It’s Monday, what are you reading? (5/18/2020)

This last weekend I finally felt like this new normal had become habit. So when Friday hit I felt myself start winding down. A weekend away from my desk job in my apartment. Yes, I’m still virtually in the same room as that desk but for some reason it didn’t call out to me to run over to it. I did sit at it and write out several blog posts and even sat on my couch and started a book. In between writing and reading I did a little gardening. Well, I’ll be honest, I watered the garden which is about the extent of my gardening skills, but it was nice to be outside. I finished the book I was reading in one day and started another. My reading mojo is rocking it! If I had the field goal emoji I’d use it right now. 🙂 So, here are the books I read/am reading.

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

I got sent this ARC after it’s release date, which is kind of strange and makes me think the publisher wants to give it a nudge. I’m kind of surprised it needs it! It’s a totally cute YA contemporary with a cute protagonist and a list of things to do before the summer ends. Even at my age, this was a message I could totally get behind and I loved how easy it was to fall into.

Synopsis:

The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER.

Click this link to purchase!* Say Yes Summer

JUST STARTED

I’m about 40% through this one and L-O-V-E it! It comes out this week, so please put this one on your TBR if you haven’t already.

Synopsis:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Click this book to purchase!* Beach Read

Now that you know what’s on my radar, give me a hint about what’s on your virtual (or physical!) bookshelf!

Happy Monday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: How to re-find my reading mojo during the Coronavirus.

It’s now been two months of working from home and although I don’t know for sure I think it will be another couple of months before my company is ready to start transitioning us back to the office. I don’t have children, and so working from home hasn’t been a big hardship. However, like most people being at home all the time is not the respite my home had always been previously. I move from my bed, to the couch, to my desk, to the back deck, and despite the niceties and convenience, I’m having trouble finding solace in my usual habits.

In the past, after a stressful day at work, coming home and spending the evening reading was a pleasure. For some reason, it’s been so much harder to escape in a book! I find myself turning towards the TV and streaming shows I’ve heard co-workers and friends talk about instead of flipping open my kindle. Why is this? I’m not a psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have an answer to that question, but recently I’ve done a few things that have given me that joy in reading that I used to feel.

ROMANCE NOVELS

Yeah, yeah, that’ s nothing new for me. I am a huge lover of romance novels. However, I do usually switch up my genre’s. I read a romance, then I switch to women’s fiction, or fantasy. You know, something different. Lately I’ve read romance after romance. I think it’s that happy ending, and the ease of finding a couple you want to root for and fall in love with. Romance novels have been my quick fix.

RE-READING A BOOK YOU KNOW YOU LIKE

I love the old Kristen Ashley novels. You know, when she actually wrote a plot into her novels? I had purchased Kaleidoscope to finish out this series on my Kindle, but hadn’t read it for a long while. This novel helped jump start my ability to read again. Funny enough, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, but the solace of reading something I knew I’d once liked was enough to get me past that first 50 pages and solidly into the story. Your favorite genre might be Horror, Mystery, coffee table books, who knows! The point is it doesn’t really matter, just pick up a book you love and settle in.

BAKING

I know I haven’t been alone as everyone is baking right now. We’re stuck in our homes and with little to do we are finding our inner Wolfgang Puck. I’m not only baking, but I’m also cooking some pretty great meals. Am I trying to be healthy? NO. I am trying to fill my time and do something I’ve always loved and has made me feel good. I’m just doing it a little more often. One of the things I love the most about baking is that it’s so methodical. Sue me, I’m a Virgo and we love checking things off a list, measuring, scooping, and basically finding solace in organizing type tasks. Essentially baking is following a recipe and measuring. I can listen to an audiobook, get out my measuring cups, and go to town. It’s worked wonders on my psyche. Not so much on my waistline.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Listen to your friends, family, favorite bloggers, whoever you trust. For me, it’s my sister. If she brings up a book more than one time to me, I know she wants me to check it out. She thinks I’ll really like it, and even more importantly, she wants me to read it. I just finished this series by T.A. White in two days. I flew through them! They are NON romance novels! Although, they are romantic fantasy, but still! It got me out of a rut and I LOVED them. Try a recommendation. Interrupt your normal pattern of picking a novel and give someone else’s choice a chance.

