After recovering from a debilitating car accident, Laura Costello moves across family to get away from her over protective family. After barely moving in, her apartment burns down and she gets caught in a downpour outside a bookstore in Larchmont Village, a community located in the heart of Los Angeles. She meets the ladies in the bookstore, Nina, Liz, and Polly, and they take her in. Polly taking her home to live in an available room in the large home she rents in Highland Park, just down the street. There Laura meets Bob, or Impossibly Handsome Bob, as her new friends call him. He’s just as they claim, Impossibly Handsome, but he’s also impossibly awkward, shy, and uncomfortable. In Laura he finds someone with the same interests and who has a calmness that soothes his nervous mind. This novel centers on their story, but also includes the interesting characters who surround them.
Having lived in Los Angeles, I always find Abbi Waxman’s novels nostalgic. I grew up in southern California so there are a lot of little notes that only someone from that area would truly understand. For example, when there’s an earthquake you have an instinct for the score and if it’s lower than a 4.0 it’s nothing of note. You just get on with your life. Laura, our main protagonist is getting over PTSD from a bad car accident and is from the east coast, so an earthquake rock her world a little harder than it does our other characters who may shrug one off if it’s doesn’t really do any lasting damage. Other very LA things like traffic, bad drivers, weather, and thrift shopping make an appearance and make this novel feel very much an LA novel. So, I love that.
You can’t but fall in love with both Laura and Bob. They are very subtle characters who have an ease and calm that is very soothing to a reader. In some books that might be boring, but with all of the outlandish characters surrounding them, their calm interactions were kind of zen moments that brought the entire novel together. The pace of their love story was very fitting to their characterizations as well with the zaniness of what was going on around them, plus other characters self-journeys creating a tension that propelled the book forward allowing us to love Laura and Bob at the pace they needed to be loved.
I’ve read all of Abbi Waxman’s novels and each has been unique. I’ve liked some better than others, but none as much as The Garden of Small Beginnings, her debut novel. However, Adult Assembly Required has had the same ease as this author’s first novel, so I’d rate it my second favorite. Something they both share is one small child, Clare, who has got to be the funniest characterization of a child I’ve ever read. Clare is zany and bright and whenever she’s in a scene I just know I’m going to get a laugh or two. I laughed my way through The Garden of Small Beginnings and she gave me quite a few chuckles in Adult Assembly Required as well. I can only hope that at some point Clare grows up and we get a novel from her perspective because it would be so much fun! In this novel she was the perfect counterpoint to Laura’s assured calmness and made me like Laura even more.
If you like zany characters, great friendships, and quirky romances I think you should give this novel a try. It was great. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
My May is full of reading commitments and I’ve been reliably consistent in getting the books read that I’m committed to writing a review. Luckily they have all been excellent and easy to read. Whew! Nothing worse than choosing a book that you don’t feel like reading. I’ve caught the dreaded Covid virus and have been out with a severe cold for a few days now and have been binging shows on Netflix because of brain fog. Thank goodness I was reading ahead! Here is what I’ve had on my nightstand (besides a wad of kleenex and cold medicine!).
This author is still writing these stand alone (but really in a series) novels about these ladies living in Larchmont Village, one of the hidden pockets of loveliness in LA. I really enjoy Abbi Waxman’s quirky writing style and witty dialog. One of my favorite characters, Clare, a little girl with an amazing mind, shows up in this novel and adds just the right note of humor when needed. I hope at some point Clare grows up and gets her own novel because that child is a trip!
I think this cover drew me in. I haven’t read a mystery in a while but this synopsis sounds gripping. It’s the third book in a series that I haven’t read but I’m not really worried about missing out and am in fact hoping that I’ll love the characters and want to go back and start from the beginning.
What books have caught your attention this week? Feel free to share in the comments.
