Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Blog Tour: The Secrets of Love Story Bridge Excerpt

Hello, all!

Big thank you to Park Row for having me for this blog tour! The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick is a cozy new contemporary about a father's second chance at romance, and for my part of the tour, I'm going to give you all an exclusive excerpt. Hope you enjoy!

Pub Date: 4-28-20
Adult - Contemporary

The Lilac Envelope

The night before

As he did often, over the past three years, Mitchell Fisher wrote a letter he would never send. 
He sat up in bed at midnight and kicked off his sheets. Even though all the internal doors in his apartment were open, the sticky July heat still felt like a shroud clinging to his body. His nine-year-old daughter Poppy thrashed restlessly in her sleep, in the bedroom opposite. 
Mitchell turned on his bedside lamp, squinting against the yellow light, and took out a pad of Basildon Bond notepaper from underneath his bed. He always used a fountain pen to write—old-fashioned he supposed, but he was a man who valued things that were well-constructed and long-lasting. 
Mitchell tapped the pen against his bottom lip. He knew what he wanted to say, but by the time his words of sorrow and regret travelled from his brain to his fingertips, they were only fragments of what he longed to express. 
As he started to write, the sound of the metal nib scratching against paper helped him block out the city street noise that hummed below his apartment.

Dearest Anita

Another letter from me. Everything here is fine, ticking along. Poppy is doing well. The school holidays start soon and I thought she’d be more excited. It’s probably because you’re not here to enjoy them with us. 

I’ve taken two weeks off work to spend with her, and have a full itinerary planned for us—badminton, tennis, library visits, cooking, walking, the park, swimming, museums, cooking, a tour of the city bridges, and more. It will keep us busy. Keep our minds off you. 

You’ll be amazed how much she’s grown, must be almost your height by now. I tell her how proud I am of her, but it always means more coming from you.

Mitchell paused, resting his hand against the pad of paper. He had to tell her how he felt.

Every time I look at our daughter, I think of you. I wish I could hold you again, and tell you I’m truly sorry.

Yours, always

Mitchell x

He read his words, always dissatisfied with them, never able to convey the magnitude of grief and guilt he felt. After folding the piece of paper once, he sealed it into a crisp, cream envelope, then squeezed it into the almost-full drawer of his nightstand, amongst all the other letters he’d written. His eyes fell upon the slim lilac envelope he kept on top, the one addressed to him from Anita, that he’d not yet been able to bring himself to open. 
Taking that envelope out, he held it under his nose and inhaled. There was still a slight scent of her on the paper, he thought, of violet soap. His finger followed the angle of the gummed flap and then stopped. He closed his eyes and willed himself to open the letter, but his fingernails dented crescents into the paper.
Once more, he placed it back into his drawer. 

Mitchell lay down and hugged himself, imagining Anita’s arms were wrapped around him. But, when he closed his eyes, the words from all the letters weighed down upon him like a bulldozer. As he turned and tried to sleep, he pulled the pillow over his head to force them away.

Check out the links below for more info about the book!

Friday, April 24, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Marvel Powers You'd Want

Hello, all!

One of the hardest questions you can ask me is what sort of superpowers I would want. There's so many amazing abilities floating around, especially in the MCU, so here are just a few I would love to have.

1. Scarlet Witch: Wanda is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel universe, be it the films or comics. She has so many great abilities: she can manipulate reality and time and matter, she can teleport, and she can absorb and project energy. Plus, her whole vibe is just right up my alley.

2. Ant-Man: The only reason I would really want this one is because yes, you're able to go super tiny, but you can also make yourself bigger. Your girl is very small, and I would love just once to be able to reach things on high shelves or see over people at concerts. 

3. Captain Marvel: Who wouldn't want to be Carol Danvers?! She's one of the most powerful characters in the MCU and such a badass. I mean, superhuman strength? Flight? Full on glowy? Sign me up.

4. Black Widow: If I have the option of being a super spy assassin with mastery over numerous weapons and hand to hand combat, I'm gonna take it.

5. Thor: This one is super simple: God of Thunder. Need I say more?

Lemme know your picks!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Let's Talk: Quarantine Self Care

Hello, all!

I think we can all agree that times are completely bonkers right now. The world is crazy, stressful, scary and uncertain. We've all been forced to slow down and take a step away from our usual daily routines, and I think it's important more than ever now to check in with yourself and make sure your mental health doesn't suffer. I'm an extremely anxious person by nature and didn't leave my house much before, so being quarantined hasn't been too much of a change for me. However, I do have some days where I'm crawling out of my skin. When those days hit, I like to do some of the following, and hopefully they'll help some of you as well.

