

Change is hard. Change is necessary. Change is (sometimes) scary.

I’ve never been one to dive headfirst into the water. I’m more of a dip my toe in, test it out, make a to-do list (first one toe, then two, then maybe a foot … you get the idea), and then, and only then, will I consider diving in headfirst.

I’ve often joked that as the product of a hippie mother and an ultra-conservative father, I fall smack dab in the middle of practical and impulsive. I dream of the freedom and fun that comes from being bold and impulsive, but I crave the stability of planning and routines. It’s a fun place to live.

This past year has been filled with all the cliches of personal growth. I spent a lot of time soul searching, even more time trying to unblur the lines between work and home, and a LOT of time juggling dirty diapers with Teams meetings and to-do lists. I wish I could tell you that I’ve come out of that phase of life with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose, but that would be a beautiful lie.

If anything, I am more confused than ever. Well, I suppose I could claim to have a confused sense of clarity. The things I want and need are clearer, but the path to get there has gotten a bit rockier than I’d anticipated.

I won’t regale you with all the gory details of the bumps and potholes that have littered that path, but I will say this … they’ve forced me to sit and think. I’ve spent countless hours the past few weeks meditating and thinking and contemplating what my next steps in life are.

The only certainties I’ve found are that my passion continues to lie within words and stories and humanity. I find solace in a good book. Writing is my therapy. I will always, always be a loud advocate for and a student of human rights. There are the three strongest pillars of who I am at the core of myself.

With all of this soul searching, I’ve also found that there are situations I cannot and will not tolerate. It is with this newfound knowledge and appreciation for my mental health and well-being that I am embarking on the next phase of my life and career. I am opening myself to the possibilities that lie ahead … with a teensy bit of fear and trepidation, but head and heart first.

Review: The Intimacy Experiment, Rosie Danan

(thank you to Berkley for the free ebook)

Y’all, I’ve been reading romance for a very long time. A long, long time. I’ve met many swoon-worthy men. I’ve swooned. I know I have.

But I’ve never had a book boyfriend quite like Rabbi Ethan Cohen. Seriously. Serve me that man on a platter. He’s hot, compassionate, dedicated, patient, and a million other adjectives.

I adored Naomi, too. She was flawed and strong and also willing to be vulnerable. She never compromised herself when she let her walls down to let Ethan in. She remained true to who she was, which I loved. Naomi is the kind of woman I aspire to be.

So, yup. I loved this book. I will definitely be picking up Rosie Danan’s other books. All of them.

Review: First Comes Like, Alisha Rai

(thank you to Avon Books for the free copy)

Have I mentioned how much I love the fake romance trope? Seriously. It’s my favorite. I literally get giddy the instant I realize it’s about to happen.

So, First Comes Like was right up my ally. I adored Jia and Dev. I loved how kind and vulnerable they both were. I adored how sweet they were to each other, even if sometimes it was misconstrued.

I devoured this book, and I want MORE.

Review: Astrid Sees All, Natalie Standiford

Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford

[out 4.6.21] (Thank you to Atria & NetGalley for the gifted copy)

If I were to picture a novel that portrayed the excess and dangers of stereotypical 1980s NYC, it would be Astrid Sees All.

Drugs. A little rock & roll. Clubs. A random serial killer, because, why not?

Yes, it was a lot and a bit over the top. Did I still enjoy it? I think so. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself rooting for Pheobe and loving her a little more with every page. Was the perfect? Nope. She was flawed and real.

Indie Author … and Podcaster?

If I look tired, it’s because I took this at 10 pm

I’ve decided to make #indielovethursday a thing. This week, I’m gonna explain why …

If you’d have told me six months ago that I’d be staying up until 10 pm recording a podcast, I’d have laughed at you and said NO WAY.

But as this story usually goes, here we are.

When I published my fourth novel, After Everything, I was reminded of all the barriers and roadblocks that indie authors have to tackle on their journey to market their books.

Between the stigmas, the cost of competing against a billion-dollar industry, all the no’s that hit before the question is even asked … y’all, it can be demoralizing.

But it’s worth it. Why? Because indie publishing is amazing. The freedom to publish what you want when you want without the rules, constraints, and timelines of that same billion-dollar industry.

This is why Maria Ann Green and I started the Indie Author Book Club. We wanted to introduce readers to new indie authors AND we wanted to demolish the stigmas.

I am so proud of the work we’ve done over the past few months and cannot wait to see where this journey takes us.

Mani Time …Me Time … Self Care … Mom Time … Whatever …

My Nail Cart

Pick your favorite buzz word. Self Care. Me Time. Mom Time. Indulgence. Happy Time. Whatever you want to call it, it’s important. IMPORTANT. As moms (working out or in the home) trying to survive a pandemic, taking time for yourself is beyond crucial.

I have a few, let’s call it self care, things that I do that are just for me. I read. I write. I scroll Instagram. I giggle at silly TikToks.

My absolute favorite self care activity is doing my nails. Since last March, it’s become a hobby I indulge in at least once a week. For me, it’s about so much more than just having fun or pretty nails. It’s a source of pride.

If you’ve been here a while, you know I have a history of being an anxiety nail biter and picker. My poor, poor cuticles have been through the ringer. When I see old photos of my hands, I cry and cringe. My fingers used to always hurt. I hated the way they looked, but mostly I hated the way they felt.

My nail journey started with Impress press-on nails back in the fall of 2019. In early 2020, I discovered the magic of dip powder. I had a few salon dips, but then the pandemic hit. So, I hit up YouTube and far too many Facebook Groups and learned how to do my own dip at home.

It took some trial and a lot of error, but I found a method that worked for me and fell in love. Somewhere along the way, nails became part of my brand. When I have naked nails, friends like to take bets on how long I’ll last. So far, 72 hours is the max … BUT I had Covid, so I don’t think that really counts.

Every Wednesday, I post my Mani of the Week (or last week, depending on how many manis I’ve done recently). If you ask my IG friends and followers what they know me for, they will answer nails, books, coffee, and wine.

I’ve shared a few of my favorites below. I’ve also shared links to the powders and liquids I use.

Have you tried dip nails? If you haven’t and want to know more, hit me up! I love talking about nails. And books. And coffee. And wine. Seriously, slide into my DMs and ask away!

Revel Dip Powders & Activator (link for 10% off).
Triple Vitamin Base and Top Coat.
UNT Peel Base.