The Love Hypothesis was one of my favorite romance novels of 2021, so when Ali Hazelwood came out with novellas featuring women of STEM (Scientist, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) I had to read them and see if she could repeat her magical formula in short form. Part of what worked for me in The Love Hypothesis was the geeky humor and witty dialog. Also, the complete obtuseness (is that a word?) when it came to attraction and love that our main character betrayed. The STEMinist novella heroines definitely followed this same format. Super bright but when it came to their own love lives, they needed some great advice from their friends. It’s always easier to pick apart your best friends behavior than it is to figure out your own, right? This novella series follows three best friends who are all women of STEM and certainly have an opinion on each other’s love lives but aren’t so great at figuring out their own.
Under One Roof is book one in this short story series. Environmental Engineer, Mara, inherits half a house from her mentor and needs to move in asap. Inhabiting that house is big-oil lawyer Liam. They say opposites attract and you know when that front door opens that this is definitely the case but it takes a while for our duo to put aside their differences and take a chance on each other. It’s not often when I read a novella that feels like a full-length book but Ali Hazelwood does a great job of making that happen in Under One Roof. Mara and Liam fulfill that tension that I love in an enemies to lovers story! This book was narrated by Emma Wilder who did a great job voicing both characters and injecting humor, anger, angst, and attraction into every word. Bravo! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Stuck With You is the second book in the series and is the story of Civil Engineer, Sadie, who is slightly neurotic but ultimately adorable. She meets the hot, tall (to her very short) Viking, Erik at the local coffee shop. She is desperate for her lucky croissant and he just purchased the last one. This absolutely charming novella spends one wonderful day with the two of them as they get to know each other, not bothering to fight their attraction. Of course, it doesn’t all go smoothly but rights itself in the end with a little help from her friends. I’m saying less about this novella but I actually liked it a little bit more. The narration by Meg Sylvan was spot on. Her slight accent for the Dutch-born Erik is just amazing. You totally forget it’s a woman voicing his character! Sadie is a genius, but neurotically superstitious and her quirks made this short story a ton of fun. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I can’t wait for the third novella, Below Zero, to come out in July! The third and final STEMinist’s story looks to be a charmer. Each of these audiobooks runs just over three hours, so if you have a short car trip or are cooking something complicated on a weekend it’s the perfect amount of time to spend with these characters. The novellas both read like a full-length novel and don’t leave you hanging.
Every Summer After is the debut novel by Carley Fortune and wow does this novel pack an emotional punch! I am so impressed with the intricacies of the plot and how this author wove flashbacks to their childhood with current time holding the reader captive and in suspense. You know from the synopsis that something huge will happen, and she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat waiting for that explanation. It’s been awhile since I was so captivated by a story that I stayed up reading way past the time I should’ve put the book down. I just had to finish it in one night. Despite my lack of sleep and having to get up and go to work, I am not disappointed in my decision at all.
I loved both Sam and Percy. Meeting as 13 year olds, Percy had just gone through a difficult year at school being cast out of her group of friends and kind of floundering. Sam immediately became the person she could rely on the most. Even when she went back to Toronto, school, and making up with her clique of friends, no one took Sam’s new place in her heart. Sam was an old soul. Having his dad die not only changed the trajectory of his life but also made him super responsible. This sense of responsibility and seriousness drew Percy in but also contributed to their separation. I can’t talk about the characters in this book without mentioning Charlie. He’s Sam’s older brother by two years and is the complete opposite of Sam. He’s a charmer with the ladies, and is the character with one liners who always lightens the mood. Although he’s also Sam’s brother and causes a bit of conflict by association. I loved all three of them!
As I stated before, you know that something happens and since it’s been twelve years since Percy has seen Sam and the story is told through flashbacks, you have to wait awhile to find out what and why. Carley Fortune does a great job of building that relationship up so that the reader is completely invested and wants to see that happily-ever-after that we know is waiting for us on the last page. In this book, I’m not really bothered by the wait because the characters keep me vastly entertained.
This book is coming out just in time for summer vacation and is the PERFECT beach book. My hope is that someone else will read this book, or has read it so that I have someone to talk to about it. So please, put it on your TBR’s, it’s an easy bet that you’ll like this story. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!