ARC’S, ARC’S, AND MORE ARC’S!

I had gotten pretty good at not having too many so I could mix in books I want to read that may have come out in the past, with books that are coming out and I want to read and review for my blog. Admittedly, I’m reading more for pleasure right now. So, I’ve gotten in a bit of a bind. Is anyone else getting ARC requests accepted by all publishers? Is there a shortage of willing bloggers I don’t know about? I’m in some serious trouble! For crying out loud, I got sent a book on 5/13 for a book that came out on 5/12. I don’t work like that! I read in advance. It must be a shortage of people requesting an ARC. I can’t figure this one out. This is just a screenshot of what fit on my screen. It’s a couple of pages. Yikes!

Despite the stress from that last point, I feel like lately I may just have gotten my reading mojo back. I’ll admit to being REALLY picky. If something doesn’t appeal to me in the first 10 pages I put it down. I want to immerse myself in a novel, but I don’t want to have to work for it.

I’d love to know if anyone else has had the same problems and come up with any different solutions? Or have you just shut the book and picked up the remote. I have done a bit of that too.

Take care, and stay safe!

Deb

This Chick’s Audio Review: Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs

Adam’s ex-wife Christy comes back into town to receive protection from the pack when a one night stand turns stalker. Of course, in the Mercy-universe that stalker is paranormal and it takes all of Mercy’s skills and a little help from Coyote to fight their enemy. Unfortunately, Christy also tries to usurp Mercy from inside her pack causing an already ugly situation to turn so much worse.

I’ve read all of the books in this series and have started to go back and listen to the stories enjoying the details that I may have noticed when reading. I had forgotten how much I hated Christy and the way she manipulated everyone in the pack into thinking she was this harmless human that needs protecting. Sure, with one good swipe of a paw you could probably break her neck, but her skills at undermining Adam’s authority, and his marriage to Mercy makes her a hard person to like. Even with a super bad evil guy to compare the odds were still in Christy’s favor as bad guy supreme. She is one really big B*&ch.

I liked Night Broken for the back story it brings to Mercy’s character. We know Coyote is her father but for the first time we realize she may have siblings. Gary Laughingdog is introduced and through his eyes we see how fortunate Mercy has been in her dealings with Coyote. She never really lets what he does affect her and lives her life according to her own rules. Gary isn’t as fortunate.

Adam grew up a lot in this novel. At first, with Christy’s return he falls right back into his role as Christy’s much maligned spouse, even though they are divorced. It isn’t until Mercy stands up for him that he gains strength in her convictions and that persona falls away. In fact, he becomes a better “man” with Mercy than he could ever be with his first wife. I wish his pack would see things the same way.

This was a nice re-visit of an old favorite and narrator Lorelei King does a good job at bringing all of these characters to life. She is a little more of a reader than actor, which is a shame because she could bring a lot more life to some of the action scenes if read a little more passionately, but I still enjoy her phrasing and knowing that I will get a consistent read from her.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy and have somehow missed the Mercy Thompson series, please go back and start the series from the beginning. This is a series that needs to be read in order because of underlining plots and character development. It’s one of my favorites and I can almost guarantee that you’ll enjoy each and every story.

Click this link to purchase!* Night Broken: Mercy Thompson, Book 8

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Kissing Galileo (Dear Professor #2) by Penny Reid

Synopsis: What do you do when your freakishly smart and wickedly sarcastic Research Methods professor sees you mostly naked? You befriend him, of course.