Also, quick shout out-- my roommate is an ER doctor and I can't even express how much I appreciate her and how much respect I have for her and everyone else who's on the front lines, be it in the medical field, postal workers, retail workers, delivery people, etc. Y'all are the real heroes.

1. Netflix binging: This is my ol' reliable. You can't go wrong with switching off for a while and getting fully consumed in a favorite show. Like most of the world, I recently finished up Tiger King (and what a ride that was), now I wanted something comforting so I started re-watching New Girl. I'm currently on the fifth season, and I'm still fully attracted to Nick Miller.

2. Face masks: I hate to admit this because I feel like by now I should, but I don't really have a "skin care routine." I would love one, but a. I'm lazy and b. I'm cheap. I usually just go for a face wash, toner, and then moisturizer, but every once in a while I bust out a face mask and feel so fancy. I have super sensitive skin, so I mostly stick with charcoal masks, but it's nice to just lay back and relax for a bit and have soft, smooth skin 10 minutes later. There's also carbonated masks which bubble up and make your face feel like a cloud and it's really fun.

3. Walking/Exercise: Since working from home, I've been spending some of my lunch hour walking around my neighborhood. I only do about 20 minutes or so, but it's a nice change of pace and I always feel better after being in the fresh air. Aside from walking, I've also found a few work out videos on YouTube that I like to do as well. Some of my favorites are from MadFIT and FitnessBlender.

4. Baking: I've always loved baking, but now I find it even more relaxing. I saw a meme online about how so many people are using this quarantine time to learn how to bake bread, and I'm one of those people. I had a full on Bake Off moment and made rosemary whole wheat and I was really gunning for that Paul Hollywood handshake. Turns out, I hate rosemary so the bread wasn't for me, but hey-- I made bread!

5.  Check in with your loved ones: Obvious one, right? Since we can't really see our friends and family, it's so nice to call/text them or FaceTime. My best friend's and I always talk pretty much all day every day, so it's a nice way to feel normal. You can all get together over group FaceTimes (I had my first one the other week and it was so strange but in a good way) or even Zoom.

Lemme know some of your tips and tricks to beating the quarantine blues. Sending you all lots of positive and healthy vibes!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Body in the Garden Review

Hello, all!

I have such a soft spot for Victorian set historical fiction, especially if it surrounds a strong female lead. Bonus points if that female lead dabbles in detective work. So, it was pretty much a no brainer that I'd pick up The Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman. Big thanks to Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-7-20
Historical Fiction - Mystery
It's 1815 London, and newly widowed Lily Adler is returning back to a society that frowns upon independent women, but Lily is determined to make a life for herself without her husband. At her first ball back in society, she expects all the whispers and gossip that usually surrounds the London upper class. What she doesn't expect is stumbling upon an attempted blackmail turned murder in the garden of her oldest friend, Lady Walter.

Because she's a woman, the police don't seem to believe her when she tells them what she's overheard. They especially don't seem to care once the local magistrate is paid off by none other than Lord Walter himself to drop the case. Determined not to let a terrible deed go unpunished, Lily recruits her husband's oldest friend, a charming naval captain, and a mysterious heiress from the West Indies to help her catch a killer. The farther into their investigation the trio goes, the more they uncover a bigger plot, and the more their lives are at stake and it's a race to the truth before Lily becomes the next target.

This book checked all my boxes: Victorian England, check. Take no crap leading lady, check. Witty, smart dialogue, check. Fun mystery, check. It was such a well written story and I was hooked right from the start. I loved how Schellman laid out the mystery and all the details. She really left you guessing as to who was the mastermind behind it all, and I felt really satisfied by the end. There's slight twists that throw you, and subtle clues you pick up throughout. Lily was such a great character, and really holds her own against all these men who try and silence her. I also really liked her co-detectives, Captain Jack Hartley and Miss Oswald, but my favorite secondary character had to be Jem, the wily young urchin who helps them out. If you're looking for a quick, well laid out mystery, check this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What I Like About You Review

Hello, all!

Big thanks to Netgalley for the copy of What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter.