I hope everyone had a great weekend and spent a little bit of time gearing yourself up for the next work week. I spent the weekend visiting with my mom, as it’s Mother’s Day in the U.S. and I’m fortunate enough to live close. Despite the weather, holiday, and a fun crafts fair in our fun city, I did find a little bit of time to finish a book as well as pick up a new one. Here’s what I’ve been reading.
Set in the 1950’s and in a bookstore in England, this book follows three women who work in that store and how each navigate a world in which men have all the control. I am a big fan of traveling through history by reading a great fiction novel and I thought this one was really good and their journey translates well to some things going on today.
I bought this novel when it came out but got distracted away from reading it. I love Penny Reid novels. Her characters are quirky and her voice genuine. The story is off to a great start!
What books are you reading this week? Are you eagerly anticipating an evening at home on the couch finishing your book?
Isabelle’s dream job as an associate editor at a publishing firm has definitely lost its luster. She wants to advance her career but feels like she’s stuck in a dead end job, unnoticed by her editor. When she travels out to California for a book convention she overhears a conversation about one of their celebrity authors and offers to head to his house in Santa Barbara and see if she can help him get over his writer’s block. When she gets to Beau Towers house she’s confronted by and angry, immensely handsome man only a few years older than herself. Her forthright attitude and direct approach seems to resonate and he allows her to stay for a week.
I’ve read a few Jasmine Guillory books and By the Book is my favorite to date. This novel is described as being a re-imagined fairytale, and I can’t help but think it fits into the Beauty and the Beast slot? I’m not 100% sure but Beau is definitely a beast to her when she first arrives and she is a girl who loves her books, just like Belle! Our Belle, nicknamed Izzy, sees the golden heart inside of her beast and through helping him write helps him deal with some personal family pain.
This novel is not just about helping Beau see what he needs to reveal in order to heal but it’s also about Izzy being true to herself, not letting others undermine her, and sticking with her dream. I really liked how supportive they were with each other as well as how each of them opened their eyes and looked beyond the surface.
If you are a fan of Jasmine Guillory, By the Book will not disappoint. She has a wonderfully easy style of writing and I often find myself enmeshed in her stories not wanting to put the book down. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!
Happy May everyone! This is the month where so many great books are coming out and I have once again over-asked for ARC’s. I’ve been trying to read ahead but at the same time read for pleasure. I only ask for books I’m looking forward to reading (with a surprise thrown in everyone once in awhile) so it’s tough to choose what’s already on my kindle. I am thrilled that I got a copy of Ilona Andrews upcoming release and despite it not coming out until August, I went ahead and picked it up last night. Let’s get to it!
A debut novel by Carley Fortune, Every Summer After hit all of my hot buttons, making it the perfect beach read. If only I’d been on a beach! Seriously good with a lake setting, this romance made me feel EVERYTHING. I loved it!
I literally just started this so don’t really have an opinion yet, but this is one of my favorite writing teams so I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it!
Are you reading a favorite author right now? Who is it? Let me know if it’s a great book.
Eve and Roarke’s evening out is interrupted by a murder in Washington Square Park. While examining the crime scene Roarke spots an enemy from his childhood in the crowd. Lorcan Cobbe, grew up admiring Roarke’s father, working in his organization and moving his way up to paid assassin. Now a wanted man, he jumps immediately to the top of the suspect list and Eve is in hot pursuit. It becomes obvious that Cobbe is taking advantage of running into his enemy and is targeting Roarke and all of those he loves. Eve and her team use every tool they have to gather evidence and hopefully take him down.
I’m a little behind in this series as I believe the 55th book was just released, but ran across this title in my library wishlist and was in the mood for a futuristic investigation with some of my favorite characters. Even though it’s been awhile, when you’ve stuck with a series for 51 books the characters are like good friends. You know when you see one of your best friends from high school after a few years apart and you just jump right back into a previous conversation? The In Death books are exactly like that.
I enjoyed Shadows in Death a lot. Part of it was the comradery of Eve’s team when it becomes clear that Cobbe is targeting Roarke and Eve. Their “family” was going to take down this killer before he had a chance to do anything and how they banded together to investigate, find his mistakes, and then capture him was so emotional because Eve was so awed by their support. Even after all of these years she is surprised that she has a group of friends and I love that insecurity. It really makes you root for her as a character.