I did read the first novel in the series, Kissing Tolstoy, but if I hadn’t would the above synopsis sound like something I’d want to read? Not really. However, I love this author and I thought Kissing Tolstoy was pretty good so I gave Kissing Galileo a try. However, when does it become wrong to normalize the teacher/student relationship? This is in college, so everyone is legal, but…..

Emily is a lingerie model. It’s a club of sorts, no not that kind of club, but you have to be a member to view the models in their lingerie, and the pay is really good. Good enough to pay for her tuition and her mother’s therapy. What happens when one of your professor’s views you in a bra and panties? Victor Hanover, when he finds out she’s a student, immediately does the right thing and notifies the dean, who then gets someone else to handle her grades and tests. That Emily accepts this situation means that it has made her “feel” things for her professor. Either turned on or off, from what I understand. However, neither of them makes a move until Emily shows up at his office.

Victor is kind of socially awkward. Until the previous year he had been grossly overweight but after losing 150 lbs, he now finds himself uncomfortably attractive. He hates how he had been ignored, but now people want to know him and it pisses him off. He finds himself with feelings for Emily that he doesn’t know how to act on, so they become friends… just friends.

This is a story of a friendship that should become more, but one person doesn’t know how to move it forward, and the other person is judging the situation in normal male/female standards. Talk about awkward! It’s an unusual take on a friends to lovers theme and was quite cute and alleviated any kind of uncomfortableness very early on. This was obviously a guy that had rules, morals, and value’s so the fact he had a crush on his student was kind of minimized and forgotten.

Kissing Galileo was a very quick read. It was awkwardly cute but not my favorite of Penny Reid’s stories, but it easily filled a void until the next great Penny Reid book was released. You can easily read this novel as a stand alone, but Emily’s best friend is from Kissing Tolstoy so if you want, you can start with that novel first. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“This is one of those rare moments where I didn’t really enjoy a Penny Reid book but considering I adore the vast amount, I won’t worry. There are many fans of this book, just not me.” A Take From Two Cities

Click this link to purchase!* Kissing Galileo (Dear Professor)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I will receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you Reading? (5/11/2020)

Happy Monday everyone! I have the day off of work and am planning to enjoy the day with a good book.

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

I am really enjoying this series. I like Kylie Scott’s style and her characters always have more depth than they initially appear. This is a rock star romance and it was fun to escape from reality for a little while.

Click this link to purchase!* Lead: A Stage Dive Novel (Stage Dive Series Book 3)

JUST STARTED

I started three books before I decided to revisit one I remembered enjoying, hoping it would help me get my reading mojo jump started. Sure enough, I didn’t have any trouble getting back into this old favorite!

Click this link to purchase!* Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain) by Ashley, Kristen (2014) Mass Market Paperback

I’d love to hear what books you picked up this weekend! Let me know in the comments!

Deb

Nashville Ballet’s Virtual Book Club: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie- Chapter 6 narrated by Chef Sean Brock

Nashville Ballet’s virtual book club is on Chapter 6 of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Does anyone else picture the Disney movie when you think of Peter Pan? I know I do and I’ve been surprised how easily their version supplanted the classic tale. Of course it’s based of the Barrie novel, but some of the less savory elements of it were Hollywood-ized. Is that a word? Maybe not, but you get the drift. It’s been fascinating to compare what I remember to what is in the actual novel.

Chapter 6 is narrated by James Beard award winner Chef Sean Brock. He is very well renowned in the southeast for his Charleston and Nashville restaurants Husk (the best Shrimp and Grits dish every!) and very nicely volunteered his time to read this chapter for Nashville Ballet.

If you haven’t been following along, please go to Nashville Ballet’s YouTube page and look for Chapter 1. Each chapter has been about 15-30 minutes and can be a nice mommy break if you plant your kids in front of your computer to listen.

Enjoy!

Deb

If you’d like to purchase the book to read along, please click this link!