Pub Date: 4-7-20
YA - Contemporary
Halle Levitt lives two lives: one is her usual life as the daughter of two well known documentary directors, and the other is as a popular YA book blogger and cupcake baker named Kels. Kels is everything that Halle isn't: she's confident, outspoken and everyone like her, but the one thing Halle enjoys the most about being Kels is her online best friend, Nash, a talented graphic artist who loves books almost as much as she does. The pair have spent years getting to know one another online, but have never met. Until Halle and her younger brother move in with their grandfather, who just so happens to live in the same small town as Nash.

After a chance meeting at the library, Halle can't bring herself to tell Nash who she really is. Things get even more complicated once she and Nash make a real life connection. As their relationship grows and blossoms into something more, Halle must face her fears and tell Nash who she really is. But what if he doesn't feel for Halle what he feels for Kels?

The whole premise of this sounded cute, but it was a little too juvenile for me. I didn't really love or connect with Kanter's writing style. I'm not a huge fan of using internet lingo in dialogue, so whenever a character used "AF" or "IRL" in conversation just made me cringe. Aside from that, I also found the story line a bit too predictable, so there was nothing that really surprised me. I think maybe if I were a little younger, I would've liked this a bit better, but it just wasn't for me.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, April 10, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Top Marvel Ships

Hello, all!

This weeks 5FF topic is Marvel ships, be it relationships or friendships. Let's get into the picks!

1. Bucky and Steve: Let's get the most obvious one out of the way first. Steve and Bucky have been friends since they were young scrappy kids in Brooklyn, and despite a little brain washing on Bucky's part, their friendship continued to grow stronger throughout the years.

2. Natasha and Clint: Anyone who names their child after their friend deserves to be on this list! Their friendship is so fun and they both care for one another so much. Now, can we finally find out what happened in Budapest?

3. Groot and Rocket: Has there ever been a cuter relationship between a raccoon and a tree? I don't think so. Rocket is always so gruff and tough, but the way he watches over Groot, especially baby Groot, is so heartwarming.

4. Wanda and Vision: There are so many great relationships in the MCU, but this one always felt so pure to me. I can't wait for WandaVision on Disney+ cause it's gonna be such a fun deeper look at this relationship.

5. Tony Stark and Peter Parker: How can I not have these two on here?! I absolutely adore the pair together. Tony is such a great father figure to Peter, and they bounce off each other so well. Every time they're together it's either super funny or completely heartbreaking.

Lemme know your picks!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

To Have and to Hoax Review

Hello, all!

You all know I love historical fiction, especially one set in England in the Regency/Victorian eras. I also love a good rom-com, so when I heard about To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters, I jumped at the chance to read it. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-7-20
Historical Fiction - Contemporary
Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love and got married very quickly. Now, five years into their marriage, the pair haven't spoken since having an argument to end all arguments four years earlier. Their once passionate marriage is now full of cold silences and colder shoulders. But when Violet receives a letter stating that James had been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious, she drops everything to rush to his side at their country home. Imagine her surprise when she meets him at an inn along the road, very much in perfect health and completely unaware of her concern. Violet is outraged and James is confused, and the distance between them only threatens to grow greater.

Wanting nothing more than to teach her husband a lesson, Violet concocts a rather absurd plan of faking a serious illness. However, James quickly sees through his wife's charade, but decides to go along with the ruse. Thus begins a ridiculous game of manipulation, actors posing as doctors, faux mistresses, and increasing flirtations between husband and wife who may not hate each other as much as they thought.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. I loved the whole premise and the execution was done so well. It's so ridiculous and witty, and I couldn't put it down. Violet and James are both so stubborn and hard-headed, and usually I would be annoyed with characters acting so childishly, but they were both so aware of how dumb they were being that I didn't actually mind. Their antics were so over the top and pretty comical, but I really loved how their relationship played out. Their back and forth bickering was everything. All the secondary characters in their friend group were also great and added so much enjoyment to the story. If you're looking for a fun but still heartfelt read, check this one out.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Age of Witches Review

Hello, all!

I'm such a sucker for historical fiction that takes place in New York or England, and I love books about witches, so The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan combining all of that in one was a no brainer read for me. Big thank you to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-7-20
Historical Fiction - Fantasy
Harriet Bishop comes from a long line of witches. She can trace her lineage right down to Salem. She uses her gifts to help women in need, and not only ordinary women, but those with their own powers as well. When her distant cousin, Francis Allington, decides to use her powers for a dangerous gain, Harriet has no choice but to intervene before anyone can come to harm.