There wasn’t a mystery to solve in this plot because we knew the killer in the first chapter but the investigation was fast and personal. Each dip and turn was fraught with tension and each chapter amped up the tension leading to a conclusion that was so, so good! There’s nothing like jumping back into a series with a gripping plot and being reminded why you’ve read all 51 books. When J.D. Robb writes well, her books are excellent. This was one of the really good ones and yes, I’ve already picked up book #52, I hope it’s just as good! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
In looking back over some of my older posts I came upon a trip my sister and I took to Maryland. This trip was centered completely on a book signing Mariana Zapata, one of my favorite romance authors was doing at the Inn Boonsboro, owned by Nora Roberts- also a favorite romance author. At the time, Mariana (I can call her that since we met in person) had just released her novel From Lukov With Love. Even four years later that novel is one of my favorites and at this point I’ve read it multiple times. We had a private meeting with only 15-20 other readers and got to spend one on one time with this author. An experience I will not ever forget. For those of you who haven’t read it, I’ve copied and pasted my post below.
This was posted on 4/15/2018-
A few weeks ago I received a text from my sister saying that she’d put us on a waiting list for an exclusive meet and greet with Mariana Zapata at the Inn Boonsboro in Maryland. Someone had dropped out and there was one room available. Did I want to take a few days off from work and go? I had just finished Mariana Zapata’s newest novel From Lukov With Love and loved it so I really didn’t have to think that hard. Umm, yeah! Let’s do it! This was a twofer! To get the chance to meet with one of my favorite authors and also stay in Nora Roberts Inn Boonsboro? What a treat!
The Inn Boonsboro is only a little over an hour’s drive from Baltimore, the airport we flew into. On our arrival, we were given a tour of the Inn. A small library filled with bookshelves full of fiction and a couple of arm chairs in front of a fireplace was right around the corner from our room. I knew I was going to be making myself comfortable as there was also a Keurig in the corner where I could make coffee, tea or hot chocolate while looking at all the books on the shelves. There was also a small dining room, with delicious cookies on display, as well as a parlor where we were told our book event with Ms. Zapata would be taking place in another hour. When we were led to our room, we passed themed rooms with plaques identifying which romantic couple that room’s theme portrayed. My sister and I were placed in Eve and Roarke! As a huge fan of J. D. Robb’s In Death series I was thrilled at the decor, a mix of modern and historical pieces really gave it a unique vibe. The picture below shows the outside of the Inn that evening and our room before we totally wrecked the space with our stuff.
I noticed on the desk in the corner a notebook and curious, I opened it up. It was for guests to sign the page and to write their thoughts about their stay in that room. Look who wrote in the first page!
Later that evening I peeked into a couple of the other rooms and took quick photo’s, just so you could see how the themes were so different from each other and really lovely! They spared no expense in the creation of this Inn.
To see more details about the Inn Boonsboro as well as their upcoming author events titled A Novel Adventure please click on this link to go to their website. Inn Boonsboro
Next up is YA author Cambria Hebert on 6/18. If you live in the area or are a short plane ride away, I really recommend this experience!
Mariana Zapata is the author of multiple best selling novels such as Wait For It, Kulti, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, etc.
At 5pm we were told to gather in the parlor for a two hour cocktail and conversation with Mariana Zapata. I brought my copy of Kulti and my sister had her copy of From Lukov with Love and we entered the parlor, not really sure what to expect. There were drinks, appetizers and a few desserts and only a few people. We saw Michelle, one of the Innkeeper’s and asked her how many people she expected and she said 13 in total. My sister and I looked at each other in shock. Wow! This really was exclusive! Mariana and her assistant Eva were the last two to arrive and the rest of us ladies were seated in chairs around the room.