Peter Pan

This Chicks Audio Review: Play (Stage Dive #2) by Kylie Scott

Alright folks, it’s been awhile since I’ve read a rock star romance and I had this audiobook in my files. I remembered I really enjoyed the first novel also narrated by Andi Arndt and wanted to give this second one a try. Play is the story of drummer Mal Ericson who meets Anne Rollins at a party and decides to convince her to become his pretend girlfriend. In actuality it doesn’t take much convincing since Anne has had a longtime crush on Mal and pretty much finds him irresistible. Is there a reason for his wanting to convince everyone that he’s happy? Of course.

I really enjoyed this novel and thought Andi Arndt did a great job narrating all of the characters. Mal was kind of a crazy character and Anne gave him a kind of calm he needed to survive what was going on in his life. I felt like the balance of those two characters also gave the narration a kind of sanity. It could have easily gone down the crazy guy road and Andi Arndt made them real instead of caricatures.

Ok, who doesn’t love the fantasy of having a rock star fall in love with an average woman? That’s why we read these right? Mal, to me, was easy to like but hard to love. He was just so over the top! He felt kind of like he was manic depression and honestly, I thought that’s where this novel was heading. No spoilers here, but that wasn’t it at all. Thankfully the conflict had heart and emotion, something I really needed from Mal in order to round his character and make him feel more attainable.

Anne was totally the girl next door. She could be you, me or the girl who bags my groceries. She was calm and hid her inner feelings really well. Of course the narration was from her point of view so we heard those inner feelings and knew she was screaming like a girl who just saw her every dream realized. I liked Anne and was able to root for her right from the get go.

All in all, this was a fun novel with a couple of hidden surprises that helped me enjoy it even more. If you’re looking for your next rock star, you may want to start with the first novel, Play, but I think this whole band is going to rock your world. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I do recommend this book to lovers of the genre of contemporary romance, though I am going to try and hold myself back a bit before going on to #4, I will definitely be going there sooner rather than later.” Omnivorous Reader Book Review

Click this link to purchase!* Play (A Stage Dive Novel)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs Alaska, Pt. 1) by Sarah Morgenthaler

Zoey Caldwell has been saving her money for-e-ver to take a bucket list trip to Alaska. A friend of hers is letting her tag along to sleep on the couch in a ritzy resort room, and Zoey is dying to do all things Alaska. On her first night there they head to a local dive restaurant called the Tourist Trap, owned by the grumpy but extremely good looking Graham Barnett. Graham is against all tourists in his neck of the woods, but for some reason he’s drawn to Zoey and her quirky personality.

The Tourist Attraction was my favorite kind of rom-com. Great setting, quirky characters, and charming main characters. From the first page, I literally couldn’t stop thinking about when I could find another 15 minutes to read another chapter. Zoey, one of my favorite rom-com heroine names, was cute and innocently odd. She was so excited to be in Alaska that she wanted to do all of the usual tourist trips; a whale-sighting trip, spotting a moose, and hiking on a glacier. Stuff a local would never deign to do. Despite his unwillingness, Graham seeks her out and finds himself by her side.

There were plenty of great side characters in The Tourist Attraction and we got to know a few pretty well. I can’t wait to see who gets the next hook-up. Will it be the super tall and bearded Easton? His pink-haired twin sister Ash? Or Zoey’s sultry well to do friend Lana? I really don’t have a preference, they were all really interesting and had some great storylines that I look forward to any one of them!

If you are still quarantining at home, this is the perfect book to help you pass the time. It’s fun, has a little action, and kooky characters that will charm the antlers off a reindeer dog!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (5/4/2020)

I had just finished a book when a big storm came through knocking out our power. Needless to say, that cut down on my reading as it was just getting dark. We had enough juice in a laptop to get on Netflix and start streaming The Crown. Very Good! It was kind of a nice way to end the weekend, truthfully. We put the devices down and just enjoyed each others company. Despite that, I did read a wonderful book this weekend and have plans to start a next novel.