Frances Allington has spent her entire life feeling second best. She has used her powers to drag herself out of poverty and into the sort of life that she's craved since she was a young child. After marrying a wealthy New York tycoon, Francis decides to cement their position in the upper crust of society by securing a union between her strong-willed stepdaughter, Annis, and an English lord. And she's not above using witchcraft to do it. Harriet comes to the aid of Annis, and reveals to her the true nature of their family, and in doing so, seems to awaken the dormant powers hidden within Annis. Together, the pair must fight against Francis and the evil she's weaved because it's not only Annis's freedom on the line, it's potentially her whole life as well.

This entire story was so captivating right from the very start. I was immediately sucked into the plot and characters. Harriet is so strong and sure of herself, while Francis lets her insecurities and shortcomings lead her down darker and darker paths. Annis was also fascinating and learning her history and watching her flourish into her own powers was really nice. Morgan's writing was lush and flowed very nicely. I loved where she took the story and how in the end, you actually end up feeling sorry for Francis and the journey she went on. There was just the right amount of supernatural elements to where it didn't feel overly cheesy, and the setting felt true to the time period. My only slight issue was I did feel some parts dragged on a bit longer than was necessary. Other than that, I thought this was beautifully written.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, April 3, 2020

5 Fandom Friday- Top MCU Moments

Hello, all!

There are so many amazing moments throughout the MCU. I had such a hard time narrowing it down to only 5, so I just went with the first that came to mind. Here we go!

1. "Immigrant Song" Battle: I have to admit, the Thor movies aren't some of my favorites, but that all changed with Ragnarok. I loved the whole movie, but I think my favorite scene is when Thor gets a bit of a power boost and goes to town on the bad guys while Led Zeppelin cranks in the background.

2. Captain Marvel's Full Potential: I spent the whole Captain Marvel movie practically in goosebumps. I was so in awe of this badass female superhero coming into her own and embracing her powers to the fullest. This scene in particular made my heart so full.

3. Marvel Women Join up: I could have easily made this whole list moments from Endgame, but I only let myself choose one and this was it. Like so many others, I would kill for an all female team up movie, but this is better than nothing. Watching all the amazing females in the MCU join together to protect Peter as he's carrying the Infinity Gauntlet was everything.

4. Avengers try to lift Mjolnir: Not only do I love this because it foreshadows Cap being worthy enough to wield Thor's hammer during Endgame, but it just feels like such a thing that real friends would do when they're hanging out.

5. "I am Iron Man": Could you really have a list of top moments and not include this one? Come on, it's iconic.

Lemme know some of your picks!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

O.W.Ls Readathon TBR

Hello, all!

I've always heard about the O.W.Ls Readathon around Booktube, and this year I'm finally participating! This readathon was created by G at Book Roast, and it surrounds one of the exams in Harry Potter. Basically, G has created an entire booklet full of careers in the wizarding world, and you choose whichever job you want, and then you have a certain amount of books to read to fulfill the requirements for said job.

Aside from the packet of careers, G also created a letter from Professor McGonagall as well as a letter listing all the prompts. For my first time joining in on the readathon, I chose Journalist/Writer. I thought since I actually went to college for journalism, this would be a fun way to start off. For this career, I have to read three books, so I figured I'd break down the prompts as well as my TBR for the month.

1. History of Magic: Witch Hunts- Book featuring witches/wizards

 For this prompt I'm going to read Witch Hat Atelier, Vol 4. This is such a fun manga following a young girl as she apprentices to become a witch. I also tend to read mangas in one sitting which I think work well for readathons.

2. Muggle Studies: Book from a perspective of a muggle (contemporary)

For this one I'll be reading Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams. I really enjoyed The Bromance Book Club, so I've been really looking forward to the second in that series.

3. Defense Against the Dark Arts: Grindylows: Book set at the sea/coast

For this third prompt, I actually got to choose whatever subject I wanted, and I've been meaning to read All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace, so I figured why not. This is all about a princess of a sea kingdom who has to fight for her right to the throne, and it gives me all Triwizard Tournament vibes, so I think it'll be perfect.

I think this readathon is going to be so fun, and I can't wait to jump right in. The sheer amount of effort and detail that gets put into this is crazy and insanely cool. For more info about it, check out G's video explaining it all and the Magical Readathon website. Let me know if you've ever participated in either the O.W.Ls or the N.E.W.Ts, or if you're interested in participating!