My first thought was how Mariana was so sweet and young! She was small in stature, but she was outgoing, waving at everyone and asking how we were all doing. She had a purple (kind of orchid in color) rinse on her hair and started up conversation with the people on that end of the room. We were told that she’d sign our novels first and then we’d spend the rest of the time asking questions and she’d answer them willingly. As she signed our books she chatted briefly about where we were from and really I think I talked more about myself, forgetting to ask her any questions! LOL. My sister and I asked if we could have our photo taken, see below!
After she finished signing all of our books she sat on an ottoman across from where my sister and I as well as a few other ladies were sitting and naturally started answering our questions. I will admit, I did not take notes, however my sister helped me recreate the questions and conversations and I will try to be as detailed as possible without too much embellishment. (Please take note, this is not a verbatim conversation.)
Q: Where do you get your inspiration with books? For Kulti, her inspiration came from watching a women’s soccer game, for Wait For It she was inspired by American History X, and Sons of Anarchy for Under Locke. Her husband is a musician and Rhythm and Chord was easy for her to write because of that. The group chimed in about Eli and Mason from Rhythm and Chord saying they’d love for them to have their own stories, but Mariana was pretty firm about not wanting to write another book about a guy in a band. I asked her about what inspired her to write Lingus, as romance novel about a porn star. She said she was watching a documentary about people who go to porn conventions and how normal they all looked. The idea intrigued her. Would writing a romance novel about a porn star work?
We also talked about the popularity of Alpha Males in some other authors books. She said she liked an Alpha Male but didn’t want to always write about one. It was really important for her to have each of the men in her novels be different from each other.They were all strong characters, but individual as well.
Q: Why didn’t people react well to her novel Dear Aaron? (If you haven’t read Dear Aaron most of the book is told by letters or emails between the two main characters, Ruby and Aaron). She thought it was because Ruby was not as in your face as Sal from Kulti and Diana from Wait For It. Ruby had her own strength but it was quieter. She still grew as a character, but for some reason readers just didn’t connect as much, she didn’t really understand it.
Q: I bet you hear this all of the time but I have to ask about the Toolbox in Wait For It. Why didn’t you ever resolve that part of the story in the book? Mariana seemed a little confused. She said she felt like she had resolved Dallas’s reaction. (The toolbox was her dead brother Rodrigo’s and her friend Vanessa painted it pink with flowers on it.) She said Dallas was upset when he saw the toolbox because he felt she should have someone who could fix things for her, but he wasn’t in the place where he could be that man for her, yet.
Q: When did Ivan and Jasmine in From Lukov with Love actually fall in love? Mariana actually never answered this question. She said she likes her readers to get what they need from a novel and she doesn’t like to spell things out for them. I mentioned to her that I felt like they fell in love after they became skating partners, but that my sister felt like Ivan had always loved Jasmine and was just waiting for his chance. It’s interesting how reading is so subjective and we can all get something different out of reading the same book. She nodded, seeming pleased at our reactions.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule? She said that yes, she does, but she learned pretty early on that she had to make sure she had a life. Make time to make dinner and eat with her husband, work out, etc. When asked about her next book, she didn’t give a whole lot of details other than that she liked to alternate between fun and serious books. She said Dear Aaron was a fun book, although people didn’t seem to agree. My sister and I tried to map out her books and we think it’s one funny to two serious? If that’s the case, the next one may be a serious novel because Lukov was serious.
Q: How did you start writing slow burn novels? She said that she finds the relationship much more interesting than the sex. If she reads a novel where the characters jump into bed too soon she ends up skimming those scenes and loses interest a bit. How they get to that point is so much more interesting isn’t it?
There were so many other topics of conversation but you can see from the above conversations that they ran the gamut of all of her novels as well as a little bit about her writing habits. She was charming and entertaining and very honest. This was an experience that I won’t forget and will hopefully be able to have again. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Inn Boonsboro’s website for future guests! Here is a group photo- you can see how small the group was!
Oh, one last thing! Did I mention that Nora Roberts lives close by and her husband owns Turn The Page Bookstore across from the Inn? Here are a few photo’s of the bookstore and the Nora Roberts/JD Robb room inside.