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

This book took me totally by surprise! The set up was totally unique, the characters completely charming, and the emotions? Yeah, they were all there. Loved it.

JUST STARTED

I haven’t started it yet, and may change my mind, but My library loan is just about to run out. It’s going to come down to whether I think I can finish it in time!

Now you know what I may be reading. What’s first on your TBR?

Deb

The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery – Chocolate Chunk and Chip Cookies

My baking challenge has gotten even more challenging while baking during a pandemic when everyone and their mother is learning how to bake bread. Not only is yeast hard to find but now flour is also getting hard to come by. Luckily, I had enough in the jar to bake these yummy cookies. Funny enough, because of the Chocolate tart I baked a few weeks ago, I also had enough high quality chocolate to use for the recipe.

As this is my second cookie recipe I was pretty familiar with some of the techniques that Bouchon Bakery uses to make their cookies extra special. I gathered my dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, and salt and sifted them together into a bowl. OK, I didn’t sift them this time. I’ll admit that I ran a fork through the mix to make sure it was blended in well.

I combined the dark brown sugar and sugar with molasses. That molasses (just shy of two teaspoons) really added an extra layer of flavor to these cookies that helped set them apart from normal chocolate chip cookies. I’ll be remembering this trick!

I mixed it together until with was kind of smooth. Then I took out my two bars of Valrhona chocolate and started chopping it up into pieces. Now, I didn’t mention this previously but I actually went on a trip to France a couple of years ago with my sister and my mom and we toured the Valrhona chocolate factory. OK, I’ll be honest, we mainly toured the gift shop, but I brought back a lot of cooking chocolate on that trip. However, these particular bars of chocolate were purchased here in the good ole USA in Sur La Table for $13.00 each. Yep, you read that right. I used the remaining 40% chocolate and chunked it up.

Then I ruined it by using Kroger brand semi-sweet chocolate chips for the chip portion of this recipe. Hey, we’re in a pandemic here! I can’t go running out to the store for high quality chocolate chips!

Next up was pommade-ing the butter. I have gotten to be a pro at this technique! I warm up my glass mixing bowl, with the butter in it over the flame of the gas stove top. I do NOT sit the bowl down. That would melt the rubber on the bottom of the bowl that fits it into my mixer. You really just want to warm the bowl so that when you whip that butter for three to four minutes it turns into the consistency of mayonnaise.

This makes such a huge difference! When you mix your sugars into that whipped butter it gives the words light and fluffy new meaning! Add your eggs, mix, and then you’re ready to add in your dry ingredients. Once that’s mixed add in your chocolate chips and chunks and vôilá! You have some extremely delicious cookie dough.

If I had only known this dough would only make 2 dozen cookies I’d have made more! Now, Bouchon wants you to make 6 very large cookies with this dough. Can you imagine? Although, I could certainly eat that humongous cookie, I think my family would have a cow that they only got one cookie each. It’s a psychological game we play with our baked goods. I use a one inch cookie scoop and made two dozen. Still not a lot of cookies but better than six.

I pop them in the oven and they are truly pretty looking cookies. They spread evenly, puff up the way they are supposed to and when they cool? Devine! Slightly chewy with a tang from that small bit of molasses. The chocolate taste? Yum!

This is an easy to make recipe and one that I will definitely return and bake. I will NOT be using $13 bars of chocolate, but I’d imagine it will still be just as good with a normal bar of 40% Hersheys or Ghiradelli chocolate.

I did not purchase anything extra for this recipe and used what I had in the house. I even had the molasses because I love to make gingerbread at the holidays, so the cost of this one was cheap. $0

I didn’t learn anything new but I was able to go back and use the pommade technique and I feel like I’ve gotten very good at that and can incorporate that into some future baking.

If you’d like to purchase this cookbook, here’s a picture and click the link below to go to it’s listing on Amazon.

Happy Baking!

Deb

Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)